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Goodbye, friend. We’ll miss you, Albert.

The Worthington community remembers Albert Matthiesen.

Albert Matthiesen, a much-loved community supporter and friend to all, died Thursday, May 26, 2022.
Albert Matthiesen, a much-loved community supporter and friend to all, died Thursday, May 26, 2022.
Submitted photo
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WORTHINGTON — You might not know it, but on Thursday, May 26, you lost a friend.

His name was Albert Matthiesen, but almost everyone knew him either by his nickname, Sonny, or by his first name, Albert — and almost everyone in Worthington and Luverne did know him.

He attended every community gathering, whether it was King Turkey Day, the International Festival or the Worthington Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival, often on his three-wheeled bicycle.

And when he met you, he would always say “Hello, friend,” or “Hey, buddy,” and smile.

“He was Albert. You were his friend,” said Chuck Berger, one of Albert’s caregivers, who likened him to a big brother.

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Albert wasn’t just a festival-goer, either. He was a major supporter of the Trojans and went to as many volleyball, football and basketball games as he could. At one point, Berger said, Worthington High School named him the No. 1 superfan and put a poster featuring Albert in the Trojan Athletic Hall of Fame.

The night they gave him the award, Albert looked at it, got a little teary-eyed, and raised it up in the air. The crowd roared, cheering him on. He looked at it again, and held it up once more, and the roar of the crowd resumed.

“Everybody at the game was a fan of Albert as well,” Berger said.

He was their friend.

051620 N DG Albert Birthday drive by S1.jpg
Albert Mathiesen waves during his Wednesday morning drive-through birthday party in front of Prairie House in Worthington. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

Albert especially loved King Turkey Day, and sometimes he’d ride his three-wheeled bike through the whole parade, just to go back and find someone getting onto a float so he could ride through it all again, Berger said.

He went to events at the bandshell at Chautauqua Park and the Independence Day celebrations, and people there looked out for him.

Community joins together to celebrate beloved resident

Albert loved going to church, too, Berger recalled. He lived next door to St. Mary’s Church in Worthington, and spent a lot of time there, but he also went to services at First Lutheran Church, Solid Rock Assembly and others too, sometimes four or five in a day. He knew everyone and always wanted to be around people.

“He’d go to weddings and funerals for people he never knew,” Berger said. “He was always accepted.”

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He was their friend.

“He was really a representative of somebody with just an open heart who loved everyone — regardless of race, creed, color or language, it made no difference to him,” said the Rev. Jim Callahan, pastor at St. Mary’s. “He would greet everyone with ‘Hi, friend.’”

Albert lived a simple lifestyle, but he always had a heart for others. Sometimes when he visited St. Mary’s, Albert would bring some canned goods with him and tell Callahan that someone had given them to him, and to please give them to the poor.

051620 N DG Albert Birthday drive by S2.jpg
(Tim Middagh/The Globe)

He even timed his lunch at Prairie House so that he could then head over to St. Mary’s to have lunch with the staff there, too.

“He was loved by a lot of people,” Callahan said.

For Albert’s 79th birthday, during the pandemic, the community threw him a drive-by birthday party and more than 200 people swung by to toot their horns at Albert, Berger said.

“He was so loveable. He wasn’t one who demanded attention — he’d just get it because he was so loveable,” Berger explained.

He’d drive Albert to ball games and one of Albert’s many friends would drive him home afterward.

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Mike Woll was one of them.

“He was, perhaps, a connecting bond, he was a warm smile, he was a lesson in life on how to be happy and how to treat everyone with respect,” Woll said. “I think he was really a remarkable gift to the community.”

Albert may not have remembered people’s names, but he definitely remembered the people he’d met — their family members, their histories and who they were. Woll said he’d miss Albert’s smile and his big greeting.

051620 N DG Albert Birthday drive by S4.jpg
(Tim Middagh/The Globe)

“It is a rare person that is recognized by a broad group of people with just their first name. Albert earned this notoriety through his curiosity, joy and a love of being around others,” Woll said. “Generations of Worthington kids were gently taught the tremendous value in meeting someone a bit different from themselves when they were greeted by Albert.”

He was their friend, too.

“My wife and I became friends with Albert early on, and he enjoyed seeking us out when he saw us at the band concert,” said Bill Keitel, who recalls connecting with Albert after moving to Worthington 50 years ago. “...he was a person who could engage with anybody.”

Albert Matthiesen celebrates King Turkey Day in Worthington.
Albert Matthiesen celebrates King Turkey Day in Worthington.
Submitted photo

Keitel said that Albert showed how a community could care for everyone within it, and be cared for in return.

“He made us all feel better about ourselves, and we enjoyed being his friend,” Keitel added, calling him an ambassador for Worthington.

For Kathy Lesnar, Albert represented unconditional love.

“He was my friend because we were friends, and for no other reason,” she said. “Albert was just such a beautiful Worthington icon, and he represented something that was really good in Worthington. He represented kindness and joy and he was just a really easy friend.”

Albert, she said, could always be counted on for a smile, reassuring words and a better perspective on life.

“If I got to spend even a little bit of time with Albert, I just realized that life was good, and that I was going to have a good day,” Lesnar said.

She said she hopes Worthington will celebrate the gift that Albert was.

051620 N DG Albert Birthday drive by S3.jpg
(Tim Middagh/The Globe)

“He was always happy. He was always ready to go someplace,” said Connie Frahm, Albert’s sister, who recalled how sociable he was. “He just talked to everybody, really.”

Because he treated everyone like a friend, they truly became his friends, and everywhere Albert went, people looked out for him too. When he went to ball games, ticket-takers would also take his coat and set it aside, apart from the other jackets, so that he could find it easily when it was time to go home.

Frahm encouraged people to remember Albert by greeting other people, and saying hello to them in a friendly way.

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“‘Hello, friend.’ That’s going to be a great slogan for our town,” Lesnar said. “Hopefully, in his memory, we can all treat each other with the kindness and respect that he gave to everybody, and remember to greet each other with a ‘hello, friend. We can keep that going. If we can keep the ‘hello, friend’ going, we’ll have honored his memory.”

“He just collected everybody, you know? Wherever they were at, he was there, or even if they didn’t know him, he was there, and they accepted him,” Berger said. “He was your friend. That’s what he meant to the community — a friend.”

A celebration of Albert’s life will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at Worthington High School, with refreshments to follow.

Albert’s obituary can be found here .

Related Topics: WORTHINGTONLUVERNEPEOPLE
A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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