It was a stormy winter night when members of the St. Pat's Association knocked at the door of the Munn home. Ned answered the door, but he didn't put it all together until association member Andy Joyce put out his hand and said, "Congratulations. You're the 2013 Grand Marshall."
"I was really surprised," said Munn. "I was even more surprised to learn that my daughter, Mollie, had been planning this nomination for at least a year."
Mollie's was not the only letter of nomination. Letters also came from Pennsylvania and Minnesota, with additional letters from Emmetsburg and Spencer. Each letter highlighted Ned's leadership and participation in community events.
GRAND MARSHALL -- Ned Munn of Emmetsburg has been named Grand Marshall of the 2013 St. Patrick’s Celebration. Jason Bauer, a member of the St. Pat’s Committee, is pictured (left) fitting Ned with the official sash. Ned will be at all of the celebration activities beginning this Sunday and March 15-17. --Jane Whitmore photo
"Ned takes pride in his Irish heritage and we know this would be an honor, not only for him, but his family as well," Mollie Veldboom wrote in her letter to the St. Pat's Association. "Ned is a true Irishman with roots to the Emmetsburg area since birth."
Ned Munn's ancestors came to the United States from Mayo County, Ireland, in the mid-1800s through Ellis Island. As they traveled west across the country, some of the family settled in Dyersville. Others crossed the state of Iowa to homestead land and settled in Palo Alto County.
"By 1920, several of the families lived within two miles of one another and almost all were related," said Munn. "There were the McCabes, Bannans, Warrens, Conlons, Farrels and Higgins. At that time, most spouses were raised just down the road. By the 1950s and 1960s, what has become known as the 'greatest generation' were in their prime and Great Oak Township was a lively place to be raised. Although we had no town located in Great Oak, we had Mayor Micky Daley. Those were the days."
Growing up in Great Oak Township, Ned Munn developed his values and he lives by these words: "I believe people should try to be active in their community. The things that are worthwhile, you stick with."
This philosophy no doubt comes from a quote by the late President JFK that Ned remembers: "One person can make a difference and every person should try."
Ned Munn has indeed been active in the community, including involvement in the St. Patrick's Celebration.
"I have enjoyed the St. Patrick's Celebration from the start," said Munn. "In the mid 1960s there were youth dances above McNally's Bake Shop and we had a great time. In high school we ushered at the pageant and some drove in the parade. For several years I marched with the V.F.W. in the parade. One year my brother-in-law asked at the dinner table on Sunday if I had marched down to Mallard, as late as I got home."
The past several years, Ned has been kept busy frying fish and making Irish stew.
Ned and Fred Bock are co-chairmen of the Lenten Fish Fries at the VFW in Emmetsburg. Ned organizes the community service organizations that serve fish every Friday night during Lent.
What would St. Pat's be without Irish Stew? For 14 years, Ned has been in charge of this St. Pat's Saturday lunch event sponsored by the Democrat Party. The wee leprechauns keep Ned's stew recipe safe.
Jason Munn said in his letter, "He (Ned) is always searching for ways to make Emmetsburg a more enjoyable and beautiful place to live."
Go down the list: Ned Munn has been giving blood for 42 years and is working toward his 15-gallon pin. He has been a volunteer board member for the Employees Credit Union for 32 years; for 31 years he has placed flags on veteran's graves for Memorial Day; and for 30 years he has organized Fourth of July games at Soper Park.
Ned has coached youth baseball and softball. He has been involved with Emmetsburg Catholic School, Emmetsburg High School and Iowa Lakes Community College Booster Clubs. He has served on the Compensation Board and the City Council. He is a member of Holy Family Parish and has served as Grand Knight of Council 936, as well as serving on the Parish Council.
"My wife, Mary Ellen, helps with me of the things I am involved with," said Munn. Ned and Mary Ellen Munn have been married for 40 years. They have two children, Mollie and Jason.
"I want to thank the St. Patrick's Association for the honor of being selected Grand Marshall," said Ned. He has a list of events that he is expected to attend, but he still has to attend to the Friday Night Fish Fry and preparations for the Irish Stew Dinner.