Jon Bremer helped shape public policy, art

  • Article by: BILL MCAULIFFE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 23, 2011 - 8:48 PM

The frequent volunteer had an important impact on civic life in Minneapolis and in Lake City.

Jon Bremer

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Jon Bremer was both a people person and a policy person, blending the two to become a prominent volunteer for public commissions, arts boards and service clubs in both Minneapolis and Lake City, Minn.

"He was always good to have around," said Ray St. Martin, a City Council member in Lake City who served for about a decade with Bremer on the city's planning commission. "If it had anything to do with volunteers, he'd be the first one to volunteer."

Bremer died suddenly Sept. 10 at the age of 71.

Bremer grew up in the Twin Cities and the Washington, D.C., area. He returned to Minnesota to study aeronautical engineering at the University of Minnesota, promptly landing a job at Honeywell. He worked for 35 years in avionics at Honeywell, designing gyroscopes for planes and for spacecraft, said his daughter, Kristin Seitz of San Jose, Calif.

Active in DFL politics, Bremer ran for the state Legislature from Minneapolis in 1976 but lost by about 4 percentage points to the Republican incumbent, Arne Carlson, who went on to become state auditor and governor.

When Kristin was dancing in a performance of "The Nutcracker" at the Minnesota Dance Theater, Bremer joined its board of directors. He also served on the board of the Minneapolis Chamber Symphony, which dissolved in 1993.

After his retirement from Honeywell in 1998, Bremer moved to Lake City, where his father had been raised and where, Seitz said, "you can't go a block without meeting a cousin." He soon was appointed to the city planning commission and served through much of the 2000s, years that St. Martin described as a time of "monster change."

Bremer was instrumental in helping develop the city's comprehensive plan, which includes shoreline development guidelines -- always a source of controversy in the popular city along the shore of Lake Pepin, St. Martin said.

He also served as president of the Lions Club, St. Martin said, and was a member of the Kiwanis Club, his daughter said. His memorial service Friday was held in the historic ballroom of Lake City's City Hall, whose restoration he spearheaded, St. Martin said.

"He just spent countless hours researching everything we were dealing with," St. Martin said. "He was very detail oriented.

"We used to call him 'Chart Boy,'" St. Martin added. "You could ask Jon the time of day, and that would guarantee he's spend the next 20 minutes telling you how to build a clock."

Bremer was an avid photographer who particularly enjoyed taking pictures of bald eagles along the Mississippi River, Seitz said.

He also played poker regularly with a diverse group of players in Lake City, and although they often discussed politics, the conversation was always genial, St. Martin said.

"He just loved people," Seitz said. "He saw the best in people. He never met somebody he didn't like. Or if he did, he kept his mouth shut about it."

In addition to his daughter, Kristin Seitz, Bremer is survived by two brothers, Bill and Jim, two grandsons and his former wife, Mary Pattock.

Bill McAuliffe • 612-673-7646

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