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Business and community leader George Hoel dies at 89

George Hoel in 1982.1 / 2
George Hoel in his U.S. Marine Corps uniform. He participated in the 1945 invasion of the Japanese island of Okinawa in World War II.2 / 2

Funeral services for George O. Hoel will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, June 10, at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Hudson.

The longtime Hudson community leader and Andersen Corp. executive died Tuesday at Boutwells Landing in Oak Park Heights, Minn. He was 89 years old.

Hoel and his wife, Mary, moved to the retirement home in 2010, after selling their house on Stageline Road to Hudson Hospital & Clinics. Mary died in October 2011, also at the age of 89.

George Hoel was active in many community organizations and fundraising campaigns over his more than 40 years in Hudson. In 2003, he received the Marie Blakeman Award, presented by the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce to a business and community leader for a lifetime of exemplary service to Hudson.

Hoel worked on the capital campaigns for the construction of St. Croix Valley YMCA and St. Patrick Church and School. He was a member of the Hudson Hospital board, Daybreak Rotary Club, Hudson VFW Post 211, the Knights of Columbus, the Carpenter Nature Center board, and the board of the Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation.

He helped give away millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations throughout the St. Croix Valley as an Andersen Foundation board member.

After his discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps in March 1946, Hoel came to Hudson to be near his mother, Josephine, who moved here shortly after he joined the military. He grew up in Madelia, Minn., a small town southwest of Mankato.

Hoel participated in the 1945 invasion of the Japanese island of Okinawa in World War II.

"It was one hill after another after another. It took days to secure just a small area, because they (Japanese soldiers) were that tough," Hoel said of the action in a 1985 story in the Star-Observer.

While staging for the invasion on another island, Hoel met four servicemen from his newly adopted hometown of Hudson - Charles Askov, Oliver Lyksett, Howard Norvold and Jack St. Ores. Askov and Lyksett were later killed on Okinawa.

Hoel went to work for Andersen Corp. the same month he was discharged from the Marines, and spent his entire business career - 44 years - with the company.

He was a salesman in the early years. After he and Mary were wed in May 1952, his job took them to Kentucky and Ohio for more than a decade.

The Hoels had five children by the time they returned to Hudson in 1970 and made their home on Stageline Road for the next 40 years. The property is now part of the Hudson Hospital and Clinic complex.

Hoel rose through the ranks at Andersen Corp. to be vice president, sales manager and, ultimately, a member of the board of directors for 25 years.

"He was just a great guy. He's just a wonderful, wonderful man," said Jay Griggs, the former owner and publisher of the Star-Observer who invited Hoel to join him on the Carpenter Nature Center board.

Griggs and John Marnell, the former Hudson Hospital administrator, used to drive Hoel's car to Florida for him, while the Hoels traveled by plane.

Griggs called Hoel "a consummate salesman," remembering how Hoel went door to door to businesses campaigning for him during his run for the state Senate in the mid-1990s.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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