Storyteller’s absence a loss for friendsThe following is another “Have Fun or Get Out of the Way” column by Don Leighton and Mike Granlund and their alter egos, Lance Boyle and Billy Pirkola, which runs occasionally in the Superior Telegram. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Charles Dickens
By: Don Leighton and Mike Granlund, Superior Telegram
The following is another “Have Fun or Get Out of the Way” column by Don Leighton and Mike Granlund and their alter egos, Lance Boyle and Billy Pirkola, which runs occasionally in the Superior Telegram.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.
The sentiment was correct, just backwards, Saturday afternoon as hundreds of friends and family members gathered to say so long to Hal Colborn.
After saying good-bye to Hal, a member of the class of 1969 at Northwestern High School, a “reunion” of which he had been an organizer took place at Lawn Beach Inn in Lake Nebagamon. Dickens should have begun his classic “A Tale of Two Cities” with “It was the worst of times; it was the best of times.”
If you knew Hal, you were fortunate. His humor was second to none, and we can honestly say that he was the best storyteller of all time. Hal and his wife, Laura, were both members of the Northwestern High School graduating class of 1969 and never missed a reunion meeting. Laura is the official “keeper of the stuff” from the class. Hal was the official class storyteller. We all knew there was some embellishment, but his stories were true and made even better by his quick wit and narrative skills. His stories will live on because his friends will tell and retell them forever. He was a legend in his own time.
Saying goodbye to a loved one and friend is never easy, especially when his time is not at hand. Hal left us as a result of an ATV accident on July 11. The pain and feeling of loss will not pass soon, but the fact he brought a smile to all he met for his 60 years must be celebrated.
At his memorial service Saturday, Laura’s son Chris Korhonen and Mike Granlund took the lead and oversaw a fitting tribute. Friends and relatives in attendance spoke and attempted to tell Hal stories. Because of the emotion, those attempts were hollow reminders the master storyteller left us unequipped to carry his legend forward. However, we will do our best, and with practice, we will make him proud.
Since I was elected president of our class, Buzz Farias finished second in a tight race but only ran because he thought he could get girls, I am, by the powers given me, decreeing that Hal Colborn continue to tell stories to those gathered amongst the clouds and to continue to help us keep his memory alive. The foreign monkey, working at Jeno’s with Roger Teal and Jim Haugen, his time as a grain inspector in Superior, the UFO close encounter, the duck-calling talent he possessed, and the million other stories he told will be passed on from person to person, friend to friend. For that, we should all thank Hal.
The emotions of the day were lifted at Lawn Beach Inn. Fellow classmate Bill Urbaniak’s family has owned the historic dining establishment since 1968 when the family moved north from Chicago. Graduates of 1969 meet the third Saturday of July every year to reminisce, try to remember, laugh, and renew old friendships. This year’s gathering will not be forgotten by those attending. We honored Hal with conversation, weak attempts at storytelling and a toast to our fallen friend. Those attending were, Mark and Becky Baillie, Jane and Greg Gulliksrud, Torrey and Cathy Johnson, Don and Candy Knudson, Michele Hughes, Rita Ray, Marcia Chess, Scott Pearson, Bill Culhane and Lance Boyle. The food was incredible, our dining accommodations on the deck allowed us a panoramic view of the lake and conversation was wonderful. Hal was “with us.” I believe he enjoyed himself thoroughly.
Reunions are something special. We cannot allow ourselves to get so caught up in our own little world while denying the opportunity to spend a few hours with old and dear friends. I am so thankful to those I saw at Hal’s service and to those classmates and spouses who attended our soiree on the deck. It is unfortunate that it takes a tragic loss to renew, if for only a little while, the importance of keeping in touch with your family and friends. If only we would realize that importance for longer than a little while.
Dickens famous quote may not be as appropriate as I thought. There was extreme sadness on Saturday, but how sad would it have been to never known or loved Hal Colborn?
Surely, that would have been a tragedy.
Thank you, Hal, for all of your tremendous qualities but most of all the humor you brought to each of us and for the smile you put on our faces. You will always make your family, friends and the Northwester class of 1969 smile with fond memories. You made it the “best of times.”
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