Editor's note: Each week reporter Matthew Guerry shares the life stories of residents of Minnesota or the Dakotas who have died recently. Maybe you don't know them, but their stories are worth knowing. If you have a suggestion for someone to be featured, email mguerry@forumcomm.com or call 651-321-4314.

Richard Wold paid close attention to the details of his family member’s lives.

He took a keen interest not only in the personal development and achievements of his daughters, but their spouses and children as well. He asked often for news about his grandchildren's progress as students and athletes.

"He was very interested in their individual lives, up to the very end," said Sarah Mathis, Wold's daughter.

Richard Wold
Richard Wold

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Wold, of Grand Forks, N.D., died Jan. 26 of natural causes at the Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls, S.D., the city where he was born. He was 86.

Born to Albert and Stella Wold, on Oct. 15, 1934, Richard graduated from Washington High School in Sioux Falls and later the University of South Dakota. A basketball player, he earned athletic accolades at both.

Wold was also a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Graduate School of Banking in Madison, Wis. He married Jeanne Rademacher, with whom he had three daughters, on April 1, 1956. Two years later, he began his career in banking at Northwestern National Bank, which has long since merged with Wells Fargo.


By 1972, Wold and family had relocated to Grand Forks, N.D., where he became president and CEO of First National Bank, which then had three locations and dealt primarily in traditional deposit and lending activities.

Having himself benefited from the mentorship of coaches and others in life, Wold delighted in mentoring younger people at the office as well as at home. His daughters said he imbued in them the value of hard work and a love for reading and music, and all three worked at the bank as youths in some capacity or another.

"We started at an early age, and it was just a given that we were going to go and either file checks or work in bookkeeping," Wold's daughter, Susan Kraft, said. "He made sure during college that we all worked part-time, too."

Richard Wold. (Submitted photo.)
Richard Wold. (Submitted photo.)

In the early 1990s, Wold was among the bankers who advocated for the early expansion of interstate banking in North Dakota at a time when owning banks in different states was somewhat restricted by law. According to Wold's daughter Sally Wold Smith, who became a business leader in her own right as president and CEO of the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant chain, that posed a problem for people living and working on opposite sides of the state's border.

"You actually actually couldn’t deposit a check at a Wells Fargo branch in Minnesota if your home bank was North Dakota. The two banks, although sharing the same name, had to be separately incorporated," she said, with "separate systems and everything like that."

By the time Wold retired from First National in 1998, the bank had grown to offer a wider range of financial services and to encompass 14 locations throughout the Red River Valley. It also had $500 million in banking assets, $1 billion in trust assets and more than $200 million in brokerage assets, the Grand Forks Herald reported at the time.

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Wold advocated for the communities he lived in, taking up civic causes and membership in civic organizations in life. He was supportive and encouraging of his family members, too, who in conversation referred to him as their cheerleader and champion.

"Any time any of us had any kind of news, whether it was a good golf score, or when our kids had a good basketball game," Kraft said, "the first person we wanted to call was both he and my mom, because we knew they would share completely in our excitement and enthusiasm."

Wold is survived by his wife and daughters, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.