Golden Valley gives Betty Crocker a place of honor

Celebrating Golden Valley's 125th anniversary, city boosters are setting up a Hall of Fame. One of its first honorees: Betty Crocker.

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Betty Crocker through the years.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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Golden Valley's most famous citizen is a woman who never existed except in the corporate mind of General Mills and the culinary imagination of millions of fans who treasured her cookbooks and hung on every word of her radio show.

Betty Crocker is one of five inductees into the city's new Hall of Fame, which will open in the Golden Valley City Hall next year. The Hall of Fame was established as part of the city's 125th anniversary celebration this year.

Marshall Tanick, chairman of the anniversary committee, said he hopes that more notables will be added each year. Here's the inaugural Hall of Fame list.

PHILIP BRUNELLE

Brunelle is founder and director of VocalEssence, a celebrated choral music group. A native of Faribault, he was a professional church organist and full-time member of the Minnesota Orchestra before he turned 20. Brunelle and his family have lived in Golden Valley for many years, and he has been a frequent guest on "A Prairie Home Companion."

Ø Betty Crocker

Betty turned 90 this year, but she certainly doesn't look her age, even in this prim early portrait. The iconic symbol of Golden Valley-based General Mills had a radio show for 27 years, received 4,000 letters a day in the 1940s and was once named the second-most famous woman in the nation behind Eleanor Roosevelt. Her popularity also steamrolled her upstart competitors, Kay Kellogg and Ann Pillsbury, who soon disappeared.

DON BYERLY

Byerly, who is retired in California, never actually lived in Golden Valley but opened his first store there in 1968. The store's carpeted floors, chandeliers, restaurant and in-store home economist created a sensation and set a new standard for upscale groceries. Byerly's eventually merged with Lunds. Today 11 Byerly's stores are scattered from St. Cloud to Burnsville.

GLEASON GLOVER

Glover grew up in Virginia and came to Minnesota as executive director of the Minneapolis Urban League in 1967, taking over in a time of great racial strife. Glover, who lived in Golden Valley for many years, was a coalition builder who walked a fine line between satisfying demands for equality and just treatment and working with police and corporations. Glover was 60 when he died in 1994.

ROBERT PROVOST

Provost, who was 86 when he died in September, was part of the flood of GIs who moved to the suburbs after World War II. The Keewatin native flew more than 40 missions as a Navy pilot, avoided capture when he was shot down and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Provost was a University of Minnesota boxer, helped develop the U's Williams Scholarship Fund and was an insurance professional.

Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380 Twitter: @smetan

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