By Tara Mathews
HOWARD LAKE, MN Howard Lake residents Mike and Kathy Hincher have lived in many states around the country, but love the community they live in now most of all.
“Of all the states we talked about wanting to live, we never talked about Minnesota,” Kathy noted. “But now we love it here! The people are wonderful, and Minnesota has been a great experience for us.”
Mike was born and raised in Michigan. He moved to Ohio as a young adult, which is where he met his wife of 42 years, Kathy.
A life-long construction and carpentry worker, he enjoyed moving around to see “what’s over the next hill.”
Being the owner of a small carpentry company, he was able to do just that.
Following Ohio, the couple moved to South Dakota for awhile, before settling in Colorado.
While in Colorado, Mike was a volunteer firefighter, and saw some very interesting situations, he said.
“The truth is so much stranger than fiction,” he commented.
He assisted with calls that most people wouldn’t believe were real, such as a boy who tripped in a garage and fell onto a nail, which impaled his skull and killed him; or a man who drove his truck off a cliff and was standing outside the truck when emergency workers, including Mike, arrived.
While volunteering for the fire department, he was on his way to a call and was hit by another vehicle, which resulted in a broken back for Mike.
He was forced to retire following that accident, and the couple moved back to Michigan.
In 2000, the couple moved to Howard Lake, and have been here since.
Mike was a volunteer for the Thriving Communities task force in Howard Lake, is a member of Ducks Unlimited, and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity.
He and Kathy are active rifle and handgun shooters, hunt ducks, and love to fish year-round.
Currently, Habitat for Humanity is keeping him busy because he has taken on the role of site supervisor for a new project.
His crew will be moving a house from Glencoe to Hutchinson. The house was donated to the organization.
“I worked with Habitat for Humanity in Michigan, as well,” Mike noted.
He only recently began volunteering with the organization again, he said.
Kathy was born and raised in Toledo, OH, which is where she graduated from high school, and attended a vocational/technical school for business.
“The great part about that school was that students were almost guaranteed a job within the community,” Kathy commented.
The school included three-year programs that focused on job-specific education, she said.
Kathy graduated and began working for a law firm in Toledo.
Mike and Kathy decided to start a family.
“Then, I was a full-time mom for awhile,” she stated.
They have two sons, Matthew and Nate, who live in Michigan; and five grandchildren.
While in Michigan, Kathy began working as an executive assistant for a marketing services company, where she remained employed for 26 years.
“Part of the reason we moved to Minnesota was because a lady I worked for at that company was starting a company here in Minnesota,” Kathy said. “I loved working with her so much, it was an easy decision.”
When the couple first moved to Howard Lake, they began volunteering as tutors for English as a second language classes through Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Community Education.
“It was eye-opening to realize how many people from other areas of the world live in Howard Lake,” Kathy commented.
The couple tutored people from Siberia, The Czech Republic, Honduras, Somalia, and other areas, she added.
“Part of the reason I chose to volunteer as a tutor is that I feel it’s important for the people who come here from other parts of the world, wanting to live the American dream, to get the chance to acclimate themselves, and are able to communicate easily to do so,” Kathy noted.
“Now that I’m retired, the draw to move back to Michigan is strong, because of the kids,” Kathy stated. “But there’s so much we love here, and it’s become our favorite way of life.”
The couple doesn’t have any plans to leave Minnesota anytime soon, but won’t rule it out either, they said.
“We have always dreamt of getting a sailboat and leaving for while,” Kathy commented. “But we will just have to see.”
The couple enjoyed sailing when they lived in Michigan, she added.
The friendly people they’ve met since living in Howard Lake are a big part of why they want to stay, according to Kathy.
“The people here are so wonderful. The open-mindedness and caring nature make it easy to fall for this area,” Kathy concluded. “So, here we are, until our next adventure.”