Herbert C. Magnuson

1928 - 2020

Herbert Carl Magnuson died on May 1, 2020. Herb, as he was known to his loving family and countless friends, died at home in the Town of Spirit under the watchful care of Joan Elizabeth (Dahl) Magnuson, his wife of nearly 55 years. Herb’s robustness had been reduced gradually by a congestive heart condition in recent years and he ultimately succumbed to an unforeseen myocardial infarction. All should take comfort in the fact that Herb passed quickly. Herb took his leave while still on the homestead granted in 1880 to his grandfather, Carl John, and where Herb was born in the halcyon summer of 1928.

In 1965, Herb married Joan, a music teacher raised in Hurley. Their three sons (Carl, Eric, and Jacob), their respective wives (Kerry, Sarah, and Sarah), and four grandchildren (Daniel, Kate, Maya, and Lucy) all attend to the loss of Herb’s presence with a cherished trove of memories. Herb’s survived by his sister, Aileen Johnson, of Orland Park, Illinois. Herb was preceded in death by his brother and business partner, Lester, and parents, Jennie and Harry, who presumably are all greeting him in the great beyond. Anyone not mentioned herein yet deserving of a familial embrace should know they are loved deeply by Herb and his surviving family.

Herb spent his working life as an innovative entrepreneur caring for animals and crops — primarily mink, foxes, and ginseng. Herb attended the one-room Stone Lake School, which closed the year he completed eighth grade. Herb graduated from Rib Lake High School in 1946. Herb worked for Elmer Taylor’s funeral home in Rib Lake during high school, which seeded plans for a possible future. After a few years spent building the Magnuson family’s growing agribusiness, Herb earned a Mortuary Science degree in 1952 from the University of Minnesota. Forgoing that degree’s utility, Herb returned to the family homestead and the agricultural pursuits that would characterize his working life for the next 60 years.

As an influential and gregarious member of the mink ranching community, Herb’s expertise and that of others from the Badger State was sought globally. Herb maintained an optimistic dedication to hard work. Vacations were rare for him, yet friendships often accompanied business throughout Herb’s life. Herb’s legacy of invaluable knowledge was freely shared with countless beneficiaries. When Herb finally “pelted out” in the fall of 2012, he left the global fur trade at an historic market peak.

Herb possessed a strong religious faith and worshipped through the decades as a member of Spirit’s United Methodist Church. Herb served as a strong pillar in the Masonic community and passed just a few days prior to what would have been the 65th anniversary of his status as a Master Mason with Lodge #217 in Medford, WI. Herb also maintained membership in Eastern Star with Joan, whose Medford chapter closed in 2020. Herb contributed to many national and local organizations (ranging from The Grange to the Spirit Lakes Improvement Association). Herb’s wide interests focused upon the beloved community in which he lived.

As a presumed lifelong Republican Party member after having been named for the long-since-heroic President Hoover, Herb’s political DNA evolved often enough by crossing the aisle to cast votes for Harry Truman in 1948 and Jimmy Carter in 1976 (“the best President the mink business ever knew,” according to Herb). He feasted upon the ongoing news of the world while always nursing a love of history. Herb spent countless happy evenings after a hard day’s work with a stack of things to read and a cocktail to savor. He brightly engaged with events occurring both near and far away, most often with a story that would bring with it a surprising new insight to be considered. His prowess as a raconteur made the overdue transition into publication with the occasional stories contributed over the past decade to the Liberty School News under the column named “Stories from Stone Lake.”

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(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)

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