Living History - March 8 edition

15 years ago Excerpts from the March 13, 2003 Pioneer Journal o Well-known photographer dies at 98 Rex McDonald, who spent more than 40 years capturing the images of generations, left his own mark on the town he called home for more than 70 years...

Rex McDonald. File photo.
Rex McDonald. File photo.

15 years ago

Excerpts from the March 13, 2003 Pioneer Journal

• Well-known photographer dies at 98

Rex McDonald, who spent more than 40 years capturing the images of generations, left his own mark on the town he called home for more than 70 years.

McDonald, 98, died Thursday in Wadena.


If for nothing else, McDonald would be known for the decades of babies, weddings, reunions and other photographs and for the studio that still bears his name.

But it was his character and his sense of humor that some say he will be most remembered for.

"He was always Rex, "said Don Hoffman, who now owns Rex McDonald Studio. "He was always the genuine item. People loved him."

McDonald, a Barron, Wis. native, got his start by working part-time in a photography studio in his hometown. After graduation, he worked in studios in Brainerd, Minneapolis and Fergus Falls. After marrying in 1931, he and his wife, Alma, bought a wadena studio in 1931.

In that studio, above the building that housed Signs & Designs, McDonald depended on natural light coming through windows to photograph, said George Hendrickson, who worked at the studio from 1959 to 1998. McDonald moved the studio to its current location in 1946. In 1944, he was president of the Minnesota Professional Photographers Association.

40 years ago

Excerpts from the March 8, 1978 Pioneer Journal

• Hearing impaired fit into student mainstream


The cheer of the basketball crowd while the young lad was at the throw line went unheeded.

An elementary student kept on sleeping despite the fact her alarm clock signalled she should rise to prepare for the day's classes.

The screaming siren of a fire truck was of little concern to two junior school students as they walked to morning classes.

Why did these students appear unconcerned about the important sounds that existed in their lives?

Theirs is an entirely different world for they are students with hearing impairments.

Six hearing impaired students are attending regular classes in both the Wadena elementary and secondary schools at present time.

Classroom instructors who are aware of and understand the immediate problems which face the students are seeking to help them effectively.

Jane Dorn, hearing impaired specialist, is one of several individuals on the Todd, Ottertail, Wadena Special Education Co-op staff who work cooperatively with parents of the hearing impaired, school administrators and school staff to provide an appropriate education for handicapped persons.


Children of school age, as the Minnesota State Legislature recently decreed, cannot be denied a free public education because of hearing, vision, special learning behavior disability, mental retardation, speech defects or orthopedic handicaps.

Dorn, in cooperation with public schools and TOW working as a hearing impaired specialist, spends a portion of each school day with students, classroom instructors and administrators.

Dorn works in a resource room with students who receive one-to-one instruction in communication, academic subjects and vocabulary development. She aids them in coping with everyday events. She works with six students who have little or no hearing. The majority of the hearing impaired students communicate with instructors and classmates by learning sign language.

75 years ago

Excerpts from the March 11, 1943 Pioneer Journal

• More knives needed for boys in war zones

The hunting knife collection drive which started some weeks ago in this community by the Wadena Rod 7 Gun Club has bogged down and an urgent request is sent out by officials of the club for the donation of many more of these little defense items. Donors of knives may bring them to the Pioneer Journal office where they will be turned over to the proper source for transportation to the armed forces.

Emphasizing the great need for more knives is a letter from Ed Shave to Secretary Johnson. The letter follows:


Congratulations to the Wadena Rod and Gun Club for their efforts in the knife collection. I trust that you will continue, as this need still exists. Unfortunately, we still have a little bit of the old idea of 'letting George do it.' Also, some folks say, 'Why doesn't Uncle Sam make these?'

We all know there us a great shortage of steel and in addition, the time element is an important factor. If we collect - and we will - throughout the United States 200,000 or more knives, it will be a great contribution to the war effort. We are well past the 2,000 mark in Minnesota.

Let's keep the ball rolling!

• Railroad land to be used for gardens

Food production in garden plots along the Northern Pacific right-of-way and station grounds by employees of the railroad, such as took place during the first World War, has been revived to enable employees to help their own and the nation's food supply, President C.E. Denney announced today.

In 1917 and 1918, some 1,700 acres of land along the tracks were devoted to employee gardens. Potatoes, cabbages, sweet corn, beans, squash, pumpkins and other various table items were produced. A few farm crops were also grown.

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