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Greater Staples Stories

Jim Hofer
Mary Jo and Jim Hofer

Jim Hofer
I came to Staples as a Vocational Agriculture teacher in 1968. After student teaching in Brainerd and applying for a position there, a college friend who student taught in Staples readily shared the exciting and progressive things happening in the school system and the community.

When my friend declined a position offered to him in Staples to return to his home area to farm, he encouraged me to apply. Faced with offers from Brainerd and Staples, the decision was easy and I never looked back. Especially after meeting Mary Jo, who came to Staples in 1970 from Bemidji State University during her senior year to participate in a federally funded program called Differentiated Staffing. This paid internship program led to her being offered a position on the teaching staff.

It was the intent of this Rosemount girl to migrate back to the metro area after graduation, while I expected to be drafted into the military and then return to teaching in the Red River Valley area. Neither plan happened. There were too many great things happening in Staples, including our budding relationship.

Mary Jo and I married in 1972. Through the years we raised three girls, Melissa, Rachael and Amanda.

Our daughters received an outstanding education from the dedicated teachers in the Staples Motley schools. They participated in extra-curriculars ranging from the fine arts to athletics. They took advantage of college level classes in the high school and cooperative arrangements with Central Lakes College, giving them a head start toward finishing college degrees.

So here we are, some 40 plus years later, still calling the Staples Motley area our home. Both of us retired from education and have moved on to other adventures, from work to volunteerism. We were encouraged and motivated to become more involved in this community.


Jim Hofer
John Gorton, DDS, and Sally Gorton

John Gorton, DDS
Upon completion of dental school we began looking at various cities in Minnesota as possible lifetime destinations. All the locations were in much larger cities with cultural, educational and economical offerings. Staples, Minnesota, just did not seem to have a lot to offer. It was only a small town close to lakes and outdoor activities. Or so we thought...

We were introduced to Staples by friends of ours, Dr. Bill and Helen Mennis. They had moved here early in 1968 and encouraged us to come to Staples to visit them and look at the town. We arrived with the idea we would enjoy a weekend with friends and possibly look at the Brainerd lakes area in general. We were introduced to many people. In the fall of 1968 we decided that the Staples community was the place we wished to live and raise our five children.

The question was, how we came to that conclusion. Staples did not score high in the cultural or economical areas; however, we were impressed with the school district. We came to realize the true drawing card for us was the honestly and integrity of the people who lived here. Staples had people who were willing to take the chance to live and build community.


Pam Collins
Pam Collins

Pam Collins
In 1999 I drove into Staples with my husband for the first time. He, a pastor, had accepted a call in Staples and was telling me about the congregation we were about to meet. At the time, I had never heard of Staples, except for the office supply store.

Being raised in Chicago and living around the Midwest, I had never lived in a city smaller than 20,000. Once I got to know the Staples community and the people who live here, the transition became easy.

I called the Community Ed office and said I would like to volunteer. I began working with a team of students who wanted to open a coffeehouse. I jumped in with both feet and soon I was meeting people and interacting with community members. I couldn’t believe how nice, friendly and kind everyone was. I learned much about small town living.

I learned about community theater, local art programs and music organizations. There was plenty for me to get involved with.

I have lived in Staples for more than 12 years now and I have to say, I am living my best life. I learned what it means to be a part of community, and I have learned that I have something to offer someone. We all do.