Harlan Lewis: ‘How can I help?’

July 28, 2014

by Ryan Gueningsman

Community says goodbye to Delano’s man of many hats

Note: Delano Herald Journal Managing Editor Ryan Gueningsman wrote this and shared it at Friday’s memorial service for Delano resident Harlan D. Lewis, who died July 20 at age 72. n the Delano Herald Journal in the fall of 2006 and I attended my first city council meeting, covering it for the newspaper.

We began the Delano Herald Journal in the fall of 2006 and I attended my first city council meeting, covering it for the newspaper. In addition to the council and city staff, a man by the name of Harlan D. Lewis was in the audience.

While I cannot recall if this is the first time I had met Harlan, or if our paths had crossed in the months prior when we were preparing for the launch of the paper, I noticed him in his spot at the meeting. And the next meeting, and the next meeting, and so on for the next eight years.

As a reporter for a number of years before coming to Delano, I had admittedly grown leery of people who attend council meetings on a regular basis – what is their agenda, who are they ticked off at, or are they just plain nuts?

Well, it didn’t take me long to realize Harlan didn’t have an agenda other than to advance the community of Delano in any way possible. He wasn’t mad at anyone. And, he was the furthest thing from nuts.

In those first few months of us being in Delano, Harlan had invited me for a tour of Delano.

I hopped in his little white truck, and he showed me Delano like no one else could. This person runs this and they live there.

That person is in charge of this organization and they don’t get along with that person, and so on and so on. Talk about a Delano education.

From that point on, I knew anytime I had a Delano question, I had an instant resource in Harlan.

As unassuming of a man as he was, Harlan paid attention.

He knew the ins and outs of a majority of the organizations and operations of this community we call home.

I always was on the e-mail list for his Wednesday Morning Troublemakers coffee group, though I admit I didn’t make it there as often as I should have.

After a number of those council meetings, we would grab a bite to eat at Dave’s Town Club, and while we would talk city business and rehash the meeting we had just attended, we also got to know each other.

From his Duluth stories, to fishing, hunting, and Scouts, to going to grandchildren’s events, and to attending any number of events on behalf of an organization, I got to know just who this guy was who kept coming to the council meetings.

Harlan was a husband, father, grandfather, commissioner, volunteer, veteran, concerned citizen, committee member, and Troublemaker, and the wearer of many hats, among many other things.

Above all, one thing I am proud to have called Harlan is my friend. I am thankful for the influence he has had on my life and the influence he has had on the community of Delano and the positive impact he has had on it.

I would encourage people to learn from Harlan and become involved – I’m not sure anyone is going to quite top Harlan’s level of involvement, but hop in and coach a Little League team, sign up to be an usher at church, or get involved with a commission at whatever level of government you feel comfortable being part of.

Above all, don’t be afraid to ask questions and do things the right way. Take Harlan’s spirit of community to heart and carry it on as he would wish each and every one of us to do.

The Heavens must have had a pretty big project in the works and needed our man of many hats.

Thank you, Harlan, and thank you to Jane, Brad, and Siiri for sharing Harlan with Delano.