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Kraus remembered for his devotion to Nisswa

Harold Kraus

Harold Kraus, who served Nisswa for more than 20 years as a mayor and city council member, is being remembered for his great love of Nisswa.

Kraus, 88 - who called Nisswa "our little part of paradise" - died Friday, June 8.

Kraus said in December 2016, before his last meeting as mayor: "I'll miss being involved in the development of the city that I love."

And that is how many people will remember Kraus, the Nisswa Citizen of the Year in 2000 - for working tirelessly for the city well into his 80s.

Laurie Hemish, a former Nisswa city clerk who remained a close friend of Kraus, said the former mayor really cared about Nisswa and would often talk to people on Main Street, simply asking them why they came to Nisswa and what they liked about the city.

Current council member Don Jacobson agreed that Kraus was always a champion for the residents of Nisswa.

"He continued to ask about how the city was getting along even when he was not in public office," Jacobson said in an email. "Many times he would offer his astute political comments if you wanted them or not. I knew him for only four years, but he was always courteous, forthright and willing to tell it like it was. He was always 'Mr. Mayor' to me and many others. He will be missed."

Kraus was appointed to the Nisswa City Council in 1994 after serving on the city's planning and zoning commission in 1992-93. He was elected mayor in 1996 and served for 10 years. After a two-year break, he was elected to the city council in 2008. He resigned with a little more than a year left on his council term, but returned to serve as mayor for a final two years in 2015 and 2016.

"He certainly was a very good mayor," said Jan Buss, who retired 11 years ago after serving as Nisswa city clerk for 32 years. She was city clerk during Kraus's first 10 years as mayor.

"He had a real love for Nisswa. He was really progressive; he wanted things done right," Buss said. "I think he was real good for the city. He was very fair and just treated people like they should be treated."

Through his council years, Kraus worked with both Lenny Hodgson, a former council member, and Craig Taylor, police chief. Both developed good friendships with Kraus.

"The driving force for him, I think, was what's probably going to be the best for the city and what's going to move the city forward," Hodgson said, noting Nisswa underwent many changes during Kraus's terms and many people had strong opinions on those changes.

"He did a really good job of listening to whomever and then trying to make a good decision," Hodgson said, adding he and Kraus didn't always agree on what was best for the city. But they never took each other's opposing thoughts personally.

"We could disagree, but at the end of the day we could shake hands, be nice to each other," Hodgson said.

Taylor had similar comments.

"We didn't always agree on everything. In fact, we had some pretty strong disagreements. But when the discussion was over he always understood where I was coming from and I always understood where he was coming from," Taylor said. "There was never any animosity."

Taylor said he could always tell when Kraus wasn't pleased with Taylor because he'd call him by his last name. Otherwise he addressed Taylor as "Chief."

Kraus was a city council member when Nisswa formed its police department and was mayor when Taylor was appointed police chief.

"He and I always had a good working relationship. He was always supportive of the police department," Taylor said. "Everything, I think, that he did, he had the community in mind.

"He was a very good, thoughtful man. He was not afraid to share his opinion and stand by his convictions of what he thought was right," Taylor said. "And I respected him for that. I had nothing but the utmost respect for him at all times."

Hodgson said he and Kraus became good friends after both left the council.

"I would frequently go and visit him and I did that actually right up til it was pretty close to the end. I certainly never regretted that," Hodgson said. "Mentally, he was good. His physical health certainly went down."

Kraus will also be remembered for a plaque he left in the mayor's office at city hall that the late Hanspeter Borgwarth gave him that sums up Kraus's feelings for Nisswa: "On the 8th day, God created Nisswa."


Funeral service

Funeral service for Harold Kraus will be at noon Thursday, June 14, at St. Christopher's Catholic Church in Nisswa, with visitation from 10 a.m. to noon at the church.