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HL business pioneer quietly touched the lives of others
Monday, June 4, 2012
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By Jennifer Kotila
Staff Writer

HOWARD LAKE, MN – Floyd Munson, 97, one of the founders of Munson Lakes Nutrition, passed away May 22. He is remembered as a leading Howard Lake businessman, a musician, a craftsman, and a gentle person who positively affected others.

In March 1935, at the age of 20, Floyd started Munson Feed Company in Dassel with his father, Ray. Both men had been selling mineral feeds before deciding to go into the feed manufacturing business.

In order to attain the $35 needed to start the feed company, Floyd and Ray mortgaged their cars and Ray’s wife’s piano.

The first bag of feed produced was cranked out of a borrowed barrel-mixer. By June, the company moved to Howard Lake, and the company has been a fixture near downtown ever since.

By the time Floyd retired from the feed company in 1982, after 47 years in the business, the mill had just moved into the world of technology, becoming computerized.

As an employer, Floyd was an easy-going boss, and did not come down hard on employees who made honest mistakes.

Harlan Adickes drove truck for Floyd for 28 years, and can remember going to tell Floyd about a mistake.

“He laughed and said everybody does that,” Adickes said.

Adickes was training-in the driver who was to replace him one March when the roads were icy, and the truck ended up in the ditch.

The man who assisted in towing the truck out of the ditch would not accept any payment for help, telling the driver that Floyd had done a lot for him.

When the driver told Floyd about what happened, the driver was surprised by Floyd’s reaction.

“He made me feel good that I did something wrong,” the driver told Adickes.

“Floyd did many things for many people that nobody will ever know,” Adickes said.

The Christian

“He was an exemplary person – kind. He always had a smile on his face,” said former neighbor John Ringold. “He would help us in any way he could.”

For instance, when the Ringolds were building their house, it was like they had a second contractor, as Floyd would come over to check on things every couple of days, Ringold said.

Floyd was a Sunday school teacher at the First Presbyterian Church in Howard Lake for many years.

Adickes remembers being with Floyd when he received a letter from a former Sunday school student who was a “high-spirited” girl during the time she was in his class.

Floyd never came down hard on this girl when she was in his class, just tried to do his best to steer her in the right direction, Adickes said.

In the letter, the former student informed Floyd that she had strayed after graduating from high school, but had finally found her way back.

She wrote that she was so very grateful for the background that Floyd had instilled in her in his Sunday school class.

“He actually cried and said he never would have believed he had touched this girl in such a way,” Adickes said.

Former neighbor and good friend Verna Glessing called Floyd “a good Christian man,” which led him to do good things, whether on the board of directors at the bank, or on the Howard Lake Business Association.

Floyd liked to do things with his hands, and enjoyed woodworking, making grandfather clocks and coffee tables in his younger years.

Most recently, Floyd enjoyed making small wooden crosses which he gave to friends, family, and everyone else he knew.

One of Floyd’s last accomplishments was making a small wooden cross for a child in each of the 50 states, which his son, Bob helped him accomplish in 2008.

A letter sent with each cross requested it be given to a youth in the parish to remind them “of the great gift the Lord gave all of us when He sent his Son to Earth to save us and give us eternal life.”

The musician

Floyd was well-known as a musician and for his love of music, which stemmed from his childhood.

Adickes recalled the story he was told about how Floyd’s family came into possession of their musical instruments.

Times were tough when Floyd was a young boy in Glenwood, and he and his brother would go collect coal that had fallen near the railroad tracks.

The boys soon learned that if they were there at a certain time, the person shoveling coal into the engine would miss every once in a while.

This allowed the boys to collect enough coal that the family was able to save money to purchase the accordion that Floyd loved so much, along with other instruments, Adickes said.

Floyd told Adickes that experience taught him “there was always someone willing to give you a hand when in need – and I’ll do that anytime.”

From 1936 to 1942, Floyd worked the feed mill during the day, and traveled throughout Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and South Dakota playing dances with Floyd Munson and His Orchestra, which included his brothers, Eddie and Vernon.

He also used his musical talents in his spiritual life, singing in the church choir.

“You can’t help but love the music when you would see him play,” Adickes said.

When the churches of Howard Lake used to have ecumenical Lenten services, Floyd was in charge of the ecumenical choir, according to Bonnie Seegmiller.

“The Munson family was a big part of that, and is a big part of the Presbyterian church,” Seegmiller said.

In his later years, Floyd played his accordion at the weekly sing-a-long at the Good Samaritan Society-Howard Lake. He was still playing at the care center as late as September 2008.

The sportsman

Throughout his life, Floyd was an avid sportsman, and Ringold remembers a story he was told about seeing a Munson Feed truck in Canada pulling a boat behind it.

Adickes recalled a time when Floyd and his wife, Lillian, went fishing at Lake of the Woods and weren’t catching the kind of fish they liked, such as northerns and walleye.

Rather than give up on fishing, the Munsons decided to catch a bunch of crappies to bring back to Adickes.

“I bet you, each fillet off those crappies was a half-pound,” Adickes said.

Another time, Floyd had gone to Canada on a fly-in fishing trip, camping at a fort near where the river enters the lake.

When it finally came time for the plane to fly in to take him and his fishing party home, the weather was too bad, Adickes said.

By the time the plane could finally retrieve them, all that was left to eat was fish. The party had finished the bread the previous day, and all the other provisions were gone two days before that, Adickes said.

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