Herald Journal Columns
March 3, 2003 Herald Journal
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Unforgettable people ­ like Willard Kreitlow


I had the privilege of interviewing Willard Kreitlow this week for a story, and I must tell you what a truly remarkable person he is.

He is an elderly farmer who used to dairy farm, although he still tills the soil at the age of 80.

Willard spent 42 years on the parks commission, and is being honored for it this week. He deserves it.

If you enjoy a county park anywhere, you are probably the unknown beneficiary of Willard's legacy to our community.

He is tall with whisps of white hair, and is probably the most humble man I've ever met.

His voice was raspy, and I had to listen for a minute to tune into what he was saying.

But after that, I was struck by his words and wisdom.

Through his life, he thought only of the public in relation to parks and water access. He was a team player in the clearest sense of the word.

He thought "we," not "me," ­ with the "we" part being all of us, not just people he knew.

It was difficult to convince him a story was a good idea, and throughout the interview he emphasized how much he was only a part of the parks service.

His daughter and son in law gave me permission to brag him up a bit, but I tried to be careful with it. Even now, I wonder if we will ever know all of the things that Willard did for the public, since he is unwilling to list them readily.

He refused to take credit for anything, even though it was so evident that other people thought completely otherwise.

I visited his house to return a photo and tripped on numerous awards that decorated his walls.

"This one is from the governor!" I almost yelled to Willard's son in law, Jerry Ford (he writes a film review column for the newspaper).

Needless to say, this bit of info got added to the story. It had to.

As I drove home, I wondered how a person like Willard would ever be replaced. He's one of a kind.

You can't buy that kind of attitude of public service. It doesn't exist anymore?

Dictionary? What is that. . .

Last week, I wrote about the difference between an antique and vintage item, asking readers for the answer.

I didn't look far when Sue Claussen from the Howard Lake Post Office once again came to my aid.

"Did you check in the dictionary?" she asked me.

I sat there with my mouth open, looking at her like I never heard the word before.

"Umm, yes we could have done that," I said.

Definition of Antique: a piece of furniture, silverware, etc. made in a former period, generally more than 100 years ago.

Definition of vintage: representative of or dating from a period long past.

Later, I explained to her that I prefer to do things the hard way, rather than the easy way. Easy is so boring, right?

Believe it or not (ha ha), we use the dictionary every week at the newspaper ­ usually arguing over who is right and sometimes betting lunch over it.

This week I looked up three words "Medicaid," "eventful," and "bureaucracy" (the latter of which almost killed us because it's spelled so differently.)

I could call Sue and ask her for help in the future, too.

The following sign was prominently displayed in the window of a business in Philadelphia: "We would rather do business with 1,000 terrorists from Al Quada than one single American."

It was a funeral home!

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