by Dennis Dalman
It’s a rare honor for somebody at the age of 85 to be inducted into a Hall of Fame, but that’s what happened to Don Reedstrom of Sartell.
He is now one of 33 former athletes inducted into the Sauk Rapids High School Storm Athletic Hall of Fame since 2012 when the honorary program began.
At the induction ceremony were Reedstrom’s wife, Marcia, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and scores of friends old and new. Marcia had been a nurse before becoming a stay-at-home mom.
“I was extremely proud and extremely happy to get that award,” he said. He is especially proud because two of his childhood heroes and mentors are also in the Sauk Rapids Hall of Fame – Don Wichman, Hall of Fame, 2013; and Eldon “Rip” Repulski, Hall of Fame, 2012.
Back in the 1940s, those two lived in the same neighborhood, along with Reedstrom, and Reedstrom looked up to the older boys, emulating them, learning from them, sharing their unquenchable love of sports and competiton.
The other honorees, along with Reedstrom, were softball/basketball coach-and-teacher Ben Miller; Pam (Raetz) Benoit, swimmer, Class of 1990; and Heidi (Mohs) Landwehr, swimmer, Class of 1989, who was an assistant girls’ basketball coach in Sartell for two years.
Reedstrom grew up in Sauk Rapids, the son of Martha (Rogosheski) and Charles Reedstrom. He graduated from that city’s high school in 1950. He was a stand-out athlete (nickname Reed) in four sports – football, basketball, track and baseball. He was a three-time letter-winner in football, serving as running back and defensive back. He had a record of 17 wins, two losses and two ties. In both football and basketball, he was named to the Central Gopher All-Conference Team.
In basketball, Reedstrom became a dominant center, finishing in second place in conference scoring with three points less than the leader.
He also lettered in baseball one year, but it was the sport of track in which he excelled triumphantly. From his freshman to senior years, he was Sauk Rapid’s consistently best point producer. His skills helped his team win the conference championship in his junior and senior years. In the District 19 meet in 1950, when he was a senior, he finished first in the 400-meter high jump, high hurdles and relay and second in the long jump. He was named All-Conference and All-Region in his senior year and earned All-State honors in the high hurdles and the 440-meter dash.
Post high school, Reedstrom enrolled at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where he played football in his freshman year before transferring to St. Cloud State College. There, he lettered as a wide receiver.
Unlike now, high schools then were short on facilities. In an interview at his home with the Sartell-St. Stephen Newsleader, Reedstrom recalled how Sauk Rapids High School back then had no running track or much of anything else in the way of sports facilities, but that didn’t deter him or other sports-loving students.
“I just practiced on my own,” he said. “All we had are a few hurdles. We ran on cinders. And we didn’t have track shoes so we ran in tennis shoes.”
He credits his older brother, Kermit, for inspiring him, especially in his favorite sport – track. Kermit, who was a champ in track, “taught me everything I knew,” Reedstrom recalled.
Throughout his life, Reedstrom continued his love of sports participation. He played in city-league basketball, racquetball and softball right up to the age of 70. One year, he was sponsored in the Minnesota State Track Competition in the age 40-and-over category and set records in both long jump and hurdles.
Reedstrom, 80, still loves to swim, and he would likely partake in more sports except for his knees that have been bothering him. An avid outdoorsman, he still enjoys fishing.
In 1954, Reedstrom was drafted into the U.S. Army. After military service, in 1957, he married Marcia Marquart of St. Cloud. They have one son, Mark, and three daughters – Lynn, Patricia and Amy.
After 40 years working for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Reedstrom retired in 1994. He had served for decades as a Fish and Wildlife Area project manager and specialized as a fisheries biologist, a job that required travel throughout the state, most especially in the Grand Rapids, Detroit Lakes and Fergus Falls areas.
Reedstrom brought the same drive and passion to his DNR work as he did to his sports involvement. To this day, he is lauded by his peers as a legendary innovator, a pioneer and important policy-setter for programs that today are still at the very heart of fisheries work in the DNR.
He was instrumental in fish stocking programs in countless lakes, conservation of waterways, setting up of walleye hatcheries, winter-fish rescue operations and was in charge of all permits to control aquatic vegetation in the county. He was also extremely busy as a public speaker, helping educate thousands of people about the importance of preserving the state’s water quality, fish and wildlife.
One of the most vivid memories of his long working years in the wilderness is the time he was conducting a lake survey of Brule Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
“I’ll never forget getting stuck many times on a muddy wilderness road after dark, howling timber wolves and becoming stranded, wet and cold, on a storm-hammered island,” he said.
Reedstrom, when he can, still enjoys his lifetime hobbies of mushroom hunting, gardening, wildflower photography, casual hunting, fishing and – of course – sports.