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.
Taxicab Smoking, Fare Rate Metrics Debated at Public Meeting
More than two dozen taxi owners, drivers and residents gathered at Duluth City Hall on Thursday afternoon to weigh in on a new ordinance would ban smoking and standardize fare rate metrics among other changes for taxicabs.
1 Dead in Rural Hermantown Home Fire
Authorities reported one man's body was found after a fire Thursday afternoon in rural Hermantown. The St. Louis County sheriff's office say neighbors reported the blaze at 6212 Morris Thomas Road in Solway Township...
Grand Rapids Man Charged After Allegedly Stabbing Brother
Authorities say a Grand Rapids man is facing a 2nd degree attempted murder charge after he allegedly stabbed a family member Wednesday morning.
Duluth Police Searching for 2 Missing Children and Their Noncustodial Mother
The Duluth Police Department is asking for the public's help in finding two children who have been reported missing and are believed to be with a noncustodial parent. Police say the mother is 20-year-old Tameicia Morris, who is described as an African American woman, who is 5 feet 4 inches tall, and weighs 135 pounds. Morris allegedly took the children, 7-month-old Shaniya Chism and 2-year-old Jameicia Chapman, for a visit against a court order and has not returned them home.
State of Steel: Leaders Press Congress About Imports
Leaders from the steel industry testified on Thursday in front of the Congressional Steel Caucus. Their message was clear: We need help.