Unknown Champions

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Winning Nomination

I think one spot of the 150 should be reserved for unknown champions. These are the people who may not be remembered by history, even in their own communities, but were essential to building Minnesota and making it what it is. They include the people who built the churches, hockey arenas, first schools, community centers, town parks, ball parks, and downtowns. Each of these projects required someone--often acting on his or her own initiative and out of a passion for building a working society--who got the job done. Committees helped, as did official organizations and governments. But behind every major structure, physical and otherwise, in every town in Minnesota, there is someone who decided to just go ahead and do it. By reserving a place on the list for these folks you recognize a critical part of the history of the state--and you extend your list of 150 to thousands of others.
~Doug Wilhide, Minneapolis, MN


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History

Thanks, and more thanks

Nominator Doug Wilhide of Minneapolis makes a strong case for the kinds of people we often forget to acknowledge when formulating lists like the Minnesota 150: "These are the people who may not be remembered by history, even in their own communities, but who were essential to building Minnesota and making it what it is. They include the people who built the churches, hockey arenas, first schools, community centers, town parks, ball parks, and downtowns. Each of these projects required someone--often acting on his or her own initiative and out of a passion for building a working society--to get the job done. Committees helped, as did official organizations and governments. But behind every major structure, physical and otherwise, in every town in Minnesota, there is someone who decided to just go ahead and do it."

Nominator Jan MacKenzie-Polanski, Minneapolis, describes one of these projects: "Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis has a marvelous project that has been going on for decades. Many women of the church have collaborated to stitch large tapestries. The images include themes depicting church history, Christmas, spring, and the newest, a patriotic theme. In addition to the four large tapestries, they have made numerous wall hangings and covered many sofas and chairs with their works of art. It is the longevity of the project and the quality of these pieces that I feel make them so amazing."

And from nominator Julia Crozier, Fountain City, Wisconsin: "John Latsch has been a quiet hero for many people in southeastern Minnesota and beyond. He lived in the late 1800s and was a very successful businessman. He lived a simple, frugal life, and his favorite pastime was to canoe on the Mississippi. One day while canoeing, a terrible thunderstorm caused Latsch to take shelter on the shore. He was soon surprised to see the landowner next to him screaming for him to get off his land. This upsetting experience caused Latsch to start buying up as much land as possible in order to make it possible for him to turn those parcels of land into parks, so that a similar experience would be less likely to happen to other people. The lands that he purchased and subsequently donated are the Winona Golf Course, Latsch Island, Latsch and Blufflands state parks in Minnesota, and Merrick and Perrot state parks in Wisconsin. John Latsch is a good example of the far-ranging influence one person can have on the world."

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