Lake County Outstanding SeniorsTwo Lake County seniors were honored as the outstanding seniors of the year at the senior luncheon Aug. 23 at the Lake County Fairgrounds.
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
Gladys Lorntson was selected as one of two Lake County Outstanding Seniors of 2012 at a luncheon held Aug. 23. The 77-year-old Silver Bay resident was nominated by Susan Michels, director of Northshore Area Partners.
Lorntson was the former owner of the H&R Block in Silver Bay and has volunteered her time and skills to NAP and the community for four to five years.
“[Lorntson] has been treasurer of the organization and she is my go-to person if I want to make sure everything is done properly and transparently,” said Michels.
“If I have any questions about financial documents, she’s always there,” Michels added.
Before the luncheon, Michels heard that Lorntson had been selected for the award of outstanding senior and was uncertain about how to break the news. Lorntson prefers to avoid the spotlight.
“She does things quietly — very under the radar,” Michels said. “When I told her she had won the award, she said, ‘Aren’t there people who deserve this more than I do?’ “
Lorntson helps NAP keep its books in order and reviews the tax documents submitted to the state at the end of the year. During tax season she helps seniors fill out income tax forms. At the luncheon, Michels read a long list of other contributions Lorntson has made.
One day someone called NAP with a question about property taxes, recalled Michels. Lorntson was consulted, but later she went to the client’s home to lend a hand with the forms. She just helps where help is needed, Michels said.
Lorntson came to Two Harbors to receive a certificate, a bouquet of flowers and a pink insulated travel mug. As Lake County Outstanding Senior, her name was also entered with the winners from other Minnesota counties. An overall winner will be selected and announced at the State Fair in St Paul.
It appears that the only thing longer than Lyle Northey’s list of contributions to the community is the list of people who respect and admire him. On Thursday, Aug. 23, he was presented with the Lake County Outstanding Senior Citizen award, but not before a three-page account of his years of work on behalf of others.
Northey was nominated for the award by the North Shore Rotary, a service organization to which he has belonged for many years. Gene Cotton, a fellow Rotarian, said that Northey’s nomination was an easy decision for the group.
Northey came to Two Harbors in 1960 to teach middle school and later became principal, a position he held for 27 years. He then served as superintendent for the Lake County school district until his retirement. In addition to these many titles he is also husband to wife, Trish, father of five children, grandfather of 13, mentor, coach, Rotarian of the Year, lay-pastor and the Two Harbors Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen and Volunteer of the Year, and was mayor of Two Harbors. This is just a partial list.
“He is almost driven to see the community improve,” said Cotton.
“It’s just giving an hour here and an hour there,” said Northey. He recognized the importance of financial donations, but adds that “someone has to deliver the meals to people who can’t get out and someone has to drive the cancer patient to treatment. To you it’s just an hour, but for that hour you are the most important person in another person’s life. “
He has been pivotal in coordinating efforts to raise money for scholarships to send kids to Rotary Youth Leadership Awards camp and serving on the David L. Tilderquist Memorial Library and Scholarship Fund committee. The scholarship supports the education of second-year medical students at the University of Minnesota-Duluth who will go on to practice in small towns and rural areas, like Two Harbors. In fact, three of five physicians practicing in the town are graduates of that school.
The award for Lake County Outstanding Senior includes submission of the winners’ names to the list of other recipients from around the state. One person will be selected as overall winner at a presentation at the Minnesota State Fair. Cotton was a past recipient of the local honor and placed second at the state fair— an accomplishment in itself. “Lyle has a good chance of winning first or second. He’s the premier volunteer. I can’t imagine anyone doing more than he does.”
Northey will be at the fair with his wife and some of their family Saturday when the winner is announced.
As Cotton read the list of reasons for Northey’s nomination for Lake County Outstanding Senior, Northey reported that he was picturing the many faces of people who had done more or were doing more to deserve such recognition. He summed up his philosophy of volunteering by describing a plaque that he and his wife have in their home. It’s a quote by Winston Churchill that reads: You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.
“You spend an hour here and hour there and make a difference a little at a time,” Northey said.
More than just an impressive list of accomplishments, Cotton also describes Northey’s character. “Lyle is quiet, calm, humble, but confident and inspiring. … [He] seems to have only the good of his fellow persons at heart. I can think of no one more deserving of this award.”