July 23, 2007

Looking back at a career of opportunities for Carl Ingebrigtson

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

The first time he attempted to move to Delano, it was snowing so bad that Carl Ingebrigtson had to call ahead to make sure the road was open and that he’d be able to get through.

Years later, it was also a snowstorm that brought Ingebrigtson back to Delano to finish his pharmacy career.

He bought the drug store in Delano in 1969, which was located in downtown, and made his home in Delano with his wife, Toby, but before that, he grew up in southwestern Minnesota.

Ingebrigtson graduated from high school in Westbrook, which is located 50 miles from Iowa, and 50 miles from South Dakota, he said.

Upon graduation, he went to the University of Minnesota, studying pharmacy.

“We were the first group going through that had to have the five-year program,” Ingebrigtson said, adding that the first year of his studies focused on pre-pharmacy, while the last four were pharmacy.

He became a licensed pharmacist in 1959, and did some work at several different places in the Twin Cities. He also did some graduate work back at the U of M.

“Everybody had ideas what they want to do with their life,” Ingebrigtson said. “I had the pharmacy degree, and I also had the flexibility to do what I wanted to.”

Stints at a drug company and a hospital in the Twin Cities led Ingebrigtson to look for something more rural, more back to the way he was used to living as a young boy in southwestern Minnesota.

He worked at Swedish Hospital in Minneapolis, which was located across the road from St. Barnabas Hospital. In 1970, the two merged to become the Metropolitan Medical Center (MMC).

Ingebrigtson wasn’t around, however, to see the merger take place. He had left the hospital to take a job at Butler Drug, located on 26th and Nicollet. He worked there from February 1964 through December 1969.

He knew going into the job at Butler that eventually he wanted to own his own pharmacy.

“At that time, privately-owned drug stores were an attainable dream,” he said.

He started looking for a store, and through some connections, heard about Jim Moran, who owned the drug store in Delano.

“We hit it off,” Ingebrigtson said, adding that Moran supplied some of the capital needed to buy the store, while Ingebrigtson paid for knocking down a wall and expanding into a former variety store located next door. The old pharmacy is where World Tae Kwon Do Academy is presently located on River Street.

He was in downtown Delano with his business for 10 years, working with partner V. Edward Anderson.

Ingebrigtson’s store became a part of the Snyder’s franchise in 1979, and moved into the strip mall located on Highway 12, located in the area where Carquest is today. He continued there until he sold out in 1996, and semi-retired, he said.

Ingebrigtson said he was the community-oriented person, while Anderson was the business-oriented person in the partnership. Ingebrigtson served on the Delano School Board for six years, was active with the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce, Delano Lions, and his church community at Light of Christ Lutheran.

“Those were good years,” Ingebrigtson said. “You never had to hunt for a meeting to go to.”

He said that being busy with work and organization commitments kept him away from watching his children grow up a little more than he would have liked.

“Life is dynamic,” he said. “It just keeps moving.”

He and Toby have two children – Michael Ingebrigtson and Kathryn Hagglund.

Michael Ingebrigtson lives in Blaine, and has a daughter, Kelly, who has a son named Damian.

Kathryn, who lives in Elk River with her husband Michael Hagglund, has three children – Jenna, Tanner, and Hannah.

Even though Ingebrigtson is retiring, he said he still plans to keep his license, and will fill in as a substitute when needed.

“At least until I hit that 50-year mark,” he said. “I’ve not known too many (pharmacists) to just hang it up,” he said. That “50-mark” will be in two years, the 71-year old pharmacist said.

Even though he sold his own business in the mid-1990s, Ingebrigtson stayed active, but said in Delano, the competition was really starting to get tough.

“I looked at the books at the end of the year, and all it had was red ink,” he said about why he sold the store.

Around that same time, he had a friend working at Cub Foods who had contacted Ingebrigtson to come work with him.

“I stayed away from work for about six weeks,” he said. After that, he took up his friend’s offer, and went to work for Cub Foods in Plymouth, doing a float shift. It started out as three days a week, grew to four, and eventually five.

“When it was all said and done, I was working seven days a week,” Ingebrigtson said. “I said to myself, ‘this isn’t going to work.’”

Ingebrigtson was contacted by Ted Beatty of Coborn’s, who, at that time was the district manager for the Delano area, who asked Ingebrigtson if he’d like to “work at home.”

Ingebrigtson accepted the offer, and landed back in Delano – the town where he had owned his first store years ago. The thing that brought him back to Delano, he said, was the distance – and a snowstorm.

“I looked at it as 18 miles versus one mile,” Ingebrigtson said, adding that one night, much like back in 1969, he was met with a bad snowstorm – only this time, it was as he was getting ready to leave work in Plymouth and head back home to Delano.

“It was slippery, and it was getting dark, so fog was setting in,” he said. “I got to Loretto, and said to myself ‘self, you’d be stupid not to go back.’”

So, he did, and has been working as the pharmacy manager of Coborn’s since that time.

Looking back over his years in Delano, Ingebrigtson said one thing that has changed a lot is the population increase.

“Even in the ‘70s when I was on the school board, we were getting ‘fast growth’ money,” he recalled.

When asked what else has changed about Delano, Ingebrigtson simply replied with a smile, “what hasn’t?”

Even though his community has changed, Ingebrigtson’s philosophy on the people he’s filled prescriptions for hasn’t over the years.

“You know them not only as patients,” Ingebrigtson said, “but you know them as friends.”

Now that he is officially retiring, maybe Ingebrigtson will be doing some fishing, traveling, or golfing. But, probably not.

He said his first task will be to go through the stacks of papers on his desk, and work on his continuing education credits needed to keep his license active. It’s just another way Ingebrigtson feels he can live life to its fullest.

“Life always leads you to opportunities. You say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to them when they come along. I look at everything as an opportunity.

“Bottom line is, I’m happy with where I’m at. I really have enjoyed the community, and the people who’ve lived here and enabled me to serve them,” Ingebrigtson said. “Thank you.”

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