By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN A part of local newspaper history died when Llewellyn “Lew” Buss, 77, of Lester Prairie passed away March 11.
Buss worked in the the newspaper business when lead type was set by hand and there were typewriters, not computers in newspaper offices.
A native of Newport, MN, Lewellyn and his wife, Marceil, published the Braham Journal before purchasing the Lester Prairie News June 6, 1962.
In 1964, they moved the newspaper office and printing business from its location at Central Avenue and Hickory Street North to a location on Juniper Street North.
Llewellyn and Marceil operated the Lester Prairie News until 1980, when they sold it to William McGarry.
They also owned the Prairie Ad-News from 1986 until they retired in 2000.
Llewellyn and Marceil were married June 13, 1953, in Mason City, IA.
Their newspaper career included working for the Velva, ND Journal and Granville (ND) Herald, and owning the Braham, (MN) Journal, Onamia Independent, the Lester Prairie News, and the Prairie Ad-News.
“If there was something going on in the community, he was always there,” Lester Prairie resident and former mayor Ed Mlynar said of Llewellyn.
Mlynar said he knew Llewellyn for nearly 50 years, since the Buss moved to Lester Prairie.
“He had a heart of gold, and he was very accommodating,” Mlynar continued. “He was always helpful about getting information into the newspaper.”
When there was a big event going on in the community, such as building the city pool, the new city hall or fire hall, Llewellyn was always willing to help out, according to Mlynar.
Mlynar said Llewellyn and Marceil were both hard-working and had very good memories.
Mlynar remembers Llewellyn and Marceil running the newspaper when type was still set by hand.
“We hated to see the newspaper office close when it did,” Mlynar commented.
Llewellyn helped to keep the public informed about community events and organizations, according to Mlynar.
Llewellyn and Marceil, along with Charlotte Ehrke and the late Leslie Baumann and Wally Dibb, were among the founders of the Lester Prairie citywide garage sale in 1979. The event still takes place every September.
Lester Prairie City Council Member Eric Angvall remembers Llewellyn as the last of a breed of old-time newspaper men, from an era before computers and the Internet.
Angvall remembers the “antiquated” equipment, and hand-set type. He remembers Llewellyn and Marceil working late into the night on the day before the paper was printed, setting copy and laying out pages.
Angvall said Llewellyn took extreme pride in the newspaper, and helped to reflect the identity of the community.
This was the era when local people often brought news to the paper, rather than the paper having to go out and look for it, according to Angvall.
He said Llewellyn had “a delicate” way of writing stories, and took it as his responsibility to promote the most positive image of the community.
Angvall, who came from Minneapolis, said it took time for him to get used to the small-town newspaper style of the day, when the paper reported on who people visited and what they did, like a gossip column.
He later found it charming, however, and made it a point to let the paper know when he had guests from out of town.
In those days, Angvall said, every small town had its own newspaper. “They helped to identify who you were as a community,” Angvall said, noting that Llewellyn did this for Lester Prairie.
Angvall said Llewellyn was held in high regard by members of the community, and did his best to bring new business to town.
Angvall remembers his weekly visits to the newspaper office, where he had his own special coffee cup. Angvall was mayor at the time, and he and Llewellyn would sit and drink coffee and talk about the news of the week, and Angvall would help to fill in details about what was going on in the community.
He said it was fun to stop in at the newspaper office for his weekly visits.
“It is the passing of an era,” Angvall said of Llewellyn’s death. “He always seemed to have the town as his focus, and he was always very conscious of the image of the town.”