Barry Bertelsen’s service to the Holmen area continues to impact the community even a year after his passing. Bertelsen’s service was recognized by the Holmen Area Foundation April 25 at the organization’s annual community breakfast held at Holland Town Hall.

Bertelsen’s widow, Marion, was presented with the Fred Frick Servant Leadership Award plaque on behalf of her late husband.

“The Barry I know was all about service,” said HAF President Barry Ploessl. “Barry used to call me the ‘humble Barry,’ but Barry Bertelsen should have been called the humble Barry.”

In presenting the posthumous award, Ploessl recalled Bertelsen’s involvement in improving the Holmen community and how his friend was instrumental in bringing a public library to the village. Ploessl also recalled the time he spent doing community service with Bertelsen.

“The last time I spent with Barry, we were hauling garbage, cleaning up after the Holmen Kornfest car show,” said Ploessl. “I asked him if he would miss any of this, and he said he wouldn’t miss this part.”

Bertelsen was a member of the Holmen Lions Club and served as president of the Holmen Area Civic and Commerce Association (now the Holmen Business Association). He was deeply involved in the Halfway Creek Trail project and the revitalization of the baseball field known as “the Pit.” He also helped to get a number of businesses started in Holmen as a lender at what is now Park Bank.

Ploessl shared a bit of advice his late friend gave him about how a community service organization should operate.

“The one thing I took from Barry was about spending money,” said Ploessl. “He said, ‘you can sit on the money and feel good about yourself, but you need to deploy the capital. That will force the club to go out and do more fundraisers. This gives the members the opportunity to get closer because you’re poor.’”

Along with accepting the recognition plaque, Marion Bertelsen continued her family’s tradition of giving to the community by presenting a $7,000 donation from the Barry Bertelsen Memorial Fund for the community center project.

Along with the Fred Frick Servant Leadership Award presentation, the ninth annual breakfast’s program included updates from representatives of area governmental boards and area service organizations.

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Entertainment and county government reporter

Randy Erickson covers arts and entertainment and county government for the La Crosse Tribune. Contact him at 608-791-8219 or

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