The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Don Richman and Jack Siemens Deserve a Pat on the Back for their Dedication to Community

 

December 2, 2020

Harlem residents Don Richman and Jack Siemens, have been outstanding contributors to the City of Harlem and Blaine County for many years.

Last week we began a Holiday series meant to highlight individuals in our communities. In this week's chapter of our Holiday Season homage to Blaine County residents that 'give' or 'do' for those around us unceremoniously, we recognize Don Richman and Jack Siemens. Two community members that are the epitome of 'giving' and 'doing'.

Don Richman

Don Richman has long been a supporter of the Harlem Community and for more than 30 years Don hasn't just 'supported' local events but has 'walked the walk' and spearheaded the organization of all kinds of events. Don's reach has extended to include all of Blaine County and is truly a person worthy of a pat on the back this Holiday season.

In one way or another, if you have lived in Blaine County, for even a short time, you are familiar with the name Don Richman.

Don started Richman Insurance in 1984 and from the start was invested in the community, "When he started Richman Insurance he didn't take a check for months to make sure his employees would have a check," said his son Heath.

"I've never met someone so giving in my life, so willing to help people," said Heath. "That's why he is on so many boards, so many committees, he wants to give of himself. The amount of stress that puts on him, through his commitment is understated. When the VFW Club, the Harlem Golf Course needed some help paying the bills, Don Richman helped."

Through the years Don has indeed wore many hats. In the early 1990's he served as Chairman of the Harlem School Board. Don was instrumental in the startup of the KXEI Christian Radio Station in Havre early on and served as its Chairman for three years.

Don has been the Chairman of the Harlem Evangelical Church of North America for more than 35 years and has been heavily involved with the Harlem VFW, Harlem Golf Association and Blaine County Fair Board.

In 1991, a landowner met with Don about some property near the City of Harlem and mentioned he wanted the land to be used to improve or better the community of Harlem in some way. "I went to the Bank of Harlem, talked with Rod Becker, the President and got a loan," Don said. "The Course proved successful and payed off the loan back in no time. Along with some great help from so many people like Kenny Shelhamer, we got everything done and ready for public use. We played a few rounds that fall but the first full year was in 1992."

Don, along with Charlie Brekke were instrumental with the Harlem VFW, "Ive been Commander for the past 10 years. Charlie and I shared commander duties over the years. Charlie did everything for Harlem and the Vets Club and was a true mentor to me. He got me started about 25 years ago, when he invited me to a meeting and then nominated me for Chairman, at the meeting," said Don with a laugh.

Don does have a favorite, the Fair Board, "I love those people, the Fair Board is the most fun board I've ever been on. They do all the hard work and I get all the credit. I'm not smart enough to say no and so I end up becoming the chairman of every board I'm on, stated Don.

Don has left family and friends bewildered at times with his commitments, "I asked him why he does it, and he said one time, 30 years ago a woman walked into his house and called him 'white trash' and he said then that he made it his life mission to prove them wrong," added Heath.

Debbie Ramberg said, "I absolutely love him, he will do anything for anyone. Don has a huge heart and he is just a really good guy, very entertaining, but cares deeply about his family and friends and giving back to the community."

Don has past that vision of community on to others. In September of this year Heath had a vision, Richman Insurance, along with Doug McCracken and EZ Mart, Tescha Hawley and The Day Eagle Hope Project, Hays Boxing Club, Fort Belknap Social Services, Milk River Pharmacy, and Kevin Hawley Trucking roasted three pigs with all the trimmings at the Harlem VFW and then gave every passenger in every vehicle lined up outside a meal. More than 500 meals were served that day.

"When Heath told me that's what he wanted to do, I was so touched. I told him how proud I was, and honored. Doug McCracken was on board right away and told him the same thing. That was amazing, people are still talking about that and will be for a long time to come," said Don.

Don organized a group of investors to help Harlem maintain a place for community social events, "We are always looking for ways to make that building function in the best manner possible for the City of Harlem. Our community is no better than what we are prepared to put into it. The greatest opportunity we have in life is to help those who have less and are less fortunate, to be able to help is a gift from God. What Heath and that group did is a testament to our community and what we are about," concluded Don. People are still talking about that and will be for some time.

Jack Siemens

In 2001 Jack Siemens retired from the State of Montana Highway Department Maintenance Supervisor in Harlem after serving 30 years. Having a vision for his retirement, Jack took a course to become a Lay Pastoral Associate (LPA) and in 2004 Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Synod Commissioned Jack.

"We Preach, Baptize, Confirm, conduct Funerals, everything except Weddings. We are not trained to Council people as required by the church," stated Jack.

He got his start in the Pulpit in 2005, serving as LPA for the Harlem, Turner and Hogeland Churches for seven months, ending in the spring of 2006. "That was a wonderful experience," Jack stated. For the next 14 years he was in Dodson three Sundays a month until the summer of 2020.

Jack also began holding service in Harlem in 2018 and will conclude his time there in January of 2021 when a new Pastor is set to arrive.

Jack did so much more than serve as a Pastor in the community. He was on the Harlem City Council for three years, the Harlem School Board for three years and has been the Chairman of the Montana Seed Show Art Show for more than 25 years. Jack has also maintained and managed the Harlem Food Bank for the past 12 years.

"Jack has been instrumental in the community for so many years. He served on the seed show, he's done a great job as manager of the Harlem Food bank, keeping it running. Every morning you can see him walking down the street. Walks by our house and then back to his, walks to highway 2 on the west end of Harlem and returns never failing to meet his daily commitment," stated neighbor Darwin Zellmer.

Dale Klungland echoed that sentiment, "He just will do anything for anyone who will ask, he will help me anytime, and when I'm gone, he brings my newspaper in. He will help anyone in need. He can spend all day, everyday giving to others. He is truly deserving of any recognition given."

It is clear that Jack completes every task thoroughly and with all his heart and energy invested, "He is truly a great neighbor and friend, Jack is compassionate and committed to the community. Some days it's hard for him to get through a service because he is so ingrained in his message to his parishioners," added Zellmer.

Jack has done so many good things for the community through the years and the Food Bank has been a big part of that, " It's been really tough during this pandemic. All of us (at the Food Bank) are older and didn't want to take that chance of being exposed, so we have been unable to open much. We did open the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and were able to give out food to 40 families which was wonderful."

Harlem residents Don Richman and Jack Siemens, have been outstanding contributors to the City of Harlem and Blaine County for many years.

" I attribute most of who I am to my faith and that you care about people and that leads me to wanting to do something for my neighbor. I grew up on a ranch and you have to work, you can't just sit around, " said Jack. "I have to give my wife Ethel Ann credit for being with me every step of the way. She has made quilts for the Lutheran World Relief for many, many years. While I was in Dodson, Ethel was the Organist," said Jack. "The community is just so special to both of us and is a part of everything we do. I just have always felt that if you are part of a community that you have to give something back, you can't just be a part of it, you have to do things for other people. You don't think about doing something, you just do it, you don't think about it."

In our next edition, December 9, of the Blaine County Journal~News Opinion, we will recognize Jana Hauer and the Blaine County Health Department along with Betty Billmayer of Chinook. If you would like to suggest an individual to be featured in this column, let us know and we will get a story put together. Send suggestions to Blaine County Journal, P.O. Box 279, Chinook, MT 59523 or email us at bcjads@itstriangle.com

 
 

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