Behrends shares tidbits on life for Skilled Nursing Care Week

Ron Behrends, a resident at MNRC, poses for a picture with the Easter Bunny. Behrends, who is 83 years old, spent his whole life in Monticello. In honor of National Skilled Nursing Care Week, with the theme “Celebrating Life Stories,” Behrends reflects on his life and service to the country. (Photo submitted)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     May 13-19 is known as National Skilled Nursing Care Week (formerly National Nursing Home Week).

     Each year, the AHCA (American Health Care Association) designates a theme to celebrate the week. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Life Stories.”

     Monticello Nursing and Rehabilitation Campus celebrated the week with various events and activities, including displays about the residents’ lives, all to pay homage to the diverse perspectives that the residents, families and staff bring to the MNRC community as a whole.

     Eighty-three-year-old Ron “Beans” Behrends has spent his whole life in Monticello.

     “I was born and raised here,” he said.

     Born in December 1934, Behrends attended school in Monticello, graduated from Monticello High School, returned to work in Monticello after his service to his country, and raised his family in Monticello.

     “I’ve enjoyed my life,” he said.

     Even now, Behrends and his good friend, fellow veteran Charlie Rigby, go to Darrells A Family Tradition once a week for their morning coffee.

     During his school days, Behrends shared a bit about his involvement in athletics. He played football and ran track, preferring football to anything. During his interview with the Express, Behrends donned an Iowa Hawkeye football shirt.

     “I was on the varsity team all four years,” he recalled of his own football glory. “I loved football.”

     As for this track career, Behrends said he wasn’t outstanding by any means, but enjoyed it.

     He was also part of the school’s camera club.

     After high school, Behrends went right to work and was employed by Paul Hearn at the Shell Station in town.

     “I did all kinds of work,” he said.

     Behrends remained with the business until June 1956 when he said “I do” and joined the U.S. Navy. He served until the summer of 1960.

     “I did my full four years and was discharged,” he said.

     Behrends spent his time in the Navy all over the country and world: Naples, Italy; South Africa; Oklahoma; Texas; Tennessee; Florida; Virginia. He was on the naval aviation crew, though he did not fly any aircraft. He attended aviation school and received training as a structural mechanic.

     He was in Virginia on duty when the USS Forrestal (CV-59) set sail on its maiden voyage. Behrends said the ship traveled through the North Atlantic during its first time at sea.

     “We got educated on how to become sea sick,” he joked.

     During his time in the Navy, Behrends was never up against enemy fire.

     While in Italy, he recalled touring the historic city and seeing the old cathedrals and churches.

     “It’s amazing how things were built,” he said of the architecture.

     He went to the Vatican with several guys in his crew and they were blessed by the Pope.

     “It didn’t matter if you were Protestant or Catholic,” he said of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

     He said he always planned to serve in the military, but chose to put it off for a couple years.

     “I always liked the Navy and I wanted to see the world on a ship,” he said.

     Behrends’ uncles on both sides of his family also served.

     After returning home, Behrends bounced around with a couple of jobs before landing a job on a construction crew in Olin. While working in Olin, the crew went out for lunch at a local restaurant. That’s where Behrends met his wife, Patricia Milder, who was a waitress there. They were married in 1962.

     The couple divorced later in life, and Behrends raised his two children: Kent and Renee. Today, Behrends has several grandkids and great grandkids, all still in the area.

     Looking back on his life with his children, Behrends said they enjoyed fishing trips to Minnesota.

     “I loved to fish and my kids loved to fish,” he said.

     Behrends said it amazes him just how much the City of Monticello has changed over the years. However, he said the home in which he was built still stands on S. Maple Street.

     While some call Behrends by his first name, “Ron,” many refer to him as “Beans.” The nickname stems from some family from Germany who were visiting when he was quite young.

     “They told my dad I looked like a little beaner,” he said.

     From “bBeaner” the name turned into “Beans,” and Behrends said the name followed him into the service and all over the world.

     “More people know me by ‘Beans’ than anything,” he said. “My folks called me that, too.”



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