JEFFREY JOHN ORTMANJeffrey John Ortman, 63, of Bigfork, Minn. died Friday, Oct. 12, among family and friends after his battle with cancer.
Jeffrey John Ortman, 63, of Bigfork, Minn., died Friday, Oct. 12, among family and friends after his battle with cancer.
He was born on July 17, 1949 in Lastrup, Minn.
Jeff, a Vietnam veteran, served his country from 1969-1971 and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his exemplary service in the United States Army.
A pivotal point in Jeff’s life was attending his friend Skinzy’s wedding in Bigfork, Minn. Unbeknownst to him he would get a job offer to be the Assistant General Manager of the North Itasca Electric Cooperative from Hubert Evensen. Seizing an opportunity to raise his growing family in a rural setting Jeff relocated from St. Cloud, Minn., to Bigfork, Minn. Starting his career as Assistant Manager in 1973 he was promoted to Chief Executive Officer in 1985 and devoted himself to that position for the duration of his life. Jeff used his abilities to do a lot of good work for his community and the people that he shared it with. He was a visionary, instrumental in developing the economy of Bigfork and the surrounding area. He was a driving force in bringing Bergquist Manufacturing Company to the area providing much needed jobs. He wrote the grants to get funding for the Edge of the Wilderness Golf Course. He served with the board of directors of Bigfork Valley Hospital to provide the foundation of what the hospital has become. He was instrumental in establishing the Northern Itasca Joint Powers Board and the Highway 38 Leadership Board. He enjoyed being a member of the Lions Club and Swampsiders Snowmobile Club.
Jeff had a “bucket list” as CEO of NIECI and his long term goal was to get a loop for outages of transmission from GRE which would enable electricity to be brought in from a different direction. Jeff’s goal was to improve electric reliability to the area and with this addition of a loop many power outage lengths will be reduced. Finally, GRE is building a substation north of the Holmgren Spur in Koochiching County. Prior to Jeff’s illness GRE decided to name it the Ortman Substation in honor of his perseverance. This is just one example of Jeff’s commitment to improving the lives of the people living in this area.
If you had the honor of knowing Jeff on a personal level you knew that he was giving, gracious, fun and dignified. Jeff saw potential in people and had the ability to nurture talents and dreams. He cared greatly about his family and community. He was a man of action, brilliantly improving the area in which he was proud to call home. He compassionately loved his family and all those who surrounded him. He enjoyed fishing, snowmobiling, traveling and taking “short cuts” (roads less traveled). The community suffers a great loss with his passing, but his loving embrace holds us all to a higher standard. Jeff was an inspiration to us all, we ask in his honor that we all take the opportunity in everyday life to make a difference for the good of the community.
He is preceded in death by his father, Virgil Ortman and brother, Bruce Ortman.
He is survived by his wife Alexandra (Sandra) Hunz-Ortman; children with his former spouse, JoAnn Ortman, Amy Stang (Josh), Andrew (Melissa), Adam, Aric, Arin Lever (Willie); and stepchildren Paul Hunz (Sarah), Andrea Halliday (Toby); grandchildren Haeli, Jon, Ben, Lilly, Alex, Vincent, Isaac, Amelia, Tyler; and Godson Christopher; mother Evelyn Ortman; sisters Constance Banach (Joe), Victoria Ortman and Lisa Lindgren (Brent).
MEMORIAL SERVICE: 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012 at the Marcell Community Center. Doors open at 1 p.m. to share stories and view pictures. Service and food to follow. Jeff always enjoyed bringing people together so please come out and celebrate in his honor. Arrangements by Carroll Funeral Home Deer River & Bigfork, Minn.