By Stan Rolfsrud
Whenever pedaling the 2.3-mile nature trail around Staring Lake in Eden Prairie, I can’t help but think of my old friend Tom Lapic. He was my Chanhassen Villager editor back in 1990, and I think the most unique ever.
If ever he had an issue that we needed to talk over, he’d suggest a nice long hike around this convenient lake, the perfect size to work out almost any problem.
He was a 30-something, junk-food vegetarian bachelor at the time, a failed priest (sorta, I teased), a tree-hugger, and, gasp, a proud liberal when radio talk was systematically vilifying that word. In short, a very interesting character, who was aware of his unique viewpoints and conscientiously strove to find a balance in the newspaper for his conservative, white, suburban audience, who came to respect his honesty, fairness, and diligence.
I was happy for him and impressed when U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone asked him to come to work for him. Tom asked me what he should do, as we rounded our lake, and though secretly I wanted him to stay, I had to advise him to follow this opportunity and make the most of it. He did. Until, as many of you know, Tom was killed in a 2002 campaign plane crash with his boss, near Eveleth, Minnesota.
He had lousy feet, and his dogs were barking that spring day. So we took a fork in the trail, one less traveled, that shortened our usual distance, and made it easier. And our problem-solving was over for the day anyway.
Today, contemplating that road not traveled and such, I wondered, had he not chosen a different career path that day, would we still be taking that winding nature trail and working out problems, enjoying this magnificent passage around Staring Lake?
I know. I know. But I just can’t help it. I do miss the man.
About the author: Stan Rolfsrud is a founder of Southwest Suburban Publishing. He moved to Eden Prairie in 1973, before his fledgling firm bought the Eden Prairie Community News from a group of local residents. The firm eventually spawned or purchased seven titles under his direction, until his retirement in 2008, in time to miss the digital dive experienced by so many community newspapers, including the Eden Prairie News. He lives with his wife of 43 years in Elevate at Southwest Station, and hopes to one day ride the light rail to the Twins game.
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