Bob Walstad has given much to the Minot community, and as far as he's concerned, it was the least he could do.
Born and raised in the Magic City, Walstad received a business administration degree from Minot State College after graduating from Minot High School "magna cum average."
Walstad then spent six months at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., for National Guard training in the winter of 1967 before starting his business career with a sales job at Burroughs Corp. in Grand Forks. After being convinced to go through graduate school for economics and accounting, he went to Rochester, Minn., for a job with IBM.
Dan Feldner/MDN •
Bob Walstad holds a plaque showing a young curling team he coached that took second place in the 2005 North Dakota High School Playdowns. Behind him are several industry awards won by Integrity Viking Funds, an investment company that has evolved from the original business Walstad founded in 1987.
It was three years later that Walstad, who took a job with Paine Webber, a brokerage firm in Denver, would start laying the groundwork for his return back home to Minot.
"I worked in downtown Denver for two years, then I convinced the company to open an office in Minot, North Dakota. That's how I got back to Minot and that was at the bottom of a hellacious bear market in 1974," Walstad said. "And I've been here ever since."
Needless to say, getting Paine Webber to open a new office in Minot took some convincing on Walstad's part, especially since it would become the first national wirehouse, or national brokerage firm, in North Dakota.
Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to email@example.com.
Then in 1977 Walstad opened a Minot office for Dean Witter, now Morgan Stanley, which became the second national wirehouse in North Dakota.
"So 10 years (later) to the day I called my boss in Chicago and I said, 'I got something else to do,'" Walstad said.
That something else was his own company, ND Holdings, which was the predecessor to Integrity Viking Funds, which occupies the same building at 1 N. Main St. today.
While being business development manager of a large brokerage firm that has acquired a number of other businesses over the years takes up a good chunk of Walstad's time, it is by no means all he does with himself.
In 2006 Walstad ran for and won a seat on the Minot Park Board, for much the same reason he started his very first business all those years before.
"The same thing happened when I started my first business. I said somebody should be doing this, and I heard an echo," Walstad said with a laugh. "And so I said OK, fine, I'll do this."
He felt he had much to contribute to the park board, and the project he probably felt strongest about was replacing the pool in Oak Park, which Walstad said had been taken out of service around 2003.
"I felt that Oak Park needed a water feature and it came together. Through cooperation it came together," he said.
Along with the splash pad at Oak Park, the bathhouse and kiddie pool projects at Roosevelt Park pool are some of the other water-themed improvements Walstad and the park board helped add in the past four years.
That Walstad had a keen interest in adding these enhancements to the Minot Park District should come as no surprise considering he spent several summers in his youth working for the park board as a lifeguard and pool manager.
"In fact I was a tri-founder of the Minot Swim Club, which came together in the mid-'60s when three lifeguards spotted some kids that could swim," Walstad said, "and decided to organize a swim club. I was the first president of the Minot Swim Club."
Walstad's love of teaching younger generations doesn't stop when the water freezes over. He is also an avid curler and instructs kids in the junior division, which is under 21 years of age.
He's won several state titles as a curler, including a mixed title from his time in Colorado and three other titles in North Dakota. This experience has enabled him to excel as a level three curling coach. In fact, his junior players went to New Zealand this past August to compete in the Southern Hemisphere Winter Games. A number of countries were there to compete in curling, including the United States.
Although Walstad wasn't there in person, he was cheering them on every step of the way. They were 5-4 in round robin play and were actually able to beat Japan's Olympic team. They played China's Olympic team twice, losing close contests both times.
He is also involved in sport shooting, is a member of the Minot Lions Club, spent two terms on the Minot Housing Authority, is a member of the Minot State University Alumni Association and is also vice president of Mu Sigma Tau Alumni Association. Walstad said they are in the process of making the Mu Sigma Tau fraternity active on campus again.
With all these activities and many more to boot, Walstad had to make a hard decision about his involvement on the Minot Park Board. After talking with his family, he decided not to run for re-election this June so he could spend more time traveling and being with his loved ones.
While he will no doubt miss working with his fellow park board members to make Minot's park system better with each passing year, Walstad feels good about his time on the board and is glad he could give something back to the community that has given him so much.
"I just believe in being a good citizen and putting back where possible, and just to contribute," Walstad said. "I was happy to move back to North Dakota after being gone for five years and I've always felt that this is a great place to grow up. And if I can contribute and put back some time and effort, well then I figured I should be there and do that."
An old Kingston Trio song called "Desert Pete" sums up Walstad's view on giving in order to receive.
Desert Pete left a bottle of water near a well in the desert with a note attached that warned whoever found it not to drink the water but use it to prime the well's pump instead. The pump would then give all the water you would need, including enough to fill the bottle for the next thirsty traveler.
The song was released in July 1963 and Walstad still remembers the lyrics all these years later.
"You've gotta prime the pump. You must have faith and believe. You have to give all you have in order to receive. Drink all the water you can hold. Wash your face and cool your feet. Keep the bottle full forever. Thank you kindly, Desert Pete."