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home : columns : dave fjeld
May 29, 2020

4/1/2020 11:14:00 AM
More good-byes to friends
When you've been in a community for two-thirds of your life, you get to know people and when most of 36 years has been spent at one business - a newspaper - you get to know the movers, shakers and historians of a community.
The longevity also means you say good-bye to people you've known for quite a while.
On page 5 you'll find obituaries for three people I've known for many years, two almost since the day I arrived in Windom. All three are quickly recognizable names - Lucille Lewis Nelson, Leon Stalls and Jack Kelly.
All three died within 24 hours of each other this weekend.
Of the three, I probably knew Lucille least, at least from a personal standpoint. But she, too, I've know since I came to Windom in January 1984. Having been a correspondent for the Worthington Daily Globe for 23 years, Lucille and I crossed paths periodically over the years. I also recall former Citizen writer JoAnn Eaton talking about Lucille's newspaper work three decades ago.
Lucille was a hound for news, an investigator eager to get to the meat of a story. Indeed, she was a good reporter and writer, relentless in her pursuit of a story.
But what she will be remembered for more in the Windom area is her memories of local history. I know people have enjoyed her talks about local history on KDOM Radio in the mornings in recent years. And that's the topic that allowed me to do a story on her for a senior edition several years ago.
She shared memories of winter while growing up in the Windom area and it was one of the most enjoyable interviews I've ever had. I marveled at the details she could remember from 70 and 80 years ago. I could have listened to her stories for hours, but I also knew I had to get back to the office to get some work done - a task she could fully understand.
Truly, Windom has lost a font of history with Lucille's passing. And although we were only casual friends, I considered her a friend nonetheless - as I suspect many of you did too.
Coach Stalls
I really got to know Leon Stalls of Storden when he was a longtime assistant coach to Gary Gillis at Storden-Jeffers. They spent many years coaching girls basketball together.
Of course, Leon was not only able to coach all three of his daughters, but he coached them in a number of state tournaments. Yes, he was a key part of that S-J girls hoops dynasty in the late 1980s and early '90s.
During those state tournament years, I would go over to get some pre-tourney stories for the special edition the Citizen was going to run and I'd stick around for a short time after basketball practice. Leon always invited me to join him in a game of H-O-R-S-E, a game I never won when we faced off. Indeed, he was a dead-eye from anywhere on the court. We had many good laughs over the years.
When I left the sports department at the Citizen and came back to the news side, I ran into Leon more frequently at the county's annual Relay for Life fundraisers/celebrations - he was a 28-year cancer survivor - or at an RRC basketball game where he was watching his grandchildren.
He was always so easy to talk to.
But I only knew Leon as a coach.
My wife, Donna, vividly remembers him as a teacher, a side of him I never saw. She always told me that "Mr. Stalls" - and to this day, she still refers to him as "Mr. Stalls" - had a commanding presence in the classroom. She noted that discipline was never an issue in his classroom.
I always chuckled at that because I never saw anything other than the kind, gentle soul on the basketball bench. In fact, I can't ever remember Leon raising his voice when he coached. He always seemed to be a calming presence on the S-J/RRC bench in the '80s and '90s.
In any case, he will be missed and my sympathies go out to his wife, Jane, and daughters.
Next week: I'll need an entire column to share my memories and connection to Jack Kelly.

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