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Erik Burgess, Published October 26 2013

Mark Hintermeyer: The one who could’ve been a sheep farmer

MOORHEAD - If Mark Hintermeyer had lived out his dream, he’d be sweating in a field with about 100 ewes on a 200-acre farm near Alexandria.

But dreams change, so the two-term councilman is instead sweating over his bid for the vacant office of Moorhead’s mayor.

“I fully intended on being a sheep farmer,” Hintermeyer said in an interview from his south Moorhead home last week.

“Never in our wildest dreams did we think we’d end up 20 years in Moorhead,” said his wife, Laurie.

Hintermeyer often touts his military experience as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force and a missile launch officer during the Cold War, work he says “defined me for 22 years.”

But the Wisconsin native grew up in the small town of Rock Falls, where he jokes there are more dogs and cats than people.

During his summers as a boy, he’d visit his grandparents’ dairy farm, forming a lifelong connection to wildlife and agriculture.

After he and Laurie both graduated from Concordia College in 1977, they married and Hintermeyer entered the military. But Laurie’s parents had that sheep farm in Alexandria, so Mark figured farming sheep was his future and took classes on it while in the military.

But Laurie’s dad had declining health and sold the sheep. After retiring from the military in 1999, Hintermeyer still farmed soybeans for three years. He beamed when pointing to a photo hanging on his fridge. It’s him standing in the sun among tall green plants.

“I’m excited because this is my first crop of soybeans,” he said, “and I’m like, ‘Whoa, this is cool. This actually works!’ ”

In 2005, a City Council seat opened up and Hintermeyer ran. He’s now held the seat for eight years but is vacating it this year to run for mayor.

Although it wasn’t part of the original plan, Laurie says they’ve enjoyed being a part of Moorhead.

“We met at Concordia, so it was kind of like we came full circle,” she said.

Now, when Hintermeyer is looking to relax and can’t drive 90 minutes to the farm, he sits at his computer and plays Battle Pirates, a computer game on Facebook where users worldwide control fleets of ships and attempt to take over enemy naval bases.

Hintermeyer has been playing for three years in his free time – or to blow off steam after a stressful meeting – and he again beamed when pointing out he’s a level 61, quite high for the game, he said. He then gestured to some level 14s and 15s on the screen nervously circling his heavily fortified base and said with a laugh, “These guys, I could squish.”

But he hasn’t given up the outdoors lifestyle. He still owns the 200-acre farm that once could’ve been his home. He doesn’t farm the land, but he and his wife visit several times a week.

Win or lose on Nov. 5, Hintermeyer has planned a hunting trip on the old farm for the following Wednesday. His mother, at 79 years old, says she’ll be out there with him.

“It’s a connection to the real world,” he said.