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Former board member Cummings dies

Former board member Cummings dies
Mower County board member Richard Cummings, left, along with his wife Josie, greets friends and colleagues including Mower County Assessor Rich Peterson and former county treasurer Eileen Dietrich, at his retirement party Tuesday in the Mower County Board meeting room. Cummings presided over his last county board meeting after 32 years on the board.

Richard Cummings, who served Mower County as a board member for more than 30 years, died Thursday at his home.

He was 67.

Cummings, a Lansing Township resident, served as the board's 1st District representative from 1977 to 2008, the third-longest tenure in the county.

"He was (as) honest as they come, and he didn't have a mean bone in his body," said County Coordinator Craig Oscarson.

"If you wanted to talk about a commissioner dedicated to his constituents and looked it up in the dictionary, you'd see Dick's face," he said Friday. "He served the district, not himself."


Tim Gabrielson, of Red Rock Township, succeeded Cummings on the board, winning the seat in 2008.

Though Cummings wouldn't endorse any of the candidates, once Gabrielson was seated, Cummings volunteered his services.

"He was a great help," Gabrielson said. "He'd take me out to some of the trouble spots, drive me around and show me" the district's needs.

"He was a true gentleman, I'll tell you that," Gabrielson said. "He was so thorough and so caring for the people in his district, you can't believe it. He took his commissioner job very seriously."

While Cummings may not have always agreed with the rest of the board members, "once a decision was made, he was behind the board all the way," Gabrielson said.

Tough shoes to fill?

"Oh, I can't fill them," Gabrielson said. "He had so much knowledge and knew so many people. I think he kind of thought of them as his flock, and he had to look over all of them."

Former board member David Hillier, who worked alongside Cummings for 14 years, said Cummings' work ethic "carried over into everything he did, from commissioner to community to his family."


The man Hillier called "just a top-notch gentleman" contributed much to his community through volunteer work — though often quietly.

"He was very kind, but he was also very humble," Hillier said. "Maybe a take-home lesson from Richard's life is to be humble, work hard and never really try to put on a show for anybody."

The two families knew each other for years; emotion filled Hillier's voice.

"I look back at our relationship, his family and ours, and it's difficult to express all those things, you know?"

Cummings, who retired in 2007 from Hormel Foods Corp. after four decades with the company, is survived by his wife, Josie; son, Wayne ; daughter, Gina; and a grandson, Joshua.

The funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Faith Evangelical Free Church in Austin. A visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday at Worlein Funeral Home.

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