Rick Goodemann started the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership in early 1992.

Several months later, on June 16, 1992, a tornado struck Chandler, Lake Wilson and several other southwestern Minnesota communities. Chandler absorbed a direct hit. The tornado destroyed all but nine of Chandler’s 121 homes, and 16 of its 23 businesses were damaged or destroyed.

Goodemann’s fledgling nonprofit, based in nearby Slayton, Minn., was instrumental in helping Chandler rebuild. It helped secure more than $2 million in funds that were used to rehabilitate 34 homes and rebuild five units. From that beginning, the agency grew.

It was only supposed to exist for two years, according to a post on its website that announced Rick’s death. “Thanks to Rick’s vision, creativity and drive, here we are, 26 years later, with 24 staff and an operating budget of over $2.5 million.”

Goodemann, who lived in Trimont, Minn., died of a heart attack on March 1. He was 65. Goodemann had led the agency until he retired in January.

“Rick will be remembered as an advocate for Rural Minnesota for both housing and economic development spending countless hours on numerous boards within the state and at a national level,” the partnership wrote in a statement on its website.

“The impact that Rick has had on our region and the families who live here cannot be measured and will continue for many years to come.”

Goodemann was born on Dec. 28, 1953, in Hollywood, Calif. His family lived in California, Arizona and Missouri before moving to Martin County in southern Minnesota in 1972.

After graduating from Welcome, Minn., High School in 1972, he earned a bachelor of arts degree from Southwest State University (now Southwest Minnesota State). He went on to complete the program for senior executives in state and local government through Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

The Housing Partnership was originally formed when three Community Action Program agencies agreed to fund it by contributing $8,000 each. It collaborates with local governments and community-based organizations for affordable housing in 30 Minnesota counties.

Among the many rural housing projects it helped develop during Goodemann’s tenure was a project, in partnership with Schwan Food Co., that was completed in 2006 and included 80 single-family houses in Marshall. The units sold out quickly.

“It just took off by word of mouth,” Goodemann told the Star Tribune in October 2003. “We were selling houses before we were digging holes.”

Since its inception, according to the agency’s website, it has developed, financed or rehabilitated more than 9,340 homes and apartments and repaired more than 340 businesses and community buildings.

During his tenure, Goodemann served on national and local boards and advisory groups including Gov. Mark Dayton’s Task Force on Housing and NeighborWorks Capital.

Last year, at the Rural Local Initiatives Support Corp. annual seminar in Washington, D.C., Goodemann was honored with a “Rural Champion Award.” At the seminar, the corporation’s program director, Bob Reeder, described Goodemann as “smart, intellectual and an innovator.”

Goodemann is survived by his wife, Carol; daughters Jade Hubbard and Autumn Gray; six grandchildren and brothers Ron Goodemann and Robert Goodemann. Services have been held.