Region lost many notable people in 2015
For all the exciting events of 2015, there were also somber times when Rochester and southeast Minnesota mourned the loss of special individuals.
Here are five among the many who will be remembered here long after their passing in the last year.
• Dr. Joyce "Joy" Bickford, a board-certified psychiatrist and staple member of Rochester's 1960s social scene, died at 95 on Feb. 28, at her home in San Diego. Bickford had practiced at the state hospital in Rochester.
Bickford also was remembered as a hostess and socialite who had a style all her own, according to friends, including Dr. Gertrude "Truda" Tyce, a physiologist.
She wore "gorgeous clothes. And she was a tremendous hostess around town," Tyce said. "Her parties were tremendous parties, believe you me."
• Dr. Edmund Burke, a pediatric nephrologist who had an accomplished career at Mayo Clinic, died May 13 at 95. Burke was known for an incredible ability to multitask as he pursued many interests.
In medicine, Burke advanced the diagnosis of pediatric kidney conditions through early use of pediatric kidney biopsy. As a pediatrician, Burke had a way with children, a gentleness that was calming to his patients.
Burke also was known as a prolific writer and regular contributor to the Post-Bulletin.
• Harley Boettcher embodied the best qualities of southeast Minnesota's culture; he was a farmer, a neighbor who would give a helping hand and a dedicated public servant. Boettcher died Aug. 4 at the age of 97.
A quiet leader, Boettcher was elected and served 10 years on the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners. He spent another 12 years on the Stewartville School Board. His volunteerism included many other local bodies.
"He knew his values. He was a real statesman," said Richard Devlin, Olmsted County administrator.
• An Austin lawmaker known both for his admirable service as a state representative and his quirky wardrobe, former DFL Rep. Leo Reding, died at 91 years old on Oct. 12.
Reding was an Austin City Council member and mayor of the city before being elected to the Minnesota House in 1974. He would serve for 18 years, earning a reputation for environmental advocacy and for working with colleagues from both sides of the aisle.
Reding also stood out at the capitol for another reason — his wardrobe of eye-catching, brightly colored sport coats and neckties.
"He loved it. He would come into the House chamber, and sunglasses weren't enough," joked fellow Rep. Gene Pelowski.
• U.S. Navy Veteran Dennis Thompson died Oct. 30 at 64 years old. Thompson had a knack for finding himself in historic moments during his service in the Navy and returned to a quiet life in Spring Valley after his discharge.
Thompson served in the Navy from 1970 to 1976 after graduating from John Marshall High School. He was deployed on two tours during the Vietnam conflict on the USS Turner Joy. It turned out to be the vessel that fired the last naval round in the Vietnam War.
Later, during his service aboard the USS New Orleans, Thompson worked as a crane operator. On July 24, 1975, he operated a crane that lifted the Apollo spacecraft from the Pacific Ocean after the return of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project — the first international cooperative manned space flight.
At home in Spring Valley, Thompson married and found work as a stationary engineer with the Olmsted County Waste-to-Energy facility.