An Icon is a symbol, representation or figure. Icons are especially important in many religious ceremonies. They point the way to realities beyond the tangible and give us a hint or a suggestion of a world beyond linear comprehension. Icons also emerge in the shape of persons who in a brief moment of time, point to a truth.

Recently the community lost two icons, Don DeKrey and Con Beaulieu. They were both icons in their own way. Both were symbols of how infrastructure, the glue of community is mixed and delivered.

In the case of Con, the truth of his contribution is seen by way of tangible expression. Driving into Bemidji one gets the impression of a community on the move. There is the Beltrami County Complex, Bemidji High School, St. Philips Catholic Church and the Sanford Event Center to name a few. Con was a big part of that. Bemidji has its issues, progress is uneven at best, but it is not standing still.

With Don DeKrey, his influence on the community’s life was more subtle and nuanced. No one sees a depressed woman who can now work or a kid who can pay attention in class, or a young man whose wires have come loose by dint of genetics or chemicals, supported as they try to get their wheels back on the ground. Work is done here, the fruit of the labor harder to see. But work nonetheless

Icons like Con and Don are rare. When they die, the mold is broken. A community’s infrastructure is made of both the observed and unseen. We need both.

About Doug Lewandowski

I have walked a varied path. I was a Christian Brother, an English teacher/counselor and Licensed Psychologist. I have a twice monthly column in the Duluth News Tribune and have had a story published in the Nemadji Review and placed third in this year’s Jade Ring contest of the Wisconsin Writer’s Association. I was a commentator for KCRB, Minnesota Public Radio in the 90s. I transplanted to Duluth to be closer to grandchildren.
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4 Responses to Icons

  1. Mya Beaulieu says:

    Thank you so much for the kind words about Con. I was lucky enough to be a part of his life and so inspired by his strength in life and throughout his death. We will miss him. His wit and smile touched a lot of people. We are proud of his legacy.
    Mya Beaulieu (daughter-in-law)

  2. Mark Farabee says:

    The biggest “in your face” icon this season is this winter and I won’t mourn the breaking of it’s mold!

  3. Mark Beaulieu says:

    Very nice of you to recognize my father. He was a great man, and The Bemidji community was very fortunate that Dad decided on calling Bemidji his home.

  4. l.bian says:

    Thank you for a fitting tribute to my dad.

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