BY STARRLA CRAY
WINSTED, MN In her nearly 87 years, Winsted’s Marietta Neumann has made countless contributions to Winsted and the rest of McLeod County.
To recognize all of Neumann’s hard work, the Winsted Area Chamber of Commerce recently selected her as the 2015 Winsted Winter Festival grand marshal.
“I was so surprised,” Neumann laughed, adding that she’s looking forward to being in the parade, which will take place at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 through downtown Winsted.
Neumann remembers being on Winsted’s centennial committee 27 years ago, when the first winter festival was organized.
She’s always been a fan of history, and is currently working on recording details from her 30 years at the McLeod Emergency Food Shelf.
“I’ve always said I could write a book about what goes on in here,” she said.
Neumann began working at the food shelf in 1983, and retired in August 2014. Now, she volunteers there once a week.
One food shelf memory that will be forever in her mind is from the 1990s.
In those days, prisoners of the McLeod County Jail were allowed to help with some of the heavy lifting at the food shelf, which was located in the courthouse. One young man who had been in jail in St. Cloud for four years was serving his last year of a five-year sentence in Glencoe.
“He was helping me all the time,” Neumann recalled, explaining that he accompanied her on a trip between the Hutchinson and Glencoe food shelf locations.
During the drive, Neumann asked what he had been convicted of in St. Cloud.
His answer? “Attempted murder.”
Neumann didn’t mind being in these types of situations, and she remembers supervising many people who had been sentenced to community service.
“There was one kid who was sentenced for underage drinking, and he was 10 years old,” she recalled.
A thankful life
Neumann also serves others through the Salvation Army, where she has been a treasurer for about 16 years. Many people she’s helped through the years have come back to thank Neumann.
“They’ll stop in at the food shelf, and show me pictures of their kids,” she said.
In all her years at the food shelf, Neumann has witnessed “very little” abuse of the assistance offered.
The first year, in 1983, a total of 109 households were served.
Last year, it was up to 1,858 households, including 308 in Winsted.
“You never know; it could be the person sitting next to you in church,” Neumann said.
Seeing the tears of joy on people’s faces when they’re given food has given Neumann an appreciation for what she has.
“I’d come home so thankful,” she said.
Now that Neumann’s food shelf work is on a volunteer-basis, she has more time for genealogy research, which she has been compiling since 1978.
“It goes back to the 1600s,” she said. “Right now I’m on Facebook with another family, and our grandmothers were sisters, and our grandfathers were brothers.”
Neumann’s family also includes her own 10 children, 23 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.