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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Magnuson month

Few people are loved enough in their hometown to have a day renamed in their honor. For the people of Grand Forks, N.D., even that wasn't enough to show how they felt about Hugo Magnuson.

Eleven years after the first Hugo Magnuson Day, Grand Forks declared May Hugo Magnuson Month in honor of one of the city's most beloved residents who was turning 100.

Still an active member of Augustana Lutheran Church, Grand Forks, Magnuson served as a city council member for 17 years and as mayor for two terms. Founder of a chain of local supermarkets called Hugo's, he was named the state's Grocer of the Year in 1981.

Of his varied past, the story that continues to be told by Grand Forks residents occurred when Magnuson was mayor. While recovering from a heart attack, he got a demand from an extortionist to leave $500,000 at a bus stop or risk harm to his family and stores. Instead Magnuson delivered a bag of fake money, while the FBI and the police waited for, and then caught, the suspect.

As the social ministry chair for the Red River Valley Synod, Magnuson helped raise funds to establish the Christus Rex Lutheran student center on the University of North Dakota campus in Grand Forks.These days Magnuson, who finally admits to getting older, enjoys visiting other parishioners who are ill.


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