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Back and Forth: Golden Deeds honors community servants


One of autumn's special events in Rochester is the Exchange Club's Book of Golden Deeds, honoring some community servants for good deeds they have been doing without thought of personal gain.

"Bouquets For the Living" will happen again on Wednesday at Rochester's International Events Center near the Rochester Airport.

The 7 p.m. banquet will be followed by the induction ceremony. Keynote speaker is former First District Congressman Tim Penny. Now an Owatonna resident, Penney will speak on "The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation" which he has led the past six years.

This 58th Exchange Club Award night first started locally in 1955 with the late Mary Margaret DuShane named the first recipient. Last year's winner was Shirley Russo. The Book of Golden Deeds dates back to 1917 by the International Exchange Club.

The purpose of the award is to give recognition to the most deserving individuals selected on the basis of unselfish, personal service, rather than their participation in organized community affairs. And it's always a well kept secret until the night of the award.


A major goal of the Exchange Club is to promote patriotism in the schools by distributing flags and sharing patriotic documents such as the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln's Gettysburg address. You'll find these displayed in the Exchange Club's Freedom Shrine located slightly northeast of Soldier's Field Veterans Memorial.

Now the Exchange Club has just completed a new structure honoring all past recipients of the Golden Deeds Award. This oval tribute is very near the Freedom Shrine and will contain pavers of each recipient, pavers resembling thousands of names at the Veterans Memorial.

Several members of the Exchange Club were involved with the idea originating from Dick Hexum. Members wanted a place first to display pictures of the recipients. That started in front of Old City Hall. Any plans to display them at Mayo Civic Center were squashed. So the honored Golden Deeds names will be on pavers on the inside first. As the years succeed up to 100 names can be displayed.

Sidewalks from the YMCA lead to the Freedom Shrine. According to Exchange Club member Gene Harnack, this project when completed will cost about $20,000. Here's a permanent "Bouquet of Flowers for the Living."

Next week: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing 50 years ago on November 22nd, 1963?

Harley Flathers is a longtime Rochester-area broadcaster and historian. Got a comment for Harley? Send it to news@postbulletin.com or to Harley at Post-Bulletin, P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903. His column runs on Thursdays.

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