CANNON FALLS, Minn — Paul Bringgold knows a lot about development and growth. At age 85, he’s seen quite a bit throughout his life and has embraced each step in his journey.
Born in 1927 and raised on a dairy farm near West Concord, Minn., he attended school in a one-room rural schoolhouse with no electricity or phone, and graduated at age 16 from West Concord High School. He milked cows by hand, and farmed his father’s land with only horses for power. Wanting nothing more than to get into farming and obtain a college degree in agriculture, he found himself working a summer internship for his uncle’s bank in West Concord to pay for his schooling. Two years of junior college in Rochester and one year at college at the University of Minnesota were completed before he was called to serve in the United States Army during the Korean War. He served as a company clerk for a medical unit at the U.S. Army Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. “I basically had the same job as the character known as Radar in the TV sitcom, MASH,” laughs Bringgold.
When he came back to the United States, Bringgold decided to follow in his uncle’s footsteps. He worked as a cashier for six years at the bank in West Concord. At age 30, he had the opportunity to purchase a bank in the small town of Riceville, Iowa. He and his wife lived there for seven years with their three daughters. Seeking to purchase a bank closer to their family in Minnesota, the right opportunity at the right time arose in Cannon Falls. In 1965, Bringgold purchased 1st National Bank and operated it until his retirement in 2007.
In his 55 years of banking experience, he noted many changes evolved within the banking industry – including computers, ATMs and debit/credit cards – but keeping customer service on a personal level was always a priority for him. “I loved serving the community members here,” says Bringgold. “They are like family to me.”
Funding the future
Throughout his career, Paul Bringgold kept community development at the forefront in planning for the needs of future generations. He gave his time and talents to serve on many community and regional boards including the Cannon Falls Education Foundation, Randolph Education Foundation, Dakota County Vocational Technical Board, Red Wing Vocational Technical Board, Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical Board, and both Cannon Falls and Goodhue County Historical Societies.
Bringgold has also been a strong voice and financial supporter for several community-based enhancements. He made financial gifts to upgrade the athletic facilities for the Cannon Falls School District and to the new community library facility, which is currently under construction. Other community projects he has donated to include the Cannon Falls Veterans’ Memorial, a new sound system for the auditorium at the senior high school and new piano for the school’s music program.
One more much needed community enhancement project is also important to Paul Bringgold — meeting the future health care needs of the community. He believes that by building a new medical facility, Mayo Clinic Health System in Cannon Falls will strengthen the viability of the city as an attractive community to live and raise a family.
He has graciously made a gift to the capital campaign for the new facility and encourages others to think about making a gift as well. “It is very important for me to do what I can to make sure that our community is successful,” says Bringgold.
With much of the initial planning done, the project is in the midst of identifying additional sources of funding for the construction. The total project cost is expected to be around $30 million with $10 million coming from local support. $2.5 million remains to be raised locally. To make a gift or pledge, contribution forms can be found at area banks, the Chamber of Commerce, the Shepherd’s Center, and in the waiting areas of the hospital and clinic. Pledge forms are also available online.
“I used to give until it hurts, but now I give until it feels good. I encourage others to do the same.”