Remembering the versatile talents of a man named Georges

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 6, 2001

Mention the name of Georges Denzene around the region and some folks will make an immediate connection to model train displays.

Friday, April 06, 2001

Mention the name of Georges Denzene around the region and some folks will make an immediate connection to model train displays.

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Other folks recall this name as that of a teacher during their days as students in the Albert Lea school system.

Still other people remember Georges for his keen interests in history, the museum, sports (especially baseball and tennis), and music appreciation.

Now, before adding more information about the life and contributions of this man who died on March 26, maybe an explanation about his first name would fit in right about here.

He once told me that his first name was firmly based on that of a famous French premier of the World War I era – Georges Clemenceau.

Georges became well known for his annual displays of model train layouts at the Freeborn County Museum each fall. Because of his extensive collection of U.S. and European model trains and equipment, each year’s display would be different. He was considered to be an authority on this particular hobby and was the author of many articles on this topic. As the obituary in the March 29 issue of the Tribune mentioned, Georges edited two books about the famous Marx brand of toy trains. He also appraised several model train collections in other parts of the nation. Georges attended many of the regional shows based on this hobby.

He was a member of the Freeborn County Historical Society board and helped to set up several significant museum displays. One is based on the history of railroads in the county; another is the excellent baseball display in the main building. His contributions to the museum through the years also included extensive work on organizing the library, plus setting up interpretive materials for many of the exhibits. These actions will endure as a part of his legacy to the community.

In 1988, Georges was one of the group of area citizens who created the &uot;Freeborn County Heritage&uot; book. Among his contributions to this volume were a history of the county’s railroads and an excellent salute to the two historians of Freeborn County – Lester W. Spicer and John Edwin Murtaugh.

Last fall Georges made several trips to Northwood to work with the Worth County Historical Society on several of their museum exhibits. This was just an example of his spirit of volunteering. Georges contributed his talents and time to the Salvation Army, his church (Albert Lea’s United Methodist), the local historical society and museum, and to the community and his neighbors.

There were two places where Georges and his wife, Lou, were enthusiastic and appreciative spectators. One was at a local baseball game where the revived Albert Lea Colonels were playing. The other was a musical performance. As his Tribune obituary mentioned, Georges enjoyed listening to classical, band and polka music. The Denzenes attended Civic Music events, and especially concerts presented by the Albert Lea Community Band.

At his memorial service last Saturday, there were outstanding eulogies by and from several people which provided excellent insights into the real character and accomplishments of this man. Those people included: the Rev. James W. Haun, his sons Quentin and Jonathan, daughter Suzanne Schultz, son-in-law Paul Schultz, Bev Jackson of the Freeborn County Historical Society, the wife of a lifelong friend, and especially Dr. Toby Thompson.

Georges was what I could describe as both a concerned citizen and a citizen commentator. His commentaries on topics, both local and regional, sometimes resulted in carefully created letters to the editor. Some of those letters through the years were published in the Tribune; others appeared on the editorial pages of the Twin Cities newspapers.

To conclude this remembrance, I consider Georges to be one of the most outstanding people I’ve ever known.

Farewell, Georges – devoted husband, father and grandfather – dedicated educator, historian, hobbyist and patriotic citizen – fellow veteran and esteemed friend.

Feature writer Ed Shannon’s column appears Fridays in the Tribune.