Citizen of the Year: Romsdal receives award for his devotion to communityThe Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce citizen of the year is now taking a different perspective on life. It is not what Fran Romsdal called the “most distinguished honor I’ve received” that is changing his outlook. “I’m a little under the weather going through this pancreatic cancer thing,” he said. “I’m struggling to recover and the prognosis is good but I’m an impatient guy.”
By: By Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
The Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce citizen of the year is now taking a different perspective on life. It is not what Fran Romsdal called the “most distinguished honor I’ve received” that is changing his outlook.
“I’m a little under the weather going through this pancreatic cancer thing,” he said. “I’m struggling to recover and the prognosis is good but I’m an impatient guy.”
Romsdal was named the 2012 Citizen of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce. He will receive his award on Jan. 31, at the chamber’s annual banquet.
Along with surgery and recovery, Romsdal added matrimony to the mix in December when he married Monica Peldo of Ellendale, N.D.
“I met Monica 10 years ago when we shared the same delivery driver,” he said. “We agreed to meet in broad daylight at the Walmart parking lot then. It started slow but we’ve spent more time together the last years.”
Their wedding on Dec. 12 came during Romsdal’s treatment for cancer, which began with his diagnosis in October.
“Monica has been with me every day since this started,” he said.
They learned of the award during the drive to the Mayo Clinic for surgery.
“I thought he was so deserving,” Monica said. “He loves the community so much it’s appropriate the community honors him.”
That love of the Jamestown area has shown through Romsdal’s work as a community booster through his ownership of Central Sales.
Romsdal said Central Sales started as an Allis Chalmers dealership in 1974. He joined his father at the company in 1976 and is now the president and general manager of the organization.
“I’ve always been a big chamber booster,” he said. “It is even a part of our business philosophy to support the community.”
That fact was recognized by Rod Wilhelm, owner/operator of Don Wilhelm, Inc., who wrote a letter of support for Romsdal’s nomination for Citizen of the Year.
“Simply put, Fran brings a standard of excellence and superior communications skills to all he does,” Wilhelm wrote. “He is not driven by a need to advance a personal agenda or career.”
His support for the community has come in many forms including long-term memberships in the Lions Club and Jaycees when it was active.
“Russ Melland was a competitor of ours but he also supported us starting the business,” Romsdal said. “He told me to join the Lions shortly after I came to town. I was the youngest member by 20 years at the time.”
Romsdal served as vice governor of the eastern North Dakota Lions until recently.
“I was very active with the Jaycees when they were active,” he said. “We booked in the Charlie Daniels Band for a concert. No money in the group and we were obligated to pay $10,000. We made it work but only made about $500 on the concert.”
Along with his community service he takes pride in his family’s business.
“Central Sales started in 1974,” he said. “By the 1980s implement dealers were dropping like flies. We now operate two stores and are still family owned.”
Locally owned businesses are important to a community, Romsdal said.
“There are a lot of businesses where there are absentee owners and we need them,” he said. “But they don’t return as much to the community as the businesses where the owners go to church and live in the community. Those are the owners that show up at the ball games and donate to the Girl Scouts.”
Harvey Huber, former president of Unison Bank, called Romsdal an excellent role model in his letter of support.
“Younger people in the community who have an opportunity to watch Fran “in action” are inspired by his leadership, his work ethic and his enthusiasm for the community,” he said. “Fran is both acknowledged and respected as a key leader in Jamestown.”
While the businesses of Jamestown are important, Romsdal said the people are vital.
“The biggest asset in Jamestown is our people,” he said. “We’ve changed our perspective with this little distraction but hearing from a lot of friends — a lot of people I respect — they’re all wishing us well. It is those kinds of relationships that are rewarding.”
Romsdal continues to recover from surgery with other forms of cancer treatment still ahead of him.
“The surgery went well but I’ve lost a lot of weight,” he said. “I have chemo and radiation ahead of me. Hopefully it doesn’t slow me down too much for the golf season.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org