Herzele Doreen (née Johnson) Guenin was born October 10, 1921 in Hackett, MN to Mabel (Berg) and Clarence Johnson. She was the middle of three girls born to Clarence and Mabel, and was a self-professed tomboy when she was a child. She and her sisters Phyllis (Bredeson/Bergquist) and Patricia (“Pat”) (Storla) grew up in the country in the Hackett area, and later attended the Crookston Agricultural College in Crookston, MN , where all three young women graduated from high school.
She met her future husband when they were just children but didn’t become romantically interested until they were in their teens. Joe Erle Guenin was the son of the Baudette Ford Dealer, Joe Edward Guenin and his wife Victoria Pauline (Dunn) Guenin, and Erle was about 3 years younger than Herzele. While still in high school, Erle paid $1 a week to the local jeweler to buy Herzele’s engagement ring, but she wore gloves to conceal the ring since Erle was still in school. By that time, Herzele was employed at the local REA Office and remained there as Erle graduated in 1942, joined the Navy and went off to World War II. Herzele became Erle’s bride on a bitterly cold day, February 9, 1946 at her parent’s home in Baudette, MN. Erle braved icy winter roads and “the worse blizzard since 1941”, said the newspapers, to travel from Chicago (where he was stationed in the US Navy) to Baudette for the wedding.
Through the years, in addition to raising a large family, Herzele found time to be a Den Mother, a member of the First Lutheran Church Choir and Ladies Aid, and was employed at the local bakery, the lunch room at the Rex Hotel, at her sister and mother’s dress shop “Velkommen”, Jim’s Salvage, and Solvay Pharmaceuticals. In keeping with her tomboy spirit, she learned how to ride a jet ski at the age of 74, wearing her church clothes and high heels. She was adventuresome!
Herzele and Erle were the parents of nine children, Erlyce (Guenin) Pekas, Michael Guenin, Greg Guenin, Cindi (Guenin) Drummond, Richard Guenin, Scott Guenin, Dan Guenin, Mari Guenin and Dena (Guenin) Pieper, all of whom survive their parents. Herzele is also survived by 16 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren. Herzele passed away at the age of 94 at Lakewood Care Center, Baudette, MN on September 1st, 2016, surrounded by her loving children and family members. Her strong faith, ever-present smile, kindness to others and supreme generosity defined her; everyone she met loved her. She said that her riches were abundant, and her life was filled with a husband and family that meant the world to her. She had a hearty positive attitude and always saw the cup as half full, never half empty. She will be missed by all who knew her.
Funeral Arrangements by Helgeson Funeral Home. Herzele’s funeral took place at First Lutheran Church, Baudette, MN on Monday September 5, at 11:00am, with visitation at 10:00am and lunch served after the service by the First Lutheran Women.