NORTH MANKATO — Bill Borchardt wore numerous hats over the years, always remaining heavily involved in many aspects of the community.
He was active with local baseball and football and in his church. He also served on a city committee for three decades.
“He was dedicated,” said Ted Genelin, an old friend who helped co-found the Mankato Area Youth Baseball Association with Borchardt.
Borchardt died at his home Jan. 3. He was 87.
He spent most of his career as owner of Melhorn Mueller Co. and worked as an investigator for various insurance companies, district attorney offices and law firms. He spent his free time helping out in the community. In the late 1950s he served in the U.S. Army as a special agent with Counterintelligence Corps, covering southern Minnesota.
He loved sports and worked as a youth baseball and football coach. Borchardt was part of a group of youth baseball coaches that banded together in 1979 to create the Mankato Area Youth Baseball Association. The MAYBA program had about 450 youth in it at the time and has grown during its four decades — the program is expecting more than 1,200 members this summer.
As a coach, Borchardt was calm and patient. Genelin said Borchardt took the time to slow down and teach kids the basics of baseball. He didn’t yell at his players and was even-keeled.
“He really hammered in that if you don’t have the ball, you can’t make a play,” Genelin said. “For 10-, 11-, 12-year old kids, you may not think about that.”
Borchardt brought a lot of energy to the MAYBA program and worked hard to keep everything alive and running.
“He knew baseball,” Genelin said. Borchardt was inducted into MAYBA’s Hall of Fame in 2009.
Borchardt also managed the chain gang, a crew that helps signal officials’ decisions on the sidelines, for the Minnesota State University Mavericks and the Minnesota Vikings summer training camp.
He was head usher at Centenary United Methodist Church and served on most of the church’s committees over the years.
Colleagues say Borchardt brought an energy to everything he did.
He was appointed to the city Traffic and Safety Committee in the 1980s and served on the committee for three decades, which members say is a rarity for a community member. The late Mayor Dave Dehen appointed Borchardt to the committee in the 1980s and his son, current Mayor Mark Dehen, continued appointing Borchardt to the role during the past decade until Borchardt stepped down last year.
“I don’t know anyone else that served on a committee that long,” said Michael Fischer, North Mankato’s community development director. Borchardt helped examine ways to improve safety and traffic in the city and was involved with the introduction of roundabouts in North Mankato.
He was known as a man who was involved in many things but always found a way to show up.
Borchardt rarely missed a committee meeting during the two decades Fischer worked with him.
He was known as a humble man with a wealth of knowledge that he brought to the work he did.
He was good at paying attention to details.
If the Traffic and Safety Committee was going to discuss a proposal for a new stop sign or talk about a certain intersection, Borchardt would visit the site beforehand and bring information about what he observed to the committee.
Nate Host, North Mankato public works director, said Borchardt was always in a good mood and cracking jokes at committee meetings.
“He just really seemed dedicated to everything he did,” Fischer said. “We will miss him on the Traffic and Safety Committee and even more as a resident of North Mankato.”
Borchardt and his wife, Betty, raised three children in North Mankato. They were married for more than 65 years before she died in 2019.
“He was there for his wife, he was there for the community,” Dehen said.
Colleagues say his dedication to the community shone through during the decades he lived in North Mankato.
“It was never about Bill,” Dehen said. “It was always about the community.”