Former Independence mayor dies

Harry Pool, who was the second person to serve as mayor of Independence, died peacefully in his home surrounded by his family on Sunday, July 29. He was 86.

With Pool’s passing, a piece of Independence history also has died.


Independence has had only four mayors since Independence Township became the Village of Independence on Jan. 8, 1957. They have included Sydney Barnes, Pool, Jerry Mevissen and current Mayor Marvin Johnson, who took office in 1980. Pool served from Jan. 1, 1970 to Dec. 31, 1977. He was in office when Independence became a city on April 9, 1974, so he was the first mayor of the city of Independence.

Pool also served briefly as chief of the Independence Police Department in 1970 — eight years before Independence and Maple Plain joined forces to create what is now the West Hennepin Public Safety Department.

Mayor Johnson remembered that his father, Russell Johnson, was serving on the City Council under Mayor Pool when Independence made its transition from a village to a city. A few years later, Marvin Johnson also served on the City Council under Mayor Pool.

Service as mayor was only part of Pool’s involvement in the community. For years he sat on the Hennepin County Soil and Water Conservation Board and served some of the time as board chair, Mayor Johnson said. He also was actively involved with the National Farmers Organization.

Pool was a controversial figure when it came to Independence issues, Johnson said. For example, he was against the purchase of farms by the Hennepin Parks District for Lake Rebecca Park.

Independence City Administrator Toni Hirsch called Harry Pool “an avid farmer.”

He was one of the third generation of Pools to live in Independence, according to the book “Our Independence 1854 – 1981.” And all three generations of Pools included farmers. Harry had a dairy farm for most of his life as an adult. His son Stephen later joined him in this endeavor, thus adding a fourth generation of Pool farmers. Pool then went on to a career in real estate.

Pool’s grandparents, David and Mary Jane Pool, came to Independence in 1902. They raised a family of five boys — including Harry’s father Robert — on their farm on County Road 11 just west of Evergreen Grove School. The boys all attended Evergreen Grove School, and after they married, they had adjoining farms.

A life-long resident of Independence, Pool was born Aug. 27, 1925, in Montrose. He met his wife-to-be Lola Hafften, who also grew up on a farm on County Road 11, when they both attended Evergreen Grove School. The couple recently celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary.

Pool was passionate about hunting and fishing.

He died after a long struggle with kidney failure and other health problems. Services were Saturday, Aug. 4, at Delano Evangelical Free Church.

Pool is survived by his wife, Lola; son, Stephen; daughter-in-law, Jackie; and grandsons, Jacob, Stephen and Jonah. Other survivors are his brother, Robert (Bonnie) Pool Jr.; sister-in-law, Ione Link; brothers-in-law, Kermit Dietrich, Larry (Sheri) Hafften and Lauren (Kathleen) Hafften; and his closest friend, Lance Gyllenblad. Harry’s siblings were Ralph Pool, Lauren Todd Pool, Robert Bob Pool Jr., Joyce Pool Bengston and Betty Pool Dietrich.