Long-time Sleepy Eye mayor, councilor dies at 90

SLEEPY EYE — Long-time Sleepy Eye former mayor and city councilor Jim Broich, 90, died at Countryside Retirement Community, March 11.

Visitation is 4 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 14, and from 7:30 to 10 a.m. March 15 at Sturm Funeral Home, Sleepy Eye. Mass of Christian Burial is 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church with burial in the church cemetery.

Broich was a city councilor from 1986 to 1992 and mayor from 1992 to 2016. He served on the Region Nine Commission from 1997 to 2016, holding a number of titles including chairman and Transportation Advisory Committee chairman. He served in many local and regional committees and other organizations including the Minnesota River Area Aging Board of Directors and with District 7 of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

In addition, Jim served as a volunteer fire fighter, was an emergency medical technician (EMT) with Sleepy Eye Ambulance Service and was on the South Central EMS (Emergency Medical Services) board.

Born in Adrian, Broich moved to Sleepy Eye in 1937 and worked at his father’s grocery store while attending St. Mary’s school. Perhaps it was the challenges of growing up during the Depression and Dust Bowl that prepared him for an extended period of public service.

“It’s been an interesting life,” Broich said before ending his mayoral service. “Being mayor or city councilor is not a slam dunk. You have to work to make things happen.”

He joined the U.S. Navy in 1945, serving as a deep sea diver and gunner’s mate. Returning home in 1949, he opened a sewing machine sales and repair shop. Jim married Mary Ann Kuelbs in 1950. They had two children. In 1951 he moved to Jackson and was a partner in a grocery store with his brother Walter.

Jim moved back to Sleepy Eye in 1953 and worked for Minnegasco. In 1955, he built, owned and operated the Dairy Queen store. In 1962, he went into the insurance business as an agent with his brother Joe. He also sold real estate and securities. Jim also worked part-time at the post office, retiring in 1981.

In recent years, Jim was well known for giving away thousands of Sleepy Eye souvenirs at parades, especially at Buttered Corn Days.

Broich’s hobbies included fishing, hunting, gardening, wine making, bee keeping and craft shows including the Sleepy Eye Collector’s Club. He was active in the Lions Club, American Legion and Disabled American Veterans. He was a ham radio operator and owned and remodeled homes in his spare time.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.


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