By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
When Pierz golfers head to the links this spring, Hole #4 will showcase a new feature — a covered bridge.
The covered bridge was designed by Sara Rutz of Bob’s Lumber, at the request of the Bill Stoll family.
Bill was an influential and lifelong resident of Pierz and raised his family in the town he loved.
When he passed away in January 2013, his four children wanted to leave a memorial in the town their father loved and served his entire life.
Bill was born in Pierz in 1924. He was drafted into the U.S. Army while attending the University of Minnesota in 1943. He returned to his hometown after serving in World War II, completed his degree, married his wife, “Dellie” in 1947, and began his 60-year career at Farmers and Merchants (F & M) State Bank in 1948.
He would eventually become the president and owner of F & M Bank in 1965, until he retired in 1990. From then, he served on the Board of Directors until 2008.
Stoll was active in the community as a member of the Knights of Columbus, a charter member of the Pierz Commercial Club and in Pierz Lions Club. He served on the advisory board and governing board of St. Gabriel’s Hospital in Little Falls and was past president of the Minnesota Bankers Association.
As a member of the Pierz Park Board, Bill was instrumental in the development and success of the Pierz Golf Course. Tom said he was instrumental in helping to make the Pierz course one of the premier nine-hole courses in the state, and at one time, in the nation.
“My dad was very a influential man in the community, not only through his position in town as president of the bank, but he did so many things for the community,” said Tom.
After the dust had settled following their father’s death, Tom said he was nominated by his siblings to come up with a plan for a memorial and began thinking about what it should be.
“Doing something at the golf course seemed like such a natural idea, “ said Tom.
Bill had taught both Tom and his brother, Robert, how to golf. “We were both successful high school golfers, which we attributed to dad. The golf course seemed like a logical place.”
The idea for the bridge came to Tom in what he called that “half-awake” state of sleep. “I pictured a bridge being built over the river,” he said.
The family often golfed at the Pierz Golf Course and made the trek across the bridge over the creek that is the water hazard on Hole #4 — Tom called it the “signature hole” of the course.
“There were times we’d go across the bridge and stop, waiting for other golfers. We’d lean over the railing and look at the water,” said Tom. “My dad and I had both commented to each other, ‘You know, there are some golf courses that have covered bridges; wouldn’t that look cool here.’”
A bird feeder purchased on a trip showcased a covered bridge that looked a lot like what Tom had pictured in his mind.
Before mentioning the idea to his siblings, Lee, Carolyn and Robert, Tom discussed the idea with Daniel Baert, superintendent at the Pierz Golf Course.
“He agreed it was a cool idea,” said Tom. The idea was presented to the Park Board, the mayor and eventually the Council. Tom said all felt it was a great idea.
The project is a bigger deal than the family originally planned, but Dellie and all the kids are on board.
“After all,” Tom said, “Dad had a big heart, and he always seemed bigger than life.
“Dad was very prominent in the community,” said Tom. Through the bank, Bill helped many people start their businesses.
“He was always there for people,” said Tom. “He was one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet; personable, funny and an avid golfer himself.”
The bridge, which Tom said will be aesthetically pleasing and open, not claustrophobic, will feature lights for evening golfers, walkers and cross country skiers to enjoy.
An inscription, which is not yet set in stone (no pun intended, said Tom), is being considered — “A legacy is not measured in material possessions, but the quality of life lived.”
“The bridge will be dedicated not just to my dad, but really it’s a statement about Pierz as a community,” said Tom. “That inscription is not only about my dad, but really about how my dad felt about Pierz. He was just flat-out in love with the community.
“It is our hope that this won’t be just looked at as some monument being built to my dad, but really it’s representative of the kind of community that Pierz is and how proud the Stoll family is to have been part of it,” Tom said.