A group of from six to 10 grizzled, flannel-clad elders gathers at a table every day at Gabby’s in Palisade. This week, the round table is missing one giver of wisdom.

Jack Blakesley, who lived west of Palisade (Emily address) and his dog Faith died in their home from a fire on Feb. 15. The Emily Fire Department was called to the fire at 4:21 a.m. after being alerted by a passer-by.

These guys, mostly in their 70s, check on each other, have breakfast or lunch, talk about the markets and their plans for the day, and try to make sense of the news.

“We solve the problems of the world,” said 50-year logging veteran Donnie Johnson.

Blakesley was also a long-time independent logger, having left an earlier career as a public lands forester with Minnesota DNR to go into private business.

There is a combined 300 years of hard-working experience in the group – many of whom are still working and/or operating their own businesses. Loggers, railroad workers and farmers are among the group.

Some of the round table folks went to high school together in Aitkin.

One couple who is not a regular part of the group, but often came in to visit with Blakesley, was Linda and Lyle Carr from Aitkin. Linda and Jack were in the same grade at school, and Blakesley had recently reconnected with them. After that, the Carrs would come in to the cafe often to meet and visit with their friend.

Gabby’s Eats and Treats owner Gail Kearney said, “Jack came in here every single day that we were open. The others at the round table would come and go, but Jack was here pretty much every afternoon and evening.  People would stop in just to sit and have lunch or dinner and visit with him, and the others would come and go, but Jack was a constant. We miss him already.”

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