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Richard (Dick) Ahmann of Rio Verde, Ariz., a retired commercial insurance broker, led Minnesota's independent insurance agents to higher prosperity and helped set the stage for higher competition in the workers' compensation field.

Ahmann, formerly of Edina, died of a stroke Oct. 22 in Rio Verde.

He was 83.

After he graduated from Marshall High School in St. Paul, he attended Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., and became a Navy officer. He served on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific during World War II.

After returning to the Twin Cities, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Minnesota in 1950, when he began work in business insurance.

He became a partner in the Ed Arnold Co., and in 1975, he was the sole owner of the firm, renamed RJ Ahmann Co. in Eden Prairie.

His son, Richard (Rick) of Eden Prairie, now operates the firm, one of the largest independent agencies for business insurance in Minnesota.

"He was genuine," said his son. "His word was his bond.

"He was a people person and he could walk in and light up a room."

He served as president of several insurance trade associations, such as the Minnesota Independent Agent Association, where he made his mark on Minnesota workers' compensation, said Fran Kaitala, vice president of business operations for SFM, a workers' compensation insurance agency.

In the 1980s, Ahmann was instrumental in setting up a system where independent agents could sell workers' compensation. While it gave his membership more product to sell, it also opened up competition.

"Dick Ahmann ran one of the finest independent agencies in the state," Kaitala said. "He was a great friend to anybody in the industry."

"He mentored a lot of insurance people along the way," and through education programs "he improved the level of professionalism of agents in the state," Kaitala said.

He was named Insurance Man of the Year of Greater Minneapolis in 1979.

He was a national director for several insurance companies, such as the old Aetna Life and Casualty, and the old Reliance Insurance Co.

Ahmann was proud of many name-brand accounts, such as the Minnesota Vikings and the Metrodome.

An avid golfer, he used a 6-iron on the No. 2 hole at the Edina Country Club to sink a hole-in-one in 1989.

He retired 13 years ago and continued to live part of the year in Edina.

His first wife, Marjorie, died in 1956. His daughter Jeanne Blustin died in 1985.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife of 49 years, Norine of Rio Verde; his other sons, Joe of Woodbury, Mark of Edina, and Mike of Scottsdale, Ariz.; daughters, Susan Mellen of Phoenix and Nancy Witherill of Ahwatukee, Ariz.; sister Cathy Carroll of Little Canada, and 20 grandchildren.

Services have been held.