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One Moment, Please... Miles of smiles

Fri, Mar 28th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

On Wednesday, March 19, 2014, the community of Fountain lost an icon. For 42 years, Willis “Willie” J. Cambern made his livelihood in the city of Fountain alongside his wife Beezie, a husband-and-wife team owning and operating Willie’s Grocery & Locker.

And, while Willie’s Grocery & Locker will continue to operate with his wife Beezie and son Darrin, things will never be the same for all of us. We all know this is a part of life, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Willie left behind a legacy. When you think about everyone who stopped by Willie’s Grocery & Locker, local or from a great distance, think of how many people left the small town grocery store with a smile.

With his joyful wit, Willie made people laugh and gave them a sense that the fabled TV show town of Mayberry still existed in this little corner of southeastern Minnesota.

He had free treats available at the front counter for kids, so our children always wanted to go to Willie’s Grocery & Locker when they heard we were heading to the store. He made every person feel important. He was an entertainer who hosted the greatest show on Earth.

People would drive for miles to buy his famous ring of bologna, as recognized by the two-hour long line of people attending Willie’s visitation at Riley Funeral Home in Chatfield.

Willie’s customers, near and far, didn’t just come to Willie’s Grocery & Locker to buy meat. They came to see Willie, buy some meat, and leave with a smile.

He definitely made Willie’s Grocery & Locker the place where you “meat” your friends.

I believe we can learn something from every person who we come in contact with. Our lifelong intersections with people happen for a reason.

My intersection with Willie Cambern taught me to continue to strive to make people smile. Willie’s sense of humor and enthusiasm was contagious. He brought joy into the lives of many people over the course of his lifetime. For every smile he generated, I’m sure his smiles traveled many miles more.

God bless you, Willie.


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11:30:55, Mar 28th 2014

RoryKramer says:
I couldn't have said it any better. My family has shopped at Willie's for longer than I've been alive and just spending those few minutes in the store with Willie always made the day go better. He was truly concerned about everyone that he knew and always put a smile of my face. Even though the Fountain bank is full of money, Willie was the 'richest person' in Fountain because he cared about Fountain and everyone cared about him.

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