Remembering two favorite stories
There were a couple of men who died in Faribault County last week. There were probably others, too, but I am thinking of two in particular.
One was Louis Maday, who was 96. The other was Jason Niebuhr, who was 39. One was older and died of, well, old age. The other was younger and died tragically in a traffic accident.
At first glance these two men had nothing in common, except for the fact they lived in Faribault County.
After all, Maday was a farmer who lived on the very western edge of the county, west of Guckeen. Niebuhr was a businessman in Wells who lived on the very far eastern edge of the county.
I doubt they ever even met each other. But they did have something in common.
And, that something was me.
You see, I interviewed both of these men, found out all about them, and then wrote a story about each one, so that you, our readers, could learn about them, as well.
Louis Maday was featured in our annual “Our Heroes” magazine in November of 2013. Jason Niebuhr was featured in our annual “Community Focus” magazine, also a while ago, in April of 2013. In fact, he was on the cover of the magazine that year.
Perhaps you remember those stories. I sure do. They were a couple of my favorites although, to be honest, I have a couple of hundred favorite stories.
Visiting with Louis at his home was very, very interesting. At first, he wanted to tell me all about his 15 children and not much about himself. Eventually we got around to what he did during World War II and it was fascinating. He was a glider man and I had never heard of a glider man before.
In case you don’t remember, a glider man was a soldier who got in an engine-less plane called a glider (now we would call them a drone, I think), with other soldiers, and glide silently, at night, to behind enemy lines, where they would proceed to land the glider (or crash land the glider) in the dark.
They would spend the next week or more hiding out by day and scouting at night, hopefully eventually making their way back across the battlefield front lines to their own troops without getting killed.
Then they would do the whole thing all over again, with a different glider, because they had left the crash landed one behind, obviously.
All the while he was telling me this story, he kept repeating that I really didn’t need to write about him, because he was no hero. He only became a glider man for the money, he said. He got paid an extra $50 a month for risking his life in what I thought sounded pretty much like a series of suicide missions. He sent the extra money home to his family because they needed it.
No, Louis Maday was a real hero, and a pretty great guy. I loved hearing his story.
My interview with Jason Niebuhr was equally as fascinating. He had been blind since he was two years old, and yet had completed high school and college, started his own business, and had a talent for taking things apart and fixing them and getting them put back together.
But, the focus of my story was not his blindness, but the fact Jason wanted to give back to the community as much as he could. He was a member of nearly every organization, club or community group in Wells because he wanted to help out whoever, wherever and whenever he could.
In response, the community supported him in many ways, as much as they could. The Wells Lions Club especially had made it a priority to help him in many ways.
It was a great story for our “Community Focus” magazine of a community working together; it was the epitome of what a community should be, and why we all love living in small towns.
Jason, too, was a very nice guy. My condolences to both the Maday and Niebuhr families for their loss of these two wonderful men.
Doing stories like these is the best part of my job. Visiting with folks, having them tell me something interesting about themselves, and then writing about it so others can enjoy learning about their neighbors, is what I love to do, and always have.
You can read my latest effort at telling someone’s story in this week’s Register. It is all about Kevin Benson and the Habitat 500 Bike Ride. There is also Kevin Mertens’ story about the new assistant principal at Blue Earth Area Schools. And, Katie Mullaly’s feature about Lissia Laehn and her passion for quilting.
I like to think this is the most important work of a newspaper telling everyone about the community and the people who live in it. A local newspaper is an important tool for helping a community learn all about itself.
Thanks for reading us. And thanks to all of those folks who allow us to share their stories with others.