As the end of the 2000s approached, the Brainerd area lost a number of notable citizens who, in one way or another, left their mark on the community.
The following were among the many active and involved community members who died in 2009.
Asplund, who died Sept. 28 at age 76, was remembered by his colleagues on the Brainerd City Council as a gentleman who displayed common sense and a good sense of humor. He served on the council for 14 years beginning in 1989 and ending in 2002. In 2006, he was appointed to the Brainerd Public Utilities Commission. He served on that panel until his death.
Howard "Jiggs" Blanck
Another one-time Brainerd City Council member, Blanck served on that body from 1974 to 1979. He also served two stints on the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission, on the Brainerd Transportation Committee and the Brainerd Charter Commission. He served on the Brainerd Parks and Recreation Board from 2004 until his death on Dec. 1 at age 73.
Blanck was an active supporter of the Brainerd School District, serving on the Brainerd High School Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame Selection Committee from its inception. He also was an active member of Zion Lutheran Church.
With family roots in the Brainerd area that dated back to the 1880s, he was a source of knowledge as an unofficial Brainerd historian.
Hamilton's 40-year career in forestry saw great improvements in forest management in Crow Wing County. The Crow Wing County land commissioner from 1976-1990 died Dec. 22 in Brooklyn Center at the age of 81.
The 1947 Crosby-Ironton High School graduate was instrumental in improving the Milford Mine area and helping to establish the MacMillan Bloedel wood products plant near Deerwood. The plant, now owned by Weyerhaeuser, is currently closed.
W.L. Yibby Knudsen
Fun-loving and committed to his hometown. That's how friends of Knudsen remembered the Brainerd man who died July 23 at age 90. A retired Realtor and a World War II veteran, Knudsen served for 30 years on the Evergreen Cemetery Association Board. Knudsen was a past exalted ruler of the Brainerd Elks. He was known to many Brainerd area residents for his performances in Geritol Frolics and with the Barbershop Harmony Society.
Madison began his business career in Brainerd as an assistant manager of the Woolworth store. By the time of his death on Jan. 13, at age 98, he had, at one time, developed business interests that included Triangle Oil, the Lund Boat Co., Holiday Inn and the development of residential areas in south Brainerd.
He was active in the establishment of the Brainerd Area Civic Center and was one of the original organizers of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber Commerce and Industry Show. He also served on the Brainerd School Board for 12 years, was president of the Brainerd chamber in 1944 and was president of Build Brainerd. His civic involvement included the Rotary, Elks and Masonic Lodge.
A colleague who worked with him at Brainerd's Lake Region Clinic described him as an "old country doctor" who was an energetic physician with strong opinions and a good sense of humor. The doctor was a founder of the clinic, which later merged with Brainerd Medical Center.
Muesing died Sept. 14 at the age of 75.
After retiring from the clinic, Muesing worked for a number of years with the Veterans Administration Medical Center in St. Cloud.
Williams headed Citizens State Bank (later Bremer Bank) from 1982 to 2004, but was equally known for his willingness to donate energy to community charities. At the time of his death on Sept. 28, at age 67, he was serving as honorary chair of the St. Joseph's Foundation's Heart and Vascular Center at St. Joseph's Medical Center. He was named the 1997 Brainerd Citizen of the Year.
Other volunteer activities included the Central Lakes College Foundation Board, Salvation Army, Brainerd Family YMCA, Central Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Brainerd Rotary and the College of St. Scholastica.
MIKE O'ROURKE may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5860.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.