Growing up in Redwood County, there are people whose names seemed to come to the forefront all of the time.
I remember hearing the name Bob Starr a lot as a kid, and I?always wondered “just who on earth is this guy?”
While he may not have gained celebrity fame, in the area it seemed everyone knew Bob on some level.
One of the perks of working for a newspaper is having the opportunity to meet new people all of the time, and one of those people I met early on was Bob.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of getting together to talk with Bob about any number of topics from the history of the Redwood area to politics.
Bob was a legendary storyteller and a great historian – although there have certainly been times when the storyteller would win out and the story perhaps was embellished just a bit.
I still remember my first encounter with Bob. I?made the mistake of calling him Mr. Starr out of respect, and he was quick to point out to me he was no Mr. as if to clearly let me know he was just one of the guys.
Yet, anyone who knew Bob knows his life is certainly more than a one-of-the-guys tales.
A lesson I learned early in my visits with Bob is they were never short. I?recall thinking in that first meeting I?would be there for half an hour to an hour at the very most, but once Bob started talking you could be sure what you assumed was an hour visit could quickly turn to three or four.
Bob told me the story of the old gold mine, took me down to the gold mine bridge and drove his pickup back into the area where the foundation of the mining equipment still stood. Bob always told me he knew they found gold there, but others were not so sure. A few years back I was able to tell that story to members of my extended family, and that would not have happened without tales told to me by Bob.
I?absolutely love visiting Cedar Rock Ranch, and over the years have had many occasions to visit Bob to talk about horses, sleigh rides and old wagon trails that ran through the area.
While Bob loved history, he certainly had other passions, such as politics and of course the Minnesota Inventors Congress.
While Bob and I?may not have agreed on everything politically, I?certainly would agree with his passion to help kids who needed a lift in life, and I?was always impressed when I would find out how some group of kids were benefitting from the generosity of Bob Starr and Cedar Rock.
Page 2 of 2 - Bob was certainly opinionated, and did not always have much time for government types he believed were not doing their job – at least not to his liking.
Every once in a while Bob would call me on the phone and ask me what was going on.
At first I would tell him what I?knew, and then he would tell me the “real story.”
Toward the end when he would call I?learned to play dumb and would just allow him to let me know what he knew. I think it gave him satisfaction to know he had some bit of information before I?did. Although there were certainly times when Bob had a good piece of news for me, there were also times when I?did know what he was telling me, but I?just let him tell me anyway.
I enjoyed my talks with Bob. He introduced me to Rice Creek Falls and more of the story of the Dakota Conflict.
He told me stories I would never be able to print in public, and I?think he got a kick out of telling me those stories knowing full well they would never see the front page – or any page.
Bob passed away this past Thursday, and I?can say, along with many others, he is one person I?am going to miss.
Bob was a genuine, one-of-a-kind, good-hearted old codger. He certainly left a not-soon-to-be-matched legacy we are all going to benefit from for generations to come. He was one of the good ones. In fact Bob may just have broken that mold. Thanks, Bob.
Your life was your best story.