Minn. bicycling hobo killed near Britt, Iowa

Published 9:31 am Monday, August 1, 2011

By Kristin Buehner, Mason City Globe-Gazette

BRITT, Iowa — Railroad Randy, a hobo from Minneapolis, has been identified as the bicyclist killed Friday night on U.S. Highway 18 near Britt.

Randy, whose given name was Randy Nomeland, was pedaling eastbound at 10:30 p.m. Friday just west of Britt when he was struck by an SUV driven by Travis Jack Thomas, 39, of Floyd, Iowa, who was also eastbound, the Iowa State Patrol reported.

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The accident remains under investigation.

Nomeland was 60.

“He was my brother,” said Robin Franks, 52, of Greenville, Texas, on Sunday.

Timothy Nomeland, 48, of Minneapolis, Randy’s younger brother, said an autopsy was being performed.

Randy was the oldest of four siblings who also include Gary Nomeland of Detroit Lakes.

Robin and Timothy described Randy as someone who befriended a lot of people and could talk to anyone.

“He had a heart of gold,” Timothy said. “He had a great laugh.”

“He lived off the land,” said Robin. “He claimed to be the last of a dying breed.”

He was carrying his tent with him on his bicycle when he was killed.

When home in Minneapolis, Randy lived in a three-plex apartment.

He found jobs wherever he traveled, doing landscaping or cleaning, for example. He had also done restaurant work.

Robin said she last talked with Randy two weeks ago. He told her he was going to Britt for the National Hobo Convention, Aug. 11-14.

He planned to run for hobo king this year, having completed the necessary requirements.

“This was his first year of eligibility,” Timothy said.

Connecticut Shorty of Britt, a hobo friend, said this would have been Randy’s third Hobo Convention.

“He was a nice man,” she said. “He was a good storyteller.”

Randy had been working with other hobos who had arrived early to clean the picnic area and rest rooms in the hobo jungle, Shorty said.

Randy was proud of having ridden the rails, which he did from 1979 to 2001, Shorty said.

Timothy said he thought it was wonderful that Randy was part of the hobo community.

“He always wanted to go places and see places and he did so in such a beautiful way.”

According to their brother’s wishes, Randy’s siblings have tentative plans to have his body cremated and his ashes strewn at the Hobo Convention.

The fact that Randy died in Britt “is a great thing,” Timothy said.

“That’s where he wanted to be.”

Ewing Funeral Home of Britt is in charge of arrangements.