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Zosel will be missed

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opinion Wadena, 56482

Wadena Minnesota 314 S. Jefferson, P.O. Box 31 56482

Sunday's news of the passing of town historian and former hardware store owner Bob Zosel wasn't completely unexpected, but it was still hard to swallow.

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His health had been in decline of late, and friends and family knew he'd be passing soon, but that doesn't take the sting away.

Zosel's accomplishments are many, as a hardware store owner, a musician, a researcher, a writer, and many more. But the title most people will always affix to Zosel is "friend."

He was a familiar face here at the newspaper. Not only did he visit often to dig into old bound volumes of newspapers in our research room, he wrote many columns for us. But when he came around, we'll always remember him for being genuinely interested in the people on our staff, stopping to chat with them about what's going on in their lives, remembering some little detail of something he had discussed with them months earlier. He was a brilliant, sharp man who could speak intelligently on just about any issue, but he preferred most times to listen and learn from everyone he met.

That wisdom is what we'll miss the most. Just seeing Bob and asking him about an old bank heist, or what businesses used to be in a certain building -- that was the magic of knowing the man.

Whenever the Pioneer Journal hired a new reporter or summer intern, I liked to send them to the library with Bob, who would graciously teach them how to use the microfilm machine. The knowledge of how to operate that equipment was, of course, secondary. My primary reason for doing so is to expose them to someone who was so kind, patient and knowledgeable about the town. If there was one great source for starting any story, it was Bob Zosel.

He was one of the first people I met in Wadena when I came as the editor of the Pioneer Journal. The other was Ethelyn Pearson. I consider myself extremely lucky to have had such fortunate encounters to start my job here.

One of my first projects here was to work with Bob and Sandi Pratt on the 125th Anniversary piece we did on Wadena. Bob brought me up to his upstairs office in his home and began to show me the resources he had there -- reams of important bits of paper perfectly catalogued in a database. I was overwhelmed, and thought to myself, "Wow, I don't know of any museums or libraries that have as rich a trove of history as exists in this room."

That was Bob Zosel. A treasure chest of information, intelligence and kindness. He will be missed.

The Pioneer Journal editorial represents the collective voice of the paper's editorial board. Today's editorial was written by Steve Schulz, editor and publisher.

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