MINTO — Those who knew him say Louie Slominski Sr. impacted his community and the lives of hundreds of people who worked with him during his 64-year career as a custom harvester.
“Big Lou,” as many called him, died in a two-vehicle crash Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 23, in New London Township, south-central Minnesota. A resident of Minto, he was 82 years old.
Trevor Slominski remembers his grandfather as someone who had a positive impact on many people he employed. This was especially the case in his contract harvesting business, which took him and his team to fields from Texas to North Dakota, after the harvest season up north.
Big Lou had been running his bespoke wetsuit business every year since he was 18 years old.
“There were years when even high school students were employed by him; they would do the summer harvest and come back,” Trevor Slominski said. “There are probably hundreds of people who have very fond memories of it.”
Trevor, who owns Minto Ag Center, a fertilizer plant, has a lifetime of memories of his grandfather.
“I’ve lived my whole life about a block away from him, and had the pleasure of working for him, on and off, for at least 10 years,” he said. “And I really enjoyed it.”
His grandfather was a mentor to him, along with many others.
“You must learn so a lot of him,” he said. “He always let you do a practical task if there was something that needed fixing or something that needed to be finished. He would kind of let you figure it out and guide you along the way. It would tell you when you are wrong. It helped to learn from him, that’s for sure.
Because of Louie’s extensive experience as a customer harvester, “he was really hands-on, very mechanical,” Slominski said. “There really wasn’t anything he couldn’t fix.”
“After college I started farming alongside my grandfather for a few years and then I got the opportunity to buy the fertilizer factory in town,” he said. .
His grandfather instilled in him “a work ethic that was probably second to none,” Slominski said. “If you worked for him, you had to work hard. You had to follow him. He was a tough guy to keep, that’s for sure.
Jay Gudajtes, whose farm is about three miles from Louie’s, doesn’t know anyone who hasn’t been touched by Louie, he said. “Whatever happened, Louie was at the center of it all.”
“Some people are followers, some people are leaders, and Louie was a leader,” Gudajtes said. “Whatever he did, he led the charge – he was that kind of guy.”
“I don’t know of anyone he’s affected negatively. I don’t know anyone who didn’t like it,” he said. “I don’t know anyone who didn’t see his gold teeth when he smiled and heard his laugh. Every day you could just have breakfast and he’ll laugh with you. He’d understand.
“The community will miss Louie – his family for sure. He was the glue that held it all together, in many ways, in many different things in the community – whether it was snowmobiles or coming together to help a family who needed help, or fundraising. You could always count on Louie to be involved in one way or another.
Gudajtes expected a large crowd at Louie’s funeral, he said in an interview on Monday, February 28. (The funeral was scheduled for Tuesday, March 1 in Minto.) “There will be people — from Texas to here — at the funeral. I would be extremely surprised if there weren’t too many people.
Brad Narloch, 62, a Minto farmer who’s known Louie his whole life, said his friend “was a personalized combinator by heart, but whatever you wanted farming or whatever, anything, he would be there to help. He was just that kind of guy.
“He made sure you got what you needed to be done, but he tried to have fun – and he was good at it. He always came up with a gag or a story.
Big Lou “was a kid at heart,” who, along with his family, was heavily involved with the Area Joy Riders snowmobile club and supportive of such winter sports, Narloch said.
“He would always be the guy at the end, always the cleaning guy. If there were 10 snowmobiles leaving, he would be the last. He would make sure that if someone broke down, he was there to help. If anyone got lost, he was there to straighten them out. It was the guy.
“He will be truly missed here,” Narloch said. “And, you know, that’s just not how we thought it would go. We just thought he would fall asleep peacefully in his combine harvester and that’s where he would be, because he really enjoyed that part.