Mary Lou and Walter Hansen of Preston were selected to be the 2013 Trout Days Parade grand marshals. Both have been very active in volunteering and working in the Preston community.  PHOTO BY ANTON ADAMEK/REPUBLICAN-LEADER
Mary Lou and Walter Hansen of Preston were selected to be the 2013 Trout Days Parade grand marshals. Both have been very active in volunteering and working in the Preston community. PHOTO BY ANTON ADAMEK/REPUBLICAN-LEADER
This year's Preston Trout Days parade will have longtime residents Walter and Mary Lou Hansen riding in the lead car as grand marshals. The couple's life story has involved each other for 56 out of their 80 years and 54 of the married years have been lived within Preston city limits. Throughout their years in the city, both Walter and Mary Lou have gotten to know others through their work, service and play.

Walter Hansen grew up near Pipestone on a farm with seven brothers and four sisters. He said the farm they grew up on used horses for their field work. "I've seen a lot of changes from the time we were young until now," he shared.

Mary Lou was raised on a farm near Mitchell, S.D., so the two didn't know of each other until they were adults. She had a smaller family of a sister and two brothers.

Walter served his country in the Army for two years and met Mary Lou shortly after that.

After getting a degree from South Dakota State University at Brookings, S.D., Mary Lou had become a school teacher and was teaching in Ruthton, Minn. Walter was boarding at Mary Lou's grandmother's house while he worked in Balaton, Minn., at a feed store.

They met one weekend and found they had a lot more in common than their age. They dated and married in 1957.

"I can say that I never took her out for a meal and she still married me," shared Walter, laughing. "She likes to go out to eat now."

They lived in western Minnesota for a short time before they saw an ad in their local paper for work at a furniture store in Lanesboro. Walter had experience in working at a furniture store in Pipestone and once the two toured the area, they couldn't resist moving. They left for Lanesboro and then permanently settled down in Preston on the east end of Fillmore Street.

Walter remembered working for Thauwald's Funeral Home, which was also a furniture store at the time. His main employment however was at the feed store. "I loved working for the farmers," shared Walter.

He worked for Doc Kelly and eventually bought out the feed store from him. Mary Lou went to work for her husband and helped with the orders and taking calls. Once the creamery bought Walter out, they hired him at the new Dairy and Farm Cooperative. He worked there for 27 years.

Walter also served on the city council for three years and has been involved with the Crown Hill Cemetery group for 10 years.

Mary Lou did alterations for a while and also worked for the then named Preston Republican newspaper. She also volunteered for Park Lane Estates and the nursing home.

Walter and Mary Lou have two daughters and two sons: Shari, Susan, William and Dan. "We taught them right and wrong and tried to control the running around," recalled Mary Lou. "We can say that we've been lucky."

Strong appreciation for each other has continued to keep their marriage strong. "My wife is like my right arm. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for her," shared Walter.

They explained their faith has meant a lot to them. They are members of Christ Lutheran Church where Walter has served as a head usher and on the church council and Mary Lou has been the chair of the Women of the ELCA and other church groups.

Their church means a lot to them and has given them a good faith base for raising their family. The Hansens also feel God has strengthened their marriage through the years.

They are quick to say that they have had their share of fights and have had to do a lot of forgiving. "It's so easy to walk out," shared Mary Lou adding that they prefer to work through things. Because of their commitment, they have been able to celebrate a wedding anniversary every July 6, which happens to also be Mary Lou's birthday. "I made a dumb decision since I only get one present," she said laughing.

The times have changed since then. Walter remembers that with the birth of their first child, they paid $25 for the doctor and $50 for the hospital stay. "I never dreamed that we would have the things we have today," he shared. "There's all this technology. We don't have a cell phone and we get by."

They said the trouble is in determining what you want and what you need. Walter said being around the Amish has helped him and his wife be more satisfied with simplicity. He has given Amish tours for 30 years and continues to do so. "The people out there have been good to me and it's like going back home for me," he said.

As gardeners, the Hansens got to know several Amish families through the farmers' markets.

Walter and Mary Lou keep up with their hobbies. For Mary Lou, she enjoys sewing, knitting, watching TV and keeping up their house. They now live on the west end of Fillmore Street after moving six years ago.

Walter enjoys golfing. "At one time I was a pretty good golfer, but as you get older things change," he shared chuckling.

For winter vacations, Walter said they travel south, but only so far as Granger. The winters don't faze them. "The winters out west where we lived were much worse," he added.

The Hansens were surprised to be selected as grand marshals. "I'm sure there are people that are more deserving than we are," said Mary Lou. "We would like to thank all the people in Preston for making our lives better. We've had good neighbors and we try to be good neighbors to them."


Preston Trout Days begins on Friday, May 17, and runs through Sunday, May 19. The Relay for Life Rummage Sale held in front of JuliaClaire Repeat Boutique starts at 9 a.m. City-wide garage sales begin on Saturday. The Annual Lions Club Pancake Breakfast will be held at the Preston United Methodist Church beginning at 7 a.m. The buffet costs $5.

New this year is the family bike ride to the Kids' Fishing Event. Bikers can meet at the National Trout Center (NTC) at 8 a.m. on Saturday and bike out to Camp Creek in the Robert Maust pasture. The fishing event has had around 150 kids and parents show up every year. An adult must accompany the child and bring their own bait and equipment.

The NTC is also holding an adult fishing contest with cash prizes for largest trout. Registration begins at 10 at the NTC and weigh in will be held between 1 and 5 p.m. The largest trout catch will be awarded $200; second, $100; and third, $75.

This year's parade has around 80 units and will begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

The Preston Servicemen's Club Street Dance this year will again feature the band "Time Machine" and fireworks will cap off the Saturday events, beginning at dusk.

Sunday will feature the Preston Chamber Golf Tournament and the Trout Days Tractor Pull.

For trout fishermen, the trout fishing course will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. More information can be found at the NTC or the City of Preston.

Many more events can be found by going to