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David Crothers remembered as a driving force behind rural broadband

David Crothers, 66, of Bismarck, died April 22, 20022, in Fargo. Since 1988, he was chief executive officer of the Broadband Association of North Dakota, previously known as the North Dakota Association of Telecommunications Cooperatives.

David Crothers
David Crothers
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BISMARCK, N.D. — David Crothers, an advocate for bringing broadband internet to North Dakota’s most rural areas, is fondly remembered as someone who could make you feel special simply by returning his phone call.

Seth Arndorfer credits Crothers for much of the success of the Dakota Carrier Network that Arndorfer has headed up since 2013.

“He knew more than me, in most cases, but he always said, ‘I just so appreciate, Seth, you sharing your wisdom with me,’ when I knew full well that he had more wisdom than I did,” Arndorfer said.

Crothers, 66, of Bismarck, died April 22, in Fargo.

Crothers spent a career in governmental affairs. Since 1988, he was chief executive officer of the Broadband Association of North Dakota, previously known as the North Dakota Association of Telecommunications Cooperatives.

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Crothers was the long-term chairman of the Government Affairs Committee for the national Rural Broadband Association (NTCA).

Crothers was often asked to share his wisdom, testifying before Congress.

“He was the point to person on legislation that had any things to do with broadband,” said Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of the NTCA.

She said his testimony was persuasive because it wasn’t just facts and statistics to paint a picture of rural North Dakota.

“How did it impact that farmer, how did it impact that businesswoman, how did it impact Elgin,” Bloomfield said, making a reference to the southwest North Dakota town where Crothers and his family had farmland.

He represented telecommunications cooperatives in the North Dakota.

Lorena Lambrecht of Tioga is president of the Broadband Association of North Dakota and credits Crothers with helping North Dakota build one of the best fiber optic networks in the nation.

“He was always an advocate on the state and federal level,” Lambrecht said. “He is definitely going to be a hard man to replace.”

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Randy Houdek is the CEO of Venture Communications Cooperative, of Highmore, South Dakota, and worked with Crothers through the Rural Broadband Association.

“He came by his working knowledge by working closely with the people he represented,” Houdek said. “And when it came time to advocate, he knew his stuff.”

Crothers was also known for dressing well, always having a Diet Coke at hand and enjoying a round of golf, often with legislators, policy makers or others he felt needed to hear his pitch for the need for broadband service.

“One of the things that was unique about David was his ability to so eloquently articulate the importance of every North Dakotan having access to reliable, affordable broadband,” Arndorfer said.

A private burial service will take place in Elgin, followed by a gathering from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, 2022, at the Bismarck Funeral Home, 3723 Lockport St., Bismarck.

Reach Jeff Beach at jbeach@agweek.com or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
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