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Former interim county administrator dies

Vijay Sethi is shown shortly after assuming his duties as interim Nobles County administrator in June 2012 in Worthington DAILY GLOBE FILE PHOTO

MOORHEAD — Vijay Sethi, who served as the interim Nobles County administration from June 2012 until March of this year, died unexpectedly Tuesday from complications of a chronic lung disease.

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A native of India, Sethi emigrated to the United States in 1970. With a master's degree in urban planning, he became a planner for the Fargo-Moorhead Metro Council of Goverments and later was county administrator for Clay County, retiring in 2010. In retirement, he took on select consulting jobs, such as the Nobles County post.

Sethi's role as interim county administrator came about after former county administrator Mel Ruppert was moved into an advisory role, following an investigation into claims of an adverse work environment in the county.

Nobles County Commissioner Bob Demuth Jr. recalled Thursday that Sethi, who had settled into retirement, almost didn't answer the phone when he was initially contacted about the position, but agreed to an interview. He credited Sethi with helping county employees and the commissioners through a difficult time of healing and transition in the wake of Ruppert's departure.

"His demeanor stood out to me," Demuth said. "It was so much different from what we were experiencing. He was calm ... people came first, the employees came first. He was very easy to work with.

"He was here for a short time, but he had a huge impact."

Upon the hiring of full-time Nobles County Administrator Thomas Johnson and a short overlap period, Sethi returned to his home in Moorhead and fully retired. He was 68.

According to an article in the The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Sethi's immune system was weakened after years of fighting off the effects of pulmonary fibrosis. He became ill, and his wife, Mary Clare, took him to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, where pneumonia claimed his life.

"We did know (pulmonary fibrosis) was going to shorten his life, but it wasn't supposed to be this short," Mary Clare Sethi said Wednesday.

He is survived by his wife; two children; two grandchildren; and siblings in the U.S. and India.

Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Moorhead. The service will be 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at St. Joseph's Catholic Church. Wright Funeral Home, Moorhead, is handling the arrangements.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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