by Dennis Dalman
It’s been decades since Gene Borgert visited the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C. He was there quite a few times when he was in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War in the early 1950s.
Now he gets to go there again as a member of an “Honor Flight,” a program that flies veterans to Washington, D.C. to allow them to tour the capital and to see the monuments there that honor all the nation’s veterans. Borgert will leave April 22 on a flight with about 100 other veterans from the central Minnesota area. They’ll take a direct chartered flight from St. Cloud to a Maryland airport, then take a bus into Washington, D.C. He will be accompanied by one of his sons.
Nearly 70 years ago, Borgert, now 82, served mainly on the Atlantic Ocean on the U.S.S. Newport News, a heavy cruiser. As a machinist mate, he repaired engines, air-conditioning units, airplane cranes and even ice machines. He’d learned all those skills at the Great Lakes Naval Base before being assigned to the U.S.S. Newport News.
“I heard about the Honor Flight program more than a year ago, so I talked to a woman at the V.A. Center about it and was accepted to go along on a flight,” Borgert said. Borgert, heard about Honor Flight from a woman who happened to work at the St. Cloud VA Medical Center. “Am I exited about the trip? You better believe it!”
Born in St. Cloud, for many years Borgert was one of the owners of Borgert Concrete, which was founded by his father, Lawrence, nearly 100 years ago. Gene worked there for 27 years. Later, he sold his share of the company to his brother, and the company still thrives after all those years in St. Joseph.
Borgert moved to Sartell after buying two acres of property for just $600 north of the town on the County Road 1 river-road. He and his wife, Lynn, have lived there every since.
Borgert has several retirement hobbies: making wooden bowls in his basement wood shop is his main hobby, along with “a little fishing” now and then. But his all-time favorite hobby is his membership in the Lions Club. He’s been a member of the Sartell Lions Club for 35 years, then later he joined the Sauk Rapids Riverside Lions Club about 10 years ago. He was at one time a district governor for Lions Club International.
“In 47 years as a Lion, I haven’t missed a single meeting,” he said.
Borgert’s wife, Lynn, was a stay-at-home mom for many years, although she did some part-time work, including a job at the old Commodore Club in Sartell. Now she works at the Door E Information Desk at the St. Cloud Hospital, a job she loves.
“She’s a dandy,” Borgert said. “Loves to meet people.”
The Borgerts have four children: Scott of Memphis, Tenn., who just retired after 22 years in the U.S. Navy; Tim, who works at Ferche Millwork in Rice; Denise Stang, who lives near her parents and who is a housewife and a ceramics artist who teaches that art at the St. Cloud Whitney Senior Center; and Pam McMahon, who has a job picking up and driving medical tests from and to hospitals all over the state.
The Borgerts have a dozen grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.