In the small northern border town of Ranier, Minn., David Trompeter was among the last of the old-timers.
The former high school English and industrial arts teacher, avid outdoorsman and the guy people still called “the mayor” long after he left office was “larger than life,” said Amanda LaGoo, who considered her father’s longtime friend a second dad.
He was a familiar sight as he walked through town with his Pekingese, Bandit.
“Everyone knows everyone here. Someone sneezes across town and everyone knows it on the other side,” said longtime friend Ed Oerichbauer. But Trompeter was the guy who would meet a stranger and within minutes they would be friends for life.
Trompeter was fun-loving and “an all-around nice guy” who loved people. But the pandemic changed the rhythms of his life, shutting down gathering places and forcing social distancing.
“He missed being around people,” Oerichbauer said.
A local gathering of his friends may have been where Trompeter was infected with the coronavirus, said his son, Mark. Soon after, his father tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized. He died Sept. 25 at age 88.
Until recently, Trompeter seemed to defy age — lifting weights and working out in the gym and chopping wood so he could fire up his sauna three days a week and jump in Rainy River to cool off. From his home, he had a view of the river, Rainy Lake and Canada.
On the border waters, he reveled in the solitude and felt at home, navigating the waters since he was a kid, grabbing his canoe and hitching a ride on a fishing boat up the lake so he could paddle, fish for walleye and camp on a multitude of islands.
He was capable and confident in the outdoors, LaGoo said. “He loved the rawness of it,” she said. “ He would sit in a deer stand just to sit in nature. It didn’t matter whether he brought home a deer.”
Local politics and a 4 p.m. daily nip of brandy also were among the constants in his life. He served as the town’s mayor from 2002 to 2006 and was a major advocate of the town’s no-leash law, LaGoo said.
“Dave was the last of his kind,” LaGoo said. Sure, he was little set in his ways, outspoken and a bit opinionated, she said. “But even the people who disagreed with him are sad they don’t run into him and his dog.”
Besides his son Mark of Ranier, he is survived by two sisters, Mary Wallen of Eau Claire, Wis., and Ruth Magnuson of International Falls.
A celebration of life for him and his wife, Barb, who died in April, will be held in 2021.