By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Richard Genty, former Winsted city attorney, was known for his quick wit, love of his country, knowledge of the law, and generous community service, preferring to work behind the scenes, seldom taking credit for his efforts.
Genty, 84, died of lung and heart failure last Monday evening at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.
Through his countless hours of service to various organizations in Winsted, he showed his commitment to the town and its residents.
“I can think of very few people who came to Winsted as a newcomer, so to speak, and contributed as much to our community as Dick Genty,” former Winsted mayor Don Guggemos said.
“He was active in everything in the community. No one came to as many chamber of commerce meetings as Dick, and he was a Legion mainstay. He always worked for what was best for the community.”
In 1999, Genty received the Bishop’s Medal of Service from the Diocese of New Ulm.
The plaque presented to him by New Ulm Bishop Raymond Lucker for his volunteering, read, “He is like a founding father of Winsted.”
Some of the organizations that Genty has served since moving to Winsted in 1960 are the area chamber of commerce, the American Legion, VFW, Holy Trinity Church and School, Knights of Columbus, and Elks Club, and he was responsible for bringing Meals on Wheels back to Winsted about 10 years ago.
In addition, he was a former director and legal advisor for the Adult Training and Habilitation Center in Winsted, as well as serving on the board; and a former board of director of McLeod Treatment Programs, an organization that provides temporary homes for displaced children.
Genty was Winsted’s city attorney from 1960 to 1992.
When the council appointed the first airport commission Jan. 2, 1962, Genty was named, along with Leander Sterner and Dave Laurence.
Genty played a vital role in the location and purchase of the current Winsted Municipal Airport.
“This was, and maybe still is, the only airport that was built without local taxpayers’ dollars,” Genty said with pride in 2006.
Shortly after the airport’s dedication in 1964, Genty became a pilot and a member of the newly organized Winsted Flying Club, which also included Ben Weinbeck, Dick Sterner, and Don Biske.
The same group became the second airport commission, along with Herman Peschken.
Genty was chief public defender for the seven-county First Judicial District from 1967 to 1985, providing legal services for those who could not otherwise afford them.
His major focus during the recent past, has been veterans, according to Dick’s wife, Joan.
“He was so proud of serving the veterans in McLeod County,” Joan said.
As a member of the American Legion, Martin Krueger Post 407, he attended meetings, military funerals, Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations, and helped with many Legion fundraisers.
As a voting member of the McLeod County Veteran Association, which includes all of the Legions, VFWs, and other veterans organizations; he played a leading role in securing a veterans van and maintaining it to ensure veterans were able to have transportation to the VA hospitals in St. Cloud and Minneapolis.
Also, part of the association’s newest work is establishing an emergency fund to help veterans who are unable to get help through other veteran funding.
He worked with others to set up the McLeod County Veterans Park in Hutchinson, and was the current vice president of the park committee.
In 1987, he joined a group of 32 World War II veterans in starting the Last Man’s Club. Today, there are only five members remaining.
Genty’s career and family history
Genty was born to Wilfred and Lyal Genty of Minneapolis Nov. 10, 1926.
Following his graduation in 1944 from Minneapolis Marshall High School, he served in the US Navy where he was honorably discharged in 1946 a total of 18 months.
He served six months at Pearl Harbor, and the rest of his time was at a medical supply depot in Idaho.
After his career in the Navy ended, he attended the University of St. Thomas, where he took pre-law classes for two years.
From St. Thomas he entered the St. Paul College of Law (now known as William Mitchell College of Law) where he graduated in 1953.
After Genty practiced law in St. Louis Park for five years, he moved his family to Winsted because the “friendly town impressed him with its well-kept appearance, new hospital and nursing home, its industries, and aggressive attitude,” Genty told a Hutchinson Leader correspondent during an interview in 1985.
He retired from his law practice in 1992, at the age of 66.
During his law career, Genty was:
• a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association (and twice had been on its board of governors);
• a member of the Eighth District and McLeod County Bar Associations including serving as president of the McLeod County Bar Association;
• a member of the American Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, and Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association;
• a member of the American Judicature Society, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Minnesota Public Defenders Association, for which he served as its first vice president in 1974.
Genty married Joan Kirkwood of Osseo Feb. 23, 1951. They would have been married 59 years this month.
They have eight children:
• Jan (Fran) Eggert, of Winsted;
• Richard (Roberta) Genty, Jr., of Chesterfield, VA;
• John (Sharon) Genty, of Waverly;
• Cynthia (Steve) Ernhart, of Buffalo;
• Teresa (Alan) Ohm, of Winsted;
• Kathleen (Mike) McGinn, of Alexandria;
• Thomas Genty (Scott Schlaffman), of Minneapolis; and
• Maureen (Greg) Sevilla, of Fayettevile, NC.
Dick and Joan also have 16 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
Dick was surrounded by his family and friends from the time he was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis Jan. 22, suffering from complications of sepsis, a condition which has the body fighting a severe infection that has spread via the bloodstream.
He died last Monday evening from lung and heart failure.
Genty’s funeral was at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Winsted Friday. He was buried at Holy Trinity Cemetery.