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Alexander Rennie 1990 obituary


Alexander Rennie dies; he made stone into things of beauty
by Kevin Duchschere, Staff Writer
Alexander Rennie always said he didn’t want to make a million dollars. His daughter, who kept his books, always assured him he woudn’t. It didn't matter. For Rennie, breathing life into stone with chisel and saw was reward enough.
Rennie, one of a nearly extinct breed of stone artisans and the last in a long line of family stonecutters, died of a brain tumor Sunday at Yorkshire Manor Nursing Home in Minneapolis. He was 81.
Since 1955 he had owned and operated Gopher Stone Co. in Minneapolis, a stone structure he built on an old landfill site. Twelve hours a day, six days a week, he carved Indiana lime stone and Kasota stone into mantels, cornerstones, delicate window trim and handrail balusters. He practiced his craft with flair and a sense of deep satisfaction, said his daughter, Jean Turner of Minneapolis.
"My father had a reputation all over the country," said Turner, who is Gopher Stone's secretary-treasurer. "He could cut stone with skill it takes years to learn and develop. He had a knowledge of stone, its capability and its wearability. He was the authority." Rennie was born in Fort William, Ontario, where he learned stonecutting from his father and became the latest in a line of Rennie stonecutters stretching centuries back to their Scottish ancestors. After an apprenticeship in Canada, he moved to Minneapolis in the early 1930s. He worked for several years for Rubble Stone Co. in Minneapolis before buying Gopher Stone. At times he employed two or three truck drivers, but he was always the only cutter.
In recent years, Rennie bemoaned modern architecture that ignored niceties such as decorative stonework. "With stone, you're using a material that has character and a lasting quality," he said in 1985. "I don't see any beauty in the IDS . . it's all prefab ... They don't build here to last a thousand years (as in Europe). I don't know why."
He never had a driver's license, and took the bus to and from work each day. He had held Viking season tickets ever since the team's first season in 1961.
Rennie's wife, Edith, died in 1988, and Turner said that only his work had kept him going since. On Oct. 7 he collapsed in his shop. He never returned to work. Besides his daughter, he is survived by a brother, Arthur, of Mound; three grandsons, and four great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at the Washburn-McReavy Strobeck-Johnson Funeral Chapel, 1400 Main street, Hopkins. Memorials to the St. Louis Park congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses or the Animal Humane Society of Hennepin County are suggested. 
The cited information was sourced from Electronic Document (email, file) published by in Minneapolis on April 3rd, 1990 (Ref: p. 18) The author/originator was Star Tribune. This citation is considered to be direct and primary evidence used, or by dominance of the evidence.

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