The Village of Golden Valley was incorporated December 16, 1886. During its early years, Golden Valley was an agricultural community of only a few hundred residents, full of farms, mills, and dairies. Residential development began after the Electric Luce Line Railroad was cut through the village in 1912.
Between 1910 and 1940, Golden Valley's population increased from 692 to 2,040. More residential development followed industry's discovery of Golden Valley after World War II, and the village continued to grow. It became a city in 1972.
A video history of Golden Valley ("Celebrate Golden Valley"), produced in 2003 by Curtis Laine of Studio 23, is available for purchase through the Golden Valley Historical Society.
Was it daffodils or wheat? The story of how Golden Valley got its name has several variations; however, references to grain outnumber those to wildflowers.
The most recent explanation, published in 1986, cites daffodils as the inspiration. According to Golden Valley: A History of a Minnesota City, 1886-1986, the city was named by William Varner, one of the area's first settlers. Upon arriving at St Anthony Falls in 1854, Varner headed west to find a home site and eventually came upon "a hill so high that he thought it was a mountain. He climbed the hill and looking down he could see the whole valley lush and green dotted with golden daffodils. In the distance, he could see a lake shining in the sunlight and he said, 'This is my valley, my Golden Valley.' " That hill, now much eroded by nature and humans, is currently home to the Golden Valley Country Club.
Backtrack to May 29, 1958. An unattributed article in the Suburban Press claimed the name Golden Valley "came about because of the yellow of the cowslips, goldenrod, and sunflowers which covered the hills in 1852 when the first pioneers settled in the valley." As soon as he read that article, 75-year-old Robert Moser, lifelong resident and son of early homesteader Carl Moser, called the paper to set the record straight. He said "it was wheat, acres of it glimmering in a summer sun, that put the word 'golden' in Golden Valley."
Moser's family arrived in the area in 1853, followed a year later by the Varners. Within a few years, other settlers arrived and turned the prairie land into wheat fields. Moser says that William Varner, looking out over those fields from his hilltop homestead, observed: "this is truly a golden valley," and the name stuck.
Fast forward to June 1970, and another variation. Midwest Planning and Research, a consulting firm that used to do most of the City's big planning reports, prepared a document entitled "Historical Background and Statistics of Golden Valley." According to that report, the origin of the name Golden Valley is somewhat obscure. "Various stories concerning the naming of the Village do not bear close scrutiny in view of the physical situation of the Village in the 1880s. The most plausible account of the naming of the Village holds that the name came from Irish immigrants who settled in the area. Wishing to retain some reminder of Ireland, they named the Village 'Golden Valley' after the Golden Vale of Shannon, a portion of the Shannon River Valley in western Ireland."
Golden Valley Hall Of Fame
The Golden Valley Hall of Fame is intended to honor those who have been affiliated with Golden Valley and have become renown. It is a singular recognition of attained fame, distinct from awards for community service and tenure.
Anyone can make a nomination for the Golden Valley Hall of Fame, but nominees must have lived or worked in Golden Valley at some point. The application period will be announced through local media, including the City and Historical Society websites.
The Hall of Fame selectors are community volunteers associated with the Golden Valley Historical Society who will recognize a broad, diverse, and inclusive spectrum of the historic contributors. Applications will be solicited periodically and will be researched and considered by the selection group. A permanent Hall of Fame plaque is maintained designating each inductee.
Chester D. Ptaszek (pronounced pea-ot-zig) was one of thousands of Americans who sacrificed his life for his country in World War II. He was known by his nickname, Chester Bird, as Ptaszek is a Polish derivation of bird.
Chester served in the U.S. Army 29th Infantry, 115th Regiment, which was part of the first wave of more than 32,450 soldiers to storm Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, June 6, 1944.
This was the very beach depicted in the now famous movie "Saving Private Ryan." More than 2,000 soldiers were killed the first day alone, but 35-year-old Chester was not one of them.
His regiment proceeded to northern France, where its first objective was an important submarine base at Brest. A fierce battle took place from July 27-29, and Chester was reported missing in action from July 29 until reported killed in action in France on August 1, 1944. It is believed he was laid to rest in southern France among thousands of other soldiers who gave their lives in this campaign.
Chester's 115th Regiment continued into Belgium and later culminated its service in the capture of Germany.
The American Legion chartered Post 523 in February 1946 and dedicated it to Private Chester D. Ptaszek, or Chester Bird, who served with honor and dedication and paid the ultimate price for the freedom of our nation. Golden Valley thanks Chester Bird for his service and sacrifice to his country.
Lawrence A. (Larry/Bubba) Brown spent his life working to improve and enrich his community and the world beyond.
While growing up in North Minneapolis, Larry spent considerable time at the Phyllis Wheatley Settlement House, which he credited with much of his later success. After graduating from North High School in 1937, he attended Mankato State College on a football scholarship. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942 and spent World War II serving in a segregated unit in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy until he was wounded.
Throughout his working career and afterwards, Larry used the experience he gained to help others. For example, his a stint as a tax auditor with the Minnesota Department of Revenue helped him set up an income tax withholding system in Uganda, East Africa under a contract with U.S. Agency for International Development.
Over the years, Larry coached football and baseball in Brooklyn Park, youth baseball in Golden Valley, and was an assistant football coach at North High for seven years. He also volunteered as a coach and mentor at Phyllis Wheatley, tutored in the Minneapolis Public Schools well into his 80s, and helped promote the RedTail Project, which educates people about the service of World War IIs Tuskegee Airmen.
He is perhaps most well known as one of the three original founders of the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis, which opened its first facility in 1979. Larry recognized the need for housing for parents of hospitalized children in the early 1960s, when his daughter was being treated for leukemia at the University of Minnesota Hospital. Once again he chose to act.
Larry and his wife, Jo, lived in Golden Valley for nearly 43 years and raised three children here. Golden Valley is grateful to Larry Brown for his many contributions to our society.
Christopher Ewald was just 16 years old and fairly new to America when he bought the milk route that marked the beginning of Ewald Bros. Dairy, a business that was to serve Golden Valley and the surrounding area for nearly 100 years.
In 1884 Chris, his mother, and four siblings left Denmark for America, where his mother felt sure there would be opportunities. Chris was 14 and unable to speak English. Being the eldest of the boys, he secured a job on a milk delivery route in Minneapolis to help provide for his family. Two years later he purchased the route and began delivering milk with his younger brother John. At the time, the Ewalds herded their cattle around Lake Hiawatha and what is now known as the Hiawatha Golf Course.
Chris and his family moved to the McNair farm in 1911 and leased 700 acres that included most of North Minneapolis. In 1920, Chris and his four sons Ray, Dewey, Don, and Bob built their first creamery at 2919 Golden Valley Road. Chris was also appointed constable of Golden Valley, helping maintain law and order within the city.
The Ewald brothers continued to grow their business by promoting high service and quality, never merging with other dairies to expand. Competing with more than 200 other local creameries, the Ewald family delivered milk to one out of three customers taking home delivery. At their peak, they produced more than 50,000 gallons of milk per day.
In his later years, Chris enjoyed sitting atop Golden Valley Road near Xerxes Avenue to watch his drivers return from the routes in a thriving business he had built from a single wagon and horse. He died in 1938, leaving the future of the business in the hands of his four sons. Golden Valley thanks Christopher Ewald for benefitting the community with his pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit.
Clayton Moore, spent much of his life entertaining the public, gaining fame and earning hero status with generations of American youngsters as the star of the pioneering television series, "The Lone Ranger."
Born Jack Carlton Moore in 1914, Clayton started as a circus acrobat at a young age and eventually performed with a trapeze act at the Chicago World's Fair in 1934. He worked as a model in Chicago and New York before leaving for Hollywood in 1937. He appeared in more than 70 motion pictures as well as serving in the Army Air Force during World War II.
When "The Lone Ranger" began its television run in 1949, Clayton played the lead role for 221 episodes until the show ended in 1957. General Mills was a sponsor of both the original radio series and the television program. Clayton also starred in two Lone Ranger movies with his television co-star, Jay Silverheels.
In 1964 Clayton moved to Golden Valley with his wife and daughter to be closer to his wife's family in Minneapolis. He obtained a Minnesota real estate license and planned to establish Ranger Realty with a relative. The Moores moved into a new house on Rhode Island Avenue in the Ewald Terrace subdivision. Residents recall Clayton as a kind, considerate man who particularly enjoyed entertaining children. He often handed out replica silver bullets, the Lone Ranger's signature calling card.
Clayton continued to portray the Lone Ranger in promotional appearances nationwide, and the family eventually moved back to California. His autobiography, "I Was That Masked Man," recounts his successful challenge of efforts by a movie producer to bar him from portraying the Lone Ranger.
Public and private accounts agree that Clayton truly transcended the fictional character and strived to live according to the virtues of the "Lone Ranger Creed." Golden Valley acknowledges Clayton Moore for enriching many lives with his performances.
Philip Brunelle, a world-class musician and conductor, has enriched the lives of many through his music. His lifelong zeal for choral, vocal, opera, and symphonic music surfaced at age six, when he requested and received a vocal score of Handel's Messiah! as a Christmas gift.
A native of Faribault, Minnesota, Philip became a professional church organist and a full-time member of the Minnesota Orchestra before age 20. At age 25, he was appointed choirmaster and organist of the Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis, a position he still holds. He also played piano on the first episode of A Prairie Home Companion in 1974, and he continues to work with Garrison Keillor on various projects.
Philip is founder and director of the choral music organization VocalEssence, which just concluded a tour celebrating Minnesota composers and music, and he loves to premiere works by contemporary composers.
His abilities and dedication have brought him countless awards and recognitions. He has been honored internationally by Norway (Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit), the United Kingdom (Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire), Hungary, Sweden, and Mexico. In October 2011, he received the Doctor of Humane Letters, the highest award conferred by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. It is given to individuals who have achieved acknowledged eminence in their fields.
Philip and his wife, Carolyn, have lived in Golden Valley for many years and raised their family here. Thank you, Philip Brunelle, for making our world brighter with your music.
Don Byerly opened his first upscale grocery store in 1968 in the Spring Valley Shopping Center on Duluth Street in Golden Valley. So began a grocery dynasty that has since added 10 more stores throughout the metro area.
Don learned the grocery business working alongside his father, Russell Byerly, chairman of the board of SuperValu, Inc. He then earned a degree in food marketing and worked for other stores before launching Byerlys of Golden Valley.
In its first full year of operation, Byerlys of Golden Valley did $5 million worth of business. Don relied on word of mouth for advertising and avoided sales. He wanted us to come to his store to enjoy shopping in a luxurious environment, and we did.
What a grocery store it was for our community! Carpeted floors, chandeliers, soft lights, wallpaper, solid oak trim, a restaurant, postal service, and yes, an in-house home economist waiting to help us with our parties and recipes. The friendly and knowledgeable staff greeted us by name. We could even order a birthday cake to be made and decorated in the store, and the deli made entertaining easy with meats and cheeses ready to go.
No more glaring lights, noisy carts rattling along a linoleum floor, or coupons and discounts to distract us. We began to look forward to shopping for groceries right in our own city. Instead of a chore, it became FUN.
Thank you, Don Byerly. Because of you, people came from far and wide to Golden Valley to marvel and shop at your store. You helped put us on the map.
Gleason Glover spent most of his life working toward equality and justice for all. As a youth in Newport News, Virginia, he saw legalized racism all around him. He participated in sit-ins as a student at Norfolk State College. After earning a Master's degree in social work at Case Western Reserve University, he was hired as executive director of the Minneapolis Urban League in 1967, a time of great racial strife.
Gleason's style was straightforward and compassionate, using discussion and persuasion. Instead of stirring up aggression or violence, he built coalitions to encourage minority hiring at places like General Mills, Daytons, and the Minneapolis Fire Department. He had long discussions with the Minneapolis Police Department about just treatment of blacks.
With Gleason at the helm, the Urban League's annual budget of $47,000 grew to $4 million, and its staff grew to 75. He created the DAD program for black men and the Street Academy, Minnesota's first black alternative high school.
After retiring in 1992, he continued his work, criticizing corporations for their treatment of minority shoppers and employees, the Minneapolis School Board for not hiring qualified blacks to run the schools, and the Star Tribune for ignoring the urban poor.
For 25 years, many of which he and his wife, Sharon, lived in Golden Valley with their three children, Gleason worked to expose social injustices in our region and in the nation. He would say the doors of government and business were slammed shut to minorities and he had to be the one to pry them open. Golden Valley thanks Gleason Glover for these important contributions to our society.
Betty Crocker celebrates her 90th birthday this year. Since her creation in 1921, she has enjoyed a distinguished history as a multimedia superstar. Betty was never a real person, but her name and identity have become synonymous with helpfulness, trustworthiness, and quality. Featured in radio, TV, print, and now online, this cultural icon has rightfully earned her reputation as the "Original First Lady of Food."
In the 1950s, America's growing families were flocking to their new suburban kitchens. The convergence of new appliances with convenience foods created a need for new recipes. Betty met that need with the first of more than 200 cookbook titles. First issued in 1950, "Big Red" (as the big picture cookbooks have been dubbed in honor of the original) is now in its eleventh edition, released this year.
Betty has changed with the times to become a contemporary icon and stay relevant as a resource for the modern-day cook. Today, Bettycrocker.com is one of the top websites in the food category. Betty Crocker's Facebook community has nearly 1.5 million fans that enjoy interacting with the brand, and millions have downloaded Betty Crocker's mobile app. Betty Crocker branded products garner more than $1 billion in sales annually.
Golden Valley thanks General Mills for being such a generous corporate citizen and Betty Crocker for helping us shine in our kitchens at home.
Robert Provost was one of many Americans who moved to suburban communities after serving in World War II and completing college. Lucky for us he chose Golden Valley.
Even as a young man from Keewatin, Minnesota, Robert was anxious to get going. He tried to sign up for the Navy right after high school but was too young. Determined to serve his country, he went to work building destroyers in a Navy shipyard in Seattle. As soon as he was old enough, he joined the Navy and became a decorated naval pilot. While flying more than 40 missions in World War II, he was shot down but managed to avoid being captured. He received a Distinguished Flying Cross for his sacrifice during the invasion of Okinawa.
Robert continued to serve his country in the U.S. Naval reserve until 1969, when he retired as lieutenant commander.
While attending the University of Minnesota, he lettered in boxing, worked for the U of M Athletic Department, and helped develop the Williams Scholarship Fund.
As a professional, he sold insurance and handled public relations for the Minnesota Insurance Information Center. Robert could often be heard on WCCO radio answering questions from listeners about their policies. As chair of the Consumer Information Task Force he tried to help people understand the new no-fault law when it was implemented.
Robert served his community as a Rotarian and devoted volunteer of the Golden Valley Historical Society and other city improvement activities. Golden Valley thanks Robert Provost for his service to our country and community.