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Retired teacher still hitting the books

John Longnecker came to the Brainerd lakes area for the same reason many do — to retire. Except John Longnecker retired twice.

Longnecker and his wife, Doris, moved to Pequot Lakes from Marshaltown, Iowa, following Longnecker’s retirement from a 33-year career in education.

A native of Iowa, Longnecker first visited the lakes area as a college student working as a camp counselor at Camp Lincoln in Lake Hubert. 

“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. 

Longnecker spent his first decade of “retirement” managing the Whitebirch golf course at Breezy Point.

“We didn’t like doing nothing so we went to work at the golf course,” Longnecker said. “We like it so much we stayed 10 years and then retired again.”

Now in his second round of retirement, Longnecker, a former junior high school principal, still can’t seem to slow down..

The Longneckers spend most of their time in Pequot Lakes, except for the few months during winter when they head to Mustang Island, Texas, to get away from the snow. 

“I go for the fishing,” Longnecker said. “I fish while I’m here, too — as soon as you don’t have to dig a hole to get to the water.”

Longnecker’s most significant retirement project in the Pequot Lakes community has been his involvement with the community library. He currently serves as president of the board.

Longnecker has been involved with the library since its inception in 2004 and continues to volunteer. The library is operated without the help of taxpayer dollars and is managed completely by area volunteers. 

“For no cost to taxpayers, it’s a great thing,” Longnecker said.

Being a former educator, books are a natural passion for Longnecker. 

“Reading is probably the most important thing you can do for kids,” he said. “I love getting to talk to people about books.

 “I try to read in all areas. I especially like historical novels. It’s a lot more fun to get your history with a story attached.”

Longnecker said the library, which moved to its current location just two years ago, has undergone some major changes since relocating from its original home in the Pequot Lakes City Hall. 

“We have a lot more space,” Longnecker said of the new building, a former four-unit commercial lot. “We’ve been really lucky.”

The Pequot Lakes Community library has issued more than 3,000 library cards to community members, which Longnecker said is, “pretty impressive for a town of 1,800.”

When Longnecker isn’t volunteering at the library, he and Doris are busy volunteering elsewhere, including their home church, Grace United Methodist in Pequot Lakes.

Of course, even when he’s not at the library, Longnecker still manages to find time to sit down and read a good book.  

“I always tell my wife if I get to the end of a book and I don’t have a good one waiting, I get the shakes,” Longnecker said and laughed. “I always need a next book on hand.”

SARAH NELSON may be reached at or 855-5879.

Becca Clemens
After graduating high school in 2004, I attended Central Lakes College in Staples, MN for 2 years where I got a diploma in Communication Art and Design. I then transfered up to Bemidji State University in, you guessed it, Bemidji, MN. In the spring of 2009, I graduated from BSU. Then in the fall of 2009 I got a job at Echo Publishing, a sister company to the Brainerd Dispatch.