Editor’s note: This letter was written by Michael Stotesbery, to parents Phil and Cyndy Stotesbery–in honor of the 40th anniversary of Larry’s Super Market in Pelican Rapids. We publish the letter here as a tribute to one of Pelican’s long-established, family-run businesses.

Son Mike Stotesbery with his parents Phil and Cyndy, who are marking their 40th anniversary in the grocery business in Pelican Rapids, at Larry’s Super Market.

Dear Mom and Dad,
Around 40 years ago, you took off on quite a journey. Shortly after having your first child, you both left good teaching jobs in Wadena, to live in a new town which you probably had never visited until the year prior. You were coming to start a new life in a new town at new jobs. You were young and really taking a big jump in your lives. You were former elementary teachers operating a grocery store and managing over 30 employees while also caring for (what I’ve heard) a quite adorable newborn.

I bet you had no idea 40 years later you would still be living in this new town, have wonderfully raised two children, have three adoring grandsons, and beyond all of that had positively affected almost a thousand lives while managing and mentoring employees at Larry’s Super Market.

I am very proud of you Mom and Dad.

Sure, I have biased vision, but I have seen firsthand your care and concern for your employees and customers. You taught me and hundreds of others excellent customer service skills and how to write to-do lists with pencil on a cardboard box. You helped teach so many high school kids to follow a schedule, be accountable, and jump to attention when they hear the word “courtesy.”

A countless number of people today show great care for their elders by following your example, and they are also careful to not break their eggs or squish bread while bagging their own groceries.

From listening to mix cassette tapes while doing bakery, to mopping floors as quickly as possible before closing on a Friday night, to all of the hilarious antics of John Paulson and others, my childhood, along with many others, is filled with great memories spent a few hundred yards from Highway 59.

Speaking of John, I would like to thank you as well. It is quite amazing you have been so dedicated over these years to the store, my family, and the community. It is even more amazing that you still have this job after you “babysat” me when I was a toddler, since your definition of babysitting included leaving me at home by myself. No worries, I was able to run out in the rain, in my diaper, and have a little fun. John, you truly are a great man, a funny dude, and an institution within the memories of myself and so many other friends. To all current and former
employees, I hope you have some fond memories as well and a big thank you for being part of mine.

Mom and Dad, as said, I am very proud of you, but also, I hope you are proud of yourselves. You ran a business with great integrity and care for your customers, employees, and the community. You went out of your way to source and supply semi loads of global foods before your main suppliers started carrying them. You brought in products for people with different ailments or allergies.

Your Thanksgiving appreciation meals were a labor of love for your employees, and some, to this day, say your stuffing is the best hands down.

You ran your business and cared for the community of Pelican Rapids with unselfishness, attention, and love. Even though your heart, soul, and numerous hours were spent in the store, Brittany and I still always felt like we were number one.

Thank you so much Mom and Dad for all you have done and all you continue to do. I know this road wasn’t easy. I’m glad you stuck with it and chose this path. I’m glad you moved forward with passion and truly put in your blood, sweat, and tears. I am incredibly fortunate to have you as my role models and to have been raised in such a compassionate environment.

Congratulations on 40 years!!!

Michael Stotesbery