STAPLES -- It's not difficult to see the impact Duane Lund has had on Staples.
On Thursday, more than 200 people packed into the banquet room at T. Maxwell's Restaurant in Staples to honor Lund, who for 25 years served as Staples superintendent. He was awarded the Dr. Duane Lund Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the Staples Community Foundation in appreciation for Lund's years of service and dedication to the city of Staples.
And when each of those 200 people arrived at the restaurant they were greeted by Lund at the door with a handshake, a hug or both.
"It's just a great honor," said 76-year-old Lund at the end of the greeting line, which wound its way out the T. Maxwell entrance and into the parking lot. "I'm kind of at a loss for words. It's just so special. So many people are deserving of this."
Lund, originally from Brainerd, has degrees from Macalester College and the University of Minnesota. He was good friends with governors Luther Youngdahl and C. Elmer Anderson and worked in Washington, D.C., for Sen. Ed Thye.
He worked as a teacher and counselor at Staples High School and in 1960 he became principal and a year later he was named superintendent of Staples schools. He held that position until he retired in 1985.
But even in retirement Lund stayed busy. He has served as a consultant to the Blandin Foundation and served as a founding board member of the Staples Community Foundation. His hobbies include oil painting, hunting and fishing and he has written 36 books, including "The Historic Upper Mississippi," "The Indian Wars," and "Lake Superior, Yesterday and Today." In 1985 he was named Minnesota Author of the Year by the Minnesota Association of Librarians and Media Specialists.
When Thursday's ceremony started it often times resembled a roast, as speakers Stanley Edin, Jim Krile, Dr. Ted Lelwica and master of ceremonies Ray Gildow -- all longtime friends of Lund's -- good-humoredly poked fun at Lund's size, his love of food, his bachelorhood and his hunting habits.
Duane R. Lund, retired Staples-Motley superintendent, was given the award that bears his name -- the Dr. Duane R. Lund Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Staples Community. The award was presented by the Staples Community Foundation.
Lund, a 1943 graduate of Brainerd High School, was inducted into the Brainerd High School Hall of Fame for Distinguished Achievement in 2003.
But the speakers also spoke seriously of Lund, noting his work with children, work to better the schools and to bring economic opportunity to Staples.
And while the jokes had the crowd laughing, it was those heartfelt, sincere praises from the speakers which brought applause from the crowd.
"We honor a living legend, do we not?" said Edin, whom Lund, as high school counselor, had advised to go to college and later helped get a job in Staples. "He's a mentor. He's certainly been a lifelong mentor to me."
Along with slide shows of Lund's career, Lelwica recalled several hunting stories about Lund and Gildow sang a rendition of Frank Sinatra's "My Way."
"I'm personally blessed to know you and have you as a friend and I want to thank you, too," said Lelwica. "Our community, Duane, owes you thanks."
In accepting his award to a standing ovation, Lund said he sees great things for Staples. He said he's never seen as much construction as he has in the past year in the place he said he has and always will consider home.
"This is my home, and no matter where you live, you are my family," said an emotional Lund, to which the crowd, many of whom were hired to work in Staples schools by Lund, responded with another standing ovation.
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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