• Recently, State Rep. Dale Lueck (R-Aitkin) and Sen. Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point) sponsored a new law designating June 29 as “General John Vessey Day.”
Born in Minneapolis on June 29, 1922, Vessey found a way to join the National Guard at age 16, and during a storied career fighting in World War II and the Vietnam conflict, he aspired to the rank of a four-star general, holding military posts in Germany and Korea. He was assigned a special emissary to Vietnam dealing with soldiers missing in action.
Vessey’s crowning assignment was serving as the 10th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Ronald Reagan.
As for General Vessey’s local ties to the Mille Lacs area, he maintained a summer home on Little Whitefish Lake just south of Garrison and became a generous donor to the Onamia school system, offering a substantial amount of money to the scholarship programs of District 480.
General Vessey died in 2016 in North Oaks, Minnesota.
• A very gracious mom with ties to Mille Lacs passed away a few weeks ago. Noreen Stott, wife of Buster Stott and mom to four boys and two girls who each were outstanding athletes at Onamia’s public schools, was a fixture on the west side of Mille Lacs for many years, helping to run Rainbow Inn Resort.
Ron Schara, noted outdoor journalist in the state, said he has fond memories of the times spent at the Stott resort fishing on the ice during weekend stays, then jamming with his band, “The Better Than Nothing Dirt Band,” in the small confines of the Rainbow Inn Lounge.
• Speaking of Ron Schara, while getting his gear in order prior to blasting off in his Ranger boat during the annual Minnesota Wild Foundation fund-raiser “Wild on the Water” this past June on Mille Lacs Lake, he shared a few bits of personal info with a Messenger reporter. Schara mentioned that he and his wife had just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
And when asked about his TV dog Raven, he said this version of his sidekick is the third, currently 15 years old and suffering from arthritis. Asked if he was looking to get his fourth Raven, Ron said “I’m just working on getting a second Ron Schara,” referring to his age, which is 77.
Schara also shared some views about the future of a high school sport which is now in its infancy but gaining popularity by the year – that of bass fishing. He likened bass fishing to the introduction of high school clay shooting which is now the fastest growing sport in the state. Schara foresees bass fishing catching on across the state and eventually being sanctioned by the Minnesota State High School League.
• Speaking of the “Wild on the Water” event on Mille Lacs which was hosted by Izatys Resort, Izatys General Manager Kevin Mullarky mentioned how he had hoped more locals would have attended the events surrounding the fishing tournament. “We had Wild players and TV personalities who came up and were willing to sign autographs and schmooze for free, and not many took advantage of that opportunity,” Mullarky said.
• An update on a story the Messenger ran a few months ago: Loren Whitney, a Mille Lacs local, shared his life story which included some tough times, many of which were self-inflicted. But recently he changed his lifestyle for the better. He was training to run in this summer’s Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth at the time of the previous article.
A regimen of running each day – a suggestion made by his local pastor – was part of his therapy in recovering from the negative state of mind.
He trained in distance running religiously for months throughout the winter and ran the marathon a few weeks ago.
Here is a brief, personal account of what he accomplished: “[It was] a wonderful time sticking to a goal I set out to accomplish. The beginning of the year was a turn of events for me after my dad passed and [dealing with some other personal problems]. God, sobriety and running kept me moving forward. I was inspired by my pastor to take on Grandma’s Marathon.” He went on to say, “as I hope to inspire others to fight through whatever it is they may be going through, I feel that God had been good to me. My experience was meeting a lot of good people along the way [at the marathon], and the beautiful view of Lake Superior kept my adrenaline on a high.”