When John Turek talks about having Dolly Parton in his yard, he’s not kidding.
He is, however, talking about roses, not the singer.
Turek, of East Union, also grinned a bit when mentioning that he knows Marilyn Monroe, Julia Child and Neil Diamond. They too are names of roses growing amidst his impressive outdoor array.
Turek, 77, should know roses pretty well, as he’s a well-recognized judge and consultant with various rose societies, including the American Rose Society.
His reputation is so widespread that he was recently awarded the Silver Honor Medal at that society’s North Central District convention. The district includes Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas.
“He was presented the award for his incredible service to the district,” said Bruce Barr of Port Washington, Wisconsin, who with his wife Maggie Barr were greatly involved with the North Central District Convention and Rose Show in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.
“There are 18 American Rose Society districts across the country and each one is allowed to award one silver honor a year to someone who had done great things,” Bruce Barr said. “John was treasurer for the district for years and a great judge as well and he was so deserving of the honor.
“His incredible service through being treasurer; keeping us financially sound so we can do the kinds of educational things we can, has made a big difference,” he added. “He was also incredibly professional in doing it.”
Turek, president of the Twin Cities Rose Club, says he was “honored” to win the award, adding that he’ll likely never win the gold medal because “you have to really be involved with the American Rose Society and I just don’t have all that much time.”
You see, Turek still farms about 160 acres of corn and soybeans on his End Night Farms property near East Union. He also used to attend to more than 400 rose plants, but that has been reduced to just over 300, including about 175 to 200 different varieties.
“I keep busy,” Turek understated. “It started out as a hobby that just kept going.”
Turek traces his interest in roses to his late mother-in-law, Vera Puchta of Springfield, Minnesota.
“She grew roses and my wife (Char) wanted to grow them too,” he said. “We started with a few and just kept growing. I think it turned into more than I had bargained for.”
Char, who died in 2018, was also quite active in growing roses and received various accolades.
“When we got started at the farm here, I got more involved because Char wouldn’t dig the holes in the ground to put them in, so I did,” Turek said. “Now I keep the roses in containers and move then in my barn when I need to. It’s a lot easier.”
Turek, who has received various other awards and recognition from several rose-associated societies, laughs when he mentions his 1-year-old granddaughter, Beatrice Rose.
“I like to think she got that name because of all the work Char and I did with roses,” he said. “I think it’s pretty cute; just like her.”