By Gary Pahl
It is always tough to say goodbye to the Patriarch of a family business. My Dad was nine years old when the family business was thrust upon his shoulders. The year was 1943 when his father was shot in the back and paralyzed from the chest down in a deer hunting accident. The oldest of five kids, his three sisters and brother were asked to carry on the duties of raising the crops, milking the cow, collecting the eggs from the chickens and running the muskrat lines.
Dad grew up next to the Minnesota River underneath the Cedar Avenue bridge, his dad built their house down there in 1929 and his grandfather farmed down there since the early 1900′s. My great grandfather, Dad’s grandfather, helped build the Long Meadow Lake bridge in 1906 which is still standing today. That is the same bridge in which we tried to buy in 1993 but were denied by MN DOT and the City of Bloomington. Now they are looking to spend 6.2 million on a new walk bridge…..that’s for another story.
Our faith, values and ethics are passed down from one generation to the next. Some of the greatest attributes my Dad has is a strong faith-filled background, incredible work ethic and is as honest as the day is long. His time on earth is coming to an end. He has no regrets, his life was never easy but his love for farming will always be towards the top.
As I reflect back on my Dad’s life, I try to put a pencil on how many mouths he has fed in his lifetime as a farmer. His willingness to work consistent 100 hour work weeks, risk significant amounts of money to produce the next crop, and the sacrifices he made to his family to feed the world. I recently came across an article the other day in a trade magazine that said the average family farm produced enough food to feed 48 people in 1960; that same family farm today feeds 170 people per year. By using simple statistics, my Dad has fed over 9000 people for a full year, he never took anything for granted, never received any thank you’s, never questioned his call on earth, he simply did what was natural for him and excelled in something he loved to do.
I once asked my Dad what goals he had set in his lifetime to have accomplished so much. He told me he had never set a goal, but always had his family on his mind, worked hard, setting a good example for his employees and kids, and believes in God. Dad, it is ok to let go and pass the torch to the fifth generation, we hope to live up to your expectations. Love, Gary.