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Erdmans are the 2014 Hancock grand marshals

Stan and Katie Erdman are the 2014 Hancock July 4 parade grand marshals.

For the last 22 years, Katie Erdman has been the person to write a profile of the Grand Marshal for the Hancock Fourth of July Celebration.

For many years, when the Grand Marshal was still just a single person, Katie would write a feature on the Grand Marshal and their husband or wife. Eventually, the Hancock Lions started choosing couples.

This year, Katie and her husband Stan are on the other side of the news, serving themselves as the Grand Marshals for the upcoming Fourth of July parade in Hancock.

Both Katie and Stan grew up on farms just outside Hancock. They attended different high schools, Stan went to Morris and Katie stayed in Hancock, which meant they didn’t meet until they were teenagers.

Katie’s first impression of Stan wasn’t a good one – in the middle of a snowball fight, Stan threw one at Katie that hit her in the face and broke her glasses.

“We didn’t start dating right away – that didn’t impress me too much,” laughed Katie.

The pair started dating late during Katie’s junior year – “He kept bugging me and bugging me and I finally said yes.” They got engaged at Katie’s senior prom and were married that fall.

Rather than heading off to college at the University of Minnesota, Morris, Katie took a job as a typesetter at the Hancock Record and Stan started work at Fingerhut in Morris.

In 1976, Stan and Katie bought a locker plant in Hancock. In addition to processing meat, they made deliveries to supper clubs and restaurants and would cater events in the area.

One of their biggest challenges was catering to around 1,500 people for the Hancock All-School Reunion in 1982, said Stan.  

While they were business owners, Stan and Katie were also involved with reinvigorating the Hancock Commercial Club. The organization was responsible for revitalizing the city’s Fourth of July celebration before the Hancock Lions took over organizing the celebration.

During that time, Stan also helped organize Dairy Days, a regional celebration that took place in Hancock – for a time, in place of the traditional Fourth of July event. Some of the events from Dairy Days, like live music outdoors, eventually made their way into the Fourth of July celebration.

After 10 years as small business owners, the couple sold the plant and worked in Hancock and Morris. Eventually, Stan ended up at Hancock Co-op for 20 years and Katie returned to the Hancock Record as editor.

“The one thing I told [Jim Morrison] is that I could do everything but I had never written, but he talked me into it – it’s my favorite part now,” said Katie.

“I think a community newspaper is very important. It’s really hard to get the message out without the newspaper there. When something bad happens people get kind of mad at the paper, then they realize after a while that there’s two sides to every story.”

Over the years, Stan and Katie have been active with a number of community organizations. Stan served 22 years on the Hancock Fire Department and they are both active with the Lake Emily Improvement Association. Stan was an officer in the Hancock Jaycees and Katie a longtime member of the Hancock Homemakers. Katie currently serves on the Hancock Health Services Board and the St. Frances Board of Directors.

Both Katie and Stan have fond memories of Fourth of July celebrations. As a family member of the Christian Reformed Church, Katie helped build and ride on  floats decorated with chicken wire stuffed with napkins for the parade. The church also held a picnic and had games for children. Her grandma lived close by, so Fourth of July was a big, family event.

The weekend is still a time for the Erdman family. Katie and Stan’s children, Jamie and Tammy, bring their spouses and children out to the couple’s home on Lake Emily for the long weekend each summer.

Katie’s sister Joan owns the neighboring lake home, so many other far-flung family members and friends stop in to celebrate.  

Both Katie and Stan said they’re grateful to be part of the Hancock community. Over the last year, Stan has battled some health issues that damaged his kidneys and vision.

“It’s a great community – we really felt it last year when he was sick – people were really concerned,” said Katie.

“It’s the nicest town I’ve ever lived in,” said Stan.