Austin remembers George Moline

Published 10:54 am Monday, April 29, 2013

George Moline, front row center, gathers with family on his 84th birthday celebration.

George Moline, front row center, gathers with family on his 84th birthday celebration.

Moline Real Estate & Auction Co. owner loved work, horses

George Moline suffered a stroke about two years ago. It was the only thing that could get the then 82-year-old to retire.

“Had he not had the stroke, he’d still be working,” said his son, Chuck Moline.

0429 Moline1

George Moline

It was what he was known for. The Austin businessman, real estate agent and auctioneer died Wednesday, April 24, at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Luverne, Minn., at the age of 84. The longtime owner of Moline Real Estate & Auction Co. was known by many for always being involved in the community and being dedicated to his work.

Email newsletter signup

George was a unique man, Chuck said, and was very deliberate in his actions.

“He marched to the beat of his own drummer,” Chuck said.

Joe Fuhrman, owner and broker with Fuhrman Real Estate and George’s competitor, said he and George had gotten to know one another well.

“He was a true character,” he said. “He was enjoyable to be around.”

George was born March 29, 1929, in Pepin, Wis., to Axel and Minnie (Christensen) Moline. He attended school in Pepin and became a telegraph and teletype operator for the Milwaukee Railroad. He met Marie Milliren when she was a junior in high school.

During the Korean War, George was proud to serve in the U.S. Army, Chuck said. After he returned from the war, he and Marie married on June 13, 1953, and were together for nearly 60 years.

George took a job with American Motors. Then, in 1964, he and Marie moved to Austin. George became manager for the local St. Paul Clothing House, a men’s ready-to-wear clothing store. In 1976, he changed gears and bought a Dugan’s sporting goods store, which he turned into Moline Sports and Awards. He then became a real estate broker and auctioneer in 1982.

“The auction part of that business grew exponentially,” Chuck said. “He just really enjoyed that part of it.”

For particularly large auctions where George needed more staff, he turned to competitors like Dave Thompson of Thompson Auction Service.

“He’d invite competitors to come in and help,” Chuck said.

Though they had rival businesses, Fuhrman and George were close friends. George was always excited to put a deal together, Fuhrman said.

“He was a good competitor and a good friend,” he said. “We’ll miss him.”

Chuck said his father was a highly-principled businessman.

“He was very conscious throughout his working career that he treated people fairly,” he said. During his time in Austin, George was a member of numerous boards and involved with countless organizations, from the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce to St. Olaf Lutheran Church. He was a past president of the Mower County Fair Board, and active with the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“His patriotism and his love for this country … I don’t think there’s anybody who would question how strong that was,” said Chuck, adding George wound make a point at family get-togethers of saying, “God bless the troops.”

It was George’s opinion the measure of a friend came down to one thing: Whether that person would jump in a foxhole with him, Chuck said.

George Moline, 38 at the time, takes his horse trail riding.

George Moline, 38 at the time, takes his horse trail riding.

George had many friends in the Austin community, including other real estate agents. Many of those he grew up with in the business have predeceased him.

In their free time, George and his wife took many trips together. They ranged from deer hunting expeditions in Idaho to a sightseeing journey through Scandinavia.

“We had a lot of fun traveling,” Marie said.

Among George’s other hobbies was trapshooting, which he loved, Chuck said. He was also an avid gun collector, and enjoyed hunting game like pheasants and elk.

But perhaps his favorite pastime was his horses. George had a small ranch west of Austin where he kept them.

“He loved to go on trail rides,” said Marie, adding that George was the chairperson of former Governor Al Quie’s trail ride.

“Dad helped coordinate that each year,” Chuck added.

Horses were a big part of the family, Marie said. The whole family rode together nearly every weekend in summers, and they spent a great deal of time in Whitewater State Park and elsewhere in southeast Minnesota.

“You rode or you got left behind,” Chuck laughed.

To raise a bit of extra money to support his own horses, George helped take care of others’.

“He would actually go out and trim horses, shoe horses,” Chuck said.

George suffered a stroke at the age of 82. He closed his business, which is now for sale, in February 2011 and moved to a nursing home in Luverne, Minn., while he tried to recover. About two weeks ago, he suffered a heart attack.

Work was George’s favorite hobby, Chuck and Marie agree, but he enjoyed his downtime, as well. George was a man who enjoyed sitting down beside a fire, cracking open a beer and playing a Hank Williams song on his guitar — after some time on the trails, that is.

“He was happiest after being in the saddle all day long,” Chuck said.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. today at St. Olaf Lutheran Church. Interment will be at Oakwood Cemetery in Pepin at a later date. Austin Post No. 91 American Legion and Olaf B. Damm Post No. 1216 VFW is in charge of military rites. Visitation is scheduled for Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Clasen-Jordan Mortuary and for one hour before the service on Monday at the church.