Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

The man named Jack

Wick's World

 


His favorite player was Stan “The Man” Musial, a baseball icon who played for the St. Louis Cardinals. I walked up to the casket in the fully-packed Hope Lutheran Church and took a glance at one of the area's greatest men, Jack Halverson. Then my eyes went directly to the baseball Jack was holding in his hand. It was autographed by none other than Stan “The Man” Musial.

Years before I met the man Jack Halverson, whom folks lovingly called “Stiver” and “Moo Juice Express,” I was fortunate to meet his parents. Carl and Eileen Halverson lived on the north side of the Slit Rock River, my wife and I on the south side. Carl was known as the area’s highly respected expert trapper. Eileen was known as the area’s highly respected nurse. When we became pregnant with our first son, my wife and I visited with Carl and Eileen with the intention of asking her if we could call on her in case any problems arose from the home birth we had planned. She was too nice a person to say no, however, it was obvious she was uncomfortable with our question.

When we went home that evening, we realized what a stupid request we had made. If there were problems with the home delivery, shouldn’t we head immediately to a hospital rather than a neighbor’s home?

Their son, Jack, picked those two traits from his mom and dad. Like Carl, Jack Halverson was a highly respected man. Like his mother, Eileen, he was too nice a guy to ever say no. It can be said without reservation, everyone loved Jack Halverson. With an attitude like his, how could you not?

I remember walking into Art’s Café one day where Jack could always be found having morning coffee. He mentioned some people were pretty ticked off at the Star-Gazette and me in particular. I had just returned from Washington, D.C., protesting George W. Bush’s horrendous mistake of invading Iraq. I correctly felt that any hopes for world peace had been dealt a severe blow that would never be repaired in my lifetime. At the time, support for the war was still pretty strong. Only Jack Halverson stood up for me and the front page story I had written condemning the administration’s actions. I will always honor and remember his courage in taking that unpopular stance with me.

When I was living out in Beaver Township, just a few miles west of the Halverson clan’s family homestead, I commuted to work at the Moose Lake Post Office. One morning I spotted a mountain lion near the Split Rock River lying in the grass. I had a close look at this magnificent animal and knew what I saw was not a mistake. When I shared the story with my co-workers, I might just as well have told them I saw a martian. Their skepticism ensured I would not be repeating that tale.

Jack Halverson repeated the tale when he spotted the same animal the next day near the bridge that crossed the Kettle River. He told me his story was also met with skepticism until a few days later when a photo was released showing the mountain lion near the Kettle River.

My favorite Jack Halverson story occurred at Moose Lake School’s baseball diamond. One year the annual Fourth of July celebration included an all-class reunion replete with a baseball game. “Grandpa Jack” was at the plate. Son Lyle was the pitcher. One of the Nummela twins, who was Jack’s grandson, was in right field. At the crack of the bat, Jack drilled a hard line drive to right. He went roaring toward first base at a pace only a tortoise would appreciate. Jack was grinning from ear to ear, immensely proud of his ability to still smack a baseball. The smile was quickly erased along with the runner when his grandson threw a bullet to first base and the ball beat Jack to the bag by a step. In my book, that was still a hit, as was Jack Halverson; one of the finest men I have ever had the pleasure to know.

Of course, Jack, I’ll miss you just like everyone around the Moose Lake area, but more importantly, I will remember you for the great man you will always be.

 

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