Senior royalty crowned in Two Harbors
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
Coronations are a fixture in high schools across the country—Homecoming, Prom, Spring Fling and Winter Frolic all have a king and queen as part of the festivities. Ecumen Scenic Shores in Two Harbors decided to take this tradition into its senior living centers.
The Care Center King and Queen were crowned on Valentine’s Day. Last year’s Queen Mabel Ellestad crowned Phyllis Hurd and last year’s King Ed Oman welcomed Bruce Cameron to the throne.
Two days later, the Assisted Living King and Queen were crowned. Grace Zemlin and Phil DuFresne were crowned by other local royalty—the Homecoming King and Queens from Two Harbors High School. Homecoming Queens Courtney Osbakken and Savannah Juenemann and Homecoming King Charlie Pavlisich did the honor. The Old Timers Band provided entertainment after the coronation.
The winners at both the care center and the assisted living community were decided by a popular vote in which staff, residents and visitors all participated. The royalty will ride on a float in the Heritage Days Parade next summer.
The Lake County News-Chronicle went to Scenic Shores to learn about the lives of the newly-crowned elders and to get some advice for their younger counterparts.
Phyllis Hurd, 89,is a newcomer to Ecumen Scenic Shores Care Center. She moved into the facility in June, but she’s already made an impression in nine short months.
She said she has a theory about her popularity—handmade footwear. She’s an avid knitter, and her favorite projects are slippers. She’s knitted close to 30 pairs for employees and fellow residents.
Hurd said she was “just plain surprised” when she was named queen at the care center.
Hurd originally moved to Two Harbors when her husband found work here, and she raised her family nine kids just south of town. She also worked intermittently at the DM&IR roundhouse in Two Harbors and as a janitor at the high school in town.
Hurd is the self-proclaimed counselor of the young staff members at the care center. Her favorite piece of advice for young ladies is, “Don’t waste your life on men. Girls don’t have to get married now.”
Bruce Cameron, 86,has lived in the Care Center for three years. His quiet and friendly demeanor has earned him many friends among staff and residents. He was just as surprised as Hurd to be crowned.
“I was shocked when I found out,” Cameron said.
Cameron originally came to Two Harbors to work at a car shop. When the auto repair business went under, he found work constructing railroad track for Reserve Mining. He worked as a truck driver after Reserve closed. Cameron said he’s most proud of always holding down a good-paying job. He retired in his early 60s and travelled around the region in a motorhome with his wife. He said he ventured into Canada to visit family a few times, too.
Though Cameron only needed a high school education for the jobs he’s had over the years, he said the same isn’t true today and he advises young people to seek higher education.
“These days, you have to have a college education to get a job,” he said.
Phil Dufresne, 98,has lived in Ecumen Assisted Living for four years.
According to Michelle Carlson, the Ecumen recreation coordinator, Dufresne has been voted the king the past two years but hasn’t accepted the crown until this year.
“It was an honor,” Dufresne said.
He moved to Two Harbors as a young man with his mother and stayed in town his entire life, working his way from the position of laborer to general foreman at the ore docks. He and his wife raised two sons, and now Dufresne has numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. Dufresne said he’s most proud of his family. To live a long life he just has two simple recommendations: “Don’t drink and don’t smoke.”
Grace Zemlin, 102,just moved into Ecumen Assisted Living in October. She and Dufresne have known each other for years—he was a close friend of her husband—so it was only appropriate that they were crowned royalty together.
Zemlin graduated from Duluth Denfeld High School in 1928 and moved to Two Harbors with her husband. She raised two children and became well-known in the community for her paintings. She’s still involved in an art critique group, though she no longer paints. Despite her success in the art world, she said her proudest accomplishment is her family. Though her two children have passed away, she has three grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
Zemlin confessed that she used to have a drink or two at the American Legion on Saturday nights when she went dancing with her husband in her younger days, so her advice for a long life isn’t as strict as Dufresne’s, though it’s similar: “Don’t smoke anything.”