Friends, family and residents gathered outside the Minnesota Veterans Home in Silver Bay on what would have been Lloyd Houle's 90th birthday to dedicate a tree in his memory.

A tree planted in front of the Minnesota Veterans Home was dedicated in memory of Lloyd Houle. (Teri Cadeau / News-Chronicle)
A tree planted in front of the Minnesota Veterans Home was dedicated in memory of Lloyd Houle. (Teri Cadeau / News-Chronicle)
The maple tree was planted outside the home shortly after Houle's death in 2016, but the dedication was postponed until all his children could be gathered together for the occasion during Bay Days on Saturday, July 14.

Silver Bay Mayor Scott Johnson shared remarks about Houle's lasting legacy. Houle was instrumental in bringing the Vets Home to Silver Bay and served as a Lake County commissioner for over 20 years.

"Lloyd's influence in this part of the county, and countywide, is renown," Johnson said. "He brought a county presence that was not here before. He made sure county offices were here so that people didn't have to travel to Two Harbors for everything. That still exists today."

Johnson became acquainted with Houle when Johnson first started on the Silver Bay City Council. Houle mentored Johnson in his own way by giving Johnson a push every once in a while.

"He knew how to push me along. He'd say: 'Have you ever thought about doing it this way or considered this?'" Johnson said. "Never critical, but he always knew how to get the job done. I'm proud to say that he was a part of my life."

Houle was a member of was a member of Sychar Lutheran Church, Sons of Norway, Loyal Order of Moose, Taconite Masonic Lodge, Emera Chapter of Order of the Eastern Star, Aad Temple of the Shrine-Director's Staff and Shrine Clowns.

Houle was honored as Lake County Senior Citizen Volunteer of the Year and was known for his volunteerism at the Vets Home.

Ward Wallin of the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs shared an anecdote about how Houle would forget to RSVP for the annual volunteer banquet.

"Maybe 15 years ago, we have our volunteer banquet and Lloyd showed up for the meal," Wallin said. "I said: 'Lloyd, you should have RSVPed; I didn't know you were coming.' He said, 'Oh, no problem. I'll do it next year.'

"Next year, we're having the meal and again Lloyd walks in. He didn't RSVP. And I said: 'Lloyd, remember I told you to RSVP?' And he looked at me and he said: 'I'll tell you what, as long as I'm alive, I'm coming to the lunch.' Then he winked at me. And then he said, 'If I don't make it one year, you can have my meal.'"

Houle was known for playing music and visiting with the veterans.

"He wouldn't hesitate to spend a moment talking with our vets," Wallin said. "Or to play a song or share a story. He was always a phone call away."

A commemorative plaque was placed in front of the maple tree.

"I hope this tree grows to be 100 years old and 200 feet tall," Johnson said.