Dear Friends of Jim Ramstad,

I write to let you know the sad news that Jim passed away this evening of Parkinson’s Disease with Lewy Body. He was 74.

He spent his final days at home, surrounded by his loving family.

Jim touched each of us in so many ways. For those of us fortunate enough to work for him, he showed us how to do things the right away. And we all remembered the important lessons he taught us.

He was a dedicated public servant who impacted numerous lives through his policy accomplishments and personal service. He leaves a legacy of love, service, dignity and respect, especially for the most vulnerable in our society.

A formal obituary will be sent out soon, but wanted to share some further details from Jim’s life.

Jim’s political philosophy was guided by a fundamental belief in the importance of working in a bipartisan, pragmatic, common sense way to solve problems. A nine-term Member of Congress, Jim was a member of the Ways and Means Committee and its Subcommittees on Health, Trade and Oversight. He also served 10 years in the Minnesota State Senate, rising to Assistant Minority Leader.

Congressman Ramstad authored a number of important pieces of legislation that were passed into law. He was proudest of the bipartisan Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Parity Act, which became law in 2008. He was named “Legislator of the Year” by the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Addictions Council in 1998, by the National Mental Health Association in 1999, and by the National Association of Police Organizations in 1997 and 2000.

Jim graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Minnesota, earned his law degree with honors at George Washington University and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of St. Thomas. He was a Resident Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School and served as an adjunct professor at American University and Montgomery College. He loved his country and served as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves.

Committed to helping the underserved throughout his life, Jim served on 20 non-profit boards, co-founded the Lake Country Food Bank and volunteered at Sharing and Caring Hands. He was a member of American Legion Post 118, Plymouth Lions Club, and the Wayzata Chamber of Commerce. Jim and his wife Kathryn have been active members of Wayzata Community Church.

After retiring from Congress, Jim served as an advisor to the Hazelden Foundation, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and the alliantgroup. He was also on the board of the Partnership to End Addiction.

Shortly before his death, Jim celebrated his 39th year of continual sobriety. Throughout the years, he supported countless friends, colleagues and total strangers on their roads to recovery and was active in Alcoholics Anonymous. He lived by and frequently referred to the Serenity Prayer. To support veterans’ efforts to become sober, Jim established the Ramstad Recovery Fund, which provides access to treatment for America’s heroes who have been left behind and unable to gain access to life-saving treatment.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Marvin and Della Mae; grandparents, Oscar and Amelia Fode, and Joseph and Sarah Ramstad; and mother-in-law Muffy Christen. Survived by his loving wife Kathryn; daughter Christen (Billy) DeLaney; sister Sheryl Ramstad (Lee Larson); sister- and brother-in-law Rebecca and Robert Pohlad; father-in-law Paul Christen; nieces Sarah Kmetz (Brian) and Kristina Hvass (Jordan Taylor); and nephews Charles Hvass (Brittany Martutartus) and Karl Larson; and many cousins. He leaves behind his devoted and loving dog, Wink.

A service for his immediate family will be held at 4pm on Sunday, November 29th and will made available for viewing through a link on the Wayzata Community Church website. Memorials preferred to the Ramstad Recovery Fund through the Minneapolis Foundation.

Jim will be remembered for many accomplishments, but most of all his dedication to his faith, family and friends.

Thanks for all you have meant to Jim over the years. He has impacted us and so many folks in so many positive ways, and I am grateful for my time with him and with each of you. I know for certain Jim is being greeted right now with the phrase “well done, good and faithful servant.”


Dean Peterson