Bus Depot Door Dedication
Join us this Saturday, September 23 at 2:00 pm for a very special event. Doors open at 1:00 pm at Hodgins Berardo Arena in Coleraine
Bus Depot Door Dedication to Itasca County Veterans
Built in February 1941, the Redding Bus Depot was located in downtown Grand Rapids one block east of Old Central School near the intersection of Highways 2 and 169. Built by Maynard Redding, the building also housed Redding’s Café and in the basement was the Miller Bowling Center. Over the years, the Bus Depot became considered by longtime residents as somewhat of an icon and reference point in the community. During those years, being that Greyhound bus was a common form of transportation when traveling out of town, even to destinations as close as Hibbing, the Bus Depot was a hub of activity. When the Bus Depot closed in 1991, Maynard Redding was the oldest active agent under contract with Greyhound Bus Lines.
Many of those who walked through the Bus Depot Door and boarded a Greyhound bus were the young men and women who either volunteered or were drafted for military service, particularly in the 1960’s and 1970’s during the Vietnam conflict. Residents and military service members made their way through the Bus Depot Door as recently as 1991, when the Bus Depot finally closed its doors.
Fast forward to 2021, the expansion of the Itasca County Justice Center brought the removal of several downtown buildings, including the Bus Depot. Before the building’s destruction, lifelong Itasca County resident and Vietnam Veteran Kenny Clafton brought forward the idea of saving and preserving the Bus Depot Door because of what it represents for the many Veterans who walked through it, and for some, didn’t come home. Clafton’s suggestion was brought to the County Board by Veterans Service Officer Luke St. Germain in August 2021. The Itasca County Commissioners approved the donation of the Bus Depot Door to the Itasca County Historical Society, who in turn, felt the more appropriate home for the Door was with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1720 in Grand Rapids, where it has been on display since.
Commander of VFW Post 1720 at the time, Mike Randall told commissioners at that meeting how the VFW intended to display the door. “We can do the Door honor by displaying it behind the POW-MIA table,” Randall said. “The plan is not to touch that door much at all. Not to restore it, but leave it the way it is—tattered and worn, much like the Veterans who walked through it.”
The Itasca Historical Society has been working several years on a “Veterans Project”, which has been collecting stories from Itasca County Veterans. From this research, the Historical Society noted that there were eight Itasca County Veterans who were either killed in action (KIA) or remain missing in action (MIA) during the Vietnam Conflict. To further acknowledge the significance of the Door and what it represents, the VFW membership voted to dedicate the Door to these eight Veterans who are among the 54,000 Americans KIA or remain MIA during the Vietnam conflict. Those eight Veterans are:
Lauren “Renny” Huerd
There are nine window panes of glass on the door, which is on display at the VFW Post 1720 in Grand Rapids, MN. Eight of the panes will include information about each of the eight Veterans and the ninth window will tell the story of the door and what it represents for the many men and women who have served their country. They may not have walked through THAT door, but every soldier, airman, sailor, coastie and Marine has walked through a door, or many doors, during their service and sacrifice to our country.
To prepare the display of the door and organize a dedication event, the VFW enlisted the help of VFW Auxiliary. In contacting each Veteran’s family to notify them in person about the door display and of the dedication, it became clear to the Auxiliary that, due to the emotional and touching nature of this dedication, the attendance will likely exceed the capacity of the VFW. Being that four of the eight Veterans were Greenway High School graduates, the event will be held at Hodgins-Berardo Arena in Coleraine. It should be noted comrades who served with some of the eight and some family members are traveling from across the country to attend this dedication.
The public is encouraged to attend the Bus Depot Door Dedication on Saturday, September 23, 2023 at 2:00 pm, with a social reception to follow at the Locker Room Bar in Coleraine. The event is free and open to the public.