This obituary was posted on the Steel Guitar Forum by Minnie Ann’s devastated son. Minnie was performing on stage up until shortly before she died.
I’m so inspired. Hopefully I have at least twenty-three years left to learn how to yodel and get a standing ovation.
“Minnie Ann Renn, age 85, of Brainerd, MN, passed away Tuesday Jan 7, 2014, at 4:50 pm.
Minnie is survived by two sons, Ernie (Tracey) Renn of Brainerd and Wayne Renn of Brainerd, one brother, Kenny (Maxine) Petersen of Nisswa. One grandson Steve Renn of Alexandria and two granddaughters Lyla (Brandon) Martin and Julia Renn of Brainerd, twelve Nieces and Nephews, many great nieces and nephews, and one great-grand-daughter on the way.
She was preceded in death by her husband Harland W. Renn, father and mother, Dan and Minnie Petersen, two infants, George Petersen, and John Petersen; and three sisters, Alice Paetzel, Gladys Petersen, and Lyla Petersen.
Minnie Ann was a Brainerd area Musician, known for singing, yodeling, and playing the accordion or electric bass. She played at many area night clubs, dances, and nursing homes in her many years of performing. She started publicly playing music at 3 years old with her Dad and sisters, playing at school PTA meetings. As an adult, Minnie and her two sisters Lyla and Gladys formed “The Petersen Sisters” in the late 1940’s and played many area barn dances, weddings, and night clubs. At that time Minnie worked at Akre’s Quality Bakery in Brainerd. After marrying Harland Renn in 1956, the two of them started a country music trio with Harland’s brother, Clyde Renn that they called “The North Stars”, long before the sports team.
After the loss of Clyde to a car crash, Minnie and Harland played at Dale Ryan’s Town Tavern for 11 years as the house band. They called themselves “The Renn’s +1” with Gilbert Pence playing the bass guitar. For the last two years of that gig, they added their oldest son Ernie, 12, who played lead guitar. Minnie went on to play the bass guitar every week-end with local band, “Sonny and the Royals”, for 15 more years. Following that, she played with numerous area bands at night clubs and senior centers well into her 80’s.
After retirement Minnie was involved with yearly reunions with her Class of 1946, and a member of the Eagles Club. She also traveled with her son’s band “The Wayne Renn Band” playing fairs and shows all over Minnesota and North Dakota for a few years. She was always famous around the Brainerd area, for her family of musicians. She also performed on many of the Shotgun Red shows and even performed at the Minnesota State Fair.
Minnie didn’t have an easy life. When her two boys were little, her husband hurt his back and she was the only provider for her family of four for many years. She worked at Rexall, Elvig’s and Nystrom Drug stores in downtown Brainerd over the years. She worked hard and came home tired, yet, she still did all of the yard work and supplied her family with whatever they needed. Her husband passed away at age 50, she never remarried, but stayed true to him even after his death. She was an amazing woman, and the most giving selfless person you could ever meet. Anyone who knew her could tell that she was a kind hearted woman and amazing mother to her children.
When her two boys started bands of their own, Minnie and her sister Lyla were always sure to be in the audience. Everyone loved when Minnie would join the bands on stage to sing a few songs and Yodel. Minnie Renn was blessed with many, many, many standing ovations.
As a grandmother she stayed very involved, passing on her amazing love and tenderness to all. She will be very missed by her family.
Minnie loved fishing and once was on the front page of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch doing just that. She got to live out her lifelong dream of seeing both oceans, and then making a visit to Washington DC, Arlington Cemetery, and John F. Kennedy’s Grave.
After a heart attack, and major heart surgery, Minnie spent her last year of life in the Bethany nursing home, of Brainerd, MN. Even in the nursing home, she kept entertaining. She played the accordion almost every week for her friends there, and was invited to sing with other bands that came to the home to entertain. Every Sunday Minnie’s son Ernie would take her with him to the Bridge Tavern where he and cousin Mark Petersen play Classic Country Music with the band known as “Wanted”. Minnie was a big hit with crowds everywhere she went, right up until the weeks before her passing.
Minnie gave more than she ever received in her lifetime. She has truly built her kingdom in heaven. The world has lost an amazing, humble, wonderful person, and she will be missed by everyone who had the honor of knowing her.”