By Gabe Licht
DELANO, MN One does not need to look far or hard to see how lifelong resident Gordy Wetter impacted the city of Delano.
Whether it was in the private or public sector, Wetter was always working for the betterment of the community.
He passed away March 17 at the age of 87 and his friends and colleagues are reflecting on the legacy he left behind.
“He was very energetic and he knew the value of industrial growth as a council member and mayor,” said Delano City Clerk Marlene Kittock, who was hired to the post in 1987, during one of Wetter’s three terms as mayor.
In 1969, Wetter became president of the Delano Community Development Corporation, which initially established a nursing home in town.
“We organized a bunch of guys and sold bonds,” Jim Otto said. “If you wanted to go to the nursing home, you had to invest with the DCDC. We developed that and came up with the money for a down payment on that. We paid all those bonds back then we closed out that corporation.”
The DCDC was also instrumental in establishing the industrial park.
“Some of that was on a shoestring budget, but he put it together,” Otto said.
Wetter had also been an initial investor in the Crow River Bank and helped develop housing in the community.
“He did an awful lot of good for the town,” Lloyd Griep said. “A lot of development in Delano has some sort of string attached to him.”
Wetter was asked to serve on the Delano City Council and, while doing so, then-Mayor Lawrence Rieder told him he’d make a good mayor, so he decided to do that as well.
Civic service was important to Wetter as well.
“Gordy was instrumental in forming the Delano Lions Club,” Otto said. “He was one of the charter members. He got me involved as the charter secretary. He got a bunch of guys going with that.”
In addition to being a Lion, he served as chairman of the Highway 12 corridor committee and as a member of the Delano Planning Commission.
Wetter was recognized for his service in 2000 as a Minneapolis Aquatennial “Honorary Commodore” and in 2001 as Delano’s Citizen of the Year.
Wetter was a World War II Army veteran who served with Company “A” 388th Military Police Battalion for 14 months, beginning in 1945, in Bremen, Germany.
After retiring from the service in 1947, he worked for Minneapolis Moline and had his own trucking business.
In college, he studied poultry and animal medication, working with the University of Minnesota to produce healthier and more productive chickens. He began promoting high-density chicken houses in Litchfield in 1960.
He owned several businesses, including an athletic store called the Locker Room and a nationwide brokerage business called GW Brokerage.
Wetter also worked for the Delano Cooperative Creamery, AMPI, and the American Dairy Association.
Wetter made time to serve as a trustee at Delano United Methodist Church, where Steve Gilmer got to know him.
“He was a friend and a wonderful person,” Gilmer said. “Gordy and (his wife) Marilyn were very active in the church together.”
The couple had been married for 64 years with a son, Lance; daughter, Diane; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
He enjoyed woodworking, gardening, and hunting.
Otto recalled hunting with Wetter in the Dakotas and Saskatchewan.
He also remembers Wetter for his determination.
One such example was when the two went to plow roads in Franklin Township and got stuck.
“The plow jumped on top of a drift,” Otto recalled. “The wind was blowing and it was snowing like crazy. We grabbed a scoop shovel and had to unbury that truck. It took an hour to get through that drift.”
After all that work, the two returned to the township shop only to learn they needed to go back out and keep plowing.
But Wetter didn’t sweat it.
“The guy never complained,” Otto said.
He, and the community at large, will remember Wetter as someone who got things done.
“He drove a hard bargain, but he was a good guy,” Otto said. “There was no grass growing under his feet.”