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Retirement has been busy for Lake Shore man

John Poston stands next to a wall of framed business logos showing businesses that have helped Kids Against Hunger Brainerd Lakes Area in one way or another.Photo by Nancy Vogt

After a retail career that took him across the United States and Europe, John Poston retired at a relatively young age and settled in Lake Shore.

But retirement has been anything but relaxing for Poston, who thought he'd spend a lot of time fishing, hunting and golfing. Instead, he became active in Lake Shore city government, opened the nonprofit Kids Against Hunger Brainerd Lakes Area in Nisswa and ventured into the restaurant business. He also serves on numerous boards in the area - and he loves every minute of it.

Poston was born in Minneapolis and raised there and in Aitkin.

"I really tell people I grew up on Farm Island Lake (near Aitkin) because when I think about my youth, that's where my memories are," he said, noting he spent summers there.

He graduated from high school in Earlham, Iowa, after his dad was transferred to Des Moines, Iowa; and he attended Des Moines Area Community College.

"While I was doing that I got an awesome job offer," Poston said, noting he left school and embarked on a 35-year career in the retail industry.

He first worked for Payless Cashways (a building materials retailer), where he had started working while in college. He became assistant manager and then manager. Next, Poston worked for Home Depot.

"Then I took that crazy leap from home centers into the beauty business," he said, noting he was a retail executive for Sally Beauty Holdings for the last 20 years of his career. He looked after the international businesses, which included 35 countries, and lived in England for 10 years.

He also lived across the United States throughout his career, including in several Iowa cities, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, Kentucky and Indiana.

"If you're going to be a retailer, you better be ready to embrace moving," Poston said.

When his mother became ill, Poston decided it was time to stay put in one spot. In 2008, he and his wife, Sue, settled in their home on Lake Margaret in Lake Shore.

"We had a home here and we always knew this was where we'd retire," he said, noting they turned a cabin they had bought in 1994-95 into a year-round home.

"I feel very fortunate, very blessed to live in Lake Shore, so I wanted to get involved in the community," Poston said of becoming involved in city government.

He was appointed to the city's Park Committee and later became chair. In 2011, he was appointed to the city council. He was elected mayor starting this year.

"I've learned a lot from John (Terwilliger, former mayor and current council member). He's been a good mentor," Poston said, noting it's a good council with a great group of city employees. "It's harmonious."

Upcoming big projects include redoing County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 77 and creating a trail system along that road through Lake Shore.

"Those are on the priority list. Continuing our financial prudence is important. Continuing to protect our environment that we're blessed with - that's important. That's why people want to live here," he said.

Regarding CSAH 77 improvements scheduled to start in 2017, Poston said safety is the first priority, followed by protecting the road's character.

"And by that I mean keeping the undulations, curves, swerves and all the funky stuff about that road that people love, and saving the trees," he said.

Poston opened Kids Against Hunger Brainerd Lakes Area in 2012, a nonprofit where nutritious meals are packed and sent to countries in need, as well as to food shelves and soup kitchens in Minnesota. He'd been volunteering with Teen Challenge, taking participants to the Twin Cities to pack food for organizations there.

"I heard the numbers of people who were starving around the world and learned a lot about food insecurity right here in Minnesota, and I thought, 'We need to do more than take guys down periodically to pack food,'" Poston said.

"I really felt like the community would embrace it," he said about the local Kids Against Hunger. "I knew for sure the faith community would embrace it, and I thought the local business community would embrace it. And we've been overwhelmed."

He's proud of a wall full of framed business logos that show how many businesses have helped the organization. If fact, he needs to build more shelves to hold many more frames that are stacking up.

Another venture for Poston is in the restaurant business. Four years ago he bought Sherwood Forest in Lake Shore, which he calls a labor of love. Most recently, he along with Matt Annand and Nick Miller bought Prairie Bay Restaurant in Baxter. The three operate Three Cheers Hospitality, and through that they will operate Prairie Bay Restaurant, a catering business from Prairie Bay, Sherwood Forest, the cafeteria at Central Lakes College, the Prairie Bay food truck, and this summer they'll provide the food at Lost Lake Lodge in Lake Shore.

Sherwood Forest will open this spring as a year-round restaurant that specializes in Minnesota foods, Poston said.

In addition to his business ventures, Poston serves on the Nisswa Chamber board, Region 5 Commission, National Joint Powers Alliance and Happy Dancing Turtle. He also continues to volunteer with Teen Challenge and Essentia Health.

And when he has time, he enjoys fishing, hunting and golfing.