The city of Maple Grove's first mayor, Richard "Dick" Reimer, was delighted that, 45 years after his tenure began, the city's population had grown from 3,636 to 61,500.
"He loved it," said his wife, Mitzi Reimer. "He said, 'It's everything I wanted it to be and more.' ... He was a man who grew with the changes."
Reimer, who served as mayor from 1966 to 1981, died Wednesday of complications from a fall earlier this month. He was 89.
Reimer was born in 1922 in Minneapolis. When he was 5 years old, his mother gave him a pair of drumsticks, and he quickly showed the passion for music that would become another of his trademarks.
"He would play on anything his mom got him," Mitzi Reimer said.
Dick Reimer attended North High School, and after graduating he joined the U.S. Navy. He served in Britain and Europe during World War II, arriving at Normandy after the Allied landings.
When he came home in 1946, he picked up his drumsticks again. Once, he played a Rochester gig with Peggy Lee and her band.
It became clear, however, that work as a musician was not going to earn the living he wanted, and Reimer sold real estate, first for Pioneer and Fireside Realty, then on his own with Reimer Realty.
He moved to what was the village of Maple Grove in 1950.
He was active on the village planning commission and council, and in 1965, when the city was incorporated, he was elected its first mayor.
The current officeholder, Mark Steffenson, said the city's layout today has a lot to do with Reimer's vision. He served at a time when freeways were being cut through the metro area. Under Reimer's guidance, the change became an opportunity, Steffenson said.
"It creates a dynamic corner for the city as far as commercial and retail development because of all the traffic coming through today."
Mitzi Reimer said her husband described his ideas.
"He had that vision that Maple Grove would become the best suburb in the Twin Cities area, and he always worked hard," she said. "He didn't want strip planning; he didn't want strip development. He did want it to be a city and have a center."
When Steffenson was first elected, he said, Reimer advised him to remain active in the community and deal directly with people.
"It isn't enough to be the mayor," Steffenson recalled Reimer telling him. He was reminded of that advice every time he saw the former mayor drumming with his Classic Big Band and with the Nostalgics, sharing his love for music and community.
Last September, Mitzi Reimer said, her husband had people dancing in the streets at the Osseo Lions parade.
In addition to his wife of 49 years, Reimer is survived by three daughters, Laura Ranstrom, of Fairfax, Minn.; Cathy Boback, of Stillwater, and Mary Pat Hall of Bloomington; two sons, David of Fort Myers, Fla., and Scott, of Greenfield; a sister, Dorothy Bursch of St. Anthony; nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Bertha, who died in a car accident in 1958.
Details of the funeral are still being worked out, but it will be held the morning of June 3 at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, 9100 93rd Av. NE, Brooklyn Park. Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m., Thursday in Kozlak-Radulovich Maple Grove Chapel, 13745 Reimer Drive, Maple Grove.
Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409