Updated: 05/04/2014 10:24 PM
Created: 05/04/2014 7:37 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
Former U.S. Representative Jim Oberstar passed away in his sleep Saturday morning at the age of 79, and the sorrow is hitting home for those who knew the man behind the politician. In his hometown of Chisholm, Iron Rangers expressed shock at the sudden loss on Sunday.
Most shops were closed in Chisholm on Sunday and the streets were quiet. The scene reflected the town's loss of a legend.
“Like I said, everybody is just in shock a little bit. You know, I don't think everybody has come to grips with that he's dead,” Anthony Oberstar said.
Anthony is Jim Oberstar's great-nephew. He said the former congressman touched the lives of everyone on the Iron Range during his 36 years of public service in Washington. Oberstar helped fight for miner's rights and was instrumental in highway development across the region according to his great-nephew.
“He was just a big advocate for this area, and he fought for this area when he was in Washington. He still tried to after he got removed, and I think that's going to be the biggest thing about his memory is that he was a true Iron Ranger who fought for the Iron Range,” Anthony Oberstar said.
Oberstar maintained the family home he grew up in in Chisholm. His neighbor Amy Belluzzo was stunned to hear of his death.
“I was very shocked. I didn't really expect that; he was in very good health. He would bring his bike home with him and go biking all the time,” Belluzzo said.
She said he enjoyed gardening at the home during his visits, and she will miss the chats they shared. Belluzzo said the loss will sink in soon for everyone on the Iron Range.
“I think a lot of people are going to miss him, and I think people who thought that he wasn't around or wasn't involved or not doing much are going to realize that there is a void now,” Belluzzo said.
These friends and family called him a champion of workers and residents, and they hope his memory can spur some momentum again for the Iron Range he loved.
A wake for Oberstar is scheduled for Wednesday in Washington D.C. at Gawler's Funeral Home. A funeral will follow on Thursday at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Potomac, Maryland.
Oberstar's family has not yet specified any formal remembrance activities scheduled in the Northland.
Duluth Man Arrested in Death of Baby Daughter
Duluth police officers have arrested a man in the death of his 14-month-old daughter. 29-year-old Christopher Dennis Peterson has been charged with unintentional second-degree murder.
Pediatrician Accused of Assault Gives up License
Dr. David Van De Loo, a Eau Claire pediatrician accused of sexual contact with 15 juvenile male patients, has agreed to surrender his medical license so that the remaining counts will be dismissed. Van De Loo has already been acquitted of the majority of his sexual assault charges.
Ventura Passage to be Cut from Book
Publisher HarperCollins says it will remove a passage from the best-seller "American Sniper" that sparked former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura's defamation lawsuit against book author Chris Kyle.
Appeal Planned in Dismissal of School Plot Charges
Prosecutors plan to appeal the dismissal of six charges against a 17-year-old accused of plotting to kill his family and attack his Waseca school. A judge dismissed the charges of attempted murder and attempted damage to property on Monday, but let stand six counts of possessing explosives.
Special Report: Hypothermia Year-round Threat in Lake Superior
Last week we told you about signs on Park Point Beaches indicating E. coli in the water. There is another hidden danger to warn you about: hypothermia. It is an all-year problem on Lake Superior.