In the past history of Cook almost every business place had an employee on the Cook Fire Department. Most of the business places were located with-in a block of the Fire Hall so it was convenient for the Fire Fighters to run to the Fire Hall. Also in those days most of the
businesses were run by men and most of the employees were men. It was an interruption when a man left his work station but we only had two or three fire calls a month which is still about the average I would say.
It was my desire to join the Cook Fire Department and I did so in August after going to work for Lobe on January 6,1964. Muriel and I moved from a couple of miles south of town to across from the Lobe Chevrolet Company on September 1 and we are still at this address.
In his later years Bill Lobe was not supportive of the Fire Department as he did not like his people leaving when there were customers being waited on. Another of the Lobe employees that served on the department was Don Baumgartner. Bill allowed that as someone else could step in
to finish his mechanical job. But when I joined the Fire Department that made Lobe very unhappy. I can understand his concern as it was hard to up and run out on a customer that was buying a car. There were times when I did not leave when the siren blew but I would check in after the Fire
Truck left to see if any more help was needed or to be available if another call came. Sometimes our two fire calls a month came the same day.
The first ambulance service in Cook was provided by the Lobe Chevrolet Company. Bill took an old Packard hearse in trade in about 1947. He made this vehicle available for an ambulance. Whoever was available, including mechanics operated this big black machine. Doctor Heiam had his Cook General
Hospital across from the dealership and he would allow one of his nurses or whoever to ride along, no special training those days. When the Cook Community Hospital opened on October 26, 1959 Kenneth Leding started his private Ambulance Service. Ken was associated with a Funeral
Home in Virginia and he used his new Ford Station Wagon to bring people to the hospital or bodies to the funeral home. Ken operated a very good service for Cook. He was a kind gentle man and a very good teacher as he had years of experience and he was well qualified
for ambulance service. It
always amazed me that Ken could tell in a few moments what was wrong with a person and
and usually the doctor confirmed it. I am glad I had the opportunity to work with Ken as it prepared me for the Cook Community Ambulance Squad that was established on January 1, 1970.
In 1965 I started helping Ken Leding after hours. I drove his ambulance and he took care of the patient in the back. At this time he had a real ambulance, a beautiful big red 1959 Cadillac which he had purchased from the North St. Paul Fire Department. This rig drove like
a dream and
rode very nice with it's long wheel base. On top of the driver was mounted a very large siren. In those days the sirens were mechanical as an electric motor turned the vanes to create a very load noise. I always remember how much electrical current was needed to turn this siren
as when cruising down the road at 80 miles per hour and you turned the siren on it slowed the ambulance. Now sirens are electronic and they can make various noises.
Used Car Manager
Bill Lobe was great on giving his employees titles. On July 21, 1966
Lobe named me the Used Car Sales Manager. It was my job to take care
of all the used cars, from the day they came in until they sold or
died. I was glad to take on this responsibility as our used cars
were sitting around. A used car is the most saleable right after it
is taken in trade, even the salesmen are excited but soon they
forget about them. I soon got in a dispute with the body man when I
told him I needed a certain car worked on. I told Lobe that I had
offended the man. I learned a valuable lesson from Lobe that day. He
told me not to go to the body shop and not to talk to the body man,
even when he came in for coffee. He said not to start a conversation
with him anywhere. Lobe said he will come to you and then you will
be his boss. It was not my nature to be unfriendly but I took Lobe's
advise. On the third day the body man came to me asking what cars I
needed taken care of. Much of what I learned from Bill
Lobe was very helpful. Raymond Anderson became the body shop manager
The hundred dollar bill
August 18, 1966, we left this morning for the Twin Cities as Lobe had an appointment at the University of Minnesota Hospital for a check-up at 10:30 a.m. At 2:30, we checked into a room at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Minneapolis next to the Dayton Store. At 3:00 we went back
to the hospital for Lobe to have more tests. I took the time to visit my brother Mike who was working in St. Paul at a Ford dealership. Picked up Lobe at 5:00 and back to the hotel. At 8:30 this evening Lobe decided he was hungry. We went to the Charlie's Exceptional Restaurant
for a great meal, it was at that time considered one of the finest restaurants in the Twin Cities. I had never been to such a fancy place.
9:30, back to the Radisson Hotel. I was tired and went to bed and turned the lights out. But Bill kept me awake talking. I could see him standing in the bathroom as the light was on and the door was open. He was shooting himself in various places on his body with a needle. It
was like he was drunk. He wanted to talk. He told me all about himself. He then told me one reason he hired me was he wanted one person around the dealership that didn't drink. I finally fell asleep at about 1:30 and Lobe was still taking his drugs. When I woke at 6:00 Lobe was
gone but came back at 6:30 from having breakfast. We then went to the hospital again. As usual he would give me his billfold when called to the examining room, it was very thick and he usually carried $10,000.00. This afternoon we drove to the new Franksville Stand that Clark
Winchell from Cook was the owner of, it was a fast food hot dog stand.
When we got back to the hotel room Lobe gave me a hundred dollar bill. He said buy something nice for Muriel tomorrow. I put the money in my billfold next to the ten dollars or so that I had. Lobe again kept me awake until about 4:00. The next morning when I woke he told me he
had not slept all night. He told me I must have a good conscience to be able to sleep so well. But when I got up in the morning the hundred dollar bill was gone and my ten dollars was still there. Lobe went back to a restless sleep and I went for a walk to the large Dayton
store. When I went back to the room Lobe was on the phone asking for drugs from a pharmacists. We made a trip to a drug store in Edina and left the Twin Cities.
We headed for home, all during the 220 mile ride nothing was said about the missing hundred dollar bill. A few days later Lobe came to the dealership and asked me what I had bought with the money he gave me. I asked him why he had gone into my billfold and taken the hundred
dollar bill, he then handed me the money. I asked him why he did such a thing. He said, I wanted to teach you not to trust anyone.
Lobe's girlfriend arrives
October 18, 1966, I took Bill Lobe to the Twin Cities as his old girlfriend was coming in from California. He told me he had called her the night his wife died which was on March 10, 1966. They had been friends since the days Lobe worked in International Falls, she was two and
a half years younger that Bill. They had an on
going relationship over the years. When Bill and his wife went on a trip somewhere such as with Doctor & Margaret Heiam to Hawaii, Bill would spend time with this girlfriend there while his wife sat in the hotel.
We stayed at the Radisson Hotel as usual. This time we each had a room. The next morning we went shopping for a new sport jacket for me as Lobe said I needed to look sharp. That afternoon we went to the Minneapolis Airport to meet this lady. Beverly was the very last one off the airplane,
she was a very classy gal. The story was told back home in California that she was going to visit her parents in International Falls as it was her father's birthday, but Lobe had something else in mind. We stayed one more day at the hotel.
When we left the Twin Cities we stopped at the Hibbing Airport so Beverly could continue on to the Falls. The next day we went back to the Hibbing Airport to pick her up and she came to Lobe's home and never returned to California.
In the next days Lobe showed Beverly off around Cook and Virginia. They were together all the time like lovebirds. It kept me busy hauling them around and also picking others up at the airport that came to visit. It took a lot of my time chasing around for them, I was on commission
and did not earn anything unless I sold something.
Now I may be the only one that believes this, but I am sure Lobe's girlfriend had no intentions of staying with Lobe forever. She was forced to stay and I fully believe this.
It was not long before Beverly's husband showed up at the dealership looking for his wife. He said he knew his wife was at Lobe's home and he wanted directions out there. I really felt sorry for him as he seemed like a very nice man. But
what really surprised me was when Beverly's boyfriend showed up a
few days later, also looking for her. She now had three men in her life,
her husband, her boyfriend and now Bill Lobe. It was not a nice situation and I was right in the middle of this and also trying to sell cars in addition to the other responsibilities I had at the
Lobe donates $1,000
A community project at this time was to construct a new Clinic Building that would be attached to the Cook Hospital. What Clinics we had then were downtown. One was in the old Cook General Hospital building and another next to what was then the post office. Donations were
being accepted and a loan was being looked at.
January 31, 1968. Lobe sent word he would donate a thousand dollars to the Clinic Fund if the Doctor would come to his place this evening. I gave the Doctor a ride to Lobe's house and left him there to fight the Second World War over again as Lobe had been a Tank Commander and the
German born Doctor served on the other
side. Sometime during the evening Lobe gave the Doctor a thousand dollars in cash and received a receipt.
Also during the evening the Doctor got drunk. I was called later that evening to pick up the Doctor from Lobe's house and take him to his home in Cook.
The next day the Doctor called me, he told me of his experience last night at Lobe's home. He knew he had received the money and
had given Lobe a receipt but now he could not find the money. He said he knew Lobe had taken it back. He asked me if I would call Lobe as he could not
afford to take this loss. Lobe confessed to me that he had taken the money. He then gave the cash back to the Doctor.
Minnesota State Sales Tax
August 1, 1967 was the start of the first
sales tax in Minnesota. This was something very new for car dealers
and anyone else who was mandated to collect the tax for the State of
Minnesota. Of course business places are used to collecting things
like income tax withholding, social security taxes for the
government, with-out pay.
The sales tax started out at 1% of the price
difference a person paid for a new or used vehicle, if they bought a
vehicle for $5,000 and their trade-in was worth $1,000 they paid
$40.00 on the $4,000. What really surprised me as the date of August
1st was coming, people rushed in to purchase new cars and they paid
less attention to the purchase price of the vehicle than having to
pay the 1% tax. Right after August 1st many people refused to pay
the tax and it became a bargaining tool. This tax angered many
Over the years the sales tax has increase to
the 6.5% that it is now. After one of the increases in the early
1980s many people as usual would wish to purchase a vehicle before
the tax went up. One morning while I was at Smitty's Cafe having
coffee, I had a call from the Executive Secretary of Minnesota
Automobile Dealers Association. He said we have a big problem with
the Deputy Registrars at the various license bureaus around the
State as they would not accept the license applications for sales
made the days before the increases took effect, such as the sales
made on Friday and Saturday before the tax went up on a Monday.
The Secretary asked me if I could get in touch with Senator Doug
Johnson as he was the Chairman of the Minnesota State Senate Tax Committee.
I told the Secretary I was having coffee with Doug and I would put
him on the phone. The problem was taken care of in minutes. Doug was
at that time one of the most powerful men in the Minnesota State
Legislature. Doug then lived in Cook and joined us for coffee whenever he was home.
August 2, 1969. We left on our first vacation since I started working at the Lobe Chevrolet Company on January 6, 1964.
I had been working every day and at least two nights a week when I
went out cold calling looking for customers. In those days we did
not depend on advertising to get customers to the dealership. Most
of our sales were from taking orders for new vehicles as we only
stocked eight or ten new units. I was looking forward to
time with our family as we lived busy lives. We wanted to do something special as our five children were growing up without enjoying a vacation trip.
At this time I was 33 years old, my wife Muriel 31, Carol 11, Mike
10, John 8, David 6 and Becky was 4.
A month before we left I told Bill Lobe of our plans of taking some
time off for a trip. He said I should work as I was a young man and
I needed to make money. I told him I felt a vacation would be a
breath of fresh air as I worked over 60 hours a week. The dealership
was also open on Saturday until 2 or when every the last customer
About 10 O'clock on Tuesday morning before I was to leave on Saturday, Lobe came in for the day. While
Lobe and Bill Vanne and I were talking about things I said to Lobe, "Remember, I will be leaving this coming Saturday for a week's vacation". Lobe looked at me and said "If you
leave you don't have to come back" and he turned around and went home. Lobe did not come back
to the dealership the rest of the week.
Vanne said to me "Now what are you going to do?" I
responded that I was going and that I had given him
plenty of advance notice and we were about out of new cars to sell
so it was a good time for me to be gone as it was our slow time
before the new cars came out in September"
We left on Saturday at noon and traveled west and stayed our first night in Mandan, North Dakota. The next day I told Muriel that I may not have a job when we got home and
I then told her what Lobe had said. I then told my wife that if I were to get
fired for taking a vacation after five years that I could get fired for a lot less. It did put a damper on my vacation but the more I thought of it the more I felt I did the right thing.
We had a nice vacation and when I returned Lobe never said a thing
about me leaving for the week. Some time later he told me I had
passed a test by standing up to him. That was the kind of person he
Lobe got mad at one of our best salesmen and a long time employee
who was tired of the way Lobe was acting. One Saturday morning he
came to the dealership, the only ones there besides me were the
other salesmen; Wayne and Shorty. When Wayne had a phone call Lobe
handed me an envelope and told me to give this to Wayne and he left. When
Wayne got off the phone and read the letter his lower jaw dropped.
He was fired. A 57 year old faithful employee out of a job.
I understand Bill Lobe started taking certain drugs for pain in
about 1960. He had back surgery at that time and by the time I got
to know him he was into drugs in a big way. He did not buy his
drugs on the street but through the doctors and the pharmacists. The
first time I realized he was spending cash for drugs was in
about 1966. Lobe called me one day from his home and told me Bill
Vanne our bookkeeper was to give me a letter size envelope which I
was supposed to take to a hospital (not Cook) and pick up a package
from a pharmacist. When I came back to the dealership that day Vanne
asked me what Lobe wanted with all that money, I told I never looked
in the sealed envelope. He said there was $600.00 cash in the
envelope I had handed to the hospital pharmacist. I often wondered
how that pharmacist replaced the drug inventory, maybe some of the
hospital patients received aspirin instead of a stronger pain
reliever. I did contact a doctor that I knew and he said he would
look into it.
Every now and then Lobe would call me if he was not coming into town
asking me to pick up his mail. I noticed he was getting packages
from various drug stores. As I have mentioned before he had
prescription blanks he would fill out at times to get what he
wanted. Also there were doctors from out of town that came to his
house at various times.
There were times when it seemed Bill Lobe was not in his body but
someone else. He did some odd things and made some bad decisions
that we changed when possible. Lobe got much harder to be around. He
seemed to settle down for a time after his girlfriend came but not
for long. One day she came to the dealership after she had lived at
Lobe's home for about a year and said "Why didn't you tell me Bill
was on drugs?" I did not give her an answer.
Bill spent some time taking a cure but he kept getting drugs in that
hospital. The day I brought him home from the hospital I had a call
from a druggist saying I was to take some medicine to Lobe. I told
him no way, he got mad at me and said he would tell Lobe. A few
minutes later Lobe's girlfriend called to say he was heading to town
with a gun. I left the dealership and went home and told Muriel that we
must turn off all the lights that evening. In a few minutes Lobe
came to the dealership but not to my place. That was about the only
time I was afraid.
Whenever I came to Lobe's house he would usually be in bed. On his
bedstead hung a large revolver in a holster and under the bed covers
he had a smaller pistol in a case. Lobe's girl friend could
never find his drugs until one day a plumber came to work on his
bathroom and found where he kept them. In the toilet water tank. The
one thing that really bothered me about Lobe's problem was that no
one could help him. Anyone that tried he pushed them away. His
siblings tried but he turned them away. He could financially afford
There were times Lobe would not stop talking and times he said
nothing. When we traveled and we stopped for lunch he had trouble
staying awake, his head would go down and nose would get in the
food. Sometimes when he talked it was like he was drunk and told me things I really
did not enjoy knowing. At the dealership sometimes he would just
walk back and forth, in fact someone thought we should tie a broom
to him. Sometimes he would just stand and look at me as I worked at
August 22, 1967. Beverly Lobe called one evening after dark asking that I take her from
Lobe's house. She said Lobe had shot at her. He took
his revolver and pointed it at her head and moved it and shot a hole
in a wall which I saw a few days later. I told her to call the sheriff but she was afraid to do
so. She said she had her
bags packed and was leaving Lobe. I called Bud Rosen as I did
not care to get between the two of them with-out a witness, we drove out
to the Lobe house, we
looked in the windows and it looked like things had settled down.
This was the start of things to come. Lobe became more violent. As I
have noted, I was one of only a few people that understood why
Beverly stayed with Lobe, she was afraid to leave. Lobe had
threatened to harm her family in California. She believed him and I also
felt he had the resources to have people bring harm to her family.
She was caught between the rock and a hard place.
At the dealership Lobe was becoming more of a problem. One day he
came with a tear gas bomb and set it off in the office area, we all
had to go outside till things cleared, hard to sell cars with
things like this going on. Lobe was very critical of everything and
everyone. He would question me ordering certain new cars. I told him
that was what was selling at that time and to let me run the
business. One day I announced that I had just sold the 50th Gem
Topper, which were covers for pickup boxes. He said "You aren't
going to order any more are you?"
Things were not very exciting at the Lobe household. Beverly was
used to the bright lights and she worked in a fancy dress shop.
There were days when Beverly did not see anyone other that Lobe. She
was not allowed to go places alone. It was not until Lobe had
passed on that I learned Beverly thought the Lobe housekeeper and
others around the area were reporting everything to Lobe. She also
thought I was reporting about her which I was not and Lobe never
asked me to. Lobe was a very strong mean man. Lobe told Beverly he
would harm her family if she left and I believe that to be true.
Beverly visited my wife often as she just needed someone to talk to
and also she missed seeing children. Every now and then my wife and
I went to the Lobe household as Beverly needed company. A number of
times I had to go there on Christmas Eve just because they were so
lonesome. Lobe spent most of his time in bed.
One day Lobe told me we had to go to Virginia. He was not
supposed to drive a motor vehicle though he did locally. As I was
driving close to Virginia I said "Where do you want to go?", he said
the St. Louis County Court House". As we walked in Lobe said
to me "Beverly wants to get married" so he had to apply for a
marriage license. He was not able to fill in the information
so he asked me to and he signed the application. Since then I
have often wondered why it should be a person can apply for a
marriage license without the other person also signing.
Lobe was not appreciated by his neighbors on Jacobson Point at Lake
Vermilion, he was not friendly to anyone except Bill & Gunild Benson
as they worked at the Lobe House. Gunild was the housekeeper and
cook, Bill took care of some of the outside work. I know of at least
two cabins that Lobe contracted to have burned down. There was a man
next to Lobe's that had sold his log house to Lobe and he gave him a
life estate. Too bad as I was on the ambulance call when this old
man fell off a ladder while up a tree and laid dead. There was a
time when Lobe had signs painted telling people to keep out. The
signs were not just on his property so the neighbors were unhappy.
Lobe had an unlisted phone and no one was allowed to just drop in to
visit. When his close family wanted to visit they called the
dealership, we then called Lobe for permission for them to visit
him. Lobe's wife Beverly lived a very lonely life.
Lobe did not have many friends during the last years of his life. He
was not close to anyone and seemed to want it that way. In his
younger years he was friends with many people. He seemed to have the
talent to offend most everyone. An example; one day the Chevrolet
District Manager called on us and passed out cigars and announced he
was the father of another son. Lobe said "did you find out who the
father was". This really offended the District Manager and he did
not take it as a joke. It took me some time to tell him Lobe was not
himself. This man was in charge of allocating how many new cars our
dealership received. One of Lobe's favorite sports was to shoot at
the Vermilion Fairways yard light with his pistol as he drove home.
He claimed to have hit the light at least once. Many people did not
appreciate his driving habits as he was a terror on highway 24. He
rolled at least two vehicles that I can remember and damaged others
as he hit the ditch.
March 11, 1972, the last day
Bill Lobe came to the dealership early this Saturday as I opened
the doors. He was in a
very bad mood. To make things worse there was a water leak from some
construction at the grocery store and water was running past the
dealership. Lobe asked me to call the owner to have the water
stopped, John could hear Lobe in the background as he told me what
to tell him. He said the contractor was working on the problem.
Lobe was just plain mean that day and he let the world know about
it. I had a few customers in that day shopping for cars and he was
causing so much problem that I was about ready to tell him to leave.
Lobe made a phone call to his wife and they had an awful argument in
the office next to mine as I was trying to make a sale of a used
vehicle. He got so mad that when he hung up the wall phone he tore
it off the wall. He stormed out of the dealership and that was the
last time I saw him alive.
Saturday afternoon, March 11, 1972. At about 4:40 while still at the
Lobe Chevrolet dealership I received an ambulance call to the Lobe
House on Lake Vermilion. When I drove in the yard the first thought
that came to my mind was Lobe is not going be happy to see me with the
ambulance. He did not like me serving on the Fire Department or the
Ambulance Service as he felt it took away from my work at the
dealership. I assumed the ambulance call was for Lobe's wife Beverly
from the awful way he talked to her on the telephone that day and
from previous knowledge of things there.
I could hear yelling and sobbing in the house as I opened the door.
Lobe's wife Beverly came up to me and said "Do something" and I
can't recall what else she said.
When I stepped into the house I saw Bill Lobe laying on the floor in
the living room, with-in a few feet of where his first wife Mary
Jane had died on March 10, 1966. In his hands were blood stained
papers that he had been waving around and I later learned was
correspondence from an attorney as Beverly wanted a divorce which I
was not aware of.
Lobe was wearing a T-shirt and I could see three blood spots as someone
had shot him in the chest. The first thing I did was check his neck
for a pulse but could find nothing. I then checked his eyes with my
pen light, no reaction, his eyes were dilated, he was gone. I then looked up and
said "Who shot him", Beverly said she did. I then said to Beverly
"He is gone". She screamed and said he wasn't dead and that she
wanted him taken to the hospital. Now if any of you have ever
seen a doctor pronounce someone dead they spend some time before
declaring the verdict, so who was I to argue at such a time
though he sure looked dead to me. I had been on the Ambulance
Service for a number of years and seen many that had expired and he
had that look. From the hospital I called
the St. Louis County Sheriff Department to tell them what happened.
I then returned to the Lobe house to secure the place as a Sheriff
would be coming there. At the
residence that afternoon were; Lobe's wife Beverly, her son who was
living with them and Bill & Gunild Benson who were neighbors and
housekeepers. The bloody papers were still laying where Lobe had
fallen after being shot. Of course everyone was running here and
there. Later Beverly had changed her mind as to who had shot Lobe. The
Benson's said they did not know what happened, then they told me a
few things about that afternoon, then they walked around the house and
would come back to tell me more of the events that day. The place looked
like a murder scene such as one sees on television.
After awhile the Sheriff's Department and the Coroner came. They
questioned me as to what little I knew about the scene and I left for home at
9:00 after a very troublesome day.
I remember thinking when I saw Lobe on the floor that I almost
expected him to jump up and to tell me to get back to work. He was
such a dynamic man that it was hard to believe he was gone. Of
course my thoughts later were wondering what would happen now to the
After Bill Lobe
It sure seemed odd to have Bill Lobe gone, I had spent so much time
with him for the past past eight years that I had been and employee
of the Lobe Chevrolet Company. He
was more than a boss to me, in fact I was too close to him so he was
not able to treat me as an employee. Bill had given me the
opportunity to learn the automobile dealership business. He
gave me all the responsibility I would accept. He sure had been a
real problem to be around but getting shot seemed like an awful way
to go. After he passed away I realized it was almost like losing a
family member. The phone calls and the demands stopped and I now had
more time to work. I felt bad that Bill did not know the Lord as his
Savior as we had talked about this a number of times. In fact he
told me how foolish I was for giving our tithe to our Church and to
Christian organizations, he said I should set that money aside so I
could buy his business someday. Bill was a religious person but I am
not aware that he
had asked Christ to be his personal Savior. He did not read the
Bible for himself but depended on a religion to tell him what it
says, he did not know that by simply reading God's Word that He will
speak to us..
I knew Bill Lobe was very disliked but the people seemed to come out of
the wood work after his death with many saying "Good Riddance" and now it will be
safe to drive on the road to the Lake. What a sad thing to have
lived 32 years in a community and to have people feel like they did. There
were many that would not do business with our dealership because of
The next days were very hectic as many stopped at the dealership
asking about what happened to Lobe and asking for the details of the
shooting, etc. The day after
Bill was killed was Sunday and I had a number of people call or come
to our house for answers. Nothing was normal and I was trying
to sell automobiles. Also anyone that sold the dealership product
such as the parts stores wondered what the future was. Some wondered
if the Lobe Chevrolet dealership would remain open. I had contacted
the Chevrolet Motor Division of General Motors to inform them of
Bill Lobe's death. They told me the usual policy was for the
administrator of the estate to be able to operate the business for
up to a year while a new dealer was found. Fortunately Bill
Vanne (bookkeeper) and I were authorized to sign checks and other
documents so we just did things as usual. I was 36 years old and
Bill Vanne was 46 so we were young and felt up to handling the job
before us. We received every consideration from Chevrolet and
Oldsmobile as they made sure we received enough new vehicles.
General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) told us our credit line
would remain the same as they allowed us to stock our usual
inventory of new vehicles. I was very pleased with the trust from
these companies and from the public.
The Court soon appointed the Northern City National Bank of Duluth to operate as the legal
administrator for the dealership. Bill Lobe's wife was not allowed to
have anything to do with the business. They asked Bill Vanne and me
to apply for a Surety Bond for their protection and the dealership. After the bonding company
accepted us the Administrator asked us to to remain on the job just
as in the past, in fact they gave us a good financial package to
keep us there and to keep the business operating. They were very strict
and asked many questions about the business but were very good to
work with. In fact the Administrator gave each of us a two week
vacation that summer. One of the reasons for the two weeks vacation
was for us to be gone from the dealership. This would allow for an audit
on each of us to see if we were honest. It was an interesting time.
Adding a note of mystery is the fact that
Bill Lobe wrote a letter on March 6, just five days before his
death, giving detailed instructions to the Range Funeral Home of
Virginia for his funeral arrangements and outlining what he wanted
published in his obituary. In accordance with his wishes, there were
no funeral services. He was buried on March 15, 1972 at the Fort Snelling National
Cemetery in the Twin Cities.
He must have known something was going to happen as a letter was
found in his home written to the telephone company as he requested a
temporary disconnect of his private line on March 15, 1972
to his house. This letter was dated on March 7, 1972 and he died on
March 11, 1972. I feel Bill was getting to the point where he was
going to do something very violent such as shooting somebody, I am
sure getting shot was not in his evil plan. It seemed there was no
one that could help him as he was traveling so fast toward his own
destruction. He would not allow anyone to help.
It was a habit of Bill Lobe to write letters during the night hours
when he could not sleep. He did not sign them until he was ready to
mail them which could be days later. I have a copy of a letter he wrote to me that he wanted
me to stop my involvement in the Fire Department, Ambulance Squad
and the City Council. He listed everything I was part of in the City
and said I could only keep my position as treasurer of the Church.
Otherwise he said I would be fired! He then wrote "Very Truly Yours"
but did not sign the letter which I still have in my files about
I talked with the Chevrolet Motor Division and was told the
dealership could continue to operate as we were for up to a year.
With-in that time a buyer would be found or the Corporation could
decide to close the dealership as that was the trend to close
dealerships in smaller towns, especially since we were so close to
Virginia. Chevrolet and Oldsmobile were very good to us and asked what they could do for us,
I said we needed more new vehicles and they were very helpful. The
District Managers from both Chevrolet & Oldsmobile called on us
It was very hard to just go to work as nothing was the same. My life
seemed to be turned upside down and I still needed to sell cars as
that was my living. People in Cook were very good to us, in fact
some people that never came to the dealership were buying from us.
As I was involved in many civic responsibilities those days I found
it hard to make time for them. I was an active member of the
Ambulance Squad, Fire Department, City Council, Chamber of Commerce
and the Cook Hospital Board of Directors. Of course I was a husband
and father of five children. Also we were all busy in our Church.
Something that came up with the Sheriff's investigation of the
shooting of Bill Lobe was, who done it. As I have stated before that
I had asked Beverly who shot Bill as I was checking his body for any
indication that he was still alive. Beverly had said she shot him. But after a few days she changed her mind and
said she did not do it. Her attorney questioned me and I again said
that was what she had said. This was a very troubling time for me to
make such a statement that could cause a person to be charged
with murder. Much of my time was taken up with
interviews as the County Attorney was building its case. Also Beverly's
Attorney pumped me for information as he built a defense for her.
April 4, 1972. I was called to testify before the Grand Jury at the
Hibbing Court House. They sure looked like a bunch of very serious
people, in fact I felt like I was on trial. The County Attorney
questioned me as did Beverly's attorney. Also the jury was allowed to
ask me questions. It was a long hard day as they reminded me more
than once that I was under oath. I had to repeat that Beverly had
said she shot Bill Lobe but that he may have brought this on
himself, that was the way I felt about what happened. Sometimes one can almost wish you did not
hear or know some things.
5 April 1972. Beverly age 51 and her son age 33 were charged with
First-Degree Murder of
Bill Lobe in connection with the shooting death of William John Lobe. Bail
was set at $50,000 each, which was posted.
20 June 1972, Beverly and her son were given probation for their
part in the murder of Bill Lobe. This was not a problem with the
people of the Cook area as they felt Bill Lobe had brought on
whatever happened to him. I was glad it was over as it was taking a
lot of my time and it was heavy stuff. The fact that they would be
allowed to serve their probation in California is a statement
in itself. Beverly stayed in the Cook area living at the Lobe
residence. She passed away on October 7, 1981 at the age of 62.
One day the Chevrolet District Manager came to the dealership to
tell us he was interested in buying the business. He had been with
the Chevrolet Motor Division for over ten years. He called on all
the Chevrolet Dealers on the Iron Range plus north to International
Falls and south to Floodwood. Being he knew both Bill Vanne
and me and that we had been running the business for the
Administrator of the Estate, he asked if we would both work for him.
That seemed fine with us. He then spent time looking over the place as
buyer would and going over the records. He said Bill's widow would
not be able to obtain the franchise as General Motors wanted people
that knew the automobile business, for dealers.
1973, we were informed that the Chevrolet District Manager would not be
buying the Lobe Chevrolet dealership assets. It seemed his wife decided
against living in a small town such as Cook. Bill Vanne and I were
informed we would be considered as the dealers, but we must act fast as
the Chevrolet deadline of a year was almost up. This was something we
were not prepared for. Bill and I went to the Farmers & Merchants Bank
here in Cook and told them we were being considered for the dealership
and that we needed money. The bank gave us more than we needed to
purchase the business as we also needed operating capital. The Bank was
very generous as we both had good credit ratings and had equity in our
homes as they took a mortgage on them, plus the assets of the
dealership. The Bank also gave us a letter of their intent to to
finance us which we sent to the Chevrolet Zone Manager.
Division acts as the business agent even if a dealership has other General
such as Lobe Chevrolet Company was also an Oldsmobile dealer. If a dealer has all the GM franchise lines such as
Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac and GMC trucks, Chevrolet
is still the business agent. This dates back to the early days of
General Motors. The man that founded General Motors in 1908 was William Durant. He lost
control of GM and went on to create another line of cars. In 1911
he established the Chevrolet Motor Company. The reason the car was named
Chevrolet was after a famous race car driver of that time by the name of
Louis Chevrolet. William Durant became very successful with his new
business. Chevrolet has one of the most famous trade marks in the
world, it is
known as the "Bow Tie" and it has been on the hood of millions of
automobiles and trucks. William Durant found his trade mark as a wall
paper pattern in a hotel in Paris, France. William Durant's Chevrolet automobile
company became so successful that he started trading Chevrolet stock
for GM stock. One day William Durant walked into a General Motors Annual stock
holders meeting and declared he owned contolling interest in GM. Ever
since then Chevrolet has been the business agent.
General Motors Dealers
19 Feb 1973,
Bill Vanne and I attended a meeting with a Chevrolet Zone Representative at the Radisson in Duluth
where we made the necessary applications to acquire a General Motors
franchise. By the way there is no charge for a GM franchise though one
must meet the required standards such as character, standing in the
community, automobile experience and a financial statement to handle the
daily operation of a dealership.
7 Mar 1973, we
received a phone call that we had been accepted by the Chevrolet Motor
Division as a dealer. This was really an exciting time for us as we had
really worked at it. We felt like we must have done something right.
On 21 March 1973
we traveled to the Zone Office of Chevrolet and Oldsmobile in
Minneapolis to sign the franchise agreements to become the dealer in
Cook, Minnesota. I remember the Chevrolet Zone Manager sitting behind
his huge desk talking down to us like a king. He told us what it meant
to be a dealer and the responsibilities that go with being a GM dealer.
He also told us how we could lose our franchise, such as being charged
with tax evasion by the IRS, being charged with a criminal act, being
out of trust (selling our new cars and not paying for them) and
also not having our dealership open for seven consecutive days except for flood, fire,
etc. We really heard a sermon, but at the Oldsmobile Zone Office the
Manager, who sat with us and welcomed us as dealers. By the way, General Motors
dealerships now have only one dealer, whereas in those days both Bill Vanne and I were
GM dealers and full partners.
Of course we had
to apply for a Minnesota Dealers license to sell vehicles and collect
sales tax. We were also required to purchase a bond to protect General
Motors, including GMAC who financed our floor plan (inventory of new
vehicles at the dealership). Also we had to purchase a Garage Keepers
Liability Insurance policy that included everything to do with operating
a dealership. Our attorney created a corporation for us, we took turns
being the president. We then established a relationship with an
accounting firm which I still use to this day. We were very busy with
everything but selling cars.
22 March 1973,
the Administrator of the Lobe Estate came to the dealership as he had
been in correspondence with Chevrolet. He congratulated us on obtaining
the franchise and the excellent relationship we had with him over the
past year. We wrote him a check for the purchase of the assets of the
Lobe Chevrolet Company, we did not buy the building. The Administrator
then said "You have been in your own business for a week". He set the
official date of when the dealership became ours as of March 15, 1973.
GMAC (General Motors Acceptance Corporation) did an audit of the new
vehicles in stock. GMAC sets a line of credit for each dealer based on
their financial statement and the amount of sales. We had a good working
relationship with them during the year we ran the business so they knew
It seemed there
was always a good reason for someone to purchase a new car and I thought
of a couple of good ones. I called two couples that were regular
customers and asked if they would be the last ones to purchase a new car
from the Lobe Chevrolet Company and the first ones to purchase a new car
from Voyageur Chevrolet-Oldsmobile. Of course I told them we would like
pictures for the paper.
Back to Court
28 March 1973,
the death of Bill Lobe had created many problems over the past
year, and it was not over, as I was called on this date to testify in
Probate Court in Virginia, Minnesota. It seemed Lobe's family felt they
had a claim. I was in court all day and it was heavy stuff and sometimes
hard to recall what they wanted to know. Just before lunch time the
attorney for the family asked me a question and when I answered it he
said I had testified to something totally different in a written
testimony. The Judge said we will take a lunch recess. After lunch I
went back to the witness stand and the family attorney told the judge he
had a made a mistake that was someone else that had made that statement.
I was glad to be done with anything to do with the death of Lobe.
dealership gave me a second wind, maybe a third and fourth as I felt
like a new person. I could work day and night and not get tired.
Business was good and we made it better as we were both very excited
about being our own boss.
When we bought
the dealership the only employees we had were Willard Lindgren as our
master mechanic, Donald "Bumps" Baumgartner as a working foreman and
wrecker operator, Willard "Bill" Hawkinson a mechanic and Ray Anderson
was our Body Man.
Something I have
learned over the years is that a person seems to rise to the ability to
handle the responsibility given to them. When I became an owner of the
dealership I could sense an added responsibility. Now I didn't have
anyone to ask how to do this or what should I do. My partner was a great
guy but not interested in selling or operating a business. He told me
early on that he would prefer me making the decisions. It was very
exciting being your own boss, but we could not do as we wanted as we had
a business to run, first and foremost. No days off or leaving early, no
time to be sick or stay home because you were tired. But something
happens when you become the boss, you want to work even harder and enjoy
working more. It was fun watching our bank account as we had a very low
overhead. No salesman as we advertise "buy from the owner".
We rented the
old dealership building by the year with an option for up to three
years. We had agreed with Chevrolet Motor Division to building a
new dealership facility, the company calls them "Stores". Of course we
could not wait to get out of the Lobe Chevrolet Company building that
was located in the lowest elevation in Cook. That building was
later used by the Rude Seed and Feed business. It was constructed in
1928 or 1929. When it rained the water came up and offices were often
wet, also I had to keep the windows shut on the new cars in the showroom
as the roof leaked.
looking for land that would be suitable with location being number one
and of course we needed space. I contacted the daughter of Rev. Lantz
who was the first minister in Cook. He had homesteaded land, 80 acres,
in 1903, the northwest corner was across from where we now live and is
now 1st street southwest. The northwest corner was a quarter mile away,
by Kathy Leding's home. There was still 63 acres of land available, all
on the south side of highway 53. In October of 1973 we bought the land
with a contract for deed, the only request the seller made was that a
liquor store would not be located on that property. The summer of 1974
we had seven acres of land cleared for the dealership. It took me some
time to decide just where to locate the building and how far back from the highway.
I wanted plenty of parking area in front where we could put all of
our new and used car inventory. Chevrolet recommended space for 100
vehicles. We had the cement floor poured for the 10,000 square foot
building in September. In November the steel framework went up.
had a common sign for all dealership that they installed and charged us
$65.00 per month. In 1974 they insisted we put one next to our building.
I told them we planned to be re-located to the highway next year but the
said no problem we will move it, free of charge. GM had a company
install these sign and they were designed to with-stand very high winds.
The sign was set east of the dealership building across from the Cook
News Herald. The cement base was six by six feet and eight feet deep,
solid concrete. When we moved to the new location they did the same
thing all over again which was expensive. All General Motors dealers
have their name on the Corporate signs but Ford and Chrysler do not. The
signs were nice and well maintained by the service company. I was glad
to have the sign at my dealership as it as very good advertising.
March 15, 1975,
we moved our dealership to the highway. What a wonderful feeling to have a
new building to work in. Bill and I each had an office, the body shop
was attached to the garage. Nancy (Jim) Rinne had worked for us at the
old building as our receptionist and now she also had a nice new office.
Nancy was great at her job and she knew everyone and was good to our
customers. Willard Lindgren, Don Baumgartner and Willard Hawkinson now
has a nicer place to do the mechanical work. Ray Anderson had a new body
shop with a paint booth. Everyone was happy including the car customers
as we could give much better service.
I took care of the sales and my partner Bill Vanne took
care of the bookkeeping and the parts department. We later hired Lee
Phillips to take manage the parts department. He had been working at
the Martin Chevrolet Company in Virginia. Lee was a very good partsman
and a good worker.
But the most important thing to me was
having a new car show room with space for six full size vehicles. Being the money in a dealership is made from selling
vehicles I wanted a large showroom, ours was 30 X 60 feet with windows
on three sides from the ceiling to the floor.
Division had all but guaranteed us a 25% increase in business by moving
to a better location. They were not exaggerating, our business more than
doubled the first year at the new location. People stopped in saying
they did not know there was a Chevrolet or Oldsmobile business in Cook.
Now we were on much higher ground so when it rained the water ran down
to the old building. Business was good. During the month of June of 1976 I sold 54 new vehicles and
for the year 360 new cars and pickups. Chevrolet was right, the three
most important resources for a business is; location, location and
In February of
1977 we hired Lee's brother Larry Phillips as our front-end alignment
man, he had been the manager of the Mathisen Tire Shop in Virginia. He
was good at his job and he soon doubled the output of that department.
We also hired a couple more mechanics and more help in the body shop. Lee and
Larry were a great improvement to our business and I can't say enough
good about them. They were very good workers, never complained and they
May 25, 1978, I
bought out Bill Vanne, my partner of five years. His health was
poor and he really did not enjoy being in business. When you own a
business you are unemployed each Monday morning, no guarantee of making
wages. You must pay your employees and your debtors, what is left over
After buying out
my partner I renamed the business Simonson Chevrolet-Olds, Inc. General
Motors prefers it's dealers to name the business after the owner as they
feel the dealer will take better care of the customers. Lee and Larry
became my key employees with both involved in sales but with Lee also
oversaw the parts department and the mechanical and body shop.
I came to Cook
broke, now I owe thousands
One day as I
looked around the dealership with all the new and used cars that I had
to pay floor plan on, the building expense, equipment and the need to
always purchase more, the employees I was responsible for, the inventory
of parts, the accounts receivables that would be nice to have in the
bank. I reflected back on when I came to Cook as a 17 year old young
fellow in 1953, now I had a good wife and five children that never
caused me any worry.
good, but all I did was work, six days a week and 12 hours or more each
day. When I was not at the dealership I was thinking about it.
Everything I did was work related including vacations as many of them
were from winning contests with Chevrolet and Oldsmobile so we were with
other dealers. I loved selling cars and meeting new people and taking
care of old customers. My wife Muriel worked at the desk on Saturdays as
did my daughter Becky. My sons Michael, John and David grew up working
at the dealership but they were not interested in sales. The business put
our five children through college. One by one my children left to work other
places. John stayed as he loved working with people but he did not care
for sales as he liked working in the parts department and driving the
wrecker. There is no way a businessman can survive if they do not like
sales, you do not have the option of not being in the middle of the
business as the sales make a business. Just because you are a mechanic
does not indicate you can operate a garage anymore than being a good
cook allows you success in the restaurant business.
Lee and Larry
Phillips were long time faithful hard working employees of mine and they
were getting to the point where they were ready to get in or get out. I
told them to give me a few years for my accountant to get things
ready for me to be able to sell. When you own a corporation you have
enjoyed the income tax benefits but when you sell the business it can
become an income tax liability. In
the Spring of 1988 I sold the business to Lee & Larry but stayed on
until January 6, 1989 to celebrate 25 years in the automobile business
Now that I had
the time I served two years as the Mayor of the City of Cook as I was
elected in November of 1988. My wife Muriel and I decided to also get
serous about our family trees and we spend much time and travel
researching the history of our families. We also finished traveling to
the rest of the States of the Union that we had not been to before. The
last state we visited was Delaware which was the first State to join the
Union. We kept our bags packed and in the trunk of our car so if we were
traveling and wanted to stay longer, we could. How wonderful to be free,
The only thing I
miss about the being in business are the people. In twenty five years
one meets many great people with 99.9 percent of them being enjoyable to
be around. I am glad to see Lee & Larry taking care of the customers and
that they are doing a great job for the people of the Cook area.
Being I needed
to establish a business I studied for my real estate license and then
the brokers license. As I like being my own boss and being independent
but not wanting employees we created the Simonson Internet Realty
company. It is nice again to be in contact with people. But this cookmn
web site has now become my boss.
God has been
good to Muriel and me and now we have time to think. Time is a great
asset, to be able to do what you want when you want is great. We can
borrow most anything but time.
now think about Bill Lobe from reading this story, he
gave me the opportunity to provide for my family which I will always be
thankful for. A person can live and learn and make the best of any
The Bible reads in Hebrew 9:27; "It is
appointed to man once to die, then the judgment".
Lobe and his girlfriend, October 20,1966
Willard Lindgren and Bud Rosen, 1972
about Bill Lobe
again, I have to
tell you about
my first car.
When I was a
young kid in
high school, I
traded my old 22
rifle to my
cousin for his
1936 Ford. That
old V-8 engine
was so wore out,
when I would
drive down the
road there was a
cloud of blue
smoke behind me,
I carried a five
gallon can of
drain oil in the
back. Don Delich
had the Pure Oil
station in town,
and he would
oil. It was
miles from the
farm to Cook.
When I got to
Cook, I would
have to add a
quart or two to
get back home.
One day I saw
that Bill had a
nice little 1937
Chevy. in the
lot. I looked at
it several times
until I got the
courage to go in
and talk to Bill
about making a
looked at my
Ford, and my
didn't take it
for a ride, or
even start the
didn't want to
could see it
sitting in front
of the window,
and he told me,
"Ken, I have to
have $125 and
your old Ford".I
told him that I
only have $75 to
my name, so that
is all that I
can pay. Bill
then said, "Ken,
I've known your
credit is good
as gold, give me
the $75, and you
can bring me $5
or $10 whenever
you have the
it's paid off".
I told him that
I can't do that.
I counted out
the $75 on his
counter and said
you pickup the
money, and give
me the keys to
the Chevy, or
you say no, and
I will put the
money back in my
pocket and go
home until I
more". Bill lit
his pipe, looked
at me for a long
time, then said
"You are just
like your Dad,
If you can't pay
cash for it, you
will wait until
the darn Chevy.
There was never
and I were
Sent by Kenneth
Date: Wednesday, November 12,
Dear Don: It's an interesting
story you're running on Bill Lobe. I knew him only casually. He bought a
beautiful new Piper Super Cub airplane, which I believe he never learned to
fly. He called me, while I still managed the Eveleth-Virginia airport, which
was prior to 1963. He wanted the airplane sold. I met with him at his Lake
Vermilion home where he was sick in bed!! I did arrange to sell the plane to
Bruce Skubic.. I can't remember any of the details. The Super Cub was a
Art, I am glad you sold his
airplane so I did not have to ride with Lobe
11.01.2003. Don. The funniest
story I ever heard about lobe was when he was a Justice of the Peace in cook
Wayne Evans and him had a running battle about with him not living in the town
did he have the right to be a Justice of the Peace in Cook. One day a fellow
from Fort Francis ran into the ditch on 53 he was brought to town arrested for
drunk driving. He was brought before Lobe. Bill was not in and he had giving
orders that if any legal matters came up to send then to Wayne Evans. The fellow
was taken to the Cook News Herald paper office and Wayne did not know what to do
so he sent him back to Lobe. This was in the cold winter and after several hours
and 3 or 4 times back and fore across the street Lobe returned. The fellow was
brought before him. Lobe took one look and said the man was sober and
there was no evidence of him being drunk and dismissed the case. I have no idea
how much if any of this story is true be it would sure fit Bill Lobe. Chuck
Thanks Chuck, I am
sure you knew Lobe well being your parents grocery store was right across the
street from Lobe's.
11.03.2003, Hi Don! I was looking for a summer job
during the Spring of 1952 and kept bugging John Owens every time I saw him
in Jim's Cafe. Finally, he agreed to give me a job washing cars and helping
out on the lube rack. It turned out that he really wanted Mervyn Bergman for
the job as was the case for several years before. But Mervyn had other plans
that summer, so John had to settle for me as a last resort.
In those days when we lubed a
car, all of the windows were washed inside and out and the inside was
vacuumed and wiped clean. One busy day, I was falling behind the lube man so
I was cleaning the outside of both door windows with a towel in each hand,
one on each window.
Suddenly I heard Bill Lobe
cheering from the pass-through office window, "Atta Boy, Dunner! Just keep
working like that and you'll do okay". Of course, I was to surprised that he
ever gave kudos and tried to work hard (when he was around) thereafter.
On the other hand, I never could
please John no matter how hard I tried. Another time, Bill called me into
his office and asked me to clean the commode. So I did - the best way I knew
how. Later, he called me back and said, "come in here and I'll show you how
to clean this thing". So I did and he did. He swished a long handle brush to
push the water out first. Well, a little went down the drain and a little
splashed out. He finally got it looking clean as a whistle. So thereafter, I
was no longer the apprentice "Thunder Mug Engineer". The point is, he
was willing to show me how rather than ask someone else. So I thought he was
somewhat humble that time, and I appreciated it. I made many mistakes during
my introduction to the auto dealership business and learned a lot of common
sense. As I recall, I made it through the summer.
Nylund Real Estate Group
Thanks for your story John.
Lobe impressed people differently as we all do. Yesterday I was
talking to a gal who walked past the dealership every day to school. She
really enjoyed talking to Bill and he was very nice to her.
Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 2010
remember it was in 1954 or 55 Marcus Rankila worked for
Lobe. When the 1955 Chev was introduced (at that
time they were introduced at a certain date) Lobe had
one in the garage waiting for the date of introduction.
Marcus told us that it looked like a small Cadillac, we
convinced him to make a small hole in the painted over
window so that we could see it before the offical
introduction. He was right it was a beauty and still is
Congratulations on your anniversary and keep up
the good work.
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