Rossman and Blandin Correspondence

edited by Don Boese

Laurence A. Rossman, publisher of the Grand Rapids Herald Review and C. K. Blandin, owner of the Blandin Paper Company, were best of friends. Blandin had served as editor-publisher of two small-town Minnesota newspapers in his early career and that, plus mutual interests in regard to the welfare and development of Grand Rapids and Itasca County, provided the two with much in common.

With Blandin spending time in St. Paul and in his later years in Florida, the two frequently had occasion to correspond via letters. Rossman carefully retained that correspondence and it was bound into yearly volumes. With the support of Laurence’s son, George, and Todd Driscoll of the Blandin Foundation, a complete copy of the entire correspondence has been made and donated to the Itasca County Historical Society, forming a valuable addition to its archives.

The letters date from the l930s and continue until Rossman’s death in l956. They provide a wealth of information about Grand Rapids and Itasca County affairs during that time period with, for example, details in regard to the controversial site location for the new county courthouse building in l949 or for recreation development in the town and the county.

As Rossman was a keen champion of the paper mill and its position in the county and the town, there is much to be learned of local corporate history. The early years of the Blandin Foundation are particularly well documented as Blandin used Rossman as a sounding board for its inception and thereafter with Rossman serving as a trustee, there is much exchange in regard to projects and foundation philosophy. Clearly reflected in the correspondence is both the altruism and the satisfying ability to influence that was always a prerogative that Blandin relished.

Not of least interest in the letters are the expressions of personal friendship between the two men. The friendship was of particular importance to the loner, Blandin, but both drew satisfaction from it. Their discussion of mutual interests and daily matters gives insight to motivation and accomplishments of both of these community shapers.

The letters are available for research or perusal for interest in the Central School historical society library.