FOSSTON, Minn. — It was a sellout crowd at the Fosston baseball field. Many were wearing their favorite jerseys as the town said goodbye to a man who touched so many lives over the past four decades.
"For me personally, that's where I get all my motivation from," said Macie Anderson, who played softball for Paul Magelssen.
The 73-year-old Magelssen passed away last week after a month-long battle with COVID-19.
"A person who knew how to love, be a friend, love people with Jesus' love," was how his widow Sheryl Magelssen described her late husband.
He was known as "Pastor Paul" to many in the community. He was the pastor at Hope Lutheran Church for 25 years. He was also a Christian radio show host and the community recreation director.
Paul Magelssen was also a star on the softball field.
"One of the best athletes you would see in your life," said longtime friend Doug Hoilman. "He did things in softball that were pretty incredible."
More importantly, Pastor Paul was a superstar mentor in life. His love for God and sports inspired many of the kids who he coached over the years.
"Every time he signed to anybody, at the end he would always tug on his ear. One day at the end of practice he finally admitted to us that he was telling us he loved us before we went to bat," said Felicity Anderson, who played for Magelssen.
The country met Paul Magelssen in 2016 when the story of his simple gesture to his 11-year-old granddaughter went viral. He took her to the prom. She was dying from a rare disease that shuts down the nervous system.
"Can you imagine the squeal that heaven heard when Lydia saw dad up there?" said Magelssen's daughter, and Lydia's mom, Laura Wahlstrom.
That he is reunited with his prom date brings some comfort to everyone during this time of grief.
"I'm glad they are together, I'm not ready for him to be there, there is joy knowing they are together," said Wahlstrom.
The community was glad to honor the man who always hit a home run when giving advice.
"Thank you so much for sharing your family and your amazingly loving husband with so many that considered him a mentor and a friend," said longtime Fosston resident Yolanda Anderson.