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Riverfront bench will honor the late John Mingo

Rebecca Erickson-Mingo with her late husband John.

Living in downtown Hudson, Lakefront Park was John Mingo and Rebecca Erickson-Mingo’s backyard.

“We both of us just spent a lot of time walking and enjoying the view and the beauty,” Erickson-Mingo said.

The couple’s home is in Hudson’s oldest building built in 1857, which was formerly the home of the Hudson Star and Times newspaper. From the building’s deck, Lakefront Park is visible stretching along First Street.

When Mingo died in March, Erickson-Mingo almost immediately began planning a way to honor him. She settled on a bench - in their own backyard.

“We were not really cemetery people or headstone people,” Erickson-Mingo said. “This is something that the people that we know who care about John can go there and reflect and be in a happy place.”

The bench was approved by the Hudson Common Council and will be constructed in Lakefront Park in September.

Mingo passed away from a heart attack while skiing with Erickson-Mingo and friends in Colorado.

“We kind of tease that if you could plan your exit in life he had the perfect exit,” Erickson-Mingo said. “He planned the vacation, he was with his wife and close friends and we lived an active lifestyle.”

The couple were adventurers, skiing often in Colorado, hiking and rafting at the Grand Canyon and making many trips to the boundary waters. An inscription on the bench will reflect the experiences they shared. From a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes, the bench will read, “A mind once stretched by new experience cannot go back to its original dimension.”

The Mingo’s home in the historic Hudson building was another adventure they embarked on 8 years ago. Mingo was in charge of the entire construction, turning the lower level into the Ultimissimo Salon for Erickson-Mingo and the upper level into a home for the both of them.

Now that Mingo is gone, living in the home he built is a soothing experience for Erickson-Mingo.

“It’s really more of a comfort to be surrounded by it,” she said. “I keep talking to him, ‘You can come visit.’”

Erickson-Mingo wants the bench to be a comforting area for others, as the home is for her.

“I just hope that the bench will serve as a place where people feel they can come together for whatever their personal reasons are,” she said.

Since the couple moved to Hudson twenty years ago, Mingo played an active role in the Hudson community. He was involved with local businesses and especially enjoyed his golfing community.

The couple focused much of their lives on charitable efforts, with a special emphasis on the animal community. For the last 14 years the two have held a pet wash to raise money for animal shelters. That is how Mingo found Chi Chi, his canine sidekick, Erickson-Mingo said.

“Our philosophy has always been philanthropy and community connections,” she said. “He had an active voice in the community too as the community has been developing.”

The bench will honor Mingo’s involvement in the community. To further reflect his openness, Erickson-Mingo said the bench will be larger and curved.

“The intention of the shape of it was to be meaningful, to be all-encompassing, to be a gathering place and not necessarily just for John, but in general just connecting people,” she said.

The bench will be donated to the city, thanks to the help of Mingo’s friends and family. Instead of memorials, many donated to the bench project.

“He’s a guy that touched a lot of lives here,” Erickson-Mingo said.

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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