Richard Brubacher, who grew up in a small farming community in southern Minnesota, had a lengthy career in municipal and county government in the Twin Cities and in state government.

His work in state government included jobs in the administrations of four governors — two Republicans and two Democrats.

Former U.S. Sen. David Durenberger said there is a simple explanation for Brubacher's successful career.

"The key to his longevity and his success was that he was a good listener," Durenberger said. "There aren't many good listeners. He was a fantastic listener. He heard the things that were meant, not just said."

Brubacher died at his home in Minnetonka on July 24. He was 90.

Durenberger said Brubacher's attentiveness helped him "put things in perspective. Then when you asked for his advice, he gave it."

Brubacher was born to Olga and Richard Brubacher both on May 4, 1930, in Butterfield, Minn. He grew up in Butterfield and graduated from Butterfield High School. He spent two years in the Army and graduated in 1954 from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn.

After college he went to work for the state of Minnesota in the tax department. He then went to work in administration for the city of Hopkins, eventually becoming the city manager in 1958.

He spent 10 years in that position before becoming the assistant commissioner of administration for the state of Minnesota under Gov. Harold LeVander.

"He [Brubacher] fit into Gov. LeVander's staff," said Durenberger, who served as LeVander's executive secretary. "He [Gov. LeVander] knew Dick. They had both gone to Gustavus."

In 1970, Brubacher was promoted to commissioner of administration. He held that position for nearly eight years, serving under Gov. Wendell Anderson and Gov. Rudy Perpich. In October 1978, he resigned to become a lobbyist for the Minnesota Petroleum Council.

At the time of his resignation, he had the longest tenure of any current head of a major department in the state government.

After two years as a lobbyist, he returned to state government as deputy chief of staff for Gov. Al Quie.

Former Gov. Arne Carlson, who was a state legislator and state auditor during Brubacher's time in state government, said Brubacher was "a wonderful man. He was honest and straightforward."

From 1982 to 1985, Brubacher served as the Ramsey County executive director. After stepping down from the post, he worked as a lobbyist before retiring.

He served on the board of Lutheran Social Service and stayed active by skiing, gardening and taking woodcarving classes at the American Swedish Institute.

Dan Gjelten, who is married to Brubacher's niece, Lisa Burke, called him a wonderful and charming man. "He and I had long conversations whenever we met," said Gjelten.

Gjelten said that Brubacher "was an aficionado of lutefisk suppers. Lisa and I drove Dick and [wife] Mary occasionally to one in Star Prairie, Wisconsin. One year I noted that there were two Speakers of the House present: Martin Sabo and Margaret Anderson Kelliher, as well as other prominent Minnesota Swedes and Norwegians. It was really fun. Dick and I often debated whether Norwegians or Swedes made lutefisk better."

Brubacher is survived by Mary, his wife of 62 years, three daughters, Ann Dworetzky of Virginia Beach, Va., Sara Provart of Hopkins and Kris Werner of Laporte, Minn.; and eight grandchildren. A private service will be held.

Joel Rippel • 612-673-4719