Mesabi Trail Memorials and Tribute Gifts

The Mesabi Trail is an incredible regional asset, stretching across the Iron Range of Northeast Minnesota and connecting 28 communities – from the Mississippi (Grand Rapids) to the Boundary Waters (Ely). Use of the Trail enhances the quality of life for both our local residents and visitors alike, by getting them out exercising and enjoying the great outdoors. The Mesabi Trail also generates significant regional economic impact from thousands of annual users.

Since the inception of the trail in 1986, the Mesabi Trail has touched the lives of many wonderful and amazing people; and they in turn, have touched ours. From Board and Committee members, to long time trail users, supporters and folks who love our area.

Celebrate with us the lives and special occasions of just a few of our beloved Mesabi Trail supporters.

Make a Memorial or Tribute Gift

Robert August Ludwig Wagner (1924-2023)

Loving Remembered as a True Outdoor Recreation Inspiration

Robert “Bob” Wagner lived much of his life in Iowa. Bob was born in Byron, Nebraska, and grew up in Treynor, Iowa. He served in WWII until his two brothers (both Navy pilots) were killed. He then returned to Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa to complete his degree in 1949. He followed that with a Masters Degree in educational administration at Drake University. Bob worked as a teacher, administrator, coach and superintendent of schools over his career. Unlike many, he and his wife of 63 years, MaryAnn, moved north to Grand Rapids for their retirement. They lived near their daughter and son-in-law Mary and Bill Schnell. Bob was an avid biker and was out on the trails last summer at the age of 97. Bob loved the outdoors, spending time with his family, and hiking in the woods. He inspired all who knew him by biking well into his nineties. “Use if or lose it” was his motto as he lived life to the fullest. He biked across Iowa in RAGBRAI in his seventies and eighties. Until his nineties, he would celebrate his birthday by biking as many miles as his age. In 2015 he received the Senior Citizen Volunteer of the Year award for Itasca Country, Minnesota for volunteering in the food shelter, homeless shelter, and Zion Lutheran Church. Bob moved from Grand Rapids to the Veterans Home in Minneapolis in August 2022 at the age of 98, where he continued his walking regiment almost until his passing.

Roy K. Carlson (1930 - 2022)

In Loving Memory of “Uncle Roy”

Roy lived most of his life in Virginia, attending Virginia schools and graduating from Roosevelt High School. He received degrees from the University of Minnesota Duluth in Elementary Education and a Masters from Bemidji State.

Roy worked as an elementary education teacher for the Hibbing Public Schools retiring in 1983.  He enjoyed fishing, spending time at Lake Vermilion, traveling the world, biking, ice skating, cross country skiing, and playing Cribbage with his nephews, great-nephews and great-nieces.

Roy was a member of the Virginia Library Board, Arrowhead Library System, Sportsmen’s Club of Lake Vermilion, Salvation Army, Sons of Norway Haarfager Lodge #40 and Gethsemane Lutheran Church.

Roy was an active man and a world traveler.  Roy visited all seven continents and enjoyed exploring other cultures.  He took daily bike rides from his cabin on Lake Vermilion to Cook, MN; a 20 mile round trip ride!  He also enjoyed riding the Mesabi Trail when he was in town and he participated in the annual Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour from 2005 until 2015.  Roy also supported education and established scholarships at Virginia and Hibbing Public Schools and at Mesabi and Hibbing Community Colleges

Ed Beckers (1942-2021)

Thank you to Mel Maturi for her gift in memory of her beloved friend and cycling partner. 

Ed loved to bike – he especially loved to bike the Mesabi Trail.

Ed was a Mesabi Trail Pioneer – first as part of the group who initiated conversation (in the late ‘80s) about the possibility of a bike trail across the Iron Range, and later as that dream became a reality as a charter member of the Mesabi Trail Work Group, a citizen advisory board to the St Louis and Lake Counties Regional Rail Authority (owners of the trail).

Ed was active in every aspect of trail development, from garnering support for its development and construction, trudging through the woods identifying potential routes, to promoting it endlessly and of course riding every mile. He is remembered fondly by his fellow Committee members for his dedication to the trail and his easy going personality.

Ed was one of the founding members of Cycle Mesabi, a bike club out of Hibbing – there is nothing he loved more than riding the Mesabi Trail with his cycling family.

Rhonda Balfour (1964-2020)

Lovingly remembered by the Staff & Board of Club Mesabi and the Volunteers & Riders of the Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour.

Beloved friend and volunteer extraordinaire, Rhonda served as a dedicated member (and treasurer) of the Club Mesabi Board of Directors for 15 years.

She was a key volunteer and our “registration queen” at the annual bike tour every one of those years as well. The tour now rides annually in her memory – the “Ride for Rhonda” is a celebration of her life, her infectious smile, boundless energy and endless enthusiasm. She is missed beyond words by family and friends.

Ralph Carlson (1928 - 2019)

Our very special and heartfelt thank you to Julie Carlson, Ralph’s wife, and his son Brent for so generously including the Mesabi Trail and Club Mesabi in their estate planning. 

Ralph lived most of his life in Virginia, attending Virginia schools and graduating from Roosevelt High School. He received a degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth in Accounting.

Ralph served in the US Army in Korea earning the Bronze Star medal. He worked as an accountant for US Steel – Minntac until retirement in 1983.

Ralph always said the best thing he ever did was marry Julie Amys. Together for 55 years, they enjoyed seasons tickets to the Virginia Blue Devils hockey games, walking around Virginia and on the Mesabi Trail, spending time and fishing on Lake Vermilion, travel (especially to Hawaii and cruising), and spending time teaching grandkids to play Cribbage.

An ambitious man, Ralph was kind and caring. He took his responsibilities seriously. He updated his parents’ house to make sure his mom could live in the house after his dad passed away. After working hard for 35 years, Ralph had saved enough money to enjoy his 36 years in retirement.

Ralph enjoyed seeing Virginia evolve over the years. He enjoyed the murals and renovation projects like the lake walk. He was impressed with the new Thomas Rukavina Memorial Bridge and how it all came together. He also supported the Virginia schools and youth sport programs.

Funding Source

The Mesabi Trail™ has been funded in part by the LCCMR and the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund.