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'Just a good dude': Popular manager of Chub's Pub seriously ill, may not survive year

Jason "Teddy" Ramstad, general manager at Chub's Pub in Fargo, in 2012. The popular Ramstad is fighting for his life after suffering a heart attack in August. Dave Wallis / The Forum

FARGO — Jason "Teddy" Ramstad, a popular and jovial figure at Chub's Pub on North University Drive for more than two decades, is seriously ill and may not survive the year.

Ramstad, 44, was taken to Sanford Health on Broadway in downtown in August because of swelling in his legs. Two days later, he suffered a heart attack and stopped breathing. Doctors revived him, but soon discovered other problems.

Since then, he has suffered severe liver and kidney damage. He's had multiple blood and fungal infections. After a month and a half in intensive care, he was transferred to Vibra, a rehabilitation hospital in south Fargo, but his condition deteriorated further.

Doctors now say he will not recover, and family members are trying to decide when to discontinue dialysis and start palliative care. Without dialysis, he will likely die within a week or two.

"He's slowly going into decline," said his younger brother, Brett Ramstad. "It's a matter of time before he passes away. We're going to have to come to a decision at some point to stop the treatment."

Family members would like to keep him alive long enough to allow friends and family to be able to visit him one last time, but they don't want to prolong his pain. He has suffered growing health problems in recent years, complicated by his weight.

"This isn't the way he wanted to live," Brett said. "He is 'fun Teddy.' He always has a smile on his face. He greets you with a hug and a smile. He's a selfless and cheery guy. We, as a family, have to do some soul searching. We have to do what's best for Jason."

Teddy began working at Chub's, which his family owns, two days after his 21st birthday in 1994. He started in Chub's off-sale operation, then became a bartender, and over the years has done pretty much everything.

He grew up in Audubon and Detroit Lakes, Minn. His father, Duane "Dewey" Ramstad, was a longtime high school basketball coach in Audubon. Teddy attended Detroit Lakes High School, playing baseball and basketball. After graduating from high school in 1991, he entered Moorhead State University and earned a degree in business in 1996.

Chub's is truly a family-run business, so it was only natural that Teddy would start working there once he was old enough (Chub's doesn't have a kitchen so he couldn't legally work there until he turned 21). Even as a boy, he would go there on Sundays when the bar was closed to help clean up from Saturday night and play pinball.

Teddy's grandfather, Bill Doyle, and uncle, Mark Doyle, bought the bar in 1980. His father later managed it. When his grandfather retired, his mom, Jan Ramstad, became his Uncle Mark's partner. Teddy worked at Chub's part-time during college and went full-time once he graduated.

Teddy gradually took on more responsibility, ultimately becoming general manager. Mark Doyle long assumed he would take over ownership of Chub's eventually.

"For all practical purposes, he was the successor," Doyle, 61, said. "I don't have many years left. It was just going to be passed down in the family. That was the plan. I guess that's not going to work the way we thought it was going to work."

Chub's opened in 1966. Located down the street from North Dakota State University, it has always been popular with students and a favorite of Bison sports fans, but it also attracts a diverse clientele. Doyle said Teddy was a key reason for Chub's popularity.

"He still has a huge following," he said. "There's a void there for sure. I think you would be hard pressed to find anybody else in this town in the bar business who's as well-known as Jason. He's just a good dude. Everybody knows him. Everybody likes him. He's just one of those guys. He liked everyone. He's got a lot of friends."

Brett Ramstad maintains a CaringBridge website that provides updates on his brother Teddy's condition and allows family and friends to contribute comments and reminiscences. You can find it here.