City leader.?State leader. World War II veteran. Broadcast pioneer. Norsk Hstfest founder. And perhaps most important of all, family man.
Chester Reiten, who died Tuesday at the age of 89, was all of these things, and more. Quite simply, Reiten's larger-than-life presence and personality left a permanent mark on the state of North Dakota, and more specifically, Minot. There was not a bigger supporter and fan of Minot, N.D., than Chester Reiten, and he was proud to spread the city's message wherever he went.
Reiten served as Minot's mayor for 14 years, including during the 1969 Souris River flood recovery. He was a state senator for 16 years. Those accomplishments made Reiten well-known across state. But the Norsk Hstfest, well, that made Reiten a household name across the nation and the world.
The event began as a small gathering to acknowledge Scandinavian heritage and all its surroundings in the late 1970s. It has since grown into what is billed as the largest Scandinavian festival in the nation, and regularly draws thousands of visitors during its annual run in late September. Visitors come from across the country, Canadian provinces and Scandinavian countries every year to celebrate culture and heritage, and enjoy top-notch family entertainment. Reiten stepped down as Hstfest president and board chairman in 2011. David Reiten, his son, took his place.
Chester Reiten's place in North Dakota history is secure, and his legacy as a hard-working and successful businessman and loving family man is unquestioned. In a variety of ways, he made Minot a better city, and for that he deserves an enormous amount of credit.
Rest in peace, Chester Reiten. You've earned it.