After 10 years in Marshall, friends, colleagues say goodbye to Willert

MARSHALL – There was a steady line of people coming in the door at the open house farewell celebration for outgoing Marshall Superintendent Klint Willert.

Oftentimes, the greeting line to speak with Willert stretched out the door and around the corner Tuesday afternoon at the Marshall Area YMCA.

“It’s been great to see the outpouring of support,” Willert said. “It’s really exceeded my expectations.”

Willert has served as superintendent at Marshall for the past 10 years. Having recently accepted a position as superintendent in the Brainerd School District, Willert said he’s leaving Marshall with mixed emotions.

“It’s the people who make Marshall special,” he said. “My family and I have been very blessed that we’ve had the last 10 years of our lives here. So we certainly leave Marshall with very strong feelings about Marshall in our heart because we do appreciate the community and the region. We’ve had a lot of great relationships and friendships, and the nice part about it is that you take all those things with you wherever you go. And that’s exactly what we’ll do when we leave Marshall.”

Though bittersweet, Willert admits that he’s looking forward to the next stage and transition in his life.

“Brainerd is very similar to Marshall in that it’s a regional center, but it just has a little larger footprint,” Willert said. “It’s a district of about 600 square miles, so it’s pretty big.”

While people have joked with him about the high snowfall level up north, Willert said he’s anticipating less wind, which could mean less hassle with snow days.

“We were told that the snow in Brainerd falls straight down, and snow in southwest Minnesota falls at about a 45 degree angle,” he said. “I guess we’ll see.”

As the move gets closer, the Willert family has begun to look forward to life up in Brainerd. April Willert will likely do some substitute teaching in the district, while son Kesmond, who will be a sophomore in the fall, is looking forward to fishing – they even have a fishing league available to high school students – in addition to continuing football, wrestling and track. Daughter Kestlyn, who will be a seventh-grader, is excited about continuing dance.

“The kids are excited,” Klint Willert said. “They have a really good dance studio up there Kestlyn will be able to join, so she’s excited about that opportunity. And Kesmond is especially excited for fishing.”

Among the many well-wishers was Marshall School Board Chairman Jeff Chapman, who said he had only positive things to say about Willert. Chapman has served on the board for 14 years and considers himself to have a good working relationship with the outgoing superintendent.

“I tell you what, ‘Brainerd is getting a superstar,'” Chapman said.

Like Willert himself, Mary and Bob Meffert got choked up during the farewell celebration.

“We’re going to miss him,” Mary Meffert said.

Bob Meffert, who has worked in the district since 1967, said he’d come to appreciate Willert as a community leader.

“I’m still in the building,” Meffert said. “I was the band director there for many years. Now I’m the city band director, and we still use the Marshall Middle School building. And I’ve found Klint to be a very genuine person.”

Lonnie Mercie, custodian in the Marshall School District, also took time to shake hands and share a few parting words with Willert.

“I hate to see the guy go,” Mercie said. “We’ve had some good superintendents and some bad superintendents over the years, and he’s at the top. It didn’t matter how busy he was, he would step back and talk to you. He always had time for people. I’m going to miss him.”