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Paulson remembered as independent, self-sufficient


Fri, Mar 28th, 2003
Posted in Features

“Clarence was planning on putting in a crop this year,” Howard Brekke said admiringly, referring to his uncle, 95 year old Clarence Paulson. “He had no intention of giving up farming and even bought a new corn planter at a sale in Preston a few years ago because he was dissatisfied with the previous year’s corn crop.”

Paulson, 95, a bachelor farmer from Pilot Mound Township was killed this past October. On Friday, March 21, Joseph Folkert of Eyota was sentenced to 40 years in prison for second degree intentional murder in the death of Paulson. Folkert will have to serve a minimum of 26 years.

“When I was a little kid, I would go out to his farm with my mom when she would help out at thrashing,” Brekke recalled. “I thought he was 10 feet tall then. Nothing has happened since then to change my mind.”

Brekke, of Lanesboro, talked about his uncle’s independence and self-sufficiency, describing Paulson as a man who enjoyed trapping, hunting and farming.

Last summer Brekke helped Clarence set four traps for coyotes that were bothering his sheep. One day when Howard was visiting, Clarence told him to come look at the “prize”.

“There was the biggest coyote I had ever seen, all skinned out,” Brekke said. “After Clarence died I went to pull the other traps and there was another coyote in a second trap. Two out of four traps, Clarence would have been proud of that.”

Brekke described Paulson as a quiet man who stuck to himself, preferring to work on his farm.

He believes Paulson’s lifestyle was shaped during the depression. Born in 1907, Clarence attended country school through the eighth grade. In 1928, he rented a farm from his dad.

“Times were tough and Clarence would farm in the day and trap at night,” Brekke said. “Trapping was a source of income and hunting was a source of food.”

According to Brekke, some in the family thought it was time for Clarence to give up farming.

“But my goal was to help him do what he wanted to do,” Brekke said. “Of course we didn’t think he would be harmed like he was.”

Brekke admits that Clarence had the means to make life easier for himself.

“He could have had more; could have had it nicer; could have had it easier,” he said, “but that wasn’t important to him.”

According to his nephew, Clarence’s reputation is as a man honest in his dealings. He enjoyed going to farm sales and stayed up on local news. Up until recently, he liked to ride around the area in his pickup.

“He enjoyed being with people he was comfortable with, Brekke said. “He had many friends and enjoyed visiting with them when they stopped by.”

The murder of Clarence and the subsequent court proceedings have been a difficult time for Paulson’s friends and relatives.

Brekke is quick to praise law enforcement and victim counselors, describing them as considerate and professional.

“Law enforcement, Victim Services, the BCA and the State Attorney General’s office, were great throughout this,” Brekke said. “The way they treated our family was wonderful.”

Brekke doubts that if Clarence could live life over again that he would change too many things.

“He enjoyed doing what he did,” Brekke said. “He was content with life.”

On Tuesday, April 1, Clarence Paulson would have been 96.

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