By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — From a grocery wholesale company to video stores in gas stations, a Minnesota man had the vision to think outside the box in business.

Norman Feske worked in the corporate world as president and general manager of the once-popular grocery wholesaler Fairway Foods.

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“He was really an entrepreneur,” son Todd Feske said. “I used to think, you know, you should sit around the cabin and think about the ‘Dallas’ kind of thing, you know [laughs]. The family empire and stuff.”

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Eventually, Norman worked with his six kids to open mall gift stores, jewelry shops and the very first video store in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

“We were the first people to put them in the grocery stores, gas stations. His connection with Fairway Foods made that possible,” Todd said. “He was all about business and family.”

Norman suffered from memory loss and moved from an assisted living facility to a nursing home within the last year. Todd worried more about his father as months passed and the COVID-19 pandemic showed no signs of slowing down.

“When we heard about it was that he had the virus, and wasn’t showing any symptoms, and other people in the nursing home [had it], too,” Todd said.

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That news came just last week. Within a few days, Norman struggled to breathe. He died on Sunday at a Fargo hospital at the age of 86.

“I think that’s why it’s important for people to understand that this effects a lot of people and a lot of families,” Todd said. “We’re asking our most vulnerable citizens to be isolated and to live alone, and then we’re asking them to die alone, and then we’re asking those of us that grieve to do that alone, too,” Todd said.

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He believes we need to replace personal freedoms with personal responsibilities before it’s too late for more people like his father.

“If you wear your mask I think you’re a hero. You may save a life,” Todd said.

The Feskes will have a memorial service for their dad in the spring, when they hope it’s much safer for them to be together.

If you have a loved one you’ve lost to COVID-19 that you’d like us to feature in our series, send us an email to

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Liz Collin