He's slowing down but he's still giving back
Felix Kropelnicki doesn't volunteer as much as he used to. He figures that's OK. He's 80 years old. And besides, he's put his time in.
The awards on his wall are proof of that. There are plaques from the Rosemount American Legion, and from the city of Rosemount, among others.
For years, Felix and his wife, Mary, were fixtures just about anywhere someone needed a hand. Felix played Santa at the Legion. Mary would visit seniors who couldn't get around anymore. Both were active in the Rosemount Area Seniors.
Kropelnicki is still active. He brings his grill for the RAS cookout, and he collects day-old products at Cub Foods and takes them to the Rosemount Community Center. But since Mary died three years ago he's found himself getting involved less and less.
"She was a lady who loved to help people," Kropelnicki said. "If you were in the hospital or in the nursing home she'd come and say the Rosary or talk with you."
Felix grew up on a grain farm in Humboldt, near the Canadian border. He came to the Twin Cities to visit and got a job here with Twin Cities Rapid Transit, the streetcar line. He went to Oklahoma for a while to work on oil wells, but he found the 12-hour days didn't agree with him, so he returned to Minnesota.
"That was no life for a single man," he said.
Felix met Mary on a Saturday night at the old American House in St. Paul. They danced to the Blue Skirt Waltz, and when he took her home at the end of the night he ended up driving three of her friends, too, because she didn't want to go alone with him. They started spending time together, though, and two years later they were married.
"She said she wanted someone tall, dark and handsome and could dance well and I guess I fit that," Felix said.
The couple came to Rosemount 50 years ago, when they decided they wanted to find someplace out in the country. They built a house along what is now County Road 42, though it was much smaller then. Instead of a technical college across the street they had a Navy base.
Felix still lives in that house. He rents out a few of the rooms. He keeps a garden, and a table by his driveway holds several tomatoes that have come from his plants.
Most mornings he goes in to McDonald's for coffee with the group that gathers there. And he works every other weekend at St. Joseph's Church.
"I don't hang around the bars," he said. "I quit that a long time ago."
Felix still keeps plenty busy by most standards. But when you did as much as he used to do, even that can seem like taking it easy.