- Associated Press - Friday, December 18, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Sebastian Fabian “Buckshot” Hoffner, a well-known North Dakota political figure who played a key role in the 1950s merger of the North Dakota Democratic and Non-Partisan League parties, died Thursday in Bismarck. He was 91.

St. Vincent’s Continuing Care Center confirmed Friday that he had died at the facility.

Hoffner served 18 years in the Legislature, including stints in the House from 1962-66, 1968-1972 and 1983-84, and served in the Senate from 1972-1980, the Bismarck Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1lXxVJa ). He served as minority leader in the House during the 1971 session and minority leader in the Senate during the 1975, 1977 and 1979 sessions.

Kylie Oversen, chairwoman of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party, said North Dakota truly lost a giant.

“His enthusiasm and dedication for preserving and celebrating the past kept history alive in Bismarck and across the state,” Oversen said in a statement. “Buckshot was an early advocate for open and transparent government, of which we all are grateful for. His legacy will live on, far beyond his days.”

Hoffner was born on his family farm outside of Esmond, the oldest of 13 children. Following duty in the U.S. Army in World War II, he became active in Non-Partisan League politics. He was an influential member of a group of young progressives who brought the two parties together in 1958, creating the modern two-party system in the state.

“He was a very important person when it came to consolidating the NPL and the Democratic parties,” said Lloyd Omdahl, a political scientist and former Dem-NPL lieutenant governor. “He was an interesting character, (and) he was an accommodating person.”

Jim Fuglie, a blogger and longtime friend of Hoffner, said he’ll be missed.

“He was colorful, articulate, honest and unwavering in his loyalty to traditional Non-Partisan League principles,” Fuglie said. “Never a back-bencher, he served in leadership roles in whatever he took part in. The state has lost one of its political giants.”

Hoffner ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House in 1966, state agriculture commissioner in 1980 and lost the Dem-NPL nomination for governor to George Sinner in 1984. He was also a member of the 1971-72 North Dakota Constitutional Convention and was executive director of the North Dakota Centennial in the late 1980s.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

___

Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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