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Behrens named 'Neighbor of the Year'

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Robert Behrens spoke during the 'Neighbor of the Year' award presentation. (photos by Kit Murray)2 / 4
Behren's son Max spoke of how he hopes one day he can follow in his father's footsteps.3 / 4
Mayor Sean Dowse awarded Behrens the 2016 'Neighbor of the Year' award.4 / 4

Robert Behrens attended Thursday's Noontime Kiwanis Club meeting without any idea that he would be the center of attention, much less be awarded 2016 Red Wing Neighbor of the Year.

"At the end of the day, he will decline credit for it," said Behrens' son, Max. "There's going to be always as much time and effort and money as he can offer, not just of his own, but of everybody else's."

Behren is known to have a gift for planning and encouraging everyone to raise funds for the community. Since his time with Kiwanis he has helped in many ways, including awarding thousands of dollars to scholarships in Red Wing, hosting annual Goodhue County 4-H events and helping schools purchase necessary materials.

"That's where I hope I end up," Max said. "In 1936 my great-grandfather brought our family to town. It makes me very proud of what you and we have done in the 81 years since."

The Neighbor of the Year award by the three Red Wing Kiwanis Clubs brings special attention to a citizen — often not a Kiwanian — who encourages human values, follows the Golden Rule and promotes high standards. Speakers made it evident that Behren has done just that.

"Bob was my Good Samaritan," Dennis Vaillant said, after telling a story of how the Behrens family was there for him during difficult times. "I think you'll learn today that I wasn't an isolated case, he's been doing this all his life. That's a gift that very few people have."

The surprise and spotlight proved to be hard for Behrens to accept.

"I didn't have any idea that my day would progress like this when I got up this morning," Behrens said. "It's amazing."

Behrens opened his thank-you speech by quoting Winston Churchill, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give," he said.

After serving more than 25 years as a Kiwanis member, Behrens was appreciative of all the experiences it has given him. Kiwanis brought about a missing part of life, he said, and added new relationships that help motivate him to continue staying involved in the community.

"Volunteering does not mean you have the time, it means you have the attitude to do it," Behrens said. "I'm not going to receive this recognition today on the basis of what has been done, I think I'm going to take it on the basis that there are a lot of things to do and it's going to be a motivator to do more."

Kit Murray

Kit Murray joined Red Wing Republican Eagle in Aug. 2016, covering government, transportation and public safety. She is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead with a degree in photojournalism and philosophy. 

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