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Fargo mayor Dennis Walaker dies of kidney cancer

Longtime Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker passed away at his home last night. 

Walaker was battling kidney cancer and had been hospitalized over Thanksgiving but was released from the hospital yesterday.

Walaker worked for the city for 32 years before he was elected mayor in 2006.  He was re-elected in 2010 and this past June to a third term. He helped Fargo avoid major damage from the 1997 Red River floods, and stood up to federal officials in 2006, after he was told to evacuate the city during another big flood.

City Administrator Pat Zavoral was in Bismarck attending water meetings when he received the call from Police Chief Dave Todd that Walaker had died.

"It was expected, but still a very sobering moment," Zavoral told KFGO radio. "It's a shock. We're going to miss him."

Zavoral -- who worked with Walaker for more than 20-years -- says Walaker's family was always first  -- followed closely by his dedication to Fargo.

"A boy from Leonard loved Fargo," said Zavoral. "We could do no wrong. And when someone spoke ill of Fargo, he became visibly upset. A lot. he just loved the city."

Walaker was 73. He leaves a wife and two daughters. Funeral arrangements are pending.

(Thanks to Don Haney and Paul Jurgens of KFGO.)