Why do people get awards for having fun?

Dale Vander Linden is Delano Citizen of the Year

Dale Vander Linden, Delano’s Citizen of the Year, says he is “certainly surprised” and “a little reluctant” about getting recognized for things he really likes to do.

Dale Vander Linden has fun volunteering for the Once Upon a Time Story Time Readers, a group from the Delano Senior Center that reads to children. Here, he is in character as the mouse in a story about an enormous carrot. The General Federated Women’s Club of Delano has named him Delano’s Citizen of the Year in recognition of his 50 year career as a community volunteer. He will be honored at an April 13 banquet. (Sun staff photo by Susan Van Cleaf)

Dale Vander Linden has fun volunteering for the Once Upon a Time Story Time Readers, a group from the Delano Senior Center that reads to children. Here, he is in character as the mouse in a story about an enormous carrot. The General Federated Women’s Club of Delano has named him Delano’s Citizen of the Year in recognition of his 50 year career as a community volunteer. He will be honored at an April 13 banquet. (Sun staff photo by Susan Van Cleaf)

Awards should go to the people who do really nasty jobs that nobody else wants to do. “They do them, and they do them well,” Vander Linden said.

Meanwhile, he has put together a record of community service for a multitude of community groups that spans over 50 years.

Vander Linden, a.k.a. Timber Dan, will receive his Citizen of the Year Award Saturday, April 13, at the Delano American Legion Club, 200 Babcock Blvd. in Delano. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. Hors d’oeuvres at 6 p.m. will be followed by a 7 p.m. dinner and the program.

The General Federated Women’s Club of Delano (GFWC) will sponsor the event. Tickets cost $22.50 and must be purchased in advance. They are available at Downtown Beauty Salon, 228 N. River St., Delano, and from GFWC members Lisa Blodgett, Chris Brazelton, Alice Fink, Mary Grotz, Jennifer Halverson, Kay James, Bernice Kittock, Lucille Ledescher, Ann Lundsten, Marlene Muckenhirn, Jeanie Pilarski, Mary Robinson, Pat Sawatzke, Lorraine Statema, Dorothy Tulkki, Judy Vanderlinde, Norma Wandersee and Barb Winkle. Proceeds will benefit GFWC community service projects.

Timber Dan the clown, a.k.a. Dale Vander Linden, uses a slap shot to send Tootsie rolls to youngsters during a Delano Fourth of July Parade. Many years later, Vander Linden is being honored for his many years of service to the Delano community, including his activities with the Delano Lions. The local Lions have been heavily involved with the Delano Fourth celebration. (Submitted photo)

Timber Dan the clown, a.k.a. Dale Vander Linden, uses a slap shot to send Tootsie rolls to youngsters during a Delano Fourth of July Parade. Many years later, Vander Linden is being honored for his many years of service to the Delano community, including his activities with the Delano Lions. The local Lions have been heavily involved with the Delano Fourth celebration. (Submitted photo)

The theme of this year’s Citizen of the Year Banquet is “Citizenship is Contagious.” Vander Linden hopes people will see how much fun it is to volunteer and then “take a cue” to join in.

Examples of his volunteer fun include his service projects with Lions Clubs in Delano and Colorado (41 years of service). Many youngsters, now grown, remember Vander Linden dressed as the hockey playing clown Timber Dan, who wore roller skates in Delano Fourth of July parades. He sent Tootsie rolls flying via slap shot towards eager youngsters gathered curbside. Timber Dan, who volunteered for the parade as a Lion, estimates that pockets in each pant leg could hold five pounds of the chewy morsels.

Also, as a Delano Lion, Vander Linden provided support on the road for the Best of 12 Wagon Train for two years, as it trekked between Delano and Dassel. The Wagon Train’s mission has been to show people what communities along the way have to offer and present a living snapshot of area history.

Loveland Colorado Lions Club President John Lerew presents the Colorado Lions Foundation Humanitarian award to Delano Lion Timber Dan (aka Dale Vander Linden) at a ceremony in Loveland Colorado on Feb. 2. Vander Linden started the Timber Dan Antique and Collectible show in 1985 in Colorado and turned the show over to the Lions in 2011. The show has generated nearly $175,000 over the years for Loveland Lions projects that include almost 200 pair of eye glasses a year given to the needy in the Loveland area. The Humanitarian award is the highest award a Colorado Lions Club can give for a non-member of their club. (Submitted photo)

Loveland Colorado Lions Club President John Lerew presents the Colorado Lions Foundation Humanitarian award to Delano Lion Timber Dan (aka Dale Vander Linden) at a ceremony in Loveland Colorado on Feb. 2. Vander Linden started the Timber Dan Antique and Collectible show in 1985 in Colorado and turned the show over to the Lions in 2011. The show has generated nearly $175,000 over the years for Loveland Lions projects that include almost 200 pair of eye glasses a year given to the needy in the Loveland area. The Humanitarian award is the highest award a Colorado Lions Club can give for a non-member of their club. (Submitted photo)

While residing in Loveland, Colo. in the ‘80s, Vander Linden started the Timber Dan Antique and Collectible show in 1985 and joined forces with the Lions in 1987 to run the show. Over the years the show has generated nearly $175,000 for Loveland Lions projects that include providing almost 200 pair of eye glasses a year for the needy in the Loveland area. He turned the show over entirely to the Lions in 2011. The Loveland Lions in February presented him with the Colorado Lions Foundation Humanitarian award, the highest award a Colorado Lions Club can give to a non-member of their club.

Vander Linden’s volunteer resume shows that he has been an active member and provided leadership for a host of organizations. He has served as chair of the Delano American Legion, as well as adjutant and a member of the color/ honor guard during a 44 Legion career. During a 52 year career with Toastmasters, he served as charter president of the Tri-county Toastmasters in Watertown and more recently as founding president of the 12 West Toastmasters Club that meets in Delano. Active at Delano United Methodist Church, he chaired the building committee for the congregation’s new church on County Line Road.

Dale Vander Linden, far left, and his wife Mary K. gather with their four sons, left to right, Mike, Bruce, Doug and Steve. (Submitted photo)

Dale Vander Linden, far left, and his wife Mary K. gather with their four sons, left to right, Mike, Bruce, Doug and Steve. (Submitted photo)

His other notable community service has included serving as chair of the Republican Wright County Convention, chair of the Delano Planning Commission, president of the Delano Chamber of Commerce and board chair and clerk for the Delano School Board. He also has volunteered for the Delano Senior Center, Post 1910 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled Veterans, the Delano Sportsmen Club, Delano Dream Teams I and II, Delano Emergency Response Team, Delano Park Board and Boy Scouts.

Cherryl Gilmer, of Delano, believes that Vander Linden learned the basic skills for volunteering while growing on a farm in the 1930s in Murray, Iowa. (Gilmer nominated Vander Linden for Citizen of the Year).

“He was the youngest of nine boys,” she said. “Each son learned that teamwork and hard work contributed to survival and success.”

“He is a giant of a man with a twinkle in his eye, a sense of humor and definite determination,” Gilmer said. “We see this giant man, with a giant heart who is involved with activities that impact all of us in a positive way,” Gilmer said. “Dale sees a need and puts his faith in action.”

After leaving the farm, Vander Linden served in the U.S. Naval Air Force from 1951 to 1955 during the Korean War. He came home and earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Iowa in 1961. During his engineering career, he worked on numerous notable projects, such as Apollo, the Space Shuttle, Minuteman, Peacekeeper, High Speed Rail and the foam problem that caused the loss of the Challenger.

Between work and volunteering, he has found time to raise his sons Mike, Bruce, Doug and Steve with Mary K., his wife of 57 years. “Met her on Feb. 22, 1956, (George Washington’s birthday) and we were married Aug. 6, same year. Had 13 people at our wedding but you can’t be much more married than we are!” Timber Dan said.

In a poem written for the Citizen of the Year program, Vander Linden distilled his philosophy on community service and life, “Just think, ‘I can’t do it all, but I can do a piece.’”

 

City on the Crow

BY DALE VANDER LINDEN

 

There are lots of things in this old world that I will never know,

But I will always be delighted to live in the City on the Crow.

The river is a wild thing that wanders here and there

And living close to it there is something in the air.

A bird, a duck, a goose or a timber doodle too

Performing on a mighty stage and it is all for you.

And perched upon the hills around the river Crow

Is the delightful little town that we call Delano.

 

We probably are not classified as cosmopolitan

As still too many folk are driving a beat up pickup or a van.

But our children all perform well on the state mandated test

And always rank scholastically among the very best.

We have a Senior Center with a roomy new design

Directed by a lady and staff who really make it shine.

And with all the conveniences around you seldom have to go

To any other place than the City on the Crow.

 

It used to be surrounded by family farms, both large and small

And had a reputation with thirteen bars over all.

Then it had a bust and now we boom again

As the growth of our fair city brings both happiness and pain.

But my wife and I have loved this place for over forty years

And raised our family here through laughter, pain and tears.

We expect to be here long until we finally go

Out on the hill just south of the City on the Crow.

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