Posted: 11/28/03 ABC News Papers

Hero is ‘married’ to his work by Sue Austreng Life editor When Marvin Buchholz’ pager sounds, he knows it’s his wife calling – not a woman known as Mrs. Buchholz, but the Ham Lake Fire Department.

“Yup, that’s my wedding ring,” the never-married Buchholz joked last week as he talked about his commitment as a volunteer firefighter for Ham Lake.

Buchholz – Capt. Buchholz when he’s with the fire department – said he’s on call every hour of the day, every day of the week. And the fire department averages about 350 calls every year, he said.

Managing his time with expert agility, Buchholz also serves as certified instructor for snowmobile safety courses offered to youth and adults, is active in the local Lions club, and farms 60 acres of land from which he harvests sod, alfalfa, rye, soy beans, hay and oats.

Cradled by farm land that has been in his family for more than 100 years, Buchholz recently took a break from his energetic pace and offered a glimpse into his life of community service.

“It all started back in April of ’69 when the Ham Lake Fire Department was formed,” he said. “They invited people to sign up, and there were 54 who did. I was one of the originals, and now I’m the only one still there.” A few months later, the Ham Lake Lions Club formed a snowmobile club, and Buchholz volunteered to teach snowmobile safety to children and adults. “I just committed myself at that time to do volunteer work,” Buchholz said. “I guess it just kind of progressed from there.” Buchholz’ determination to increase safety and enhance the quality of life in the community hasn’t been overlooked.

Last spring, he was named one of Creating Community’s Community Heroes. And last winter, he received the DNR’s Snowmobile Volunteer Instructor of the Year award, presented by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. “That was a real honor – it certainly wasn’t anything I expected,” Buchholz said. The safety instructor’s own snowmobile history began when he bought his first snowmobile, a Polaris that he picked up when a friend urged him to give it a try. “I thought it would be a fun toy to play around with, so I bought one,” Buchholz said. He now owns two snowmobiles and confesses to logging about 2,000 miles on the trails every winter. Fueled by a concern for the safety of young people, Buchholz organized the snowmobile safety course, offered through the Lions club. According to Doris Nivala, who nominated Buchholz for the Community Hero award, Buchholz’ safety course “draws youth from throughout the state.” “Marvin’s concern for youth and their safety is his mission,” Nivala said.

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