By Kristen Miller
COKATO, DASSEL, MN Long after closing Win Brand Jewelry in Cokato in 1995, Win (Winfield) Brand was still being sought after for his expertise in diamond setting and repair.
“He was very good at his job,” said former employee and family friend Arlean Kusler.
Kusler remembers having brunch with the family after church service up until two weeks prior to Win’s death, Nov. 19.
“I could not wrap my head around that,” Kusler said.
At 83, Brand had inoperable lung and brain cancer, which became increasingly aggressive toward the end.
The day before he died, his wife, Muriel, said they family came for Thanksgiving and took turns visiting Win at the nursing home in Dassel.
After closing the store Jan. 1, 1995, the family moved from Cokato to Big Swan Lake in Dassel.
Muriel had worked side-by-side with her husband since the family moved to Cokato in 1977.
While still living in St. Louis Park, the Brands purchased Stewart’s Jewelry in Cokato, near the corner of Broadway and Third Street.
The jewelry store moved in 1982, to where Thrivent Financial is currently located.
Working for him was fun, said Kathy Engstrom, who happened to be one of only three employees Brand had.
“He was very fair, and very honest,” she said, adding that he could do anything with jewelry design.
“When you bought your piece there, you knew it wasn’t going to be sent out,” she said.
As a boss, Kusler said he was wonderful to work for. “You could’ve never found a better boss.”
All-around good person
Not only was Brand a good man to work for and an excellent jeweler, but “he was just an all-around good person,” Kusler said.
Brand was very committed to the community and his church. He was also a former Rotary member, serving as a past-president. He was named a Paul Harris Fellow for his “outstanding contributions to the organization.”
Bruce Bohnsack said Brand was always supportive of all the Rotary fundraisers, and he also had a “tremendous singing voice.”
Bohnsack said he had the privilege of sitting next to him for 25 years in the Cokato Evangelical Lutheran Church choir.
Friend and fellow coffee drinker Don Peroutka spent many years with Brand over morning coffee at Daniel’s Restaurant. He described Brand as kind and generous.
“He never had a bad word to say about anyone,” he said, adding that he would’ve given the shirt off his back.
As far as being a father and husband, Muriel said, “They didn’t come any better.”