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Zosel considered a rare treasure

Photo by Brian Hansel Bob Tubandt and Bob Zosel chatted at Lyle's Shoe Store in August 2010. Zosel owned the hardware business across the street from Lyle's Shoes for many years.

Wadena businessman and historian Bob Zosel will be a hard man to forget and impossible to replace.

Zosel died at the age of 87 on Sunday, Aug. 21.

Zosel ran a hardware business on the Jefferson Street for 46 years until his retirement in 1992. He was an active member of the community and his interest in history ran deep. At an age when most men put down their work, Zosel bought a personal computer and used it to write volumes about the early days of Wadena and Wadena County.

One of Zosel's many friends and admirers was Mike Gibson.

"He was just such an exceptional person," Gibson said. "The following he had was just immense and it's a tremendous loss to the community. I don't think many understood the impact he had on the community. It's a legacy that will just go on forever."

Running a hardware business made Zosel a natural at bringing people out and he was well-liked for his fine qualities.

"He was a people person with a delightful sense of humor but he was also the consummate gentleman," Gibson said.

Zosel's passing has been very hard for Sandi Pratt, director and curator of the Wadena County Historical Society.

"It was the highlight of my day when he'd come in," Pratt said. "It's really tough on me right now because everywhere I look I see Bob."

Pratt will always remember Zosel's compassionate nature. When her father had Alzheimer's Disease, Zosel was always there with a hug when she needed it.

"He always had the best hug," Pratt said.

Zosel created a huge database of information for the Wadena Historical Society. When a Ramsey, Minn. family recently visited the Historical Society hoping to find a Wadena home where an older relative had lived as a child, Pratt was able to match the photo they brought with them to one that Zosel had placed in an album he constructed of every house in Wadena. The Ramsey family was both surprised and delighted.

"When they left I just said 'thank you Bob," Pratt said.