It was a happy day for Guss Kantrud and George Wagner when World War I ended a century ago, on Nov. 11, 1918.

These two soldiers from the First World War later became respected businessmen and renowned VFW and American Legion members in Fergus Falls.

They will be in my thoughts during Veterans Day 2018.

Our country previously observed this special day as Armistice Day. The U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day by President Eisenhower in 1954.

Kantrud, who worked at the Ford dealership in Fergus Falls, was one of the founders of Fergus Falls VFW Post 612. He served as quartermaster for many years.

Wagner, who later operated the Army Surplus Store in Fergus Falls, put his heart and soul into taking an active role as a board member in support of youth baseball in the community.

Kantrud and Wagner were members of the Barracks of World War I, an organization assisting veterans with hospitalization, pensions and other well-deserved assistance.

I interviewed Kantrud in 1974 when Fergus Falls hosted the state VFW convention. He emphasized that fellowship and community service were the foundations for a successful VFW post.

He said his arthritis was traced back to the days and nights during World War I when he fought from the cold and wet trenches in France.

That didn’t stop Kantrud from going full steam ahead with community involvement.

He and Wagner were indeed salt of the earth type guys. Goodness was at the core of their lives.

Froemming in spirit passes the torch

Roger Froemming died as a member of the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners on Oct. 30. Earlier this year he announced that, at age 80, he would not seek re-election after close to 20 years as a county board member from Parkers Prairie.

Running this fall for Roger’s seat on the county board were Betty Murphy of rural Underwood and Robert Lahman of rural Parkers Prairie.

Now, with Murphy the winner in Tuesday’s election, Roger in spirit has passed the torch.

I’ll miss Roger, having known him the past six years while covering the county board for area newspapers.

He was always pleasant, was a man with a great sense of humor and was a person who truly enjoyed people and enjoyed life. Froemming was a kind and generous man.

Sid Hartman keeps on going

The voice of Sid Hartman is weaker and he uses a walker, but at the age of 98 he keeps on going.

I spoke briefly with Sid in the Vikings press box on Nov. 4. Noteworthy is that the press box at the new Vikings stadium is named in honor of Sid.

In the press box is a framed column written by Sid from 1961 when Minnesota won its first-ever regular-season game over the George Halas-coached Chicago Bears at the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. That’s 57 years ago.

I mentioned to Sid that I was from Fergus Falls, hometown of late 1940s Gopher running back Evie Faunce who became a close friend with teammate Bud Grant.

“I remember Evie,” Sid said. “He was a very good running back.”

Sid authored a book and mentions his humble upbringing in north Minneapolis. He delivered newspapers for the old Minneapolis Tribune.

The one and only Sid was 25 when, in 1945, he penned his first column for the Minneapolis Daily Times. Even now, into his late 90s, he continues to write regular columns for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

A local sports writing legend

Fergus Falls Daily Journal sports editor Clarence Lee, during the 1940s to the 1960s, was a master at covering sporting events. During basketball games, he would take photos and keep a running score of the game on a roll of paper attached to the back of his camera.

Lee was widely known for his sports column, “Sportlee Speaking.”  He was from the old school of self-education in the world of journalism-photography.

Tom Hintgen is a longtime Daily Journal columnist. His column appears Saturdays.

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