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Popular Fargo bar manager, near death, makes turnaround

Jason "Teddy" Ramstad, general manager at Chub's Pub in Fargo, in 2012. The popular Ramstad, near death two weeks ago, has made a surprising turnaround. Forum file photo

FARGO — Jason "Teddy" Ramstad, the fun-loving barkeep and general manager of Chub's Pub on University Drive in north Fargo, has staged a remarkable turnaround since The Forum wrote about his imminent death two weeks ago.

His brother, Brett Ramstad, said Teddy is now hoping, after reading his "obituary" on the front page of the Forum, to engineer a "Dewey Defeats Truman" shocker, referring to the infamous newspaper headline that prematurely declared Thomas Dewey winner of the 1948 presidential election, which Harry Truman came from behind to win.

Two weeks ago, the Ramstad family said Teddy was unlikely to survive the year and they were faced with the difficult decision of when to discontinue use of the machines that were keeping him alive. Once he stopped dialysis, doctors told them, he was unlikely to survive more than a week or two.

Brett Ramstad said the family was beginning to plan for Teddy's funeral, but then he unexpectedly began to improve.

He emerged from his malaise. He began to respond to medication. He is no longer bed-ridden and has begun physical therapy using a wheelchair and a walker. He is now eating solid food and drinking on his own. He's playing cards with nurses.

Last week, he was thrilled to be able to drink his first carbonated beverage in four months — a Sprite.

"All of a sudden, he just perked up," his brother said. "Every day, he got better, little by little. It's night and day. The doctors, nurses, and everybody else is just flabbergasted. It's great to see."

Teddy Ramstad, 44, was taken to Sanford Health in downtown Fargo in August because of swelling in his legs. Two days later, he suffered a heart attack and stopped breathing.

Doctors revived him, but his condition deteriorated after that. He suffered 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 continued to go downhill.

The Forum article wasn't what caused Teddy's revival, but its impact certainly contributed. Reflecting his popularity, the article was viewed 23,405 times on the Inforum website in the first 24 hours after it was posted.

Friends and acquaintances, hearing about his condition, began texting Teddy's brother and mother, and posting supportive messages on Facebook and on the Caring Bridge site created for Teddy by his brother.

Teddy went from receiving two or three visitors a day in the hospital to 15 to 20, according to his brother.

"Everybody coming up there got him out of his funk," Brett Ramstad said. "When you're a social guy like Teddy, that just gets you activated. Somebody upstairs is looking out for him, but he also has support from a lot of people."

Ramstad emphasized that Teddy is "definitely not out of the woods yet." He will continue to receive daily dialysis. He has only just begun physical therapy that he was supposed to begin when he moved to Vibra in September. He will likely move later this week to a different transitional care facility that specializes in physical therapy. Full recovery will take time.

"He's doing a lot better," Brett Ramstad said. "We're moving in the right direction. We're extremely happy."

Teddy has worked at Chub's, which is owned by his family, since two days after his 21st birthday in 1994. He grew up in Audubon and Detroit Lakes, Minn., then earned a business degree from Moorhead State University.

He worked at Chub's part-time in college and went full-time upon graduation. He worked initially in Chub's off-sale operation, then became a bartender. He gradually took on more responsibility, ultimately becoming general manager. Chub's is currently owned by Teddy's uncle, Mark Doyle, and his mother, Jan Ramstad. Teddy's grandfather, Bill Doyle, and Mark Doyle bought Chub's in 1980.

Mark Doyle said Teddy was expected to take over ownership of the bar eventually. That appeared unlikely two weeks ago, but perhaps he still will. Doyle said of Teddy, "He's just a good dude. Everybody knows him. Everybody likes him."

He's also got a sense of humor, even while hospitalized and seriously ill. After friends showed him the Forum article, which appeared on the front page, he expressed surprise.

"I'm really more of a page-six guy," he told his brother.