I couldn’t wait to write about the first person Ann Marie put on the Morrison County Influentials she posted last week. After reading about Vernon Pick and his interesting personality, I wished that I had had a chance to meet him. While I’ll give you a summary of his accomplishments here, at some point I’d like to write a longer article about the man. We have quite a bit of information on him in our Pick Family File and I added to it today after doing some online research. So, then, let’s get started with describing last week’s Influentials.
71. Vernon Pick (c. 1904 – ?) – Vernon Pick was a transplant to Morrison County. As an electrician, he long was interested in having his own water power plant. In 1942, he was shown an old mill site on Two Rivers near Royalton, MN. He purchased the mill site and in April 1946, he started the Two Rivers Company. He started the water power plant on his property. He used this to operate his electrical shop and furniture factory. These he ran with the assistance of his second wife, Ruth. In 1951, fire decimated his mill site. He did not receive enough in insurance money to rebuild, so he and his wife decided to go west on vacation. He got sidetracked from his vacation by talk of people looking for uranium mines. He set about looking for his own uranium mine in Utah and found “one of the richest uranium finds in the country.” (LFDT, Sept. 13, 1954) He sold his mine in 1954 for $9,000,000. Vernon used his money to build and house and laboratory near Saratoga, California. His California home site is now a part of the Sanborn Park Hostel, with his lab becoming Santa Clara County’s Environmental Education Center.
72. Valentine Kasparek ( 1871-1951) – From 1904 to 1925, Val Kasparek ran a clothing store in Little Falls, MN. In 1914, he placed the original animals and birds at Pine Grove Park/Zoo. In 1918, he assisted in founding Memorial Park in Little Falls. All of that is good, important work, but we find Val influential for another reason. He helped to organize the Morrison County Historical Society in 1936 and was first president and curator of the organization, which made its home in the basement of the Morrison County courthouse. Val was also in charge of the W.P.A. Biography project that served as the basis of our Family Files here at the museum.
73. Alex Huddleston (1882 – 1958) – Alex Huddleston came to Little Falls, MN, in 1945 and served as the Executive Secretary of the Little Falls Chamber of Commerce. Following Val Kasparek’s death, in 1952, Huddleston became curator and secretary of the Morrison County Historical Society, revitalizing the organization. He served as secretary and curator until his death and during his tenure was instrumental in increasing the collections of the Society.
74. Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, MN – (1891 – present) – The Franciscan Sisters first made their appearance in Morrison County in 1872, when Mother Mary Ignatius of Jesus was sent to start a mission in Belle Prairie. She led the construction of a convent and boarding school and recruited local women to the Sisterhood. She and the Sisters established the Institute of the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. In 1889, as a result of arson, the convent and school were destroyed by fire. The Sisters decided to move in to Little Falls, where they constructed a Mother House and founded the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in 1891. The Franciscan Sisters were responsible for starting many community services, including St. Gabriel’s Hospital, St. Otto’s Home, an orphanage, a music center, and a girls’ high school. The Franciscan Sisters continue to be a vital part of the community to this day.
75. Father Edward Ramacher (1917 – 2007) – Father Ramacher served in the St. Cloud Diocese of the Catholic Church for 49 years. He served in parishes in Little Falls and Randall in Morrison County, and also served in Melrose, Sartell, Pearl Lake, and Long Prairie. He was ordained in 1945. While serving in Little Falls, fresh from his ordination, he developed Winter Wonderland, a popular community celebration, which he led until 1949/50. During the 1949 Winter Wonderland event, over 15,000 people were in attendance, including BeBe Shopp, a Minnesota native and Miss America for 1948. She was crowned Miss Wonderland for the event. In 1948, Fr. Ramacher was named “Outstanding Man of Minnesota” by the Minnesota Junior Chamber of Commerce. In 1952, he was named one of “Minnesota’s 100 Living Greats.” In 1994, Fr. Ramacher gave $25,000 to the St. John’s Boys Choir. The money was used to start an endowment for the choir.
As for this week’s Influentials, I think you’ll find at least one recognizable name. He’s so well known and achieved so much fame in his lifetime that we purposely put him in the middle of the list so that we could show you that we’ve had lots of Influentials in the county. We also didn’t want to give the impression that we were ranking anyone by order of importance. All of our Influentials are important for the roles they’ve played and I think this man would agree with us. He really didn’t like all the fuss people made over him.
This week’s Influentials:
76. Pamelia Fergus
77. Charles Lindbergh, Sr.
78. Charles Lindbergh, Jr.
79. Christian Rosenmeier
80. Gordon Rosenmeier