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Marco's Coffee Club: Solving world problems for over 50 years

A steadfast affection for sports and classes, family and community, kindled a relationship that has kept the Marco's Coffee Club going strong for decades. The topics of conversation may have changed over the years, but the Minot State University connection remains part of the fabric.

Fifty years later, with kids and deadlines behind them, Marcos' members have changed their focus to solving problems more looming than home or work. Comprised of many MSU alumni, Marco's Coffee Club members have shifted their focus from armchair tactics to community service.

"There are so many problems — we are the steering committee for the city," said Henry Milkey, self-proclaimed group president. "Every day, we meet and solve all the problems, but nobody listens."

The club is a loosely comprised group of approximately 20 men who, by their estimation, have met daily for coffee since the early 60s. Locations and names of meeting places have shifted over the years, but the camaraderie and spirited banter remain consistent, regardless of the locale.

Coincidentally, one of their first service projects occurred in 2006, when word got out that Herb Parker (retired MSU dean of men) wanted to paint his house — by himself. He was 85 at the time.

"When we heard Herb was going to paint his house, we asked if we could do it," Milkey recalled. "He didn't really want any help, so we told him his job was to buy the paint."

"Herb didn't want to waste any paint, so he pretty much spent the entire day running back and forth, buying one gallon at a time," Rod Romine chimed in.

Twelve men completed the project by late afternoon.

The group has also served as Minot's official hospitality committee at state tournaments since 1969. The men work tirelessly as greeters and tournament hosts, providing food and snacks for coaches, school officials and workers.

"Minot has a great reputation for hosting tournaments, mainly because of this group," said Rick Hedberg, MSU athletic director. "We couldn't do it without them."

They also raised money for the first all-weather MSU track, which, they proudly point out, was the first time the university received city or county funds.

In honor of MSU's Power of 100 Centennial Service Project, the club volunteered 100 hours maintaining the grounds around the five "Welcome to Minot" signs at the city's entrances. It dedicated its effort in the spirit of Minot State's century-old commitment to service.

Of the 14 lawn mowers the group used, most were rescued from the garbage and repaired by Milkey.

"I am starting to get picky," Milkey said. "I prefer self-propelled."

"The hills are steeper than they used to be," Romine added.

It's not all work for the group. Although coffee is the muse, gathering together provides members a way to stay abreast of community happenings and involved in each other's lives.

"We spend at least 20 minutes trying to remember names," Duane Brekke quipped.

"We get along; we really don't get into arguments," Milkey added. "Sometimes, though, I have to say, ‘That's enough!'"

The group chuckled, and somewhere at the table another person refilled his cup.