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Dennis Chester "Buzz" MAGNUSON


1933 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Dennis Chester "Buzz" MAGNUSON Obituary
Age 81 With his wife and kids at his side, Buzz passed away March 23, 2014. Diagnosed with cancer in April 2011, Buzz took on this challenge as he did every other project: Make a few plans and then carry on. Buzz was born Feb. 14, 1933, in Minneapolis, the second child of Mary (Mardell) and Chet Magnuson. He graduated from Minneapolis Central High in 1952. His interest in cars started in those days. Buzz began driving at 14 and bought his first car, a 1934 Ford, from his brother, Dick, for $85. Buzz's early jobs included working as a ticket taker, popcorn maker and assistant manager at movie theaters like the Nokomis, the Granada and the Lyric. It was at the Lyric in downtown Minneapolis that he met JoAnn Gardner in February 1953. The pair had been dating only a few months when Buzz received his draft notice from the Army. Both Buzz's brother, Dick, and their dad, Chet, were already newspaper photographers, and Buzz began training as a photographer in the Army. When he came home for Christmas leave, Buzz and JoAnn were married December 21, 1953. Their first child, Jeff, was born in December 1954. Back in Minneapolis, there was a job waiting for Buzz at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Buzz and JoAnn "migrated" to the suburb of Richfield, and by June 1958 when their second child, Jodi, was born they were well established. Buzz approached his new career with some trepidation, but after a short time he found that it was a perfect fit. Soon, he won the first of many "Page One" awards. Over the years, Buzz photographed everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Jimmy Stewart, from Richard Nixon to the Crusher. In 2004, Buzz's photographs (along with his brother Dick's) were featured in "Strange Days, Dangerous Nights," a collection of news photography from the Speed Graphic era. Buzz and JoAnn had nothing but time and love for their two children and their friends. Buzz was a Lutheran Boy Pioneer leader, the official photographer at his children's schools, and the first coach of a girls' basketball team at St. Croix Lutheran High School. During the mid-1970s, Buzz joined the Minnesota Street Road Association. He bought his 1941 Chevy that year and since then has bought, refurbished and sold many classic cars. There wasn't anything about working on cars that Buzz didn't enjoy -- particularly the time spent talking with and helping friends. Of course, cars weren't his only love. He enjoyed camping at Shell Lake, building furniture, rehabbing houses – his own and almost everyone else's – dropping in on friends, playing cribbage, canoeing and vacations with the family. He carried dog treats everywhere he went, and the dogs in his neighborhood knew the sound of his car coming down the road. Buzz and JoAnn waited a long time to become grandparents, but in 1998 Anya was born to Jeff and his wife, Colleen. Talia arrived in 2001, the same week Buzz retired from the Pioneer Press. He immediately took advantage of his new freedom to spend time more with the girls. Buzz was one of the most hands-on grandpas around. "Meatloaf Wednesdays" were a regular event, as were trips to the zoo and state fair, neighborhood walks, and of course rides in the old cars. (He once filled his truck liner with water to make a wading pool.) Early in his illness, Buzz said he wanted to be around to see Anya get her driver's license. She turned 16 this March -- and took and passed her driver's test on her birthday. He got his wish. Buzz has left this world a richer place. He will be missed greatly by his wife of 60 years, JoAnn; daughter Jodi; son Jeff (Colleen Kelly); granddaughters Anya and Talia; nieces Dawn Bergman, Deb Erickson and Venus Brandt; nephew Dan McColl; many cousins and legions of friends. There will be a celebration of life on Friday, April 4 at 11 a.m., with a luncheon to follow at Hope Presbyterian Church, 7132 Portland Ave, S., Richfield, MN 55423.
Published in Pioneer Press from Mar. 25 to Mar. 30, 2014
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