After a career working at two large law firms in Chicago, Kevin Egan is happy to be living in the north woods and taking on his new role as mayor of Lake Shore.
Elected in November, Egan said he ran for the position because former mayor John Poston asked him to do so. Poston ran successfully for a state House seat.
Smalltown leadership is nothing new to Egan. He served for about 20 years as the equivalent of a city council member in the village of Frankfort, Illinois.
"It's a small number of people, whether it's Frankfort, Illinois, or Lake Shore, Minnesota, who know this and do it," Egan said of serving in municipal government.
Egan was born and raised in the Chicago area, specifically in Frankfort, which he described as a small, German farming community. He completed his undergraduate work at the Chicago campus of the University of Illinois, and law school at Northwestern.
After law school, Egan was a law clerk to a federal judge in Chicago for two years, then an assistant U.S. attorney in the northern district of Illinois where he prosecuted federal crime. He then concluded his career with two large law firms, spending about 20 years at one firm and 15 years at another.
Egan had ties to Minnesota through his mother's family, who hailed from the Hutchinson area of rural McLeod County. Her family lost their farm during the Depression and moved to Chicago, but they always visited relatives who stayed in the area.
Egan said it was always a goal to move here. As a single dad, Egan brought his young hockey-playing sons to a camp in Deerwood, and they enjoyed camping and staying at mom-and-pop resorts on Upper Gull Lake. As he watched those resorts go away, Egan decided to buy a home here.
Now married to wife Betsy for 17 years, they built a home on Lake Margaret in 2003. Betsy also is from the Chicago area; the two grew up in the same neighborhood.
The Egans moved to Lake Shore permanently about six years ago. Egan said technology allows a lawyer to work from anywhere.
"The computer and telephone work magnificently when you're looking out over a lake," he said, noting a lawyer can work forever, so though retired from larger firms, he still does work.
That work includes counseling for a law firm in Crosslake, and he and two longtime colleagues founded a healthcare consulting firm.
But he found time to serve Lake Shore as well, including working with the Gull Chain of Lakes Association and helping create the Lake Margaret Conservation Association when it was learned that lake had impaired waters.
Betsy said she told him, "You're going to be mayor someday," because Egan was always visiting city hall about Lake Margaret and to share how they did work in Frankfort. That led him to become involved in the city's planning commission and environmental committee.
Other community involvement includes the Initiative Foundation, Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation, a Rotary club in Brainerd and the Region Five Development Commission in Staples. Egan is vice chair of the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center board.
He also was treasurer for his predecessor Poston's state House campaign.
Betsy serves on the Kinship Partners board, and the couple mentors two Kinship brothers.
"There are so many opportunities to volunteer here," Egan said. "There's a distinct quality of life here."
When not working or volunteering, Egan enjoys playing golf, riding bike and woodworking. The couple also enjoys socializing with friends.
Egan looks forward to his term as mayor, with major items of business including renovating or rebuilding city hall, County State Aid Highway 77 reconstruction (a Cass County project through Lake Shore), expanding fiber optic cable in the area, trail connectivity with surrounding communities and looking at the city's comprehensive plan.