Letter: Bill Goede was a true leader

By Al Zdon

The Minnesota American Legion lost a great treasure with the passing of Bill Goede. He never stopped working for the betterment of this veterans organization.

I was around for a lot of Bill’s career with the Legion. He was the first membership director after I became editor of the Legionnaire, and we got to know each other better on the first of my many National Commander’s Tours, where the membership director is in charge.

For me, though the years, he was always someone you could approach with a new idea or even a bad idea. He would sort them out. He always had a vision for how the Legion could be a better organization, and he was willing to lend his support to new ways of doing things. More than that, he would invest his own time and talent into a project that was good for veterans.

Just one example. In about the year 2000, someone had an idea to take the stories of veterans that had appeared in the Legionnaire and put them in a book. Not only would the stories be preserved more permanently, but the funds from the sale of the book could be used to support the construction of the new World War II Memorial at the State Capitol. In the end, “War Stories” sold over 5,000 copies and over $70,000 was raised for the memorial. The book is sold out, but “War Stories Vol. II” and “War Stories Vol. III” remain available for purchase.

I can attest that the idea of the book would have remained an idea except for Bill Goede. He made it happen. He provided the leadership and the determination to see it through.

Nearly every one of us who knew Bill through the years can tell a story like that. He lived and breathed the Legion. He exemplified the axiom of Past National Commander Dan Ludwig, who was a mentor to both of us: “Tell the truth. Take the high road. Remember the cause.”

As the Legion slowly turns toward younger leadership, those ascending leaders can have no better example than Bill Goede.

Al Zdon

Hibbing Post 222