The late and loved Shirley Chase, 100, Albert Lea
Nominated by Bob Weiss, 72, Albert Lea
I live in a long-term care facility along with many other residents, but none was a bigger Minnesota Twins fan than Shirley Chase. Shirley died peacefully April 2 at age 100 — just days before the Twins' season opener. But I'll never hear "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" sung without thinking about her. Shirley played shortstop on a girls' softball team while growing up in Clarks Grove, Minn., and for years was glued to her transistor radio listening to baseball games. In 2012 and 2015, Shirley attended Twins' games at Target Field with her family and, on both occasions, "Glo," a representative of the Twins' organization, presented her with memorabilia before the game. During the seventh-inning stretch of both games, Shirley's name, age and town were featured on the scoreboard, to her great delight. More recently, while attending a scheduled afternoon social hour at our facility, I noticed Shirley at an adjacent table during baseball season. While enjoying her afternoon refreshments she paused, then broke out in "Take Me Out To The Ballgame." I was so moved by Shirley's rendition — how she projected with such vigor and youthfulness and enthusiasm. Shirley epitomized the heart and soul of a lifelong Twins fan.
Tom Miller, 80, Inver Grove Heights
Nominated by David H. Bipes, 73, Richfield
When we arrived at 5:30 a.m. recently for check-in at United Hospital's surgery center, volunteer Tom greeted us kindly, then patiently walked us through the inevitable questionnaire. I mentioned that our friends who'd visited United Hospital two years earlier sent their greetings. Tom lit up, recalled the spouse's name and recounted the surgeries they'd undergone — from two years ago! After giving us a bar code to reduce our parking expense to $3 for the day, Tom stepped me through how the parking machine scanner worked and added a disclaimer: "The instructions printed at the gate are about as useful as door knobs on a chimney." Even at 5:30 a.m., his comment rippled back through the line of waiting patients and caused smiles and appreciative laughter. A few hours later, he gave me directions to the cafeteria — addressing me by my first name — then walked with me to the elevators. When I expressed my surprise that he'd "survived" as a volunteer even during the pandemic, he replied that he's been volunteering there for 15 years. Kudos to a man who makes the harrowing experience of surgery and hospitalization gentler and kinder.
Nayef Albinali, 38, Minneapolis
Nominated by Kathy Nelson, 71, Minneapolis
My son, Nayef, works at Best Buy in Richfield — going on 16 years now. Nayef lives in an apartment building in south Minneapolis that we bought in 2007. Three of his friends also have apartments in the building and they love each other. "Having your back" is a literal term for Nayef and his friends; they wrap themselves around anyone who is grieving. When Nayef sees a dog while out walking, he drops to the ground for a snuggle. This has resulted in a few rebuffs, but for the most part, dogs seem as drawn to him as he is to them. We tease him that his chin must taste like a cheeseburger. I have attached a photo with Nayef's singing outside of 42nd Street Gifts — now gone. Our family business was located above that store and when Nayef didn't have a lot to do, he would come over and sing for passersby. A friendly photographer composed the picture and we turned it into mouse pads which were sold in the gift store. People still stop us on the street and ask Nayef if he was that young man who used to sing on the corner. Often, people remark that they still smile when they remember him there.