Photo by Nancy Vogt
Forbes and Germaine Martinson love living in Pequot Lakes. They moved to Pequot Lakes on Super Bowl Sunday 15 years ago and started volunteering.
"I just love this town," Germaine said. "This community has been generous to us. It's nice to go to the grocery store or the post office and be greeted."
The 2006 Pequot Lakes Citizens of the Year are being announced now, instead of in December, because Germaine suffered a stroke in December and the Martinsons spent the next month in St. Cloud, where Germaine was being treated at the St. Cloud Hospital. Now she's back home in Pequot Lakes.
Germaine said they had finished dinner at a local restaurant and were just talking, when she became ill. The waitress called to the bartender, her husband and a first responder. He called for an ambulance right away. Germaine was at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd when she had the stroke.
Germaine and Forbes are a team. There's pride in Forbes' voice when he talks about what Germaine has done. The two have happily served on many city committees.
Germaine grew up in Mantador, N.D., a town of 100 people. Forbes grew up in south Minneapolis.
"For a kid coming out of a big town, this was a real switch," Forbes said.
The couple met when they were singing in a church choir. Forbes, a bass, recently retired after 26 years with the Staples Men's Chorus. Germaine is an alto.
They were married on Kentucky Derby Day in 1975 at Marine on the St. Croix by a classmate of his, a Lutheran minister.
The marriage brought together Germaine's eight children - four boys and four girls - and Forbes' four children - two boys and two girls. Their kids are scattered from Seattle and Hawaii to Duluth, Mora, Wisconsin and the Twin Cities.
"We have great kids," Forbes said. "Germaine's son who lives in Hawaii has been here to see her twice since she had a stroke in December. Her daughter, Amy, a nurse, is staying with us. My oldest daughter is coming to drive me to Brainerd for cataract surgery."
Germaine is a little worried about the 15 flowerbeds she takes care of along with a vegetable garden. She is recovering from her stroke, but still uses a wheelchair.
"I never knew there were so many kinds of strokes," she said. "I saw a lot of sad cases in rehabilitation in St. Cloud."
She's familiar with helping patients. For 21 1/2 years she was Dr. Ryan's assistant at the Brainerd Medical Center. Once she retired from that job, she went back to BMC to help out once a week with mail that was returned. She said people moved around a lot and she was hired to spend one day a week tracing mail.
"I got to know the people at the Brainerd Post Office," she said. "I was even offered a part-time job there."
She is working hard on her recovery and is looking great. She said it is hard to self-evaluate how her recovery is coming, but she is working at it.
Germaine and Forbes have always volunteered to help wherever they could. Forbes was mayor of Pequot Lakes in 2000 and 2001.
One year there was the Fourth of July with all its events and then a few days later there was Bean Hole Days, and then there was the American Legion convention in Pequot Lakes.
"I think I worked 12 days straight on various committees," Germaine said. "I even volunteered to take Forbes's shifts when he couldn't be there."
Forbes said they were at a Chamber of Commerce committee meeting three years ago when the parade chairman quit.
"Ryan Buell leaned over, patted Germaine on the back and said, 'Germaine will be the parade chairman.'"
So for the past three years, that's what she's done with the assistance of Forbes. That first year, the parade lined up at the new city hall.
"There just wasn't enough room there," Germaine said. "It was a mess. It looked like a prison break."
Forbes credits Germaine with finding the new spot - the Industrial Park - for getting the parade lined up. It was exactly the right place.
"We drove it a couple of times to check the mileage," Forbes said. "It makes a difference if the marchers walk a mile or a mile and a quarter. The Legionnaires are not so young anymore."
Those 15 gardens are calling Germaine and then there's the Fourth of July parade.
"Someone else will have to take it over," Germaine said.
"But don't worry," Forbes said. "Germaine has it all down on paper. All the new chairman will have to do is follow her directions."
Forbes said, "We keep plugging along. We are fortunate. We still have each other."
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