By Starrla Cray
DASSEL, MN Dennis Alberts of Dassel, who passed away July 10 at age 81, was a passionate person who knew how to get things done.
“He could be stubborn and ornery if he wanted to be,” Dassel resident Dean Gayner laughed. “He was a go-getter.”
Many remember Alberts as one of the founding members of Dassel’s Red Rooster Days celebration in 1959, along with Gayner, Maynard Warne, George Tesch, and Tom Jarl.
“Dennis acquired the barbecue chicken recipe,” Gayner said.
Alberts had gone to a chicken hatchery meeting in Redwood Falls, where they served barbeque chicken. He got the recipe and wrote it down on a piece of cardboard.
“Dennis kept that piece of cardboard,” Gayner said.
At one point, a large company asked to buy the recipe, but the group wanted to keep it a secret.
“We wouldn’t sell it to them,” Gayner said. “We didn’t want to give it up.”
Alberts and Gayner enjoyed a close friendship ever since Alberts moved to Dassel in 1954.
“We just got along good together,” Gayner said.
Jarl, who lives in Cokato, also enjoyed spending time with Alberts.
“I was one of his employees,” Jarl said. Alberts was Jarl’s boss at DeKalb Hatchery for a few years, until they were both promoted to manager positions.
In 1959, Alberts became the district sales manager for DeKalb Agricultural Association in the poultry division, and was there for 38 years.
“He made DeKalb a big asset to the Dassel community in those years,” Jarl said.
Later, Alberts managed Midwest Hatchery in Dassel.
“He was pretty well-known in the poultry business,” Jarl said.
Alberts and Jarl shared many of the same interests outside of work, as well.
“Dennis was great for hunting and fishing. He liked to duck hunt and so did I,” Jarl said. “We had good times together.”
Alberts’ family has a hobby farm northwest of Dassel, and they often invited friends over to catch trout in their pond.
“We would have a fish fry,” Gayner said.
In the winter, the men and their wives would spend a weekend each year snowmobiling up north.
“Before snowmobiling became popular, we rented some snowmobiles from St. Cloud and rode at the chicken farm,” Gayner said. There were about 20 people there that day, in the early 1960s.
“That was the first time any of us had ever ridden a snowmobile,” Gayner said.
Alberts has been described as a “true outdoorsman,” and enjoyed collecting and polishing rocks, as well as growing flowers, water lilies, and aquatic plants.
One of his unique pastimes was raising exotic waterfowl.
“He traveled to Japan and to the Arctic and everything to get these ducks,” Jarl said. “That was his passion.”
Alberts raised the ducks and sold them, which gave him a “paying hobby.”
“When he got into something, he dove in,” Jarl said. “Dennis was aggressive. He got things done.”
When he wanted to relax, Alberts often traveled to Canada.
“It was a good break for him, because when he was working, he worked like a dog,” Jarl said.
Alberts grew up in the Dodge and Freemont areas of Nebraska, and attended public schools in Nebraska and Iowa.
He married Willa Mae TePoel in 1948, and they moved to Dassel six years later.
“Both our families became good friends,” Gayner said.
“There were a lot of people who liked him,” Jarl added.