Herald Journal Columns
Feb. 24, 2003 Herald Journal
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I've found everyone has a story to tell

By RYAN GUENINGSMAN

As I was going through the basket of articles to be proofed late last week, I came across a familiar face on one of the obituaries.

I'm talking about former Winsted druggist Herb Roufs, who passed away Tuesday.

I had heard the name before, but never knew much about Herb until early December when he was chosen to be the grand marshal of the Winsted Winter Festival parade.

I was given the assignment to interview Herb, who was at that time 90 years old. He was living at the Glencoe Hospital in the long-term care unit, and I was told by several of his family members to stop in about 4:30 p.m. ­ after he woke up from his afternoon nap, and before he went to dinner.

I found Herb's room, introduced myself, and told him why I was there. Although he humbly said he wasn't sure why he had been chosen to be grand marshal, he told me his life story.

Herb recalled that he was one of the first persons ever from the community of Winsted to go to a college, and he remembered it like it was yesterday.

"The gentleman reading my application looked at it and said, 'I'll give you one year, then you will quit,'" Herb recalled.

"I asked him why he thought that, and the answer he gave me was because I was from a small town."

"The man looked at the application further and said 'Wait a minute, I'm sorry, I take that back ­ I give you one quarter ­ you went to a private school.'"

Herb proved the gentleman wrong, earning his way to the University of Minnesota's honor roll, and graduated at the top of his class in 1935, specializing in the pharmacy industry.

Although he retired from the pharmacy business before my time, Herb went on to become Winsted's pharmacist until he was 63 years old, when he decided to sell the store to his employee Ken Kremer.

Herb was also a member of Holy Trinity parish, and very active in church functions. He served many people who still live in Winsted for many years, and did it not seeking recognition, but rather trying to make his hometown a better place to live.

Not bad for a "small-town boy." The hour I spent talking to Herb flew by with tales of his fund raising efforts for St. Mary's Hospital, his different pharmacy jobs, as well as pride in his family.

When I left the Glencoe Hospital that afternoon, I realized that everyone has a story to tell, whether it be a complete life spent on a farm, or on an assembly line, in the entertainment business, in public office, or as in Herb's case a pharmicist ­ everyone has stories and are generally more than willing to share if someone will take the time to listen.

With my job, I've had the opportunity to interview and listen to a lot of people.

From famous musicians, to farmers, to new business owners, to mayors, fire chiefs, and many more. All three jobs I have had ­ at the Pantry, Glenn's Super Valu, and here at Herald Journal Publishing ­ have introduced me to many different people, all who have a story to tell.

Another example of this I found was while reading sports editor Aaron Schultz's article "Talkin' a little baseball: it doesn't get any better." Aaron called 76-year-old Glen Johnson to get some information on the old Hollywood baseball team ­ information that could have been compiled in under 10 minutes.

Aaron and Glen spent over half an hour on the phone ­ just talkin' baseball. Glen was recalling stories of the 'good ol' days,' and Aaron was in heaven hearing these stories.

Everyone has these stories. It's just a matter of finding someone who will listen.

It may mean taking a half an hour out of your busy schedule to stop in and visit grandpa and grandma and see how their day is going, chatting with the person next to you at the counter of your local restaurant, or stopping to talk with the person picking up their mail at the same time as you from the post office.

I know I do not do this all the time, but I'm going to try to listen more.

Just listen to people, and you may learn a lot.

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