Friends celebrate with 2019 Wall of Honor recipient

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Sue Kolling elaborates on why she chose to nominate Greg Davids for the Kingsland Wall of Honor award.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Rep. Greg Davids has spent more than 25 years serving the state Legislature in St. Paul, but he has never forgotten where he came from, friends of the 2019 Wall of Honor recipient stated during a ceremony Friday, Nov. 1, at Kingsland Public School, where the wall is located.

Terry Klomps, a friend of Davids and master of ceremonies for the evening’s program, noted that the honoree has served in Minnesota’s Legislature for 14 non-consecutive terms, sold insurance, chaired several committees at the Capitol, raised a family and continued to serve his neighbors. 

“I’m here to honor and praise Greg Davids. He’s done so much for Fillmore County,” Klomps said. “He was nominated by Sue Kolling, who wrote that ‘Greg Davids is a Spring Valley graduate who never forgot where he grew up…he’s done so very much for this area, starting with the veterans’ cemetery and now the veterans’ home.”

Kolling, who was honored last year as a Wall of Honor nominee, stated that she mulled the qualifications for the wall when thinking about students who have graduated from the local schools — which also includes the former Spring Valley and Wykoff districts.

“You represent our school, our community, our county, all of southeastern Minnesota with pride,” she said. “Being at the Capitol, sometimes people forget greater Minnesota, but this guy never forgot.  I don’t always agree with him, but I know he’s looking out for all of us.” 

Another of Davids’ friends, Mark Sample, noted that he had known Davids since elementary school when they grew up together. They were in band, choir and even had a barbershop quartet, which he said was a lot of fun.  Later, they formed a band that sang music from the 1950s. 

“But the thing I remember is when Greg told me a story about his insurance career,” Sample said. “He was delivering a life insurance benefit to someone, and he said that the look on their face when they got that check, knowing that it would allow them to keep their home and pay bills was (memorable).  I’ve always known Greg to be generous, honest and sincere.  Congratulations.” 

Davids, who stood to introduce his wife, Bonnie, their three daughters and sons-in-law and five grandsons, noted that when Klomps called him to let him know that he had to keep Nov. 1 open, but he couldn’t tell him for what reason. 

“He just told me, ‘Keep it open.  You’re going to cry,’ so I went home to Bonnie and asked her what was on her calendar on Nov. 1,” Davids said. “She asked me why, and I said, ‘I don’t know, but I’m going to cry.’  So, when the superintendent called and told me, after I hung up, I cried.” 

Davids elaborated on his high school career, thanking his teachers for their dedication to his public education and even to forgiving him the day that he decided that it was a good idea to pick up an orange traffic cone and throw it, accidentally landing it on social studies teacher Rick Ascheman’s car and breaking a taillight that later cost him $14.50 at a dollar an hour’s pay in the barn. 

Later in his presentation, he asked rhetorically, “Why do I love public schools so much?  Being poor farm kids, it was a great equalizer.  Everybody had a shot at life.  It brought me equality and opportunity – everybody gets the same start and the same shot.”      

This Wall of Honor program was begun in 2008, when Darrin Strosahl was superintendent and the district had just completed the elementary school addition, which included the cafeteria where the Wall of Honor ceremony was held last week.

“Darrin wanted to show what education could do for kids who came from Wykoff, Spring Valley, Cherry Grove and Etna,” outlined Kingsland Superintendent Jim Hecimovich. “We come together as one family, and kids need to realize that high school is the foundation, not the end.  It’s the beginning…it’s endless and will get you somewhere.”

Davids, a 1976 Spring Valley High School graduate, will now have his name on a plaque alongside the names of Home Federal Savings Bank founder John Osterud, Henry Plummer, Irene Warren, geneticist Wendell McKenzie, Judge Donovan Frank and community volunteers Mitch Lentz and Kolling, all people who were chosen for their accomplishments after they left the Spring Valley, Wykoff or Kingsland school districts as they sought careers and built their lives. 

“All these people came from little Kingsland,” he commented.

The ceremony concluded when Klomps showed Davids the plaque that will be installed on the Wall of Honor as he officially named him as the 2019 Kingsland Wall of Honor award recipient, and the audience gave a standing ovation. 

The program included an opening performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on trumpet by Emily Biermann, student of Joshua Hogberg and Alex Michenfelder, and a closing reception with refreshments served.