by Jason Olson
Each Halloween Anoka’s storied home football stadium, Goodrich Field, is renamed Dave Brock Field.
Not only is it to honor its strongest proponent and caretaker, Dave Brock, but more so because of what he’s meant to the community over the last five decades.
He’s held several titles and worked numerous duties including teacher, grounds crew member (and chain gang member), community sports organizer, umpire, referee, classic car owner, Anoka Halloween volunteer and many more titles. Friend to many in the Anoka community is perhaps how he will be remembered.
Brock died Jan. 4 after a long battle with cancer with friends and family by his side at home.
A memorial service at Zion Lutheran Church, Anoka, was filled near capacity. Good friend Greg Clark said it was an example of how many people Brock touched over the years.
“He made his mark. He did everything right,” Clark said. “It’s unique. He’s touched a lot of organizations. A lot of times things might have gone unnoticed, but they really weren’t unnoticed. He got his sense of humor from his dad and refined it for what he’s known for. His gift of serving others and the community he got from his mother.”
Brock grew up in Anoka, graduating from Anoka High School in 1963 and went on to graduate from the University of Minnesota.
His ability to help out no matter how large or small the task with a smile was something many recall of their friend.
“He just loved doing things for others,” Tom Redmann, District 11 buildings and grounds supervisor, said and the stories of how he lived his life are numerous.
“There is no replacing him. We’ll have his memory and a smile for him,” Ellen Ward, past president for Anoka Halloween said, as Brock’s 37 years of service to Anoka Halloween is the third longest tenure.
“Dave always made things happen, always,” she said. “You could ask him to fill a pothole in the parade route. There are some people who are universally loved by everyone and that was Dave Brock. Everyone sang his praises and he did it with a smile. He could make you laugh and had a way to make things fun.”
Another common theme among friends and family was echoed by Clark, who grew up with Brock, was his ability to “keep it going because no one else could do it. He just wanted to,” he said.
Ward shared a story about when she and husband Bart began selling chili along the Anoka Halloween Grand Day parade route. They needed something distinctive for the “Chili Patrol” to wear so they stood out in the crowd while walking the route for what she called “rogue vendors.”
Brock bought them all long sleeve orange shirts that said “Chili Patrol” with a yellow skeleton on the back. “It was cute and made it official,” Ward said. “It was a great surprise. He did it out of his own money, but that’s the kind of thing he did for people and his type of humor.”
“So when we were kicking people off the route we did it with a smile on our face and they would say thank you.”
Another project he worked on was organizing and producing the signs that hung on cars of honored people in the parade. He continued to help with the medallion hunt, bingo and dinner and a movie events, too.
Away from Anoka Halloween, Brock volunteered many years on the Anoka Christmas Committee.
Clark and Brock also served as volunteer marshals at the PGA Champions Tour’s 3M Championship for several years.
One year, the two, along with Clark’s son, attended the annual volunteer dinner before the tournament and Brock said he wanted to leave, but he was convinced to stay around for the final drawing of the evening, according to Clark.
Brock ended up winning the grand prize – a 38-inch flat screen television, which still sits in his house.
Brock taught for one year, then worked on the building and grounds crew in Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 for 36 years before retiring in 2001. From 2002 to 2010 he substitute taught in the district and continued to work on the upkeep for Goodrich Field, Fred Moore Middle School, Lincoln Elementary School and a surrounding park.
“Goodrich was his pride and joy,” Redmann said. “Time was not an issue for him.”
That dedication to perfecting a grass athletic field took time and making sure all of the components were in place took even longer.
Brock Field was unveiled for the first time before the Pumpkin Bowl in 2007. Pumpkin Bowl is Anoka’s annual trophy game during the final regular season home football game.
Redmann had worked with Brock since 1991. “He retired from being a full-time employee, but he began working immediately with maintaining those areas around where he lived,” Redmann said. “I would see him mowing Goodrich or Lincoln in the evening or on a Sunday afternoon. He did things when he thought they needed to be done. He took pride in being meticulous.
Redmann shared a story he heard of Brock riding in a car past Goodrich recently and noticing the benches weren’t exactly where they should be.
Although he was unable to perform his usual duties when it came to setting up the field for football, Brock was able to direct others to make it as perfect as possible, according to Redmann.
“It was a busy time with the new scoreboard and first game of the season and he was the director of where to move everything,” Redmann said. “He was very prideful and meticulous at setting up the field and getting the pads down for the game just so.”
Not only would he maintain the turf on the historic field, Brock also organized the chain gang crew for games which is the group that is responsible for marking downs and distances on the sideline.
Brock’s home, in which he also grew up, was located directly across from Goodrich. Over the years the home, also called The White House, became the meeting place for that night’s chain gang crew. Brock’s mother, Ruth, began a tradition of sending him out the door with something warm to drink and something to eat during the game.
“It started with a thermos full of hot cocoa and cookies and then it moved to pop and ham and cheese sandwiches or sloppy joes,” Clark said. Since his mother died, the group continued to meet at The White House for a pre-game meal and the guys rotated food and drink duty.
“He was the chief of the gang and I guess I’m the heir-apparent along with my son Casey,” Clark said. Other members of the gang include Jim Nelson, Tom Batters, Gary Ogg, Casey Clark and Tony Arrellano.
A lifelong friend to many
Clark, one of Brock’s best friends from growing up in Anoka, went to St. Stephen’s for grade school, while Brock attended Lincoln Elementary and graduated a year ahead of Clark.
After high school Clark went into the Navy and the two didn’t reconnect until a meeting on the softball field. Both started umpiring softball games and that’s where the two picked up their friendship.
Classic cars were an interest of Brock’s and he was a regular as the Saturday Night classic car shows in Anoka where he showed-off his 1963 Chevy Corvair, one of three cars he would drive.
The car came with items donated from Frisky’s Drive-In, like one of its drive-up trays and an A & W Root beer mug with realistic-looking root beer, head and all.
“He had a huge circle of friends,” Clark said. “I was telling his sisters, the restaurants might miss him the most. He’d always meet you for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He used to go to Pappie’s in Elk River, Lindie’s Cafe in Rogers and Frisky’s until it closed. He really missed Frisky’s. We grew up only a few blocks away.”
Clark said the circle of friends that Brock had was huge and they only grew over the years.
Brock would help back area teams like youth and adult softball, baseball and volleyball teams. Most recently he worked with the Anoka Bucs amateur baseball team as a sponsor.
Brock umpired softball games through the Tri-Cities Umpire Association for more than three decades.
He once backed a youth softball team to nationals in the 1980s. The team didn’t win, but it shows what he would do for the community, according to Clark.
“Nobody knows how far his generosity extended,” Clark said. “He went with that team as the third base coach and a big supporter. He would always have nice jerseys or shirts for the team and go with them to state tournaments and pay for their hotel.”
Look for the Brock field banner to continue to hang on the north side of Goodrich Field during the next Pumpkin Bowl in October and the field to be set up just that certain Brock way.