2019 Hall of Fame

Wednesday, July 10, 2019 Tom Hager Day

Hall of Fame member Tom Hager from St. Charles has a long history as a volunteer at the Winona County Fair, and much of that time has been to promote his great love for antique tractors. Tom can usually be found during the fair amid the large antique tractor display east of the 4-H building.

 “I was actually asked to take over the tractor display at the Winona County Fair when Russell Church retired as the organizer…A highlight was back in 2010 when the fair celebrated 100 years in St. Charles and I was asked to get 100 tractors for display. In the end we ended up having people bring in 114 tractors,” stated Hager proudly.

The Hager family includes wife Joan and son Cody (friend Jen Chase). Hager is originally from Kellogg, MN, and moved to Winona County after he married his wife. The couple purchased a farm near Elba, where they still reside.

Hager notes that he attended Austin Vo-tech, studying diesel mechanics for two years. Following that he secured a job in Plainview for a machinery implement company where he worked for 46 years.

 In his spare time Hager also volunteers with the “Orange Spectacular” at the Rochester History Center. That event is a way to preserve the history of the Allis-Chalmers company and to pass that history and knowledge along to future generations. Hager has a large collection of Allis Chalmers tractors, which he “likes” sharing with son Cody. Hager also enjoys bowling during the winter, and serves as the treasurer for Catholic Financial at St. Borromeo Catholic Church in St. Charles.  

Thursday, July 11, 2019 Tim and Jenny Hoff Day

Hall of Fame Honorees Tim and Jenny Hoff have a long history in the Winona County area, in a business that serves families with compassion in time of need. Hoff Funeral Home was started by Tim’s father Lowell Hoff and continues to be a family business which involves brother Gary, and also a third generation of Hoff’s.

“We both work within our family business, Hoff Funeral Home… Jenny (a registered nurse) is a funeral celebrant and office manager for the business in Winona and St. Charles, while I serve as a funeral director and President of Hoff Funeral Homes, Inc. Jenny and I are a team when it comes to this business,” states Tim Hoff.

Besides running a family business, the couple raised 4 children- Ashley (husband Brandon Czaplewski), Alyssa (husband Eric Gardner), Danielle and Tyler (wife Emily Merchlewitz). The Hoff’s are also blessed with grandchildren. Daughter Ashley and son Tyler are the third generation of Hoff’s involved in the family business, working out of Hoff Celebration of Life Center in Winona.

Tim was raised in St. Charles, and Jenny is New Prague, MN. The couple has lived in St. Charles since they were married in 1983.

Despite a busy work schedule, the couple has been involved in their community and beyond. For Jenny that has been the St. Charles Park and Recreation Board, St. Charles Area Community Foundation, St. Charles Pool Committee, St. Charles Borromeo Building Committee and volunteer and board member for the Children’s Grief Connection.

Tim has been equally busy in the community over the years with such activities as the Lewiston Lions, St. Charles School Board member, Winona County History Center board, board member and chair of the Children’s Grief Connection and past president of the Minnesota Funeral Directors Association.

Friday July 11, 2019 Beth Olson Day

“ I have lived in Winona County all my life except for the two years I worked at Mayo Clinic as a medical secretary… so it feels like home to live in Winona County and it is such a beautiful place,” states Hall of Fame Honoree Beth Olson from Lewiston.

Olson grew up on a dairy farm owned by her parents Allen and Donna Aarsvold south of Fremont, along with 3 sisters. She graduated from Peterson High School, and was very proud to be crowned the 24th Princess Kay of the Milky Way at the Minnesota State Fair, representing Winona County.

In 1981 Olson married her husband Jim and the couple operate a dairy farm south of Lewiston along with daughter Katie. Their son Trent and wife Kristin live near Madison, WI.

Beth is no stranger to the Winona County Fair and Winona County 4-H. She was a 4-H leader for 15 years, served on the 4-H Dairy Committee, helped with 4-H project judging during the fair and for the past 27 years she and Jim have hosted 4-H dairy judging practice on their farm. The Olson family was also honored in 2006 with the Winona County Conservation Farmer of the Year award, and in 2016 were named the Winona County Farm Family.

Olson also has served the community and beyond in many other ways. Those activities have included the Rochester Holstein Association, state Princess Kay committee, Southeast Youth Dairy Show and various committees at her church. She currently serves on the board of director for MiEnergy Cooperative.

Saturday, July 13, 2019 – Kay Vanderzee Day

Hall of Fame member Kay Vanderzee of Dakota is the perfect example of someone who loves Winona County, and strives to make it a better place to live by her community involvement.

‘Winona County is a beautiful place to live with its hills and valleys, with little villages sprinkled throughout. People are friendly and willing to help when needed. I was born here and have no plans of moving anyplace else,” says Vanderzee.

Vanderzee and husband David will be married 60 years on September 12, 2019. She says they have had 60 fantastic years

filled with “lots of love, life and laughter” and feels their family has been so ‘blessed”.

The couple has 6 children- Linda (Michael) Moor, Dawn (Andrew) Kasten, Randy (Betty) Vanderzee, Kathie (David) Erdmann, David Paul (Sarah Jane) Vanderzee and Sarah (Aaron Bloom). The family is completed by “numerous” grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Kay and husband David have worked as “partners” on Vanderzee Farms for 50 years. Together they milked cows, did field works and chores. In between that they raised children and helped take care of the grandchildren and the great grandchildren. Vanderzee also noted that she loves to sew, making 100’s of wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses and other items of clothing.

During her youth Vanderzee was part of 4-H and FFA, and recalls working for 5 years for a Agnes Gellerson, who was a great 4-H mentor where she lived. Vanderzee notes that Agnes Gellerson was a early honoree inducted on the Winona County Fair Hall of Fame.

In the community Vanderzee has been active with the Ridgeway United Methodist Church, and the effort to save the Ridgeway School. She proudly says today that effort resulted in a “successful, thriving charter school”.

Sunday, July 14, 2019 – LaVern Fritz Day

LaVern Fritz, Hall of Fame member representing the Minnesota City area, is a “behind the scenes” person when it comes to community involvement.

“Although La Vern has been in leadership positions he is much more comfortable in the background doing all the many tasks that need to be completed to make an organization or event successful.  You can always count on him to get it done, or do the tasks take no one else wants to do …and be there for clean-up,” states his Hall of Fame Nominator, Susan Althoff.

LaVern and his wife Judith (now deceased) raised five children – Chris (Cherie) Fritz, Kim Clidas, Jan (Mitch) Hale, Lyn Pletta and Scott (Lisa) Fritz.  The Fritz family also include 10 grandchildren.

Over the years Fritz worked for Madison Silo (24 years), Altura Turkey Plant (3 years) and Lawrence Transportation (10 years). Fritz also purchased a farm in the Minnesota City Area, where he continues to live and work on the farm. When asked why he lives in Winona County, Fritz states he was “born and raised here”.

At his church, Redeemer Lutheran in Winona, Fritz served as president of the church council for many years, along with numerous other committees.  He also worked with the Land Stewardship Garden that Redeemer maintains with Women’s Resource Center, Winona Master Gardeners and Restorative Justice Program.  Yearly he has opened his farm to the Redeemer Pre-School and church congregation for a Family Day on the Farm.  It is a highlight of the school year for the preschool children. 

Other activities in the community have included Minnesota City Fire Department, member of the Winona County Old Settlers, the board of directors for the Garvin Brook Disaster Relief Fund and he currently serves as a Rollingstone Township Election judge.  Fritz was also involved with the Minnesota National Guard for 39 years.