Elbow Lake's Jay McNamar has hometown pride

Jay McNamar, historian, teacher

Every so often in life you come across someone like Jay McNamar. Step into his home, strike up a conversation, smile and enjoy the ride.

As the stories flow, images come to mind: historian, booster, cheerleader, author, politician, athlete, advocate, teacher. No one word could describe the small town pride bursting from the former mayor and state representative from Elbow Lake.

“This is a community where everyone looks out for each other,” he says about his Elbow Lake home. “It’s a great place to raise a family or have the grand kids visit.”

There’s so much more to talk about, to brag about and discover about little Elbow Lake, but realize that Jay has always danced to the small town vibe. Growing up in Ada, he married his high school sweetheart, Robin. During his college years in North Dakota Jay played sports (the trifecta of football, basketball and baseball), and he earned a teaching degree ( Robin eventually earned a teaching degree from North Dakota State University). It wasn’t long until the newlyweds made their way to Elbow Lake, trading college academia for school teaching.

That was a few decades ago. Jay and Robin never left because, well, they found their home. “It was a good fit for us,” Jay says. He loves living wide open, which he defines as camping, fishing, hunting and playing golf at the Tipsinal Mounds Golf Course.  “If you’re a golfer, you have to try that course,” he says. “You can get on without a tee time, and it’s reasonably priced. It’s a fantastic course.”

Finally, it’s time to take a look around town. Jay puts on his tour guide hat and escorts his visitor downtown to see the Thorson Memorial Library. “This is the first building in the nation that was built with funds from President (Franklin D.) Roosevelt’s PWA (Public Works Administration). It’s the center of our community–a wonderful building. And we have the courthouse on the historical registry, and museum with an original oxen wagon. Then we have…” Yes, there’s more.

With Jay McNamar, the stories and history wind together and there’s lots to like in and around town. “I just love this community,” he smiles.

Well said, Jay.

Steve Henning