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Herr leaves legacy of good deeds

John Herr

Leroy (BB) Kresien witnessed a sight on Sunday evening in Wadena that astonished the 86-year-old retiree.

Kresien saw a line of mourners two blocks long for the visitation service of John Herr at the Johnson Memorial Home on Fourth Street Southwest.

Kresien liked Herr from the day he hired Herr on his 21st birthday in 1969. Kresien later sold Herr his trash collection business, City Dray.

"He worked 25 years with me," Kresien said. "He was a workaholic I guess. He was always on the job."

Kresien and Herr got along well away from the job too. Kresien had a farm outside Wadena and Herr came to enjoy the place.

"He used to come out and farm with me on the side," Kresien said. "Buggies were his thing. He had a lot of them."

Herr became acquainted with members of the Amish community through his interest in buggies and horses and befriended many of them.

"He was a real good friend of the Amish," Kresien said.

It was not difficult to find Herr if you went looking for him early in the morning. His City Dray business was next to John's Car Care on U.S. Highway 10. Herr spent nearly every morning at the Wadena business visiting with friends over coffee.

"You could call it 'John's little office,'" John's Car Care Owner John Wegscheid quipped. Wegscheid knew Herr for 30 years and like many others, considered him a great guy.

"He'd give you the shirt off his back," Wegscheid said. "He was a heckuva nice guy. He did things for so many people. John always looked for the good in people."

Herr and Wegscheid were part of a small knot of men who would have their morning coffee together as they traded news and tried to straighten out the world's problems.

"We tried to but that's quite a job," said Vern VanOrsdel, one of the coffee gang.

VanOrsdel, who had only known Herr about four years, recalled talking with him on Wednesday morning and asking him how he felt. Apart from having some pain in one of his feet, Herr said he felt fine. That afternoon Herr and one of his men were working a country route when he suffered his second stroke. His first stroke came just a few years ago, according to Kresien, and kept Herr in the hospital for two weeks.

"It was an awful surprise," VanOrsdel said after hearing the news of Herr's death. "He knew a lot of people and a lot of people knew him."

Herr was born and raised in Wadena. He married his wife, Barb, in 1972 and the couple raised their family in Wadena.

Family members said Herr lived his favorite quote, "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain."

Funeral services for the 63-year-old Wadena businessman were held Monday at St. John Lutheran Church in Wadena.