St. Paul businessman and veteran Ralph Nardini dies at 93

Ralph Nardini, right, attends the 2017 Ramsey County Fair with his wife, Lenore, center, and Dan Pilla Sr., left. (Courtesy of Ron Suiter)

St. Paul businessman Ralph Nardini passed away June 6 at the age of 93 at his home in Shoreview.

“Ralph was a friend to everybody,” said Joe Fox, who served the Ramsey County Fair Board with Nardini. “He was a warm person to be around, and had no problem making strangers feel comfortable.”

Nardini was born in St. Paul in 1929. He grew up playing hockey and working at the Nardini Family Restaurant. After graduating from Johnson High School, he joined the U.S. army and served as a cook in the Korean War.

Back in St. Paul, he started Nardini Fire Equipment, which he ran for 50 years and built into one of Minnesota’s largest fire equipment companies. In his free time, Nardini was an avid golfer at the North Oaks Golf Club.

As an active member of his hometown, Nardini served in various positions on the Ramsey County Fair Board. He also volunteered his time with the St. Paul Midway Lions, the Roseville Central Park Foundation, the Suburban Chamber of Commerce, the Saint Paul Club, and the St. Paul Winter Carnival.

“He would stop in the County Fair office everyday and see what he could do to help,” Fox said. “He ran his own business, but we would joke that he was my ‘gopher,’ and he would run around doing anything that needed to be done.”

Nardini is survived by his wife, Lenore; sister, Irene Klatt; children, Tom and Gay; stepchildren, Terri Termblay, Tony, Tim and Tina Payton; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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