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Native son leaves North Hudson helm

Larry Larsen, a native of North Hudson, completed a six-year run as president of the Village Board of Trustees this month. Photo by Jon Echternacht

Larry Larsen grew up three blocks south of the North Hudson Village Hall. As a kid peddling newspapers in the community, he probably never thought about growing up to serve as president of community's Board of Trustees.

But after three terms and six years at the helm, Larsen decided not to run for another term for personal reasons. Trustee George Klein takes over the presidency this month following the April 7 election.

"It's been a learning experience," said Larsen during a conversation at his office at OEM Fabricators in Woodville, where he serves as human resources manager. "I never ran for public office before."

Larsen admitted he got into the race for village president over a single issue in 2002. "I didn't think the residents were being heard," he said.

"In a matter of weeks, if not days, I learned there were many issues involved in the village," Larsen said.

"When I first got into it, the job seemed overwhelming for me personally. I was fortunate to have good board members over the six years," he said.

Larsen said that over his tenure he appointed a number of people to various positions both on the board to fill out a term or on various committees.

"I was only turned down about four times," he said, "and that usually had to do with a person's job obligations."

"There are a lot of people willing to serve the village ... a lot of people with talent," Larsen said.

In fact, the 60-year-old Larsen said the single biggest change in the community over his six years on the board has been the number of people that have become involved in the community. He said to fill all the positions on committees, boards and commissions for the village without doubling up, it takes 130 volunteers.

Part of his ability to talk people into serving the community may be his own roots in North Hudson. "When I grew up it was almost like Mayberry. Everybody knew everybody," he said.

And everybody knew what everybody else was doing, according to one of Larsen's boyhood stories.

"My brother and I had paper routes for the St. Paul Pioneer Press," he said. "So we were independently wealthy. We decided one day that it was about time to invest in baseball cards so we went to Solsvig's grocery store and purchased quite a few.

"We spent about $2 on the cards with the bubble gum inside that were either one or two cents each. Elden (Solsvig) asked if we were sure we wanted to buy that many, and we were definite about it.

"We went home and when we got in the door, my mother asked us, 'How much did you spend on baseball cards?'"

Larsen said while the Internet moves information fast, the old network of residents in North Hudson moved faster.

Larsen attended St. Patrick's School in Hudson, then St. John's Prep in Collegeville, Minn., where he graduated in 1966. He went on to St. John's University and graduated in 1970 with an education degree.

He taught Spanish in middle school in Beaver Dam from 1970-74 before moving back to Hudson and working for different corporations in the Twin Cities area. In 1978 he moved back into his hometown.

Larsen and his wife, Jean, have four adult children who matriculated through St. Patrick School and Hudson High School.

Larsen said he probably won't run for office again; in fact, he thought in the beginning he would only serve two terms at the most as president, but he has offered his services to the board in a volunteer capacity to research projects that are in the works.