house member, representative, 2005 North Dakota State Legislature

On Friday last week I learned that John Andrist, a journalist and long-time lawmaker whose columns I’ve published here on SAB for some time, had a massive stroke.

Today I learn from Republicans in District 2, where John served as a state Senator from 1993 to 2014, that my friend has passed away.

Please read this tribute to John written by his son Steven.

This may sound cynical, but in going on fifteen years of writing about politics I’ve met very few people that I genuinely like. The political landscape is littered with grasping, venal men and women whose dedication to governing seems to be little more than a thin veneer they’ve painted over their more selfish ambitions.

John Andrist was the antithesis of these people. A man who, agree or disagree with him, genuinely cared about doing the right thing, which is why he was beloved in political circles by Republicans and Democrats alike.

[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]John brought warmth and compassion to any subject he tackled, and his readers responded to it.[/mks_pullquote]

Anyone who read his columns could see what made him special. John brought warmth and compassion to any subject he tackled, and his readers responded to it.

I got to know John during the latter part of his time in the Legislature. We would correspond off and on about the things I was writing about. Later, after he retired, John became something of a mentor to me.

John was a member of the North Dakota Newspaper Association Hall of Fame. He was the former publisher of the Crosby Journal. He was once head of the North Dakota Newspaper Association, and the National Newspaper Association.

I took his input on my work seriously. He was a fan of SAB, and that meant a lot to me given his own accomplishments in journalism, particularly given that the reception I’ve received from many journalism professionals as I’ve climbed into their ranks has been cold.

John once saw someone taunting me in a letter to the editor or something for my lack of a formal education in journalism.

“Who cares,” he told me. “I don’t have one either, and I’m in the hall of fame.”

I’m going to miss John.

He was a good man, and I consider myself luck to have known him.