Biographical Notes re
Charles A. (Chuck) Stone
Page 5 of 5 Pages, of Chapter 13,
THE LINDBERGH LEGACY
|The rewards and satisfctions that were mine through opportunities to work with the Minnesota Historical Society, The Lindbergh Fund and the community of Little Falls are almost beyond count. In April of 1988 I received the shock of my life to learn that the local Exchange Club had selected me to be the awardee for their annual “Golden Deeds Award”. For a number of years, I had enjoyed celebrating the Exchange Club’s presentation of this award to a succession of people that I truly admired, some who had been role models for me for many years. To be recognized in this manner, for doing work that I loved to do, was almost overwhelming. This is not to say that there were not stresses and strains along the way, but serious work, well worth doing, is bound to test and stretch those involved. An example of this follows.
|In the summer of 1988, the MHS staff asked me to add the temporary management of the Mille Lacs Indian Museum, for three months, to my list of duties. My Lindbergh Site staff was experienced, motivated and loyal to MHS, each other and the general public. Knowing they could carry on with minimal support from me, I agreed to do it. From Memorial Day to Labor Day of that summer, it was an early morning one and a half hour drive over to Mille Lacs Lake and a late evening return. This proved to be a most remarkable experience in management and human relations. During this time period I made many very good friends in the Indian community.
Most memorable, on arrival, I had remembered that they had needed, and never obtained, air conditioning for their Museum Store and Exhibit facilities. As I got my feet on the ground, I shared this need with Laura Jane Musser. She was a loyal fan of the Indian community and immediately expressed an interest in helping to fund the installation of air conditioning. We worked out an arrangement where she would split the cost with the MHS. The job was soon done by contractors that had been my salvation many times over at the Lindbergh Site. The Indian community was so pleased that they held a special dinner and pow-wow in Laura Jane’s honor and did she ever enjoy it. This celebration came near the close of the summer season and I returned to my regular duties at the Lindbergh Site.
Laura Jane died very suddenly soon after. She had been advised of her need for heart surgery, but had declined the opportunity. This wonderful woman left a legacy of generous funding and encouragement of projects in the Little Falls area, the State of Minnesota and around the Nation. Her estate continues this process through the Musser Trust. I would estimate in our decade of work together, Laura Jane invested more than $90,000 in a variety of what would be unfunded projects that related to my work. Her support multiplied my own productivity and gave me encouragement in so many ways. Wherever her spirit may soar, I suspect that seeing her property used in continuing public service as a Retreat and Conference Center, brings a sense of both joy and satisfaction. She was a truly complex, brilliant, somewhat handicapped, individual with a generous caring heart that truly cared about people of all races, throughout the world. She was both a challenge and a gift to all who knew her and a blessing to the multitudes of people who didn’t even know she ever existed.
As 1999 came around, I was nearing my 65th birthday and had developed a longing to carry out a few projects that were out of the range of my work with the MHS. I had some surgery in the spring of the year that made my life more comfortable and day-to-day health more predictable. This was the year that the MHS determined that the Lindbergh Site would become a pay site. This meant selling tickets for what we had been giving away for so many years. As hard as it was for me to accept this, I realized that in the existing governmental and economic climates, there was no alternative. Our annual visitor counts usually varied from 25,000 to 35,000 per year. This is no record-setting total, compared to many National Parks, historic Sites and Monuments. To me, though, what was significant, was that refreshment or learning from scratch, the Lindbergh History and Legacy, that had made such a deep impression on our visitors.
In spite of the strange and sometimes distorted stories that are floated
Anne Morrow Lindbergh passed away in February, 2001. Hearing of her passing, I was moved to write a letter to her as a memorial. That letter is published as a part of this web site and you may access it by clicking here, if you so choose. I will provide a quick return to this page, for your convenience.
|I retired on schedule in January of 1990. My replacement, Don Westfall was well suited for his work and he continues in that position at this writing. I will always consider my eleven years of service with the Minnesota Historical Society as some of the most enjoyable and productive years of my life. But, this was no time for extended nostalgia, as I had a plan of action for the next decade that burned within me for exploration and testing.
On a bright, but cold, wintery day in January, Nell and I were entertained at the Interpretive Center by representatives from the community of Little Falls and the MHS home office. It was time to move on.
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