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Reuben Liechty was 'humble and kind'

Liechty, 86, passed away Tuesday morning, Nov. 30, at Jamestown Regional Medical Center.

Clarice and Reuben Liechty file photo
Clarice and Reuben Liechty were recipients of the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award. Reuben passed away Tuesday morning, Nov. 30, at the Jamestown Regional Medical Center. John M. Steiner / Sun File Photo

People in the community said Reuben Liechty was a kind, thoughtful, unselfish and generous person who loved Jamestown.

“I think Jamestown and the world just lost a really special one-of-a-kind kind of person,” said Polly Peterson, University of Jamestown president. “He was just a great business person too but just humble and kind to everybody.”

Liechty, 86, passed away Tuesday morning, Nov. 30, at Jamestown Regional Medical Center.

“When you talked to him, he never talked about what he was doing or where he was traveling or what he was up to,” said Casey Stoudt, president and owner of R.M. Stoudt in Jamestown. “ … He was always about the person he spoke with and never about himself.”

Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said Liechty worked hard his entire life and had many accomplishments. He said Liechty was willing to share the fruits of his labor with the Jamestown community and beyond.

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“I think for the most part Reuben and Clarice both made a lot of money from their hard work in and out of the Jamestown community,” he said. “Sometimes we have people who do that, move away and forget where they came from. They are both wonderful examples of how not to forget the community where you worked and were fortunate enough to share with others who are less fortunate.”

In 2016, Liechty and his wife, Clarice, received a Lifetime Achievement -- Legacy of Giving award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Northern Plains Chapter. The award is given to an individual or couple with a lifetime legacy of philanthropic involvement.

In a 2016 story in The Sun, Liechty said he did not care for the attention of giving, but if it helped to inspire others to think about doing what is important for the community then a little notoriety is good.

“We really believe that these organizations are very important and in order for them to keep going they need money and that is our role in life,” he said in the 2016 story. “There are a lot of things we want to do to help people after we are gone.”

The Liechtys were also named the Jamestown Citizen of the Year in 2020.

Liechty was born and raised on a farm south of Brinsmade, N.D., and had a twin sister, who passed away when she was 4 years old. He is the youngest of seven siblings.

The Liechtys married in 1960. They operated a farm about 3 miles south of Jamestown and owned Reuben Liechty and Company Realtors. He was in real estate for 40 years.

Liechty is survived by his wife, Clarice, and son Richard who is married to Jamie, and four granddaughters, Erika, Erin, Eleanor and Edith, and one great-granddaughter, Gwendolyn. The Liechtys’ daughter, Gwendolyn, died at age 29 in 1991.

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He was a member of the Jamestown Board of REALTORS and past president of the North Dakota Association of REALTORS in 1973. He was a lifetime member of the state association.

He gained Emeritus status with the National Association of REALTORS, which is earned by holding a membership in the national association as a REALTOR or REALTOR-ASSOCIATE, or both, for 40 years, according to its website.

He served on the UJ Board of Trustees and was a Jamestown Rotary Club member.

The Liechtys are major donors at the University of Jamestown. They donated to help restore the Liechty Center Taber Hall, which included donating an apartment complex at 906 Eighth Ave. NE for student housing. They also sponsored the Reuben & Clarice Liechty President’s Suite at Charlotte & Gordon Hansen Stadium.

Other projects that have been made possible with help from the Liechtys include the Prayer & Teaching Center at Trinity Bible College & Graduate School in Ellendale, N.D., Pepper’s Dog Park with a land donation and pledging $1 million to the Anne Carlsen Center to support its Pathways Campaign to construct a new center. The Liechtys have also supported The Arts Center, James Valley Youth for Christ, Jamestown Community Foundation and The Rotary Foundation’s PolioPlus fund, which goes to eliminate polio worldwide.

“He was generous with his gifts throughout our community,” Stoudt said. “There were so many other places that he touched that you wouldn’t even necessarily notice. He just was a guy who could have possibly hidden away with his wealth and instead he gave it away to lift up others.”

Stoudt said he knew Liechty through church, the Jamestown Rotary Club and from his connections with UJ.

“He was such a social friend of everyones,” he said.

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Liechty served on the UJ Board of Trustees when the university was moving into a period of growth when it took courageous and visionary leadership to think futuristically about what is the best that UJ can be, Peterson said.

“As a board member, especially a local board member, they are called upon to contribute their time, their talent and their treasure, and I think Reuben led by example there,” she said. “ … He made you believe in yourself and made you believe in the projects that you were proposing, he believed in their students, he believed in the mission of the University of Jamestown and the value that it brought to the lives of our graduates but also to the community of Jamestown, which he loved dearly.”

Peterson said she first met Liechty when she and her husband, Darin, moved to Jamestown when they were a young couple in their mid-20s and bought a home to fix up and sell.

“Reuben showed such support to Darin and I for doing that,” she said. “He didn’t have to do that at the time. He had partners and owned a real estate company that we would buy from. He was always there to support us and encourage us.”

Peterson said Liechty is a living legacy because of the many gifts that were donated, the attention he provided and the support he gave to individuals.

“ I think he is living on. His legacy is Reuben Liechty,” she said. “Not many of us will be able to say that in a present tense for years and years to come.”

Liechty’s funeral service will be held at noon on Saturday, Dec. 11, at Eddy Funeral Service. Visitation is from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10, and from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday. He will be buried at Highland Home Cemetery in Jamestown.

Related Topics: JAMESTOWN
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