132 YEARS OF SERVICE to Southern Minnesota
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Genie took me to The Old Mill Restaurant in Austin for my same double-digit birthday dinner in January. The food was excellent, followed by a birthday sundae with two spoons. Our server, Shawn, most certainly knows how to make dining out a pleasure.

Auctioneer Orville Johnson, who is younger, and I agreed to sponsor the Coffee Hour at church with a birthday cake and other goodies in honor of our birthdays. Our plans were for naught, as everything was canceled that day (Sunday, January 26) due to a winter storm.

Many small towns roll up the carpet every Sunday evening. Ellendale, Minn. rolled out the carpet Sunday evening, Jan. 26. 88 people accepted the invitation to stay overnight at the Ellendale United Methodist Church. They were escorted to the church by locals plus the Minnesota Highway Patrol, giving directions to the church. Local volunteers prepared a hot meal for all, including a late snack of popcorn. Monday morning the local volunteers were back in the kitchen with a rural type breakfast served to all. Where did the food come from? It came from Lerberg’s, that’s where. All 88 people left Monday morning knowing what rural America is all about during a blizzard.

Question asked by Ellendale residents on the street in Ellendale, Minn. on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014: “My Mayor can see his shadow; can yours?” The newly erected sign on the wall behind the Mayor’s plush soft recliner in city chambers reads:


Is his name

Chasing Shadows

Is his game

He came into this world October 30, 1938. He left this world Jan. 31, 2014. Raymond H. Thompson.

I first met Ray in 1989. He was an AAL agent and a Navy veteran, and so was I. As members of the AAL fishing team we fished, played cribbage, and went casino-ing once in May on soft water and once a year on hard water, usually at Leech Lake, beginning in 1990. Our last soft water fishing was in May of 2013. Hard water fishing for 2014 was scheduled at Leech Lake, but we had to cancel due to the snow and slush on the ice. Even though Ray was diagnosed with colon and lung cancer in 2010, he enjoyed three more years with the AAL fishing team.

A Celebration of Life for Ray was held Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 at Pilgrim Lutheran Church, Frederic, Wisc. It was truly an upbeat occasion. Granddaughter Amy Thompson sang “Amazing Grace.” His obituary was read by daughter-in-law Annette Thompson. Son Scott Thompson gave his eulogy and then invited all to speak about Ray if they so desired.

And speak they did. Fellow Lions, fellow businessmen, Sunday school students, church members, neighbors, Confirmation students, people he had driven to the V.A. in Minneapolis, plus others. The last speaker was an old Navy vet who concluded by “God” speaking in Navy language: “Ray, you old fart, I have called you and you are mine.”

Wife Carol, ‘twas then I got the feeling that Hubby Ray is in a place provided for him while waiting for you.

After the homily given by Pastor Paul Peterson, we sang “Here I Am, Lord” as we headed for food and fellowship in the church basement, celebrating the life of Ray Thompson.

Thanks be to God.


Bob is a retired AAL (Aid Association for Lutherans) agent, currently working on his master’s degree in Volunteering. His wife, Genie, is a retired RN, currently working on her doctor’s degree in Volunteering. They have two children, Deb in North Carolina, and Dan in Vermont. Bob says if you enjoy his column, let him know. If you don’t enjoy it, keep on reading, it can get worse. Words of wisdom: There is always room for God.

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