The Man They Call The Mayor

November 27, 2018 04:58 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- For more than 16 years Mayor Ardell Brede has represented the Med City, but there is a different side to the man they call the mayor.

At the helm of one of Minnesota's fastest growing cities and home to Destination Medical Center is Mayor Ardell Brede.


"It doesn't get any better than being the Mayor of Rochester," Brede said.

From welcoming guests to Rochester to voting on policies that impact the city to visiting classrooms, he's enjoyed every minute.  "When I first got elected in 2002 and took office in 2003, I thought well if I have this one term and maybe one more, that would be eight years and that'd be pretty good," he said.

Now, he's hanging up his hat.  "To think that this will come to a close, yeah, it is kind of emotional," said Brede through tears.

Emotional because he fell in love with the role, one he had no intention of ever taking.

"I came here from Austin, a couple years after Austin Junior College, I planned to work here couple years, make some money and go back to college and become a Lutheran pastor, and then I met this cute student nurse and the whole story changed," said Brede.

His story is about to change again.  And it starts with going back to the beginning to his first love -- that student nurse.

In one of his best suits, Brede goes to visit his wife Judy.  At least once a day he goes to the Madonna Towers Skilled Nursing Center where his wife has lived for the past year and a half being cared for because she suffers from dementia.

"But that's been different, and it's encouraging in a way, it is in some ways the dementia isn't as strong as it was a few months back," Brede said.

Judy suffered a couple seizures and from there, her health took a turn.

"It's more lonely, and I don't eat as well as I should. it's always a joy to see her every day, and I know the feeling is mutual on that end," he said.

Like a doting husband, Ardell simply sits with her, sharing his day with his wife, talking about current affairs at work and reminiscing about their past.

"Saudi Arabia, Italy, South Korea, oh and Beijing," said Brede, listing off all of the places they've traveled to together.  But their favorite place was Paris.  

And just like that, Judy came back.

"I'm ready to go again," said Judy, "it was one of my favorite places."   But like the disease so often does, dementia crept back in.

When asked what some of the things she loved about Paris, Judy said, "I don't know."

The two have been married for more than half a century.  Their first date was at one of the most historic places in the city, The Chateau Theatre. 
"Our first real date was to go to the movie there and the movie was Summer Place," Brede said.

"That particular song, wherever we hear it on the radio, I think we both tend to glance at each other because," Brede said.  Before he could even finish the sentence, Judy filled in the gap. 

"That's our song."

And it seems the song hasn't lost its touch. Judy silently listening, her heart knowing every beat as the song filled the room.

"(You) recognize it, Judy?" asked Ardell.

"I do, don't you?" she replied.

"If I can talk to Judy and ask her, how would she describe you?  Not as the Mayor like we know you, but as the man -- Ardell?" asked Lee.

"Boy, I'd love to hear that, " said Brede.  Holding back tears, Brede said, "I would say, someone that loves her, a good partner, I think."

And maybe that's what sets him apart.  Because at the end of the day, when the mayor pin comes off, he's simply a man.

A man who loves his city and his wife.

"It may not be Bedford Falls, but it’s been a wonderful life."

Mayor Brede and Judy will be celebrating their 57th wedding anniversary next month with their three children and six grandchildren.  They say if possible down the road, they'd love to relive their first date at the Chateau Theatre.
As for the mayor's seat, Ardell says he will finish out his term through the start of the new year.


Laura Lee

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