by | Feb 26, 2013 | Market News

By Gary Pahl

Wayne 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.

Joanne & Wayne Pahl


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  1. kathryn and larry huber

    dear Pahls, what a wonderful tribute to your dad. our prayers during this difficult time to the entire Pahl family. our deepest sympathies, love you guys, Kathryn and Larry

  2. Julie O'Hara

    “Uncle Willy! Did you remember to put me in your will???”

    If I asked him that once, I asked him that 1,000 times. I didn’t care who heard, and neither did he. It never failed to make him laugh…not once! The thing is he knew I wanted nothing, not one item, not one dime. What he didn’t know is that he had already given me more than I could have ever dreamed of.

    From my first memory of him until my last, he taught me to live life to its fullest, to laugh, to love, to work hard, to look nice at weddings, and to value family.

    Speaking of working hard, family or not, if you worked for him, he expected you to work like he did, no excuses! He could have certainly taught a class on work ethic and how to work for your dreams to the “ME” generation, that is for sure!!! Not one of us deserves anything just for existing; we have to earn every penny and everything along the way.

    Those things are the most priceless things in life and he has given them all to me in one way or another. How do you even begin to thank someone for such gifts? It’s impossible really. The only thing you can do is pass the knowledge along to your own children, nieces, nephews, and grand children and hope that they can gain just a sliver of what you did from this wonderful man.

    Thank you Uncle Willy and Aunt Joanne for being such wonderful people. We are so lucky you are both a part of our family. I wish I could have spent more time with you both but am glad you always made time whenever I came home to visit.

    Julie (Boeser) O’Hara

  3. Larry and Kathryn Huber

    Dear Gary,
    What a wonderful tribute to your dad! Our prayers are with the entire Pahl family.
    Deepest sympathies, Love you guys, Larry and Kathryn

  4. Liz

    Thanks for sharing the story of your dad! He sounds like an amazing man. It shows it the great family business you all run.. I have been buying my bedding plants from Pahl’s since the early 90’s when i lived in Apple Valley. I now live in Elko and I still drive to Pahl’s for many of my plants and frequently in the summer for sweet corn!

  5. doug pritchard

    Gary and family- So many memories from River Hills! As you know our two boys worked for your dad when growing up. Not only did he feed the world, he gave so many boys and girls a job as well. We always enjoyed the drive down 27th past your parents house.If it was really late in the day, a pickup might be there and I knew your dad was home from a hard work day. We also enjoyed the many neighborhood gatherings. What a great couple of parents you have. God Bless! Doug Pritchard

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  6. Murph

    Gary, You have so much to be proud of and are doing a great job of carrying on your fathers heritage. We are all honored to be your freinds and live in the community that the Pahl’s do so much for! Thank you for sharing this tribute to your Dad. God is smiling down on the Pahl family! Murph

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  7. Julie Ledin

    Gary, what an amazing tribute to your Dad. He’s a great man, and I am sure he is very proud of you and the rest of your family for keeping his legacy strong and growing.

  8. Heidi

    What a beautiful tribute. No wonder you and Jane are such wonderful people, it’s been passed down through the generations. You’re all in my thoughts and prayers.

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  9. Pahl's Market

    Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers!

  10. Diane

    Simply beautiful! My thoughts and prayers are with you all, along with thanks for all the wonderful food and flowers your family has grown for so many years.

  11. Mary (Boeser) Bergerson

    Uncle Willy,

    If I had to choose only a few words to describe you it would be heart, integrity and gusto. Your love of life and family and your willingness to laugh at yourself and others made some awesome memories. You have a forever special place in my heart for a million reasons. Thank you for being a shining example of love for life and family and just being who you are truly one of a kind. I love you.

  12. Pam Rowland

    Great words!
    I can hardly imagine any McDonald get-together a without him.
    He has been a part of our family as far back as I can remember. As a young girl I always had such a crush on my uncle Willy! I now know it was pure admiration and pride of a great man!! Aunt Joanne and family, know that you ate all in our thoughts and prayers, and my mama (Jean) will welcome him home with open arms. Love to you all, Cousin Pam

  13. Melissa Winston

    You probably dont remember me, but my Mom Is ginger, Jeans oldest Daughter. I just wanted to say that she spoke of him often and thought he was a great great Man……He will continue to be thought of Im sure in Memories !

  14. Sister Margaret Mewhorter

    Gary, thank you for sharing about your father and family. I was very interested to read it and also the interview with jane. I enjoy getting your newsletter.

    You are in my prayers. A big thank you for all your generosity to us.

  15. Judy Hall

    I read your tribute to you dad just minutes after it was posted and have been thinking about it since. It is evident that he’s a remarkable man of integrity and had a great work ethic, and that he raised his children to be likewise. The love and respect you have for him is so evident. As so many others have commented, I, too, pray God with give you comfort through this hard time of saying good-bye. And may you continue to hold your wonderful memories of him in your heart.
    A neighbor and customer of Pahl’s,

  16. Dee Englund

    Dear Gary,
    Love the picture of your dad with the corn, that impish grin on his face . . . did I ever tell you about the first time your dad and I met?
    It was my first day–you may remember I started in the fall, during the pumpkin season. You hired me over the phone, sight unseen, told me to come in the next day and start working with your mom. So I did, she showed me around, told me the prices of each pile of pumpkins (no price signs back then) and then mentioned she was going “in back” for awhile. I had no idea what or where that was, but I just said, “Sure, that’s fine.”
    After she left, I was reviewing the prices of all those pumpkins and as I took a step backward I almost tripped over a rather scruffy-looking man who had come in quietly from the opposite side of the building. Without batting an eye or saying hello, he just stared at me and said gruffly, “Are you in charge here?”
    Oh, the thoughts that raced through my mind: Was he looking for a job? A hand-out?
    So I summoned all my professional dignity and said the first thing that popped into my head: “Well, YES, for the moment, I am.” He threw back his head and laughed and then introduced himself as Wayne Pahl, aka Willy. He’s had a special place in my heart ever since.
    Our oldest son Andy has some great memories of working alongside your dad as well. Your dad treated him as an equal, and in turn Andy had a great deal of respect for him.
    It has been an honor and a privilege working for you and your family, and I’ll always be grateful to you and Brian and your wonderful mom and dad for giving me and each member of my family the opportunity to work for you. Your mom has been my mentor from day one, especially in regard to customer service, and from your dad I learned about the high standards he expects us to have at Pahl Farms.

    Thank you, Wayne. The Lord has a special place set aside for you, lush green fields to plow in eternal sunshine, and no more *#!@* weathermen giving the wrong forecast.
    Love to you all,
    Dee Englund

  17. Kim Counters

    What a beautiful tribute to your dad. Your love and admiration for him comes through your words so clearly and it is evident that your family has inherited his integrity, generous spirit and great faith. I’m sure he will be greeted with open arms in heaven and he will continue to guide you with the grace of his memory.
    May God give you strength during this time of letting go.

  18. Carol Schemensky

    Prayers and heartfelt sympathy to you and your family. May the wonderful memories bring you peace through the sadness.

  19. Laura Bell

    Wow what a great tribute to your father which he well deserves! As a customer I can see all the hard work you all do pays off by having such a beautiful store!

    I lost my dear father last September and watching him suffer was worse than having him pass away knowing that he is now free of pain and in the lovely gardens of Heaven.

  20. Jane Pahl

    Just wanted to say being in the Pahl Family and the family business has taught me many things. I couldn’t hold a candle to how many hours they worked over the years, but have learned how much passion they have for working God’s land.

    I want to thank Wayne for letting me know that I golfed so bad left handed that I should switch to Right handed. I am not that great right handed either, but far better than I would of been keeping my left handed clubs. HONESTY, is Wayne’s best attribute and his faith in God was always very important. I don’t think he missed many Sunday masses even after he worked 15 hour days.

    I commend Joanne for ALL the care taking she has had to do for so many years. I pray for Wayne as he prepares for Eternal Life and for Gary, Brian, Missy, Wendy and Joanne during this difficult time.


  21. Jeff Bangs

    Prayers and deep sympathy for you and your family during this difficult time. Having recently dealt with this I can tell you to hold on to your wonderful memories, remember the love you shared and continue to make him proud. God bless you and the entire Pahl family.

  22. Debbie Karban

    Praying for comfort and strength for the Pahl family during this time. What a beautiful tribute to your Dad. My Dad was also a life long farmer with a strong faith and work ethic. He went home to the Lord five years ago. His favorite Bible passage was Psalm 23. “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake”. Psalm 23: 1-3 May Jesus comfort your hearts and give you His peace.

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  23. Dianne Grewe

    What a wonderful tribute to your father. I have been doing business with Pahl’s Market for over 20 years, and every single time I come in, everyone has been so helpful and kind. From all that I have read, it is apparent that good family values/morals have carried down thru the entire family which can only make your father proud of each and every one of you. My prayers are with you during this difficult time, but keep the memories going as he will live on with every story told……
    Much love,
    Dianne Grewe

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  24. Brian Emerson

    I had the pleasure of working in the fields for Wayne and Joanne, as my first real job. My generation often had grandparents on the farm, but growing up in a suburban environment, we were insulated from agriculture. I learned about hard work, camaraderie with fellow laborers, and working hard for a days wages from the Pahls. Thank you for getting me sweaty, dirty, and making me smile as I picked up my check. God bless.

  25. Eric Norgaarden

    I echo Brian Emerson’s sentiments. Besides a paper route, working on Pahl’s farm was a first job for my brothers and I. Real work. We would get so dirty working in the fields that my mom had to hose us down after we got home. I always liked living in what was then an outer ring suburb (Burnsville), but close to corn fields and family farms. Rest easy now, Wayne.

  26. Judy Kuntz

    To the Pahl family…So sorry to hear of nthe death of Willy….I never knew Willy that well but did know Joann and Grandma for years that I did their hair…My shop was in my home so my younest son Gary would come around, Joann would call him Gar Bear, ho love that…Those were good years…We lived in Eagan 49 years, now because of health have moved into a condo in Rosemount and winter in AZ……Our prayers to the family Judy & Gene KUNTZ


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