Posts Tagged: advice

Probituary: Bob Usgaard

Bob_U_ProbitInterview by Dan Bellrichard (pictured here on the left) • Originally published in the Winter 2011-12 Inspire(d)

“Bob’s Standard Services” in Decorah was a landmark since 1971,  – or perhaps more accurately, Bob Usgaard was the landmark. And although the station closed in May of 2014, it’s Bob that the customers will remember best. With a friendly smile, an unforgettable voice, and a true sense of service, Bob provided much more to the community than just a fill up and auto service over the years. He was born in rural Winneshiek County near Hesper on his Grandparent’s farm, and although you won’t find him at the pumps anymore, you may run into him out and about around town. The list of alumni employees at Bob’s reads like a “who’s who” of interesting and colorful professionals, and the man himself is as entertaining as ever. Decorah resident and past Bob’s employee Dan Bellrichard asks Bob a few questions for this probituary.

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Do the best you can with what you got when you are doing it.

What did you want to be when you grew up and what did you do?

Well, when I was still home at the farm in high school I wanted to be a veteranarian. I loved animals and wanted to help those in stress. I went to service in ‘53 and came back in ‘55 and worked for Standard Oil in Independece. I ran the station (leased it from Standard Oil) for 13 years. It was on highway 20, in really a busy spot. I moved to Decorah in 1971 and bought Phil Johnson’s station (ed.- Which Bob ran for 30+ years!). Norm Smith also worked out of the station fixing bikes and small engines until we opened Usgaard & Smith, and Lester Spilde worked with us full time for many years. Dave (Usgaard) & Jeff (Burke) started working in 73 or 74 as a part timers (and now run the station). I retired in 2004.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?

A good strong cell phone with good batteries and a solar charger, my wife Pat, and some good food.

Try to describe yourself in one sentence.

Easy going while trying to let the problems slide off the shoulders. Don’t worry about things, have faith and they will work out.

If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Squash soup

Name one thing you could not live without.

My family and grandchildren.

Multiple choice: tell us about: Your first job.

My first job was with Standard Oil. IN 1952 I ran an 800 gallon fuel tank wagon from Decorah all around the area North and West of town. It was right before I went into the service. It was an old international truck, and I can only recall one major break down – a broken axle in the spring from hitting a frost boil.

Your favorite memory.

Spending time in Decorah with my wife (Pat) and my brother (Curtis) and his wife. We were together a lot at Church dinners, visiting each others homes, volunteering, etc. Decorah has always been a viable, active, communitity. People are willing to do things. I also used to love to go to the Café Deluxe and miss that, but still make it out to the Cow Palace on Mondays whenever possible. It’s fun now to reminisce about places like the Otto Anderson candy shop (he was blind but people didn’t take advantage of him) – or the ET Haugen Tobacco store on the corner of Broadway and Water – where they sold malts and had a soda fountain. And of course all the year’s and customer’s at Bob’s Standard.

Probituary: Marjorie Moe

Update: Marjorie Moe, now 95 (2015) moved to Eastern Star Nursing Home October of 2011. Her (now former) neighbor Jody Jens interviewed her several years back for the April/May 2009 Inspire(d).

I first met Marj when I moved next door to her in 2003. She brought over a gift basket brimming with delicious baked goods – the first of many home cooked treats she would share with us over the years. One of the first things I learned about Marj is that she loves moose! She has many moose collectibles in her home and yard. She is a cancer survivor – she was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2003, won the battle, and has been cancer free going on six years now. Marjorie was born in 1919 on her family farm eight miles east of Waukon. She has six children, 28 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandchildren. She has many hobbies and likes to share her knowledge of birds, butterflies, and moose, often giving presentations to various church groups and nursing homes in the area. Many a summer evening, when the nights are warm and her windows are open, I can hear the sweet melody of Marjorie playing hymns on her piano.

Try to describe yourself in one sentence.
I enjoy my friends, neighbors, and family. I love the beauty of nature.

Jody’s note: “Here I think Marj is being her usual modest and humble self. I would describe her as a generous spirit; always giving, always supporting. This is evident by the sheer numbers of people she calls “friends.” She has a strong faith, a resilient character, and I’ve never heard her say a bad word about anyone. There is always a car, or two, parked in her driveway for many people are drawn to visit and spend time with her. She’s a talented quilter, baker, and has crafted many keepsakes for her children and grandchildren. Most importantly, she understands the value of the simple things in life and many summer afternoons you can find her sitting in her backyard among her beautiful flower gardens watching the birds, squirrels, and butterflies.”

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Look for the good in people. Remember that love and friendship are the most important things in life.

How about the worst?
As a young woman I loved to shop, visit people, and attend church functions. I was told, “Your place is in the home.” I was devastated.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a Rural School Teacher. My mother wanted me to be a Nurse. She thought the rural schools weren’t good enough for me and that I should apply for a teaching job in the “Town School.”

What do/did you do?
Against my mother’s wishes, I became a Rural School Teacher and enjoyed it. I taught for four years until I was married.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?
A root beer float, a piano, and my Junior Choir singing with Esther Egge playing the piano.

If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Sweet Soup! (A traditional Norwegian dessert made with prunes, apricots, raisins, tapioca and grape juice)

Name one thing you could not live without.
Besides my friends and family it would have to be my piano.

Tell us about…Your wedding day.
I married Earl Moe on June 9, 1943 at Old West Paint Creek Church. It was a beautiful day. The snowball trees, spirea, and peonies were in full bloom. Some of the relatives decorated the church with many beautiful flowers some of which adorned an arch. After the wedding we went to my parent’s home for the reception. We didn’t honeymoon until several years later when we visited my daughter in Bismarck, ND.

Your favorite memory.
At 89 having my grandson give me a helicopter ride and then my other grandson giving me a motorcycle ride! I look forward to a hot-air balloon ride when I’m 90!

Probituary: Duane Bruening

brueningInterviewed by daughter Elizabeth Breuning – Cowie. Originally published in the Feb/March 2010 issue of Inspire(d) Magzine.

Duane Bruening, husband of Eileen, father of eight, Grandfather of 17 (as of 2010), and Korean War Veteran reflects on more than eight decades of life.

What was the best advice anyone has offered you?
It came from Art Hass – my high school football coach. He had been a marine officer in WWII and urged me to follow if another war broke out. I took his advice the summer before my jr. year at Loras College and enlisted in the US Marine Corps as Korea erupted. The Marines instilled in me a sense of how to manage men- how to earn their trust and loyalty by first giving them mine! I took this and many other lessons and used them in one way or another in our family business.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a small boy I wanted to be many things from a cowboy to a race car driver. But my first clear memory was to be an engineer as I enjoyed building things. When I entered college, I declared my major as an electrical engineer –but transferred from Iowa State to Loras College and became a double major in economics and accounting.

What did you do?
After graduating from Loras College I reported back to the Marines with my wife and two children. We were stationed in North Carolina at camp Lejeune and I stayed in the Marines for two years and ended my career as a captain. The next 50 years I was an excavating contractor with Bruening Rock Products, Inc. When I moved back to Decorah I bought half of the business with my father. Two of my sons have made a career with BRP as well as my Grandson, Tyler. I celebrated my 80th birthday this past September and my family hosted a party for me at the office. I couldn’t help but reflect on all the wonderful memories I have from my life with the company.

If you were stranded on a desert island what three things would you want with you?
If I were stranded on a deserted island I would wish to have a most comfortable beach chair, a hammock strung between two trees, and last but not least a Coast Guard Helicopter over head with a young man aboard ready to deliver a large double cheese, double sausage, double pepperoni pizza from Mabe’s!

Tell us about…. your wedding day:
On an unusually warm and sunny December 1st in 1951 I wed my best gal, Eileen Marie Murphy. We wed at Nativity Church in Dubuque, IA at 9:30 am. All of my Loras buddies, family, and friends were there. The details of the day are now a little foggy, but when I said “I do” I know my heart was filled with joy and I knew I was a lucky man to be Eileen’s husband – she was so beautiful in her wedding gown. We celebrated with a breakfast at my In-Laws, pictures, and an early dinner at Timmerman’s. To cap off our big day Eileen’s parents hosted a reception for us at the Elm’s home. One of the memories that sticks out is the spiked punch. The party was to be free of alcohol, and the first batch of punch was as intended. My college pals eventually spiked the punch though and the fun began! The Loras gang had a good time, and my new Mother-in-law eventually noted a different taste in the punch and was concerned… but she was a nice lady and my new bride took it in stride so the day ended with love in all our hearts. The real kicker of the day was by night fall I took my bride home to our new apartment only to leave her in order to report for my holiday hours shift at the post office.