A Tribute to Menomonie Market Food Co-op Owners #74 & #2170

In the last two weeks, Menomonie Market Food Co-op has lost two titans—amazing customers Frances and Paul.

Frances Knopps has one of those enviable two-digit owner numbers (as you can imagine, they only made 99 of those). She was with us in the very beginning of our co-op forming, and she was with us all the way through her 97th year. When she could still drive, she would shop once or twice a day. She was a top ten shopper for many years, even though she weighed 90 pounds and lived alone—we wondered what she did with all that food! Frances was a serious spitfire—she told you how it was, and she offered advice whether or not it was asked for. When each of my babies was born, the next time I saw her she slapped a piece of paper down in front of me and demanded to know the exact spelling of their complete names and the date and time of their birth down to the second. She produced pages-long information about my children based on that information: a gift of the heart and spirit. We love you, Frannie.

We didn’t meet Paul Peller until we built the new store. When you have space to put out a few tables and chairs and keep the coffee on you make friends. Paul, Little Paul, Larry’s Sidekick, New York Sass; he was a slight, happy, sparkly man. I saw him just two days before the end, and he was still exactly that—soft voice, crooked back, New York sass, and toothy smile. I think we all have ways in our hearts that we mark the end of this pandemic, our light at the end of this weird tunnel. For me, I knew the pandemic would be over when I could see Larry and Paul enjoying a cup of coffee at their table. I know the pandemic will end, but it’s sad to think my vision will not be realized. We miss you, Paul.

We miss all of you.

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