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Fire department should be glad career brought Herb to Brainerd

Lifelong Brainerd resident Herb Stunek sat down earlier this month at the Braine

Herb Stunek

Age: 86.

Home: “I’ve lived in Brainerd since 1957. When we first moved we lived in the old Dellwood Motel off of South Sixth Street. Then we moved into our home on South Seventh Street. I’ve been in that house up until three years ago when I moved into (Good Samaritan Society) Bethany.

“I am a native of Sauk Rapids and when I was promoted at my job at the Prudential Life Insurance, where I worked for 30 years, I got to choose if I wanted to go to Willmar or Brainerd. Willmar was nothing and my uncle had a business in Brainerd and my high school coach moved here to coach at the college.”

You were a firefighter?: “I was a volunteer firefighter for 20 years. At one time, me, my sons Kevin (current fire chief) and Keith, all were firefighters and people called us the ‘Stunek Department.’”

A firefighting memory?: “In the early 60s, there was a fire a block away from the hospital and I was in charge that day. I asked if everyone was out of the house ... and then I said well let’s make sure. I went into the house and there was an old lady lying on the Davenport in the living room. I carried her out and I carried her to the hospital because I thought it would be faster than having her take the ambulance.”

Athlete you admire: “Harmon Killebrew, he was a terrific ball player.”

Professional athlete you know?: “Rip Repulski of the St. Louis Cardinals. He went to Sauk Rapids High School. We played baseball one year together. 

“He called me one day and said I couldn’t say ‘no’ to him. He told me that my wife and I were to come down to spend time in St. Louis and all expenses would be paid by him. We went and had dinner and we got to meet all the players on the St. Louis baseball team. It was one of the highlights of my life.”

Family? Wife, Elora; three adult sons; 6 grandchildren; and one great grandchildren. 

How did you meet your wife: “We grew up next to each other and we walked to school together.”

When did you know you were in love with her: “When I was about 25 I took her to a 3.2 bar one night and you know a little of this and a little of that and we got cozy and that was that.

“Her father was a tough guy. The night I gave her an engagement ring we were all sitting at the kitchen table. I handed her the right and her father finally looked at me and said, ‘You treat that daughter of mine real well or you’ll have to deal with me.’”

Daily ritual: “I have coffee most every day at the fire station to talk with the guys. They’re a great group of guys.”

What makes your spirit bright: “Family. I have the three greatest boys that anyone could ever ask for ... I’ve never had to go to the police station once with them.”

Christmas tradition when you children were young: “We went to church Christmas Eve, then went home so they could open their presents and then we’d have head cheese that I made with crackers. My mother was a specialist in head cheese.”

— By Jennifer Stockinger, 

Staff Writer

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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