By Kathy Hanks The Hutchinson News
firstname.lastname@example.org HUDSON - Behind his back, Alvin Brensing's daughters lovingly called him Mr. Flour.
It was appropriate for the man who committed most his life to the Stafford County Flour Mill Company. He was so dedicated, even after retirement he kept returning to work.
"He was a very devoted employee," said Reuel Foote, current company president. "Other than World War II, this was the only job he had."
Brensing, 97, died Dec. 3, and will be buried Monday at Hudson's Trinity Cemetery. It's where his parents and wife Zelda are buried. He took it upon himself to care for the little cemetery, going so far as to wash off the tombstones. He turned a tool shed on the property into a building where loved ones can look up locations of graves. He even installed an air conditioner for comfort. He didn't heat the building because he figured visitors wouldn't come when it was cold.
Hudson, 45 miles west of Hutchinson, was Brensing's world, and the Hudson Cream Flour was his focus.
Growing up on a farm outside of town, he graduated from Hudson High School, and returned to work after graduating with honors from Salt City Business College.
He was 21 when he started as a bookkeeper on May 20, 1937. The mill was built in 1909 by the Gustav Krug family. Brensing began work under William Krug. He also worked under Leonard Brim, and then Brensing became president.
"He was super to work for," said Foote. "He was progressive, fair and a good mentor. The business flourished under Alvin."
The flour mill grew two and a half times bigger under his direction and the grain storage doubled.
When he had been at the business 70 years, they had a reception for him and presented him with a watch. However, he didn't want a retirement party because he never retired.
Up until the day he left Hudson to live at Wesley Towers, he was reporting to work.
"It was his place to go," said his daughter Jo Ann Brensing Beugelsdijk. "They would save the mail for him, and he would sit in his chair and go through it. They showed a great amount of love and respect for my dad."
Foote still misses Brensing at the elevator.
"He taught me that our word is our bond," Foote said. "If you agree to do something, you do it."
When something needed done in the community, Brensing would do it.
"He wasn't a complainer," Beugelsdijk said.
Growing up, she remembers her dad turning on the furnace every Sunday morning to heat up Trinity Community Church. And for years he was the faithful local weatherman, collecting the data for the National Weather Service. Even on Sunday he would walk over to the elevator to collect the data.
Very supportive of the school kids, he made sure each one left after a tour of the mill with a five-pound bag of flour.
"After mom died (1993) he got tired of not smelling fresh bread baking. And he began experimenting with different ingredients such as eggs, milk or water and came up with three recipes, including Al's cinnamon raisin bread that were on the back of the flour package," Beugelsdijk said.
His strong work ethic, usually putting in as much as 80 hours a week at the mill, made him reluctant to take a vacation. However, when he did travel he enjoyed himself.
"Both our parents taught Jo Ann and me how to respect and help other people," said Elaine Brensing Woolf. "We also were taught to speak to people when we met them."
Alvin and Zelda taught by example, taking very good care of their parents. Their daughters learned if they were lucky to have elderly parents they should take care of them.
"I will miss his business knowledge," said Woolf. "And I will miss having him as my dad."