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Lions and doughnuts and pageants OH MY!

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Barb Klocke lives by a very honest philosophy.

“I think (community involvement) is important. Otherwise you pretty much stay to yourself and are more of a hermit. The more active you are, the younger you stay,” Klocke said.

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Klocke is a well-known face in Pine River. Back when the Pine River Bakery was called Al’s Bakery, she was part of many morning routines and an active part of the community, to boot. This all started not in Pine River, but Pine City.

Klocke was the granddaughter of a Pine City 4-H leader. Naturally, she and her siblings were members.

They lived on a traditional family farm and loved riding horses. She was a member of the school’s Nurse Club.

“I was going to go into nursing, but getting married changed that. I never did go on to school for that,” Klocke said.

Klocke had met her future husband, Al, at work.

“I worked at the bakery in Pine City as the clerk out front. He came in as their baker there. He’s just been baking that many years,” Klocke said.

Their marriage led to a change of plans, and a change of scenery. First they relocated to Grafton, N.D. where Al worked as a baker at a Fairway Foods Store. That only lasted four months before his parents bought a bakery and moved to a little town called Pine River. Klocke and her husband followed. It only took 11 months before Barb and Al assumed ownership of the bakery for the next 30 years.

Upon coming to Pine River, the Klockes became major members of the community. Al became a member of the local Lions club, and Barb became a member by proxy. They joined the chamber, and Barb eventually became a team captain for the local Relay for Life. They raised two daughters and two sons in the community. Barb and Al were sure to attend their shows.

Perhaps the most time consuming of Barb’s hobbies has been the Miss Pine River Scholarship Pageant.

“Most of the year I work with the girls for the pageant, getting them organized for the parades and pageants, so it’s pretty hectic and busy,” she said.

Barb joined the pageant committee 34 years ago while it was still being run by founders Jackie Wetrosky and Sue Stephan. After Stephan’s passing, Barb became co-chair with Wetrosky.

“When Jackie stepped down (approximately six years ago), I just assumed her position as the chairwoman,” Barb said.

Every December the committee puts up posters at PR-B High School. In January they set up lunch time meetings. From there they organize photo shoots for candidates, schedule rehearsals and seek sponsors without which the show could not go on.

“From January until the pageant, I would say I spend at least five hours a week on it, usually after work,” Barb said.

During the month of the pageant — April — Barb and her committee can spend five hours a day working on the pageant, and her responsibilities don’t end with the crowning. From the time Miss Pine River is crowned until the next December, Barb is constantly informing the Miss Pine River court of community events to attend, organizing rides and planning for the next year. She gets to know the pageant contestants very well.

“It’s surprising how close you get. It’s like having more daughters. You get extremely close to them. Some of them more than others. I’ve had past ones, we’ve been invited to weddings, graduations. Any time you see them you get hugs. That all means a lot. You just build a strong relationship,” Barb said.

Building relationships seems to be Barb’s goal in life. Though they no longer own the Pine River Bakery, it’s likely that Pine River lovers of sawdust rolls and apple fritters still recognize Barb and Al from a mile away.

For the last 11 years, Barb has been working at Pine River State Bank as the head of the bookkeeping department. She doesn’t work at a front desk, but smalltown banks are notorious for community involvement.

Whether it has been the bank, the Lions club, the pageant or the bakery, Barb is a familiar face in the Pine River community. To her, it’s all a part of staying young.

Travis Grimler can be reached at travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com. Follow him at facebook.com/PEJTravis and on Twitter @PEJ_Travis.

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