Warren G. Herreid I, 96, Luverne, died Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017, at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Luverne.
A funeral service will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, at Grace Lutheran Church in Luverne. Burial with full military honors will follow at Maplewood Cemetery in Luverne. A reception will then follow at Grand Prairie Events in Luverne. Visitation will be from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1, at the Hartquist Funeral Home in Luverne.
By Warren Gale Herreid Sr.
The story of my life starts before my birth. My dad was farming in Sherman, South Dakota. In December of 1920 there was a blizzard and all roads were closed, so they decided to take Mother to the closest hospital (Dell Rapids, South Dakota). They bundled Mother and my four brothers in the bobsled and set out cross-country. Dad brought wire-cutting pliers, knowing they would have to cut fences to get to their destination. I was due before Christmas and they arrived at the hospital in plenty of time, but I did not arrive until the 28th.
My late arrival became “the story of my life.” I am late for everything; it’s one of the things that made me famous. My brother Ralph loved to tell about my arrival at home. “Dad brought you in the house and just tossed you on the davenport,” he said. In those days, it wasn’t uncommon for families with many children to have their babies raised by relatives who weren’t so blessed. When Aunt Nettie learned of the new addition and expressed her wish to raise the child, Dad told her that she could have me! Dad insisted he’d been joking – but Aunt Nettie took him at his word, arriving with baby blankets and bottles, ready to claim her precious cargo, but Dad picked me up and said, “On second thought, I think we’ll keep him. He may be the best of the bunch!” Aunt Nettie was disappointed that day — and so, I suspect, were my brothers!
I was 2 years old when we left the farm and moved back to Luverne — a wonderful place to grow up! In those days we created our own toys and I believe we had as much fun making them as playing with them. We made skis out of barrel stays and used inner tubes for sleds. When I was about seven, I found an old coaster wagon. Since I didn’t have a cotter key to keep the wheels on, I used a bent nail. I was having a wonderful time coasting down a hill, propelling myself with my left leg. Unfortunately, that leg came in contact with the bent nail which proceeded to pierce the calf and ripped me open before I could stop (coaster wagons don’t have brakes). A neighbor came and got me loose. Eighteen stitches later I was back on the wagon, so to speak.
I also loved to make kites. We went to the lumber yard to get sticks, then to the butcher who provided us with paper, then to the grocer who would give us some string. One of the moms would provide us with paste (made from flour and water). Man, we had the best time flying those kites!
One of our more questionable pastimes was playing on the fire escape at the grade school. The building was located on the site of the current Dingmann Funeral Home. The fire escape was sort of like a silo with a spiral slide inside. There was a door at the bottom that would open when the person sliding down pushed against it with their feet. We pried open that door, climb up inside, and slid down. It was dark and scary inside the “silo,” so it was a lot of fun.
I grew up during the Great Depression, but to me, it was just my childhood, and it was great fun. We didn’t have money for anything, but everybody was in the same situation so we didn’t know we were poor.
I graduated in 1938. I wanted to go to college at Worthington, but my dad believed I would be better off learning a trade. He suggested I apprentice with my brother Ralph in his jewelry store and learn to fix watches and clocks, so that’s what I did.
A year later I heard that the National Guard was being federalized and many of us decided to join. Probably our greatest motivation was the promise of a year of training in California, which we thought would be great. I actually did have a great time gallivanting in California until they moved us to Kodiak, Alaska. I was assigned to the communications section and was a wireman. On Dec. 7, 1941, I was at my station in Kodiak with the rest of my unit — without any ammunition! There we sat, like sitting ducks, waiting for the Japanese to arrive! All I can say is, “Thank goodness they never did!”
Tired of Alaska, I applied to the air corps for pilot training in California. I qualified for pilot, navigator, and bombardier and chose to do pilot training. The board determined that they needed to cut down the number of pilots in basic training so I was turned loose and reassigned to the infantry.
I was given leave before starting my infantry training, so I went home and married Joyce Kahler, my wife of 63 years, on April 20, 1944.
After I completed my infantry training, I left with the division for France. When the war ended, I had more points than most guys so I left Europe in July of 1945.
I arrived home to a wife and three-month-old baby boy — Warren II (NOT junior!) We moved into a basement house on Luverne Street that I built with the help of the National Guard. They helped me build the house up after our daughter, Peggy, was born.
The National Guard was federalized during the Korean War and we were activated again and were stationed in Camp Rucker, Alabama. Off we went again, this time as a family of four. When the war was just about over, my time was up and we came home.
In 1953 I bought a jewelry store of my own in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. A few months later, our daughter Debra Joy was born, and our family was complete. I sold my store and we moved back to Luverne in 1960 for one year, then I was hired by Rosemount Engineering Company in 1961 and brought the family to live in Bloomington, Minnesota.
While we lived in Bloomington, I rejoined the National Guard and completed my 20 years, retiring in 1981 as a sergeant major. I thrived at Rosemount and finished out my career there as production manager at the Burnsville plant in 1986.
A few years later, Joyce and I had a house built in Spirit Lake, Iowa, on a canal of Lake Okoboji but decided we’d rather be back in Luverne, so we returned in 1992.
I stayed very busy in those retirement years as VFW Post Commander from 1993 to 1996. After that I was appointed by the governor to the National Citizen’s Committee of Luverne. I continued to serve as a member of the SW Minnesota ESGR, was chairman of the group who designed and arranged for funding of the veterans park at the Luverne Veterans Home, where I volunteered to work the bingo games for the “old people” there until I was about 90 years old.
I was a member of the Luverne Lions Club, the Blue Mound Woodcarvers Club, and was a volunteer at the Luverne Sanford Hospital.
I was a member of the Honor Guard and encouraged others to get involved. In 1999 the county selected me as Rock County Senior Citizen of the Year.
We members of the Glen’s Coffee Clique created a Last Man Club about 12 years ago, and we were honored to be invited to the governor’s mansion for coffee with First Lady Mary Pawlenty, who became a dear friend.
In my spare time I loved to golf, putter in my woodworking shop, and also went back to repairing vintage clocks.
I lost my Joyce in 2007, and carried on alone, gradually losing my eyesight until I broke my left femur in November 2012. By that time I was legally blind, so my daughter Debra Joy and her husband, Rick, moved in with me that December.
The three of us were quite a team until Rick became ill with terminal lung cancer and passed away in 2015. That was when I really started slowing down myself.
I had moved to Minneapolis to an assisted living apartment but soon fell and broke my neck. I moved back to Luverne in September 2015 and became one of those “old people” living at the Veterans Home. Blind and immobilized, I gradually faded away until God called me home on Oct. 26, 2017. Things are really looking up, now, and I look forward to welcoming you all at the gate! Remember, God loves you, and so do I!
Memorials are preferred to Luverne Dollars for Scholars or the Luverne BackPack Program.
Arrangements are provided by Hartquist Funeral Home of Luverne, www.hartquistfuneral.com.