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McKellep: an athlete and a businessman

I've known Stanley (Stan) McKellep since we were in church and 4-H Club together, and you have known him as a Wadena businessman for most of his career years. He was born in Hewitt to Robert (Bob) and Mabel. Bob was a farmer, living on the same place until retirement.

Stan graduated from high school in Hewitt. With a freshman class of 26, he was among the 12 students who graduated in 1938. Stan soon made a name for himself on the pitcher's mound from which he pitched for four years, as well as for the Ambitious 4-H club competitions and on town softball teams. Class photos on the wall in the Hewitt Historical Museum show he was at home as well on the basketball floor.

As a worker in the Hewitt Creamery, Stan emptied cans of cream brought in by farmers in 1940 and '41. He hasn't forgotten the times a dead mouse landed in the strainer. In such cases, the milk was poured back into the can, colored dye added so the milk could not be sold anywhere else, and returned to an embarrassed, unhappy farmer.

The next job was at a Red Owl Store in St. Cloud, then back to the creamery in Verndale. Stan and Ruth Zosel of Wadena were married in 1941.

Stan was 25 when he was inducted into the army. He was stationed in Japan and Okinawa. One memorable happening was crossing the equator only to be held prisoner for 10 frightening days, perfectly quiet, not a motor running, while the sea beneath them came alive with Japanese submarines. After a year, Stan was discharged to return to his family of three youngsters.

Stan worked in the Red Owl grocery store in Wadena for a few years, then became interested in a grocery store in Perham. It looked like a "go." He named it "Stan's Fairway." However, the deal did not live up to expectations, wouldn't you know it? Stan headed back to their home in Wadena where they lived for the next fifty-nine years.

Stan stayed with Red Owl for 15 years.

After that he made a success of the Pop Shop. When the Willmer Cookie route came up for sale, he bought it. Gurley Company cookies came next, in 1971. He answered to "Stan, Stan, the cookies man."

Besides raising their 6 kids, Ruth was employed by the Sears & Roebuck ordering desk in Wadena, then later for Gambles.

Stan did not want to stop working his route. He is a people-person and his customers were friends, but his long lean ball-pitcher's body was telling him otherwise. His back hurt; his legs hurt. Ruth died in July of this year. Their greatest tragedies have been losing 2 grown sons to cancer.

Stan takes comfort in knowing he attained the grade of butter maker. In the grocery business, he was a manager. He was 82 when he gave up the route.