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Letter to the Editor: What a Leif!

Richfield resident Roy Reynolds writes about the Leif Holter, an active community member and youth advocate, for who the Leif Holter Hole in One fundraising event is named after.

Editor’s Note: The following is an article written by community and Richfield Optimist Club member Roy Reynolds in honor of the 43rd annual Leif Holter Hole in One Contest, which raises money for area youth.

The is preparing for the 43rd annual Leif Holter Hole in One Contest, which is a fundraising event running from July 29-31 at 70th Street and Lyndale Avenue athletic field. You ask how something so simple can have so much history?

It started 42 years ago when Leif Holter, community member, business owner and member, started with the Richfield Optimist Club in 1961 and with fellow members founded a great fundraising event for the Richfield youth; the Hole in One Event.

In 1964 developers Harvey Ratner and Marv Wolfson, who later owned the Minnesota Timberwolves, wanted to build an apartment complex at the current site of Richfield High School athletic field on 70th Street and Lyndale Avenue. At that time the property was owned by Mr. O’Keefe who farmed vegetables and was planning to sell to the developer who wanted to build the apartment complex. Leif sought out Carlton W. Lytle, superintendent of at the time, and  members of the community to sign a petition to stop the building and preserve the field.

His petition was accepted by the Board of Education Indepenedent School District 280 and proceedings were undertaken to purchase the property from the O'Keefe Family. He was so firm in his belief to save the field that when the builders offered to send all of there business to him if he would retract the petition he proudly declined.

The board of education saw a need for the property to be used for an athletic program, which was expanding rapidly in Richfield due to the growing school enrollment. The board used eminent domain to take the property for school use. So, in agreement with Lytle, the Hole in One Contest could be held at that field as long as Leif wanted and the proceeds would go back to the Richfield youth.

The developers moved on down Lyndale Avenue with their apartment plans and built their first complex at 75th Street and Lyndale and their second one at 76th Street and Penn Avenue, which is now across from the International Headquarters of Best Buy Corporation.

Leif, a hard working community member, worked for Ford Motor parts for 11 years before going into business for himself. He owned two fuel stations in the neighborhood at 66th Street and Lyndale Avenue and 98th Street and Normandale Boulevard.

Everyone in the community got to know that when he would come through the door they would ask him, “What do you want from us now to help the Richfield youth.”

He enjoyed working with the children so much that he would often have some of the young ladies from to his stations to teach them some basics of his service station business changing oil and tires. They rewarded his efforts by making him chairman of the 1969 Richfield graduation class. Leif also enjoyed making the community a better place for all, he was the first member of the chamber of commerce beautification committee, organized the building of two fire places at and two at .

Not a surprise that such a good person has been married for 63 of the 96 years of his life. He met his wife Ida Mae and started going steady on July 19, 1937 and have been together ever since for 74 years. Leif and Ida Mae have lived the past 19 years at 7500 York Avenue in Edina and he continues to attend Optimist Club of Richfield meetings when Ida Mae is able to be alone. Leif quit driving about 5 years ago even though his driver’s license was good for about three more years. The two of them flew to Hawaii for a family event about three years ago at the age of 93.

Leif plans to work at his 43rd annual event on Saturday and Sunday from 1-3 p.m. and he would like to see everyone at the event and is still very excited about raising money for our Richfield youth.

Thank You Lief for helping to make life for so many young people so much better.

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