By Tara Matthews, Correspondent
Richard (Dick) and Diane Sonstegard of Howard Lake earned their place as grand marshals in the Howard Lake 2015 Good Neighbor Days (GND) parade through their many years of service to Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (HLWW) School District, St. John’s Lutheran Church, and their community.
Richard and Diane moved to Howard Lake, as a young couple, when Richard was hired as a teacher at HLWW School District.
“It was his first teaching position, and at that time, we didn’t realize that we would want to spend his whole career, and then some, here in Howard Lake,” Diane commented.
Enjoying a lifetime of service
Richard was a science and mathematics teacher at the district for 38 years, and coached two high school sports teams before he retired.
He had his own personal bus, that he drove to events to save the district money, according to Diane.
Following his retirement from teaching and coaching, Richard continues to work for HLWW School District, as a substitute bus driver.
“He truly enjoys working for the school district,” Diane noted. “And he serves many hours driving bus still.”
He spent years operating the sound system, microphone, or scoreboard at almost all HLWW events, as well.
“He is the only one who truly knows and understands the sound system,” Addie Mucha and Pat Schoephoerster stated in a letter sent to nominate the Sonstegards for GND grand marshals.
Richard was at every major sporting event or tournament, either at the scoreboard or microphone, his entire teaching career and beyond, according to Mucha and Schoephoerster.
“After the events, he would often stay another hour to refill the pop coolers in the concession stands, so they were ready for the next event,” Mucha and Schoephoerster noted.
He still helps with some sporting events, they added.
Richard has served on the Teachers Association, and the HLWW scholarship committee.
He also volunteers his service for many GND events, and has for the past 20 years, including the one block run, and airplane toss.
Richard has also provided the sound system for the GND fishing contest many times over the years.
He is the financial secretary at St. John’s Lutheran Church, and has been involved with the Wright County Fair for more than 30 years.
“Although their positions at the fair are now paid,” Mucha and Schoephoerster stated, “the number of hours they spend working at the fair far outweighs the pay.”
A love for 4H
Diane worked as a paraprofessional for preschool and kindergarten children at HLWW School District for 20 years, while their children were in school.
Both Diane and Richard were active 4H leaders for 15 years, and have been involved in 4H since they were 10 years old.
“We met in 4H, when we were just kids,” Diane noted.
Richard and Diane participated in 4H together throughout their childhood and teenage years.
The Sonstegards have helped operate the 4H food stand at the Wright County Fair many times, and Diane has voluntarily made costumes for 4H participants.
Serving her church
Diane is currently a Sunday school teacher for fourth- and fifth-grade students at St. John’s Lutheran Church.
“I love teaching the fourth- and fifth-grade students,” she commented.
Diane has also spent numerous years helping with vacation Bible school, planning and decorating for mother/daughter banquets, and volunteering for Advent brunches.
She still helps at St. John’s by making banners, decorating for church events, and making costumes for church programs.
50 years of marriage
Richard and Diane’s 50th wedding anniversary just happened to be the same day as the 2015 GND parade, which made their honor as grand marshals even better.
“We spent the weekend celebrating with family,” Diane noted. “So, to end it by being in a parade, made it even more special.”
Richard and Diane have three children: Gail Doehne, Mark Sonstegard, and Keith Sonstegard. They also have seven grandchildren: Beth, Emma and Austin Doehne; Abbey and Samantha Sonstegard; and Jack and Max Sonstegard.
The couple grew up in the New London/Belgrade area, moved to Howard Lake shortly after they were married, and have lived in Howard Lake since.