By Kelsie Hoitomt
GLENWOOD CITY — Long time residents of Glenwood City, Ron and Donna Brettingen, officially joined a special group of individuals who carry the title of Rustic Lore Grand Marshals.
The Brettingens have resided in and around the Glenwood City area for 53 years now, after making the city a permanent home in 1960.
Prior to this, Ron and Donna lived in South St. Paul after getting married on May 1, 1954. Despite living in the Cities, the couple was married at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Glenwood City because Ron’s family still resided in the area.
Ron grew up in Norton, WI with his one brother, Orrie and their parents Morris and Bertha. Donna is the youngest of 11 children born to John and Alma Pearson.
Both Ron and Donna moved to Minnesota after graduating high school. Ron graduated from Glenwood City in 1948 and Donna graduated the same year from Minot high school in North Dakota.
Both moved to the cities to find work since the jobs were more abundant and pay was higher. Donna also had family in the area so her and her siblings moved in with their uncle.
Donna began working in the insurance business after being hired by a State Farm agency.
Ron on the other hand began a long series of odd jobs he worked a few months at a time. He also enlisted in the Army National Guard for six years and the U.S. Air Force for four years.
Aside from their work, it was in the cities that Ron and Donna’s history together began. Ron was living with a roommate at the time and it was his roommate’s girlfriend who happened to work with Donna. Because of this, Ron and Donna happened to be set up on a blind date, which lasted for a few dates before it fizzled away.
It wasn’t until a year later that the two of them just happened to run into each other at the old dance hall in Richardson, WI and that is when their love story officially took off.
After a courtship and marriage, Ron and Donna became first time parents when their eldest daughter, Doreen (Best), was born. After Doreen came their second daughter, Lori (Voeltz) and then their son Darren.
With three children in tow, the Brettingens decided to make the move back to Glenwood City. This was when their life really took them in a variety of directions as they became business owners and home builders.
First off it was the old garage and car wash building in town that Ron built and operated with his father.
After this adventure was the purchase of the movie theater in Glenwood City and the leasing of the one in Bloomer, which they had for about three years.
Ron and Donna restored the projectors and painted basically the entire theater in town before selling it to Doc Anderson.
The next big journey of their life came one day when Ron’s friend, John Peterson, asked if he would help him lease out the Indianhead truck stop/gas station.
Ron and Donna eventually decided to buy out John and own the business themselves so they opened the station in September of 1971.
The day after Thanksgiving of 71’ is when they opened the restaurant portion, which was a 24-7 operation.
Ron reminisced about how they actually had to hire a bouncer because too many rowdy drunks would stumble in looking for a meal after bar closing time.
The final addition to Indianhead came in the Spring of 1972 when the Brettingens opened the cheese and gift shop. “We met so many good people through the years and had some really great employees that we actually still keep in touch with to this day,” shared Donna. The Brettingens ran this business for almost 20 years until one day Ron was approached by a gentleman from Kwik Trip who offered to buy them out. “So I took the offer, then in walked Donna and I said well I just sold the business. And we haven’t gotten a paycheck since,” chuckled Ron.
After selling the business, the couple spent a small amount of time moving around. They first left their house by the golf course, which they had built from the ground up and moved into town. Then they built another home on Maple Street. Finally, the couple settled on a location they liked, which is where they currently reside now and have for 11 years. Their home was designed by Ron himself so it has all the amenities they wanted, rooms in the right places and sizes they wished and it is also handicap accessible. Ron and Donna’s son-in-law Mark (Voeltz) made the vision come to life as he was the one who put the hammer to the nails and built the two-home duplex.
Aside from their many different job and home building adventures, the couple has taken their time over the years to travel and see “every state but Alaska”. They shared that on one particular trip to Nashville, they happened to sit down at a table with a young Randy Travis. They chatted with the young man for a bit and he spoke of how he was interested in a singing career; it was the following year that he hit it big in the music industry. The couple has seen the sites in Mexico and Canada and have spent winters in Florida, Texas and Arizona all before they decided to hang their hats up at home and give traveling a rest.
“We have lived a good life so far, a very good life,” said Ron.