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Fathers know best - sometimes (maybe)

Hank Hemquist of Baxter holds photos featuring his late father, Carroll, on Friday, June 15, in honor of Father's Day. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch1 / 2
Hank Hemquist of Baxter holds photos featuring his late father, Carroll, on Friday, June 15, in honor of Father's Day. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch2 / 2

Margo Fortune was lucky to have the father she did because the thought of her late dad makes her smile and what he told her stuck with her—even if it didn't make much sense sometimes.

"If I said, 'Dad, where are you going?' My dad, Edward (Nokels), would always say, 'I have to go see a man about a dead horse,'" she said.

Fortune is a wife and mother of seven who was diagnosed with brain cancer. She and her seven siblings grew up in Long Prairie with their father, who died at the age of 77 in 2002.

The 50-year-old Brainerd resident is one of many who will be thinking of "dear 'ol Dad" on Father's Day and like others chose to honor the spirit of his non sequitur rather than decipher it.

"I still don't know what this means, and my dad never explained, but I think about it often," Fortune said of the "horse sense." "It is a fond memory of my dad."

Father's Day was the brainchild of Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Wash., after she listened to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909. She wanted a special day to honor her dad, William Smart, a widowed Civil War veteran who raised six children, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"If you start something, finish it. And if you do something, do it right," Kathy Callaway of Brainerd said of the only advice her father gave her, which she has never forgotten in the past 70 years.

Bill Lundberg grew up in Aitkin, graduated from Central Lakes College and now lives in Bloomington. The 64-year-old husband, father and process server said he hopes to retire soon.

"He died in 2004. He was 78," Lundberg said of his father Gerald. "And I just remember all of the things that we did with him—snowmobiling and hunting and waterskiing—all that great stuff."

Gerald Lundberg was the Aitkin County assessor for almost three decades but still made time to raise Bill and his two siblings, and imparted some financial wisdom before his time was up.

"My dad's best piece of financial advice was don't spend more than you make—as sound today as it was 45 years ago. ... It seems kind of simple, but it makes a lot of sense," Bill Lundberg told his 23-year-old daughter, Bailey, of Eagan.

"Younger folks have a tendency sometimes to not realize how fast they can burn through money if they are not careful and watch what's going on. ... I try to lessen my exposure to risk and debt. I have never been in a casino and played any of the games."

Hank Hemquist is a 64-year-old husband and father of two from Baxter who described his late father, Carroll, from Parkers Prairie as a "dedicated steward of the land and of the people." Carroll passed away at the age of 76 in 1998.

"Regarding gambling, he told me one time 'The best way to double your money, Hank, is to take it, fold it in half and put it in your pocket rather than going to the casino," Hemquist said as he chuckled. "But he also said, 'You need to give back. You've been given so much.'"

Hemquist followed his father's advice. He is a member of the Brainerd Lions Club, a mentor at Central Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge and an active member of his church.

"He farmed for 50 years, milking cows twice a day, on 365 acres, and raised six children. He was on the school board, the town board, the farmers' organization, the church board," said Hemquist, who worked in education and rehabilitation for about three decades before retiring.

There were an estimated 72.2 million fathers across the nation in 2014, the most recent year for which data are available, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Father's Day has been celebrated annually since 1972 when President Nixon made it permanent by signing it into law.

Alan Marshall is one of those fathers. The 69-year-old Seattle native is a husband and father residing in Motley whose father, Jack, died at the age of 89 not too long ago.

"My dad would always tell me, 'In your daily walk, put the less fortunate ahead of yourself. Display kindness, respect and dignity' and 'It's just as easy to top half of your gas tank full as it is the bottom half,'" he said.

"He was soft-spoken, but when he talked you listened. And what I learned from him was unconditional love. You could do the most terrible thing—not saying I did—but he didn't put any stipulations on it. He'd say, 'I'll love you if you're a good kid, I'll love you if you're a bad kid.'"

Frank Lee

Voted most likely in high school ... "not to be voted most likely for anything," my irreverent humor (and blatant disregard for the Oxford comma) is only surpassed by a flair for producing online videos to accompany unbiased articles about Crow Wing County about, say, how your taxes are being spent, by your elected officials, on issues or topics that matter to YOU.

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