Local man earns rare honor

FAIRMONT – Dave Kropp retired from 3M about 12 years ago, but he was back at the Fairmont plant on Monday, all eyes on him as employees past and present honored the latest local recipient of a 3M Community Volunteer Award.

The St. Paul-based company has about 88,000 employees around the world, plus retirees, from whom to choose each year for 25 community volunteer awards. Kropp was nominated for the honor by the co-chairs of Fairmont 3M Cares: Sue Hinz and Diane Henricks.

“3M Cares wouldn’t be what it is today without Dave,” said Hinz, regarding the local group of 3M retirees who work on various volunteer projects throughout the year.

Kropp never missed a day in his 36 years as a janitor and watchman with 3M, and when he retired, he still refused to sit idle.

Kropp serves as vice chairman for 3M Cares, but his involvement as a volunteer goes far beyond that. He donates time to ring bells for the Salvation Army during the Christmas Season, and helps with stocking the food shelf. For Stuff for School, an effort to provide supplies to every kindergarten student at eight schools in Martin County, Kropp is always available to sort and pack supplies. Daffodil Days, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, is another project Kropp works on, manning the table to sell the bright yellow flowers.

Kropp has also volunteered with the Red Cross blood drive in Fairmont for many years. Mark Johnson, the Bloodmobile coordinator, praises Kropp and his wife Jo for their dedication to the blood drive.

“Dave and his wife always take a three-hour shift volunteering in the canteen for one day each blood drive. They always contribute delicious pastries for the staff people and volunteers. In addition, Dave and Jo continue to urge donors who visit the canteen after donating to schedule an appointment for the next blood drive. David has always been an important volunteer for our drives, and he makes a significant contribution to the success of our drives,” Johnson wrote in a letter included with Kropp’s nomination for the 3M award, in which he also noted Kropp’s help with distributing advertising posters and fliers before the blood drives.

Kropp’s presence, however vital it may be, is not always obvious. He can be a quiet man, and he is happy working behind the scenes, which he does for Martin County Historical Society, Fairmont Partners in Education, and Fairmont Area Kinship, all of which he assists by folding and labeling thousands of newsletters.

At his church, Grace Lutheran, he and his wife fill in for the janitors, and the two help make hundreds of apple pies for a church fundraiser.

“I don’t have anything else to do,” Kropp said, shrugging modestly when asked about his many commitments as a volunteer.

He is the second retiree from the Fairmont plant to receive the 3M honor. Last year, one of the awards went to Bill Cordt.