Longtime 'Prairie Home Companion' truck driver dies at 81

In this May 7, 2016 photo, Russ Ringsak, longtime truck driver for Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” public radio variety show, plays a song as a farewell on his final show of the tour at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. Ringsak died Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017 at his home in Stillwater, his wife, Denise Ringsak, told Keillor’s Prairie Home Productions. (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP)
In this May 7, 2016 photo, Russ Ringsak, longtime truck driver for Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” public radio variety show, greets fans after playing a song during the live broadcast as a farewell on his final show of the tour at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. Ringsak died Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017 at his home in Stillwater, his wife, Denise Ringsak, told Keillor’s Prairie Home Productions. (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP)

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Russ Ringsak, a former architect who became the longtime truck driver for Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" public radio variety show, has died. He was 81.

Ringsak died Tuesday at his home in Stillwater, Minnesota, his wife, Denise Ringsak, told Keillor's Prairie Home Productions.

Ringsak met Keillor in 1971, when he joined a softball team sponsored by Keillor's old morning radio show. He became the full-time "Prairie Home" truck driver in 1991, hauling the show's equipment. He also contributed "Letters From the Truck Driver" to the show and occasionally played onstage.

Ringsak retired after performing "Six Days on the Road" at a "Prairie Home" show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in May 2016. Keillor retired as the show's host later that year.

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