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Time for a toast
May 19, 2014

By Starrla Cray
Staff Writer

WINSTED, MN – They survived World War II, and they’re the last of a group of 32 men to live through the decades that followed.

Now, the two remaining members of Winsted’s Last Man’s Club, Harold Guggemos and Leonard “Popeye” Rozeske – along with fellow WWII veteran Art Guggemos – are ready for a toast.

Near the end of Winsted’s Memorial Day program Monday, May 26, these three veterans will salute their comrades by opening a bottle of “Old Grand Dad” bourbon.

The special bottle has been on display at the American Legion in Winsted since the Last Man’s Club was formed in 1987.

According to the bylaws of the club, “The bottle of liquor is to become the sole property of the sole remaining member of this organization and to be used in any manner he sees fit. It is hoped, however, that he [the last man] will drink at least a portion of it in a toast to his comrades who have preceded him.”

Rather than wait to drink alone, the surviving members have decided to open the bottle early. (Look for coverage of the salute in the Monday, June 2 edition of the Herald Journal.)

Seeing who survives
The club originally included 32 veterans, all who were members of the Martin Krueger American Legion Post 407 in Winsted. It is believed that former Legion commander Ben Weinbeck (who passed away in 2010) was the club’s founder.

“It probably happened after a few of the World War II members started passing away,” club member Richard “Dick” Genty said in 2009. “So, we said, ‘Let’s get all of the WWII guys together and have a little club, and see who is still left after all is said and done.’” (Genty passed away in 2011, at age 84.)

Next to the display case for the bottle of Old Grand Dad is a plate engraved with names of all 32 club members.

As each member departs the club, an asterisk is put in front of his name and the date of his death is carved at the end.

Those who’ve departed
Former members of the club include:

• Larry Derosier, 6/2/89

• Robert Kosek 5/4/91

• Len Zimmerman, 6/22/91

• Clarence Rademacher, 9/30/92

• Harold Lenz, 6/2/93

• Eugene Kohler, 1/10/94

• Alie Lachermeier, 1/6/96

• Louis Mohrbacker, 10/9/96

• William Mahon, 9/12/97

• Ralph Littfin, 5/19/98

• Ray Neumann, 6/11/98

• Henry Fiecke, 6/10/00

• Martin Schauer, 4/6/02

• Art Strauss, 7/3/02

• Albert Knott, 9/27/02

• Lanny Fasching, 8/2/03

• Orlando Gebhardt, 1/20/04

• Luke Otto, 6/23/05

• Joseph Gueningsman, 4/25/05

• John Parten, 8/30/05

• James William, 4/26/06

• Kenneth Norman, 6/21/08

• William Wemhoff, 7/15/08

• Calvin Deidrick, 11/20/08

• Marvin Hirsch, 9/15/09

• Ben Weinbeck, 5/19/10

• Richard “Dick” Genty, 2/7/11

• George “Butch” Lachermeier, 3/3/11

• Richard J. “Dick” Sterner, 3/6/11

• Leonard Matousek, 7/26/12

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