Wednesday July 12, 2017 – Richard Finger Day
Hall of Fame member Richard Finger from Lewiston has a long history in education, and proudly notes that for 31 years he was an agriculture teacher until he retired in 1999.
“I was born and raised on a farm in west-central Minnesota. My parents and I worked on farms for relatives and landlords… Since we didn’t have a farm I decided the best thing I could do was to go to college and become an agriculture instructor,” says Finger.
Finger graduated from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul campus in the summer of 1968, and he was immediately hired by the Lewiston /Altura School District that July. During his years of teaching he was also the FFA advisor.
“I was blessed to have outstanding students. Many of these students today are farming in the area, or work in various agri-businesses… these students received awards and recognitions on the district, regional, state and national levels in events that today are called career development events,” Finger commented.
While Finger’s students were involved on many levels, Finger also worked with his peers on district, regional and state levels. That involvement included offices as state secretary and president, as well as chairing the Minnesota Agriculture Teachers conference for many years and at one point he and wife Retha edited “Ag in Actions”, a magazine for Minnesota Agricultural teachers.
As an FFA advisor he also worked with the FFA Barnyard at the Winona County Fair, and for about 20 years spent days at the fair helping FFA students park cars. He notes he also served on the fair board for several years, and “enjoyed” judging herdsmanship and other 4-H projects at fairs.
Finger’s wife Retha also taught social studies in the Lewiston School district, and together they raised 3 children- Patty (husband Tom), Jana (husband Gregg), and Sarah. The couple also has a grandson named Brody.
During his 50 years in Lewiston, Finger has also served his community through the Jaycees, Lion’s Club, beautification committee and park board.
“When I learned that Lewiston had an opening I applied and was hired… even though I was not living close to my family, I thoroughly enjoy the beautiful country-side of the Lewiston area, quite a change from the flat land of Springfield, MN,” concludes Finger.
Thursday July 13, 2017 – Gary Evans Day
According to Hall of Fame member Gary Evans, Winona County, MN, is a great place to live. For that reason, he has spent most of his life in this area.
“In my opinion, there is no better place anywhere to raise children. We lived in Albert Lea when the children were toddlers and Minneapolis, but leapt at the chance to return to Winona because of the environment. In Winona County, helping hands and dear friends are always in earshot. Living here has been a total joy,” says Evans.
Evans is married to the former Ellen Suhr, and he notes that in her youth Ellen was a Buffalo County, WI Dairy Princess. The couple also raised two children- Gregory (wife Terri Kukowski) and Natalie (husband Dan Matejka).
The name Gary Evans is well known in Winona. For 30 years Gary says he was in “newspapering”, much of that time at the Winona Daily News. His career also took him to Winona State University for 15 years as Vice-President of Advancement, and for another 15 years was President and CEO of Hiawatha Broadband Communications.
During his career, Evans has been honored for his contributions to the organizations where he has worked. In 2009 he received a Distinguished Service Award from Winona State University, served on the Blandin Foundation Broadband Strategy Board from 2005 to 2014 and was an advisor to the FCC group that authored the National Broadband Plan in 2009.
Now “finally” retired, Evans has written three novels. The first of those was published in June 2017.
Volunteerism is also important to Evans, and he has given back to the Winona Community. Some of those activities have included 25 years as chairman of the Winona Health Board, Governor’s Broadband Task Force, chair of the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce Board, Winona County Historical Society Board, Great River Shakespeare Board and the church council at Trinity Lutheran Church in Goodview. Evans has also been the Harbormaster and grand marshal for Winona Steamboat Days.
“I am proud to be a volunteer because my grandmother, who raised me, everyday told me that my job was always to leave things better than I found them,” Evans commented.
Friday July 14, 2017 – Gerard & Lila Brogan Day
Family farming operations are fading out of the landscape of the rural areas these days, but Gerard and Lila Brogan of St. Charles are proud to operate Brogan Oaks Heights Dairy. The Brogan’s have the distinct honor of being the first “couple” to be named to the Winona County Fair Hall of Fame in the same year.
“We own and run the farm with our two sons… we milk 480 cows, raise all our heifers and feed out our steers, “ says Lila Brogan in describing their operation.
Sons Keith and Scott are part of the operation, and the family raises corn, soybeans, hay, peas and sweet corn. Lila also works as a Title One Para-Professional in the St. Charles School District, and Gerard is enrolled in the farm business management program though Riverland College.
The couple has raised 6 children- Keith, Heidi (Jeremiah Neubert), Paula (David Wegman), Scott (Angie), Stacy (Reggie Shones) and Lisa (Josh Campbell). There are also 14 grandchildren.
The Brogan Farm was honored as a Century Farm in 1998, and a round barn built by Gerard’s grandfather in 1911 still stands. The barn was selected as a finalist in the Friends of MN Barns of the Year program in 2009.
The couple are members of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, the St. Charles FFA Alumni group (Lila was named MN FFA Alumni Member of the year for 2017), 4-H leaders and the Winona County American Dairy Association. At the Winona County Fair the couple are very visible being in charge of the malt wagon and the Little Red Barn, Lila helping with open class exhibits and Gerard assisting with the 4-H dairy steer show. Added to all this Lila is treasurer and election judge for Saratoga Township, and Gerard a member of the St. Charles Moose Lodge.
“Winona County is a beautiful county with rolling hills and bluffs and a lot of farming diversity. We both grew up in Winona County and have lived here our entire lives. Gerard and I both exhibited at the Winona County Fair, and our children and grandchildren have followed in our footsteps…. The fair is like a vacation for us that we really enjoy,” emphasizes Lila Brogan.
Saturday July 15, 2017 – Mike Miller Day
Hall of Fame member Mike Miller of St. Charles is the perfect example of someone who loves his town, and strives to make it a better place to live by his community involvement.
Mike is the long- time owner of Mike’s Food Center in St. Charles, along with his son Jon. He has been in the grocery business for 45 years, and 38 of those years have been in St. Charles. Miller is very visible in his business, and greets his customers with a smile and is always ready to provide assistance.
The Miller Family includes wife Wendy, and the couple has been married for 40 years. Together they have raised 3 children- Kelly Stroeing, Jon Miller and Liz Miller.
Miller’s involvement outside his store includes Grocers Association Board for 12 years, Eastwood Bank Board of 23 years, chairman of the St. Charles Aquatic Center Fund Drive and fund drive committee member for construction of the new Catholic Church.
Mike also notes that he has worked on the St. Charles Economic Development Council, and is proud that the group accomplished a project for new sidewalks and lights in downtown St. Charles, and that an 18- hole golf course was built right in St. Charles.
Aside work and volunteering, Mike and Wendy are world travelers. Some of their destinations included Brazil, China, Ireland, England, Africa, and into Canada for fly fishing and duck hunting.
“I grew up in Plainview, and there was a store here in St. Charles to purchase… this is a great area to live and work, and I am happy to be a part of the St. Charles community,” Miller concludes.
Sunday July 16, 2017 – Marge Kingsley Day
If you watch closely during the 2017 fair you may see Hall of Fame member Marge Kingsley of St. Charles driving a 1964 Oliver 1600 Tractor in the antique tractor parade. Marge says she ”loves” to drive that tractor, especially at the Winona County Fair!
Kingsley was born and raised near Elgin, and during high school played a cornet in the band and was the Homecoming Queen. In 1956 she married Charles Kingsley, and they raised 5 children – Diane (Wynn), Duane (Died in 2011), Dale (Dana), Doug and Denise (Troy). Charlie Kingsley died in 2013. The family includes 11 grandchildren, 1 step granddaughter and 13 great grandchildren. Marge attends most school activities for her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
“We came to Winona County because of employment for my husband, and shortly after we started farming… we both loved being in Winona County, and here I stayed,” commented Kingsley.
Aside from raising her family, Marge was a leader for the Pleasant Ridge Rustlers 4-H Club, a member of the Pleasant Ridge Homemakers, St. Charles Senior Center, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, the Catholic Daughters and the Rosary Society. She also worked at Camera Art for several years, and then enjoyed working with staff and students in the St. Charles High School Cafeteria for 15 years.
At the Winona County Fair Marge served as an exhibit superintendent for needlecraft for 12 years, and loves doing counted cross stitch. She has exhibited her projects and won some ribbons at the Winona County Fair, and exhibited at the Minnesota State Fair. In 2000 Charlie and Marge were honored to reign as the Winona County Fair King and Queen.
Ever a mother, Marge wants people to know that her children tell her she makes the “best” potato salad and pies in the world. A nice tribute to a mother!