DULUTH — Wayne Brandt rarely carried a briefcase. When he came to meetings to advocate on behalf of Minnesota’s loggers, mills and papermakers, he brought just a folder and a few notes and held forth.
“That was the command of the issues he had,” said his colleague, Ray Higgins. “His heart was in the woods.”
Brandt, a leading voice for the state’s forest products industry, died Thursday morning from pancreatic cancer. He was 61.
Brandt was for 30 years the executive vice president of the Duluth-based Minnesota Forest Industries and the Minnesota Timber Producers Association, and while it was always clear whose side he was on, he was remembered as a coalition builder.
“He worked so well with everyone,” said Higgins, vice president for operations with the two trade groups. “He was able to have discussions with folks when they didn’t always agree 100% and find common ground. We know that’s a skill in short supply in this day and age.”
Brandt was born in Minneapolis, raised in Willmar and graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He worked as a campaign aide for Rep. Jim Oberstar and on the presidential campaigns of Walter Mondale in 1984 and Michael Dukakis in 1988.
Brandt was first appointed to the Minnesota Forest Resources Council by Gov. Arne Carlson and was still serving on the board when he died.
“Just this past legislative session he crafted language to help a weight issue for our loggers,” Higgins said. “When he talked about the loggers, he talked about ‘my guys.’ He really loved those guys working in the woods every day earning a living for their families.”