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Section 1 ECHO/Page 10 ELY SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2019 O O O O by Edward Gobetz, Ph.D 92 years young As you well know, Minnesota, too, is a mosaic of many ethnic groups and one of them is Slovenian. At this time, Sena- tor and Democratic presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar, the daughter of popular journalist and author of over twenty books Jim Klobuchar, is the best known Slovenian q Minnesota politician, following Congress- men John Blatnik and James Oberstar and U.S. Civil Service Commissioner Ludwig Andolsek. Yet, who knows that from 1866 to 1896, a Slovenian immigrant Jernej Pirc or Bar- tholomew Pirz (the nephew of the prominent missionary Francis X. Pierz, after whom a Minnesota town is named) built roads, bridges and schools west of St. Cloud in Steams County, serving as mayor of Eden Lake, Justice of Peace, superintendent of schools, state representative and county commissioner. Slovenian missionaries include Bishop Frederic Baraga, whom Vatican's Enciclo- pedia Cattolica, 1949, describes as "one of the greatest missionaries of North America in modern times," an official candidate of the Catholic Church for beatification and an amazing linguist whose Dictionary of Ojibway Language was reprinted by Minnesota Historical Society more than a century after its original publication; James Trobec (Bishop of St. Cloud (1897-1914); Msgr. Joseph Buh, founder of the Diocese of Duluth; and more recently, Bishop James Rausch, who in the 1970s gained national prominence as secretary general of the Conference of Catholic Bishops and of the United States Catholic Conference, while his Slovenian aunt, Sister Mary Anastasia Ohman, was in 1942 elected Mother General of the Franciscan Sisters of Immaculate Conception and became a prolific builder of schools, hospitals and nursing homes. In 1890s, Bernard Locnikar served as abbot of St. John's Abbey and president of St. John's College (later University) in Collegeville. Dr. Jack Grahek, the legendary mayor of Ely for 27 years was, in 1987, unanimously appointed to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota, as was also Frank Furlan, mayor of Chisholm. Numerous Minnesota towns which elected scores of Slovenian or partly- Slovenian mayors are listed in the enclosed Attachment. Continued on next page $1oveni.an American -- TIM 5 Page 10 Volume Xl, Issue 4 February 1,2019 A Short Overview - outside of the United States By Edward Gobetz On May 11, 1994, Madeline Debevec kindly reported about this writer's forthcoming lecture on "Min- nesota Slovenians: A Century and a Half of Their Contributions." On June 22, 1984, her husband Jim Debevec, editor and publisher of American Home (Amerigka Domovina) newspaper published "Salute to Minnesota Slovenians," together with some panels of a comprehensive exhibit by our Slovenian Research Center at Iron Range Museum and Research Center in Chisholm, Minnesota (see insert). Indeed, Slovenian contributions to Minnesota would deserve a separate book, something that this writer discussed with Veda Ponikvar, the prominent AMERICAN HOME Salute to Minnesota Slovenians Slovenian editor and civic leader in Minnesota, and a few other leading Minnesota Slovenians. We had the need- ed materials but, unfortunately, no financial resources and no book publisher, since publishers are usually interested in profits which can be generated only by high numbers of books printed and sold, or with help of government, founda- tions or other subsidies where smaller nations or relatively small ethnic groups are at a distinct disadvantage. Yet, it is undeniable that many of the very first churches, schools, and oqghanages in Minnesota were built by Siovenian missionaries. Bishop Frederic Baraga (1797-1868) labored on an enormous Great Lakes territory of over 80,000 square miles, including Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota and some areas of bordering Canada. An amazingly capable linguist, he mastered, in addition to his native Slovenian, also German, French, English, Latin, and the native Indian languages. He authored encyclicals, prayer books, catechisms, grammars and dictionaries in native languages of his beloved Indians. Indeed, more than a century after Baraga's death, Minnesota Historical Society republished Baraga's A Dictionary of the Ojibwa Languages, stating in John D. Nichol's Foreword to the Reprint Edition: "Bishop Baraga's Dictionary of the Otchipwe Language in 1853 and the companion Theoretical and Practical Grammar of the Otschipwe Language of 1850 are enduring monuments to missionary linguistics." We may also note that the Vatican's Enciclopedia Cattolica (1949, page 795) describes Baraga as "one of the greatest missionaries of North America in modern times." He is also an official candidate of the Catholic Church for beatification. Due to space limitations let us only briefly mention James Trobec (Bishop of Saint Cloud, 1897-1914); and Msgr. Joseph Buh, subject of a comprehensive biographical study Masinaigans: The Little Book, by Bernard Coleman and Verona LaBud (North Central Publishing Co Saint Paul, Minnesota, 1972). He was the "Founder of the Diocese of Duluth" (pages 160-235). Francis Pirc, together with Baraga promoted peace and Indian languages and also introduced higher levels of horticulture and agriculture; the Minnesota town of Pierz has been named af- ter him (see William Furlan, In Charity Unfeigned: The Life of Father Francis X, Pierz, 1952, Diocese of St. Cloud, 270 pages). Dr. Bernard Locnikar in 1890s became the abbot of St. John's Abbey and president of St. John's College (later University) in Collegeville, Minnesota (see Gobetz, Slovenian Heritage, Vol. I, SRCA, Inc 1980, pages 126-134). A century and a few decades later, the prominent Oman family gave America Bishop James Rausch, who in 1970's gained national prominence as a very influential general secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United States Catholic Conference: His aunt, Sister Mary Anastasia O.S.F was elected in 1942 Mother General of the Franciscan Sisters of Immaculate Conception and became a prolific builder of schools, hospitals, and nursing homes in Minnesota, while Fr. Daniel Ohmann, M.M appeared on the cover of Maryknoll magazine (January 1968) for having introduced solar cookers to East Africa. Msgr. John Oman, former pastor of St. Lawrence Parish and a columnist for Amerigka Domovina, was a distant relative. We also collected scores of dossiers of documents on prominent Slovenian Minnesota industrialists, businessmen, architects, apiculturists, scholars, in- ventors, champions in various sports, and physicians, including two natives of Chisholm, Dr. Leonard K. Lovshin, former head of the Department of Internal Medicine at the famous Cleveland Clinic and past president of the American As- sociation of Medical Clinics (see Gobetz, Slovenian Heritage pages 242-246); and Dr. James Pluth, Professor of Surgery and Head of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery (1978-1986) at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, and in the 1990s, also chair and co-chair of the Department of Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was selected as one of the nation's best heart surgeons in 1996 and 1997. We can also proudly add to the list of Slovenian achievers in Minnesota Ludwig Andolsek, U.S. Civil Service Commissioner, and influential politicians, such as Congressmen John Blatnik and James Oberstar and, currently, Senator Amy Klobuchar, sometimes discussed as a possible Democratic candidate for vice president or president of the United States. Her father Jim Klobuchar, born to Slovenian immigrant parents in Ely, Minnesota, was a prominent journalist for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis for three decades and also wrote columns for the Christian Science Monitor, in addition to being the author of over twenty books. With this proud record of Slovenian contributions to Minnesota, we are, of course, not surprised by the large number of Slovenian mayors in the North Star State whom we will now briefly discuss in this article. As far as we could establish, Jernej (Yerney) Pirec (or Bartholomew Pirz (1826-1896), the nephew of the leading missionary Franc Pirc, came to America in 1854 and in 1855 settled west of St. Cloud in Stearns County, which was mostly wilderness at that time, with- out railways and with very few roads. Fortunately, his uncle managed to pacify and befriend the rebellious Chip- pewa Indians. Thus, in 1866, Jernej Pirc (Pirz) became may- or of Eden Lake and appraiser of school properties and, in 1867, Stearns County com- missioner. He also served as Justice of the Peace. Between 1867 and 1874, he was super- intendent of Stearns County Schools. In 1872, Pirz was elected state representative of Minnesota, with the seat in St. Paul, and was re-elected in 1874 and 1876. In 1881, he was again elected County Com- missioner and served until 1896, the year of his death. A builder of roads, bridges and schools, always ready to help the needy, he was the first known Slovenian career politician and pub- lic servant in Minnesota, foreshadowing such mod- em Slovenian political stars as Congressmen John Blatnik, James Oberstar and Senator Amy Klobu- char a century or more later. This more recent pe- riod is also marked by an amazing number of Slove- nian mayors of many Min- nesota towns. Thus, Dr. Jack P. "Doc" Grahek was born in 1911 to Slovenian parents Jacob Grahek and Katherine, nee Muhvich, in Dr. Jack P. Grahek (19 11-2001), mayor of Ely, Minnesota ( 1954-1981) U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey, with three of his Slovenian Minnesota friends in 1965 (from left) U.S. Congressman John Blatnik; Ms. Veda Ponikvar, editor and publisher; and Ludwig Andolsek, U.S. Civil Service Commissioner Ely, Minnesota, as the oldest of their six children. He grew up in Ely, a town with a population of about 5,000, located about 100 miles, or 160 kilometers, north of Duluth. He graduated from Ely High School in 1928, attended Vermillion Community College and Marquette Medical School in Milwaukee; did his internship at St. Mary's Hospital in Duluth and opened his medical office in Ely in 1940, practicing medicine in his native town until mid- 1979. He delivered more than 2,500 babies and cared for countless Ely residents. A man of the people, popular in Ely and Minnesota at large, Dr. Grahek decided to run for mayor of Ely and was elected in 1954 on the platform of building a new hospital. In the mid-1950's, Dr. H.N. Sutherland, another local physician, also joined him challenging the residents of Ely with the idea to build a new hospital. Mr. Abe Bloomenson, an Elyite who had moved to Duluth, encouraged these proposals by contributing $100,000 to the building fund, while Dr. Gra- hek, the City Council, local labor unions and citizens at large, then introduced a $550,000 bond issue which was approved in 1955. The new hospital, named Ely Bloomenson Community Hospital, was dedicated on February 22, 1958. As the area's largest healthcare center, it still proudly serves Ely and surrounding com- munities at the time of this writing (2019). To a considerable extent, it is also a monument to the energetic and popular Mayor and Doctor Jack Grahek. When Dr. Grahek died in 2001 at age 90, The Messabi Daily News of November 14 reported: "He practiced medicine in Ely for 40 years, retiring July 1, 1979. In 1954 he was elected Mayor of Ely and served as mayor for 27 years. During his political career he brought to Ely a hospital, a sewage treatment plant, multiple public housing facilities and an airport that is among the finest ever seen in a community of 5,000. His accomplishments and awards were innumerable but included the C.C. Lud- wig Award for Outstanding Municipal Service, Outstanding Minnesota Citizen Award, Outstanding Civic Service Award and the Arrowhead Community College Distin- guished College Service Award. He was honored in 1977 by the citizens of Ely with the J.P. Grahek Recognition Day In 1987 he was appointed unanimously to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota. Most recently, Ely again honored him by declar- ing May 1, 1998, Dr. J.P. Grahek Day." There were several other mayors in Minnesota, reported to be of Slovenian or partly Slovenian descent, whom, unfortunately we could not research as thoroughly as we would like to. Thus, in addition to Dr. Grahek, in Ely alone there were at least the following Slovenian mayors: Anton Golob, Frank Jenko, Joe Koschak, John Koschak, John Kapsch, Matt Marolt, Jack Peshel, Joseph Pucel and George Brozich. As early as the 1930s, Rudolph Strukel was mayor of Chisholm, followed more recently by at least Frank Furlan (also a member of the Regents of Univer- sity of Minnesota), and John A. Champa. Peter Kerze served as mayor of Eveleth in the late 1960s; Anton Lopp was elected in 1940 the first mayor of the City of Gilbert; Don Miklich, Sr was mayor of Tower (1967-1969); and Terry Hren,