Downtown St. Paul mover and shaker Randy Geller has died

Randy Geller, who was always looking for ways to liven up downtown St. Paul, died Saturday after battling a brain tumor. He was 45.

He helped manage his family’s landmark Victory Parking Ramp in downtown St. Paul, also managed the downtown Grace Building and had been a part-owner of Dixie’s on Grand Avenue.

He spent lots of time courting new restaurants and businesses for the buildings he ran and never lost his sense of optimism and belief that downtown St. Paul could be a better place, even when struggling to fill up, over and over, the old Gallivan’s space.

He was a great source of mine when I covered downtown St. Paul for the Star Tribune, because he was always thinking and planning new projects. He brought a jazz club to the corner of Fourth and Wabasha in 2003. It didn’t last too long, but then he started looking for a new tenant. 

Randy and I used to meet in dark corners of downtown, usually around some corner of his old parking ramp, so we wouldn’t be seen by Pioneer Press reporters. He worried that they’d be mad if they knew he was collaborating with the “enemy newspaper.” But he never hesitated to fill me in, even if it meant a scoop for the Strib.

After be was diagnosed with a brain tumor in early 2008, Randy amazed his friends and colleagues with his sense of humor and efforts to defeat the disease. He sought treatment at the Duke University Medical School and was always upbeat with his reports.

Former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, who was mayor of St. Paul for eight years, called in from California today to express his sadness at Geller’s passing.

“He was the guy, who, in the dark days of St. Paul, held up the light; he was the Energizer Bunny. We’ve lost a spark,” Coleman said.”He lifted me up when I thought things were getting tough in St. Paul. He was always optimistic. He was an amazing young man who loved St. Paul and had passion and energy that we all tapped into.”

Coleman said that even while Geller battled the tumor, he always thought of others.

“He wrote me letters after my race to lift me up. A big smile across his face, that’s the way I’ll remember him,” he said.

Shortly after Geller’s first surgery in January, 2008, he wrote on his Caring Bridge site:

All All You , Thank You SO Much, I am So Lucky to have you think of me and my family, we are all a team, we all help for everyone,

Life is the Journey main, not destination, I hope so much more to spend more time, and but it’s not me, it’s all of us with each other, new people

Thank Thank You

I LOVE

He is survived by his wife and two children. A service will be held Tuesday, at 3:30 p.m. at the Temple of Aaron Synagogue, 616 S. Mississippi River Blvd., St. Paul.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Brian Sweeney on 12/08/2009 - 12:10 pm.

    Many fond memories of dozens of meetings, luncheons, and ‘on the street’ encounters with Randy.

    Always upbeat, positive, and constructive in helping Saint Paul.

    I saw him 6-8 months ago at a restaurant on yes, Wabasha, in downtown St. Paul (his block). We shared a lot and I wondered if it might be our last meeting. In parting, we hugged, we both cried and he waved.

    Blessings, friend,

    Brian Sweeney

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