Volume 124, Number 1
Hoffner still has lots of energy even at the age of 83
Editor’s note: The following article concerns Benson County native S.F. Buckshot Hoffner, who represented Benson County in the ND State Senate and ND House of Representatives for 18 years. He and his wife, Pat have been living in Bismarck since 1984.
BY VIRGINIA GRANTIER Bismarck Tribune
He’s like a hungry man heading non-stop in a straight line for the buffet table.
When there is a goal in mind, he reportedly is nearly impossible to stop.
Like the time when . . . He, S.F. "Buckshot" Hoffner — a founder of Buckstop Junction, which is a collection of transplanted historic buildings on land owned by Burleigh County near the fairgrounds — wanted to move a monster of a historic hotel from its spot in Tappen to Bismarck. The idea brought out the brakes in people.
"It was huge. It was old . . . Some of the board was apprehensive about it," said Em Holly, a former Buckstop board member. "When I first looked at it (the hotel), I thought he was crazy." But Holly said Hoffner pushed for it "against all odds." "He had a vision, and he made it work," she said.
Holly, still a volunteer there, said the circa-1914 Lewis Hotel "makes the town site." The big building is now a popular place for people to rent for weddings and other events. It has a beautiful bar and other amenities.
"Day in, day out, he was on call for about anything you wanted him to do. It was his life," Holly said.
The 15-year-old "town" now has 20 buildings. But it doesn’t have Hoffner. Hoffner, 83, who had a history of community service prior to Buckstop — such as serving as a state legislator for 18 years and being the director and organizer for the state’s 1989 centennial event — was fixing his fence Wednesday at his north Bismarck home. And making plans to make some keepsake furniture for his three grown kids.
Hoffner’s era at Buckstop Junction ended several months ago when the board decided to eliminate the $600-a-month executive director position, which was heavy on public relations work. The focus needs to be more on creating a database and doing other administrative duties, said Carl Vender, Buckstop’s board president.
"Buckshot" Hoffner, nicknamed after a movie character by childhood classmates, said his big project now is a national campaign to convince retired people to not put their feet up.
"I’ve had so many people tell me, ‘I just want to relax (in retirement) and put my feet on a desk,’ " he said. "That’s wrong. That’s wrong," he said.
Hoffner said being active is what has kept him young, particularly his volunteer efforts, which not only kept him physically active, but had other benefits.
"When people volunteer, they really feel like they’re doing something," said Hoffner, who saw what it did for people who volunteered at Buckstop. He said studies show that being active will increase longevity by about eight years.
So, his mission is to spread that message far and wide and on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show. He said he hopes contacts he has will be able to get him a guest spot on Oprah, another volunteering enthusiast.
His wife, Pat Hoffner, married to him for 61 years, said he remains busy in the post-Buckstop Junction era. His treadmill in the living room is used year-round. But she does see him in his easy chair quite often and her numerous requests to get him to help her hang a sizeable painting of his father have fallen on deaf ears that aren’t really deaf.
He also isn’t of much use in the kitchen. "I can fry eggs and make toast, that’s about all," he said and smiled. In the early 1990s, Russ Richards wanted Hoffner to cook up something. And thought he was the man to do it. Richards, who owns Capital Trophy in Bismarck, but now lives in Fargo, said he loves old buildings and was getting dismayed about the tendency in Bismarck to just tear them down.
The last straw was when Richards heard there were plans to tear down the old circa-1877 Yegen grocery store in Bismarck. John Yegen was Bismarck’s first baker and grocer, starting out in a tent at Fifth Street and Main Avenue in 1876 — the year Lt. Col. George A. Custer took off from Fort Lincoln and never came back. It was in 1877 that Yegen built the building that was to be leveled for a parking lot.
Richards decided it was time to do some historical preservation, starting with Yegen’s building, with Hoffner’s help.
"He just oozes enthusiasm," Richards said. Richards had gotten to know Hoffner during Hoffner’s preparations for the state’s centennial celebration and decided he was the right person to help him start saving buildings by establishing a pioneer town and moving buildings there.
A Jan. 15, 1992 Bismarck Tribune editorial agreed, after praising "gung-ho can-do" Hoffner for the yearlong centennial bash he put on: "His centennial success, unflappable enthusiasm and statewide network of contacts make him the perfect person to breathe life into the budding plans for a pioneer town east of Bismarck." Richards said Hoffner agreed to participate and the two holed up in Richards’ office trying to come up with plans on how to recruit community leaders, pick a board, get start-up funding — which ended up being some county funds and private donations. They didn’t understand why there wasn’t a historical society, so they started one — the Missouri Valley Historical Society. Richards said from the beginning he stayed in the background of the project. It was Hoffner who fielded calls at his home, found buildings, arranged moving the buildings and so on. "If it wasn’t for him, they wouldn’t be there," Richards said.
"He’s passionate; that’s the kind of person you need in leadership roles," he said.
The day they moved the first building, the grocery store, it was exciting, but scary, Richards remembers. There was a little bit of, "Oh, my . . . how are we going to do this — maintain buildings and raise money to fix buildings up? It kind of hit us this was real." But when times were tough and funds were short, Hoffner just kept on, kept moving forward. Hoffner grew up in a family of 13 on a farm near Esmond and then went to Wahpeton to study aviation engineering and become an airplane mechanic. He biked 11 miles from his apartment to school.
But three months into his studies, he had the choice of going back to the family farm and getting a deferment from serving in World War II — or serving. He headed overseas. And that’s where he met his wife, Patricia, at a dance in England.
After serving for three years, he returned home to farm near Esmond and became almost immediately involved in politics, first with the Nonpartisan League Party, then with the combined Democratic-NPLParty.
Testifying on a bill once, he was dismayed when the issue was taken out of public view and into executive session. When he later became a state legislator, starting in 1962 — the start of an 18-year run in leadership roles in the state House and Senate — he sponsored a bill to prevent that type of closed-door process from happening. He later would be a recipient of a People’s Right to Know Award, for being a champion of open government, open meetings and recorded votes.
He would run unsuccessfully for several positions, including as a Democrat in 1966 trying to win a US House seat against Rep Mark Andrews, R-N.D.
And he would lose the agriculture commissioner race in 1980. Along the way, he also lost races for labor commissioner, public service commissioner and governor.
He said he knew his chances of winning the races weren’t good, but felt the races shouldn’t go unchallenged.
In a 1984 Bismarck Tribune article, several months after he left the Democratic State Convention in Minot without the nomination for governor, he was quoted as saying: "I’m too young to fade away. ‘Buckshot’ Hoffner is going to (be) heard from for years and years to come."
This article originally appeared in the Bismarck Tribune on Sunday, May 20, 2007
County earns two awards
Eligibility workers at the Benson County Social Services Agency were presented two awards at the annual Spring Showcase sponsored by the ND Food Stamp Program. One was for the most improved error rate from fiscal year 2005 to 2006 and the second was for the highest percentage of Food Stamp Program case file reviews completed in the Northeast Region for fiscal year 2006. Left to right are Pam Kutz; Ed Forde, Benson County Social Services director; Janis Lunde; Carol Reilly; Dawn Flemmer; Barb Arndt; Elaine Jones; Linda Martinson, regional representative of the Lake Region Human Services Center in Devils Lake; Kelli Clifton, eligibility supervisor; Connie Biby; Laurie Rodriguez; and Darlene Faber, quality assurance coordinator with the ND Department of Human Services in Bismarck. Mrs. Faber, who presented the awards, is a native of Minnewaukan and is the daughter of the late Carl and Agatha Buckmeier.
Leeds native Curt Lysne (right) retired May 31 from the Harvey Farmers Elevator after 26 years of service. He is pictured with Harvey area farmer Bill Ongstad (left) in front of the price board at the elevator. Note that wheat is $5 per bushel on the day of retirement. Lysne also worked for GTA/Harvest States for 19 years, making a 44-year career in the grain business. He retires in the midst of a $6 million expansion at the Prairie Towers complex in Harvey. Lysne is a 1956 graduate of Leeds High School.
Students of Quarter
The Leeds School announces its Students of the Quarter for the fourth quarter of the 2006-2007 school year. Students were selected for this honor based on their academic performance, cooperation, personal behavior, attendance, responsibility and school spirit. Left to right, back row, are senior Michael Peterson, son of Linda and Paul Peterson; eighth grader Matthew Swanson, son of Cindy and Mark Swanson; and sophomore Jason Vallier, son of Carrie and Doug Vallier.
Front row: junior Dallas Johnson, daughter of Roxanne and Richard Johnson; freshman Ashley Manley, daughter of Michelle and Jeff Manley; and seventh grader Thomas Urness, son of Tammy and Kevin Urness.
The Maddock School spring awards banquet was held May 22. Girls basketball coach Randy Simon and assistant coach Bob Buckmier presented numerous awards to varsity players. The girls are shown with their captain awards. Left to right are, Courtney Foss, captain award, most free throws made, most total rebounds; Michelle Olson, captain award; Sharisa Yri, most improved player; Jalissa Hovland, captain award, most steals, most 3-pointers made, most defensive rebounds, co-most valuable player; Alisha Knutson, captain award, leading scorer, best field goal percentage, most 2-pointers made, co-most valuable player; Jessie Schwanke, captain award, most offensive rebounds, most blocks; and Kimberly Randle, captain award, best 3-point percentage, best free throw percentage, most assists.
New store owners
Minnewaukan’s grocery store has new owners. Trish McQuoid, left, took possession of the store June 1 from Sandie and Roger Odden, who have owned the business the past 11 years. Sandie worked at the store an additional 19 years for Chapmans before they purchased the store. Trish’s husband, Aaron McQuoid, is a fishing guide and was not available for a photo when the keys were turned over. The McQuoids come from Isle, Minn. and have lived here about a year. They have a daughter, Amy Otten, who will be attending Lake Region State College in Devils Lake, and a son, Mitchell Otten, who will be a sophomore at the Minnewaukan High School.
KDLR visits home
KDLR Radio was at the Maddock Memorial Home May 16 in observance of National Nursing Home Week. Mark Beighley, sports announcer, interviewed many of the residents and staff as he wore his Green Bay Packers attire and residents wore their Minnesota Vikings clothing. Lorraine Hellerud took pity on Mark and wore Packers attire. In the background are Bennie Marquart, Leo Marquart, Megan Olson, Ansel Haukness, Ruth Nelson and Brent Grondahl. In the front are Stella Benson, Orville Stadum and Lorraine Hellerud being interviewed by Mark Beighley.
Three students from the Maddock School received the President’s Award for Educational Excellence at the awards program held May 24 for elementary students. The students are, left to right, Sara Schwanke, daughter of Doyle and Kathy Schwanke; Katelynn Engh, daughter of Mike and Mary Engh; and Katherine Sears, daughter of Jerry and Marianne Sears.