By Jen Bakken
DELANO, MN After growing up on a farm about two miles west of Delano, it should be no surprise that Angie (Muckenhirn) Van Lith became accustomed to helping out at an early age, and has continued to lend a hand throughout the community in countless ways.
Her late husband, Kasey Van Lith, owned Kasey’s Auto Service in Delano, and the couple raised four children David, Steven, Bob, and Kathy.
For many years, Angie performed catering duties for family, friends, and neighbors. Whether it was a wedding, a graduation, or any other event she has always felt at home in the kitchen.
“Oh, I’ve always loved to cook and bake,” admitted Angie Van Lith. “I loved to can, too, but I don’t do any of it as much anymore.”
With her extensive volunteerism, it is hard to believe there was any time for her much loved time in the kitchen.
Because Kasey was very involved in the Delano American Legion, Angie enthusiastically joined the woman’s auxiliary, and even served as its president. The poppy program is another place where she lent a hand for 36 years. The poppy is the American Legion Auxiliary’s memorial flower, used to benefit servicemen and their families. Angie was even Poppy Queen in 1982.
Through her involvement with the Legion, she helped coordinate a blood bank organization, which initially meant finding all of the nurses herself. Forty-three years later, one may still see her working as a greeter during an American Red Cross Blood Drive.
Her son, Steven Van Lith, is the New Germany Fire Chief, and her son, Bob Van Lith, is the current Delano Fire Chief, both taking after their father, who served as the Delano Fire Chief for many years. And after all these years, Angie still participates in the Fire Ladies group.
The Catholic Aid Association and Knights of Columbus Auxiliary are other organizations where her name and dedication to community service are well-known.
Angie was recognized Oct. 17 by executive director Jen Millard and president Ted May of the Delano-Loretto Area United Way for over 26 years of service.
“Angie has been a faithful and hard-working United Way board member. She knows the community well and is aware of the needs of people,” May said. “In her quiet, unassuming way, Angie has brought positive change to Delano and the Wright County area.”
At 85 years old, Angie has served, and continues to serve, the community in countless ways and all without the use of a car.
“Oh, I’ve never ever driven, I’ve just never needed to,” she said. “And I help because when people ask me, I just say yes.”
Though she may require the assistance of a hearing aid and a cane, she continues to be an example for upcoming generations, and is proud to say, “I’m still in my own home, and I take care of everything inside myself.”
She may not have much free time, but when she does, it’s spent doing word searches to keep her mind active.
“I will still help when I can, but I guess, really, I’ve done it long enough,” she said with a smile. “Good gracious, the time moves fast. I think it’s been a pretty important 85 years.”