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Published January 24 2013

Forum editorial: Better ND because of Reiten

When the history of North Dakota’s last half-century is written, the name of Chester Reiten, of Minot, will figure prominently. Reiten, the founder of one of the most successful ethnic festivals in the state, died Tuesday at the age of 89. His lasting impacts on his state comprise a record of public service and business acumen that is rare. North Dakota is a better place because of Reiten’s work.

Founder of the Norsk Hostfest, a Scandinavian festival of international acclaim, Reiten also was Minot’s mayor for 14 years, a state senator for 16 years and a pioneer radio and television broadcaster. In addition to his untiring work to make the festival one of the region’s major seasonal events, he also was a champion of the North Dakota State Fair, which is held every summer in Minot.

As a visionary entrepreneur, he was among a handful of businesspeople who recognized early the potential of broadcasting. He got into the business in 1951 and quickly built a radio and television network that included four TV stations and several radio stations. The KX Television Network remains in family ownership.

Reiten received the state’s highest honor in 2002, the Theodore Roosevelt Roughrider Award. He was a member of the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame, and was one of few Americans to receive the St. Olav Medal from the king of Norway because of his work on Hostfest.

A dedicated family man and community supporter, Reiten not only was Minot’s head cheerleader for a generation, he also put North Dakota on the international map with Hostfest and was recognized for his acumen as a TV and radio broadcast pioneer.

When it came to a life of service to others, to community and to family, Chester Reiten set the standard high, and then met it himself. He leaves a brilliant legacy. We join his family and friends in celebrating his life.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.