By Julie Krienke
DELANO, MN Clarence Bruhn, commonly referred to as “Deacon” by Delano community members, was recently honored as one of the 2010 Wright County Outstanding Senior Citizens.
It all started when Gail Sinkel, the coordinator at the Delano Senior Center, nominated Bruhn in May.
“Every year they ask her and people around the county to nominate someone,” Bruhn said. “Gail asked me if she could nominate me.”
At the beginning of June, Bruhn received a letter from the Wright County Fair Board informing him that he was selected as an outstanding senior.
“It’s quite an honor,” Bruhn said. “It’s based on volunteerism and the work done after retirement.”
According to Bruhn, there were only two individuals selected for this honor throughout all of Wright County. Bruhn later found out that the other individual was Rosealice Hayes, a citizen of Buffalo.
“Evidently, it is a volunteer-type situation,” Bruhn said. “You have to be over 70, and it’s more not what have you done previously, but what are you doing after retiring to keep active and help the community.”
Bruhn was recognized for this honor at the Delano City Council meeting July 15. He will also be in the Fourth of July parade in Delano, acknowledged as an outstanding senior.
In addition, Bruhn was invited to attend a recognition program during the Wright County Fair in August, which includes a ceremony and luncheon.
Bruhn’s nomination will be sent to the Minnesota Board of Aging so that he can participate in the outstanding senior ceremony at the Minnesota State Fair.
“My kids say, ‘Dad, when is it ever going to end?’” Bruhn explained. “So, I jokingly said, ‘I’m going to the state fair, so who knows?’”
Bruhn moved to Delano in 1946, and attended Delano High School. He worked at Delano Granite Works and then joined the Air Force in 1950, for four years. When the granite company closed in 1984, Bruhn became a car salesman at Star West in Delano.
In 1955, Bruhn married his wife, Eleanor, who passed away in 1997. They had three sons Douglas, Bradley, and Gregory. Bruhn’s sons each had two daughters, so he has six granddaughters.
Bruhn retired about five years ago, at the age of 75, and became more involved in the community by volunteering.
“Delano is a great community,” Bruhn said. “I’ve always enjoyed living here, and it’s a way to kind of pay back for all of the good things I feel has happened to me over the years.”
Bruhn’s dedication to the community is made clear by the number of volunteer organizations he is involved in.
“I found out that there’s a lot of opportunities to volunteer in a lot of organizations,” Bruhn said. “It’s a good way to keep in touch with people.”
Bruhn became involved with the Ridgeview Medical Center in 2000, when he joined the raffle committee. However, when he retired, he began looking for more opportunities to volunteer within the community.
“When I retired about five years ago, I checked at the hospital to see what opportunities were available there,” Bruhn said.
Now, Bruhn volunteers for the Ridgeview Medical Center as a shuttle driver, transporting patients to different locations in the hospital.
Similarly, Bruhn noticed that the Delano Public Library was in need of volunteers, so he joined Friends of the Library as a board member.
“They were advertising for volunteers to help, so I did some checking there,” Bruhn said. “So, I am involved there. There is always something happening there to volunteer with.”
As a member of Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Bruhn gets involved by ushering and counting the church offering. Recently, he began helping the Jesus Cares Bible Study by assisting with activities and greeting members.
“I’ve always been active in church over the years,” Bruhn said. “I think I’ve had every job there was at one time or another.”
Bruhn is also active in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Delano. This organization provides extra help to the community in case of an emergency.
“Bascially, it’s a new group for Delano, and it’s kind of a backup for the fire department,” Bruhn said.
In 2002, Bruhn became involved in the Delano Relay for Life. As a member of the same team throughout the years, Bruhn looks forward to the upcoming relay July 30.
As if these activities were not enough, Bruhn noticed that the local United Way was in need of volunteers, so he joined the organization.
“I happened to know the chairman of the Delano Loretto Area United Way, and they were looking for new members of the board,” Bruhn said. “They help make decisions on how much money each group should get.”
According to Bruhn, his favorite part about serving the city of Delano is working with the seniors at the Delano Senior Center.
“I hang out at the senior center quite a bit,” Bruhn said. “Gail (Sinkel) and Linda (Van Lith) are the two ladies that run the senior center. There is always something to do there.”
With the number of organizations that he is involved in, it is clear that Bruhn values community service and volunteerism.
“I think it makes a big, big difference,” Bruhn said. “A lot of things wouldn’t get taken care of if volunteers wouldn’t offer to take care of it.”
It is obvious that Bruhn volunteers at many events throughout the area because fellow community members often look to him for help.
“Deacon does everything,” Sinkel said. “He is one of those unique individuals that is willing to help out wherever and whenever he is needed.”
Perhaps it is Bruhn’s courteous and hospitable personality that contributes to his knack for volunteering.
“He has the ability to make people feel welcome and important and make them laugh with his delightful stories and experiences,” Sinkel said.