My Father’s Cousin Broke Walter Mondale’s Nose!

23 May My Father’s Cousin Broke Walter Mondale’s Nose!

Have you or any of your relatives ever had a close encounter with a famous person? In my family, Virgel Gelhaus, one of my father’s cousins, broke Walter Mondale’s nose! Here’s a little story from the New York Times on February 18, 1984 when Mondale was a presidential candidate.

“A REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK: LONG DAYS OF ‘RUNNING SCARED’ AT HEAD OF THE PACK”
At half-time at a recent basketball game in Mason City, Iowa, not far from the Minnesota border, Mr. Mondale told an enthusiastic crowd that the first person he saw when he entered the gym was Virgel Gelhaus. Mr. Gelhaus, as a boy, broke the future candidate’s nose in a basketball game in 1943.

The River City Globe-Gazette had found Mr. Gelhaus, a local sheep farmer, partly because Mr. Mondale often asked, whenever he visited Mason City, ”whatever happened to Virgel Gelhaus?”

Mr. Gelhaus was asked why he hadn’t kept in contact through the years with his former basketball rival. ”I’ve been scared,” he said.
I was reminded of this story when I read the obituary of Virgel’s wife Rose Marie who died several months ago. They had 12 children, 6 boys whose names all had two syllables and started with R and 6 girls whose names all had two syllables and started with M.

~Mary Hedge