Column: Focus turns on people who made great contributions

Editor's note: Former longtime Daily Globe Editor Ray Crippen died Sunday. We will continue to publish previously run "Isn't That Something" columns on Saturdays, until further notice, as a tribute to Crippen and his knowledge of local and region...

Editor’s note: Former longtime Daily Globe Editor Ray Crippen died Sunday. We will continue to publish previously run “Isn’t That Something” columns on Saturdays, until further notice, as a tribute to Crippen and his knowledge of local and regional history. The following column first appeared Dec. 31, 2005.

WORTHINGTON - Last week, in a Christmas rush, I typed Cliff Miller when I meant Cliff Ross. I cannot explain this. I know both Cliff Miller and Cliff Ross. It is Cliff Ross at Hy-Vee who bakes our bread and cinnamon rolls. Both are good men.
Good men are a topic in the news this time of year. Ever since 1927, Time magazine has named a Man/Person of the Year and featured the editors’ choice on its cover in the final week of December. Somewhat oddly, newspapers and TV stations all around the world feature stories of Time’s selections.
This year, Time named three People of the Year, Bill and Melinda Gates, husband and wife, plus the singer Bono, all three for their charity.
No one quarrels with the good works of these individuals. Oh no. The Nobles County Library, Adrian and Worthington, obtained nine updated computers, in part, through the charity of Bill and Melinda Gates. Their gift is valued at $30,000. Andrew Carnegie gave libraries to communities, Bill and Melinda Gates have given computers to libraries.
Those who object to Time’s choices cite St. Mark’s story of the widow’s mite: “… many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.” Jesus said, “For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”
I never knew a widow, or anyone else, who gave away all they had. On the other hand, I have known people who gave - oh, $7,500, $30,000, $100,000. I think some of them may have given as much, by percentage, as ol’ Bono.
No matter. The practice of holding someone up as Person of the Year is worthy. It is a way to honor and to help preserve the memory of someone special. People of the Year become a hall of fame.
This year is the 100th anniversary of Minnesota’s state Capitol. One century ago, Nobles County might have named its Sen. Daniel Shell as man of the year. Sen. Shell served on the committee that chose the Capitol design. This column has talked often about Dan Shell. He began a remarkable career by operating a stage coach line from Worthington to Sioux Falls.
Peter Thompson is another who surely would have been a Nobles County person of the year, probably for 1912, the year he opened his Hotel Thompson at the corner of Third Avenue and 10th Street. Thompson’s name also is recalled often.
Another whose name should be given more attention is Elden Rowe, Nobles County’s sheriff in the troubled years of the 1930s.
Sheriff Rowe might have been Man of the Year for 1932. That was the year angry members of the Farm Holiday Association set up barricades on all roads leading to Worthington (and other cities) to hold farm produce off the market. The goal was to raise farm commodity prices.
Farm Holiday activists forced a farmer south of Worthington into a ditch. The man was attempting to bring a load of sheep to market with a team of horses and a wagon.
Sheriff Rowe was called. The Sheriff stood in the highway and told his deputy to bring the team and wagon back on the road and to let the farmer proceed to Worthington. The Sheriff knew a hot-blooded protester might take a shot at him, might bring him down. A gang of angry protesters might attack him. He stood tall. He said no group has authority to stop or to block traffic on public highways.
If they missed in 1932, they might have named Elden Rowe county Man of the Year for 1933.
That was the year he chased down two armed robbers who also had kidnapped a taxi driver. A showdown came in a fierce gun battle fought on a Nobles County country school yard. The Sheriff got his men.
Then - 1939 - Gov. Harold Stassen named Elden Rowe first chief of Minnesota’s new state highway patrol and state crime bureau. Nobles County’s sheriff was called to St. Paul to become Minnesota’s top law officer.
Nobles County Man of the Year? I would think so.
Happy 2006!

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