The unsung heroes in the community: One couple gives its’ all

Published 7:04 am Tuesday, December 4, 2018

By Roger Boughton

Guest Columnist

Unsung heroes are those who make a difference in the shadows of the community. They are those special heroes who make the non-profits hum, the charities flourish and the small businesses prosper.

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You never read about them in the newspapers or see them on television, but you benefit from their dedication to their work and their ability to make their contribution to the community and their neighbors lives a little better. Sometimes it is a couple rather than an individual who makes a difference in the community. Their combined energy and dedication adds value to the community and makes it just a better place to live.

Today I share with you the story of a special couple whose names are Milly and Jim Burroughs. Milly grew up not far from Austin in a small farm community known as Alden, Minnesota, and Jim from far away Fullerton, North Dakota. They met in a local Austin establishment called Tommy’s Super Club.

Milly and Jim Burroughs.

At the time they both worked at Hormel. Jim had been hired in the livestock department and Milly as a secretary. Not long after marrying, Jim was bound for Vietnam in the Army and Milly was back in Austin working and waiting for Jim to return. Upon discharge from the service as a food inspector, they returned to Minnesota and Jim entered the University of Minnesota to obtain his degree in food science. Upon graduating with a graduate degree, they headed back to Austin to grow their family and contribute to their community. Jim was back to coaching flag football for the Austin YMCA and Milly volunteering.

The next chapter in their story, after raising two children (Amy and Scott), takes us to Jim’ retirement and Milly’s continuing involvement in volunteering in community projects. An interesting side note is that both Jim and Milly returned to Vietnam this past year after an absence for Jim of 50 years. The people were friendly and forgiving.

Upon retiring in 2001, they expanded their community involvement as a team. Milly was heavily involved with Matchbox Children’s Theatre and Jim continued with volunteering in the community. The Paramount Theatre became a passion with both as Millie became board president and Jim treasurer. Jim always preferred to be project driven, such as building a table and/or fixing an item that needed repair. The Paramount board referred to Jim as their handyman.

Milly later became interested in the Austin ArtWorks Center. She especially enjoys working in the store, meeting the customers and people from around the world. Jim has migrated to the Spam Museum, where he shares his stories of Hormel Foods Corp. and the community of Austin where they have called home for more than 48 years. One’s enthusiasm for life and involvement in helping others often trickles down to one’s children. Their daughter, Amy, donated a kidney to someone that she had never met. Her life was enriched and changed forever.

Milly and Jim are now involved with the Mower County Historical Society. They enjoy watching the organization flourish and expand under new leadership and become more involved in the community. Jim, in his spare time, finds himself carving birds, which he loves.

He is also interested in genealogy and sorting through family history. Milly enjoys reading and is often found looking for a new story to sort through on a cold winter evening. And the community of Austin is so much better off by having Jim and Milly living and devoting their energy and talents to the city of Austin.

Two heroes who make a difference.