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Losing a great community journalist

Lead Summary

For almost six years our readers have enjoyed the benefit of a veteran community journalist covering Blooming Prairie and other areas of Steele County.
Whenever I needed something to be covered, I could always count on Howard Lestrud to be there. His work ethic is unmatched as no one I have ever worked with comes close. He is one of the hardest working journalists I have ever seen.
I still remember back to many years ago when I first met Howard at the Minnesota State Fair as he was taking in the great get together with his wife Judy and Darrell and Cindi Hansen. Upon learning of Howard’s background and possibly moving to Blooming Prairie, I right away thought it would be a major coup for me to have Howard working for my newspaper.
With Howard soon moving to Blooming Prairie for “retirement,” it took a little coaxing and another editor going out on medical leave to get him to at least join us temporarily. I’ve always heard people say retirement is way overrated any way, right?
And reporting he did. He began reporting again by providing a few stories each week. But that was only the start of what was yet to come.
Howard was a dream to have on staff. He was always kind of in stealth mode uncovering interesting and relevant stories of people and places within the community. I didn’t always know exactly what Howard was working on, but one thing was certain. By Sunday nights, I could expect my email inbox to be full of stories and photos from Howard for that week’s paper. Quite often he provided too many things that they had to be held for another week. Such a dilemma!
A few years ago Howard shared with me that he would have to cut back because he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I’m not sure what happened as he ended up doing the opposite of what he told me he was going to do. He didn’t cut back at all, but rather did more than he ever had.
I lost count but there were weeks where he did as many as 12 stories in one week. Keep in mind this was a “retired” journalist working part time. He regularly did more than full-time journalists I have on staff.
While Howard usually focused on the lighter side of things going on around us, he didn’t ignore hard news when it presented itself. Howard is a bulldog when it comes to exposing the truth and holding government officials accountable. That was no more evident than the recent situation with Blooming Prairie’s police chief and city council. He is very passionate about transparency in government.
It goes without saying that I am heartbroken that Howard’s journalistic career has come to an end after almost 60 years in the industry. He didn’t quite make the length of his close personal friend Sid Hartman, who recently died at age 100 and logged in 75 years with the Minneapolis newspaper. Howard suffered a minor stroke a few weeks ago and is being forced to finally go into retirement on a regular, full-time basis.
It’s sad to see Howard go, but I rejoice with him in the wonderful career he had. He has touched so many lives over the years with his writing and photography. I’m just glad that he was able to end his career at my newspaper. I am grateful for what he did for this newspaper, and perhaps most importantly, what he provided our readers with each and every week.
We are losing a great journalist, but he is gaining a well-deserved retirement. I hope you will join me in going in hot pursuit of wishing him the best as he ventures into this latest chapter of his life.

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