After nearly 30 years working in the airline industry, George Rasmusson turned to another form of transportation in retirement.
Anyone who has taken a cruise on the Breezy Belle on Pelican Lake will recognize Rasmusson as their pilot as he drove Breezy Point Resort’s 100-passenger paddle-wheeler excursion boat for the past seven years. He piloted 65-70 cruises each year, though only about 20 last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a business career that took him all across the region - from Milwaukee to Duluth to Chicago to Minneapolis to Iowa - Rasmusson and his wife moved to Breezy Point in 2002. They had vacationed in the area, and that year after getting caught in a traffic jam traveling home to the Twin Cities area, Rasmusson decided it was time to make a move.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to get out of the Cities,’” he said. “I just thought I’d rather live up here than there.”
"I thought, 'I'm going to get out of the Cities', I just thought I'd rather live up here than there."
— George Rasmusson
The very next day he headed back up north to look for a house. Just one month later, they became Breezy Point residents.
Rasmusson grew up in North Dakota, graduating from high school in Devils Lake and attending the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. After the first semester of his second year of college, Rasmusson said with a laugh that the registrar suggested he take time off to figure out what he really wanted to do.
At age 19, he took a job in reservations with North Central Airlines in Milwaukee. After nine months there, he worked for eight years at the Duluth airport in customer service, becoming supervisor of the ticket counter.
In 1977, Rasmusson’s job took him to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago where he was assistant manager with North Central. Two years later, when North Central Airlines merged with Southern Airways to become Republic Airlines, Rasmusson moved to Minneapolis where he was regional manager with Republic.
He was later promoted to director of regional airline programs, a title he continued to hold when Northwest Airlines bought Republic in 1986. In 1989, he was promoted to director of industry marketing.
Rasmusson left Northwest in 1991 to take a job with Great Lakes Aviation,a regional carrier based in Spencer, Iowa, where he was executive vice president of finance and administration. When the headquarters moved to Bloomington in 1993, Rasmusson moved back to Minnesota too.
He left the airline industry to go into consulting in 1997.
Two years after settling in Breezy Point, Rasmusson began a long-lasting relationship with Breezy Point Resort after he sent resort owner Bob Spizzo a letter offering his expertise to help the resort get the Marina II restaurant built.
Though Spizzo didn’t take him up on that offer, the two clicked and became friends, which is readily evident in the humorous banter between them.
When Spizzo mentioned he wanted to resurrect a resort newsletter to send to past guests, Rasmusson took up the task. For the past 16 years, he’s published the Breezy Pointer once a year, including this year’s centennial edition detailing the resort’s 100-year history.
"I realized there are a lot of locals who have never been here (Breezy Point Resort.)"
— George Rasmusson
The Breezy Pointer is sent to resort guests from the past two years, timeshare owners and local residents, for a total of 22,000 mailings.
“I realized there are a lot of locals who have never been here,” Rasmusson said of the resort.
A goal of The Breezy Pointer is to spread the word that there are things of interest at the resort for local residents and past guests, and to get those people to check them out. The newsletter includes an entertainment schedule, improvements taking place at the resort, general information and, of course, resort history.
Rasmusson said last summer on a public cruise on the Breezy Belle, a woman who grew up five miles south of Breezy Point in the 1960s said her parents wouldn’t allow their children to go to the resort back then because under previous ownership it had a reputation as a wild place.
Today, the resort is family oriented, Rasmusson said, noting he had no idea the Breezy Pointer would last so long, and as an avid history buff he still enjoys putting it together.
In addition to his passion for history, Rasmusson’s hobbies include woodworking, fishing, deer hunting and visiting little towns and country bars.
Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.