When asked why he was chosen as “Hometown Hero” for this year’s Isle Days celebration, Conrad Thomsen humbly replied, “Good question.”
It was a good question that needed more explanation. And one that would be answered as Conrad shared stories about his involvement in the community he has lived in most of his life.
Conrad was born in 1938, and at 81 years of age, he has no plans to slow down. Conrad’s beginnings were in McGrath where he graduated from high school. He began his adult years serving in the Army, got married to wife Annette, who passed away 18 years ago, then worked for Minneapolis Gas company for 10 years, and then moved into building houses with his brother (David) where they were contractors in the Twin Cities area.
He shared about the many books he has written for people over the years. Stories about their lives that would bless them and the loved ones they left behind. “A friend of mine lost his wife recently, so I wrote a book about her and her husband which was read at her funeral,” recalled Conrad.
Also shared was the time he encouraged a Ukranian friend to write his own story. His friend responded by saying that he didn’t have a story to write but took Conrad’s advice, telling him he truly did “have a lot to say.” He reluctantly wrote his story, and one month later, his friend passed away. But his family would forever have that keepsake.
Working with horses, specifically his Percherons, Shade and Shadow, and giving community members free horse-pulled wagon and sleigh rides has made him an endearing fixture in the community.
He spoke about times in the “Wild Burrow” club where he would purchase and give away horses to those he felt needed one. “We had a whole bunch of neighbor kids, and sometimes I gave them a horse,” he said. “I made them give me a dollar for the horse. Some of them still have the horse on their farms. A kid has to be some place, so they might as well be with adults and learning how to take care of a horse.”
Then there was that time he rode his horse into a bar … but we’ll save that for another story.
Over the years, Conrad said he has had more fun than the kids and adults as he’s served in various capacities, including serving for 40 years in the Isle Lions Club.
“I’m just having a ball, and I ain’t gonna stop and roll over,” quips Conrad.
When asked what he loves most about this community, he responded, “It’s home. You know the people. If you go into a restaurant, it’s like going into ‘Cheers’ where everyone knows your name.”
Now Conrad still spends time giving rides with his horses and spends time with his children: Ron, who lives in North Branch with his family, and Daniel, who lives with his family in Minneapolis. He doesn’t intend to ever retire from “working for nothing,” whether it’s helping his son bale hay or giving sleigh or wagon rides--because he loves it.
Thank you, Conrad, for making the Isle community a better place to live.