Oct. 2, 2006

Howard Page: one of Dassel's leading contributors

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Howard Page has seen and done many things in his 80 years of life. Much of his works and contributions can be seen around the City of Dassel.

Page was born in Duluth and grew up in southwest Minneapolis. In 1950, he earned a degree in economics.

After graduation, Page spent three years working in Michigan at Ford Field Training Program and at Bond International before returning to Minneapolis to work in his father’s business in 1954.

After his father died in 1958, he took over the electrical supplies company which fabricated small electrical products for hospitals and nursing homes.

He was attracted to smaller communities and wanted to move his company out of the metropolitan area.

This idea came from a trip to Europe with a colleague. Large cities in England, for example, would move industries out of town and the workers would follow and begin their own communities around that business. Page saw this opportunity in Dassel.

“I wanted to do something to make a difference,” he said.

Soon, Page moved Crest Electronics to Dassel. He added more employees and built a new building in Red Rooster Industrial Park. He developed a catalog to sell his products to hospitals and nursing homes around the country.

While living in the Cities, Page got into buying properties, fixing them up and renting or selling them. He continued his endeavor in Dassel.

Page has bought several homes from the Dassel Cokato High School’s vocational projects and moved them into what is now 13 lots in Galiger Lane in Dassel.

He also had bought and fixed up vacant buildings along Atlantic Avenue in Dassel and rented them out.

Page began an implement dealership with Massey Ferguson. Farm Rite Equipment was formed on the corner of Highway 12 and 15 in Dassel.

After selling Farm Rite, Page helped Nortronics locate to Dassel.

The Crest building was destroyed by a fire in which they relocated to a building on Atlantic Avenue until it was rebuilt.

Page then helped Jeff Baumgartner start American Time and Signal in Dassel.

“I watched it grow to become an important business in Dassel,” Page said.

In 1986, Page sold Crest Electronics and bought the Cokato Depot building.

The former Cokato train depot can be seen now along Highway 12 in Dassel.

In its beginnings in Dassel, the depot was used for several community events including, melodramas, Christmas plays, birthday parties, and arts and crafts sales before it was turned into a museum.

Now, “rail fans” as Page calls them, come from all over the US to visit the museum and see all the railroad artifacts he has collected throughout the years.

Collecting railroad artifacts has been a hobby for Page and the opportunity arose for him to buy the depot and preserve it as a historical site.

The museum is open daily from Memorial Day until Oct. 1.

Page enjoys watching the community of Dassel growing. He is interested in watching the dynamics of the city changing, especially with the new developments along Fifth Street.

He sees development growing and along with this, the town will need to provide more services locally for its residents, Page explained.

“It’s fun to watch,” he said.

Other contributions

Page donated the Universal Laboratories Building to the Dassel Area Historical Society at its appraised price. He had bought the building for its potential for development, but later decided against it, Page explained.

With land owned on the north side of Dassel, Page donated a portion to the City of Dassel for the building of a new water tower, along with the opposite side of Highway 12 for the Dassel Ice and Sports Center.

Page has also been an active member in Cokato Dassel Rotary and the Dassel Area Historical Society.

He and his wife Kathy have moved to Wayzata, but spends many of his summer days in Dassel and his winter in Tucson, Arizona.

They have eight children, 13 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

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