By Jen Bakken
INDEPENDENCE, MN - Just one visit to the home of Jim Uzzell (pronounced You-zell), makes it apparent that not only is he a builder, but a talented one as well.
Uzzell and his wife Roxie built their dream home on the shores of Lake Independence 21 years ago. A home, on a 110-feet by 110-feet lot in Medina, Uzzell designed and proudly built himself.
The couple raised two children, Jeremy and Dede.
When his father passed away at the young age of 39, Uzzell’s mother was forced to raise six children alone and, although it wasn’t easy, she can now beam with pride over each of their successes.
“We all made it okay,” said Jim Uzzell. “We all had to work hard. She (mom) did well and were raised Christian.”
Following in his father’s footsteps, Uzzell began working as a carpenter and eventually began his own business, J. Uzzell Contstruction, with the slogan, “For a home built well call Uzzell.”
While Uzzell and his son run the family business, his wife is works as a secretary for Osseo Elementary School, but the couple hopes to retire someday soon.
“I have a 50-acre development in Corcoran,” he said. “I’m still waiting for some of those to sell. Hopefully the market will improve soon and as soon as it does I can retire.”
Fishing off the Uzzell dock is a favorite pastime for their six grandchildren, ranging in age from seven to 13 years old.
Although these grandparents enjoy time with their grandchildren, they also can’t wait to ride on Uzzell’s 2003 Anniversary Edition Harley Davidson Heritage Softtail.
The silver and black motorcycle sports a lot of chrome, and they happily put 300 miles on it over Labor Day weekend.
One would think that Uzzell would have many Lake Independence fish story to tell, but most of his stories involve Canada.
“About six of us fly in once a year,” he said. “We stay in a tent cabin. It’s really roughing it, but we sure catch a lot of walleyes and northerns.”
Another trip he and his wife were fortunate enough to take was to Hawaii, but it was paid for in an unusual way Beanie Babies.
Yes, Beanie Babies were not only a hobby for awhile, but a source of income, as well. First, his wife began collecting them and before they knew it they were also selling them, and for quite a profit.
“My son got involved too,” he said. “We’d have $1,000 Saturdays, believe it or not. I remember paying $100 for 10 Garcia tie dye bears and selling them for $1,300. People got crazy over those things.”
Though the Beanie Baby market has since dwindled, it serves as a fun memory to Uzzell, who still has one set he keeps in a special case.
He remembers standing in line one day waiting to purchase a Beanie Baby and making money before he made it into the store.
Once a lady told him she had spent over $14,000 on the little collectables. He even made up to $500 on a few of his own.
Even Uzzell himself can’t believe how many stories he has revolving around Beanies Babies and laughs just thinking about those days.
For now, he continues with his construction business, but he hopes one day he and his wife can retire and spend winters possibly in Texas or Arizona.
One things for certain however, the Uzzells will remain in their dream home on the shores of Lake Independence.