The Man Who Said Yes
For a man who is as famous for his ever-ready smile as for his willingness to help people, Stu Vold is a walking treasure trove of stories. Originally a “farm kid” from Radcliffe, Iowa, Vold is also a Luther College grad who started out his career in the Twin Cities as an insurance underwriter. Fate brought him to Mason City in the early 1970s, and he’s been here ever since.
Many Trinity members know Vold as the former church custodian for around 14 years. How he came to be in this position isn’t quite as well-known. While he was working a full-time job, the opening for a custodian at Trinity caught his eye, and since he was “looking for something to do,” he took the part-time position working 20 hours a week. The job changed into a 30-hour week (more full-time), and Vold found that “serving the people felt so good.” He added, “I can’t think of anything that makes me feel better!”
In fact, he sums up his unique experience by this: “When I was working here as a custodian, it turned out to be one of the most valuable and enriching things I did for myself. I got to be around so many good-hearted people!” He anticipated the needs of people, perhaps setting up a room or getting the coffee ready, and their appreciation for his going above and beyond meant the world to him.
One of Stu’s favorite things about being in this position included being able to watch kids grow and watch their family dynamics over the years. “It was like having my own window into the church,” he said.
Besides the people he served, Vold raves about Trinity’s staff, saying they’re “so wonderful and easy to work with!” He always felt a part of a team effort, and that in conjunction with his ability to serve was a great combination. “It was a great place to work!” he said. “It wasn’t what I thought I’d be doing!” Sometimes God leads us to where we need to be, despite our other plans.
For a person who became a Trinity member in the early 1980s, simply “looking for a church home, but not interested in finding a church family,” Vold found more than he was looking for. Like many other members with young children, he wanted to take them to Sunday school and church, and that was all. About a dozen years into his membership, he got a call from Trinity member Mavis Espinosa requesting him to be on the board for KCMR.
He agreed and the next morning he was with the board as they made the trek to Waldorf University in -30 degree weather to tour the campus radio station. Shortly after, Vold found himself serving on church council and various other committees. “Once you get involved in one thing, then they want you in another and another,” he laughed.
“My proclivity is to say yes.”
He soon became President of the KCMR Board and the chair of the Social Concerns Committee. The journey from being in nothing to being very involved was just the beginning as Vold has also been on the Stewardship and Ministries Committees, as well as volunteering wherever he is needed. “I usher and now that I’m retired, I serve at funerals and I even got to help with the Bazaar!” he said. “You shouldn’t say serving a funeral is ‘fun,’ and unfortunately, we get a lot of practice…but they have their reward!”
“Positions of serving fit ME!” Vold explained. Recently, he helped with the Habitat for Humanity build. “I’m a terrible carpenter,” he laughed, “but they needed sets of hands.
I thought, ‘I could carry big heavy pieces of drywall…and I could help someone have a HOUSE!’”
He and his wife, Mary, have four children and seven grandchildren, and a “normal” week involves jumping in the car to see a concert, sporting event, or any activity involving their family. Last week saw Vold taking his 10-year-old grandson sledding in two locations with a stop for hot cocoa in between. “We dressed warm and had a BLAST!” he said.
Sometimes the road calls and he and Mary have trips around the Midwest, “stopping at every quilt shop for her and every college campus for me,” Vold laughed. Not only is he making memories with his family, but he is making the most of the time he has. Although he is feeling great at the present time, Vold was diagnosed with cancer and has had quite a time with it, going through surgery and chemo treatments. “Cancer has influenced my life, and it’s why I always say yes,” he said. He wants to “pack it in and do everything” now. “If I’m going to get a lot of yeses in, I have to say yes to everything. It’s all possible.”
Instead of ‘fighting’ cancer, Vold chooses to ‘LIVE’ with cancer. He keeps things simple, and his faith approach to life can be summed up in Micah 6:8, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” He asks God for everything he needs every day so that he can live his life the way God wants him to.
Looking back at his time serving at Trinity, Vold says, “How lucky was I?!? I got to know hundreds of nice, wonderful people I never would’ve gotten to know!” And in turn, Trinity has been lucky to get to know him.†