Albrecht was a great ambassador for city

Joel Albrecht wasn’t born in New Ulm, but there are few native New Ulmites who could match his love for the city, his dedication in the service of the city, and his energy in representing the city.

Albrecht, who served the city as a city councilor for ten years and as mayor for eight more, died on Sunday at the age of 83. He wore many hats over the years, but mostly he wore his trademark bowler, a symbol of his 41-year long proprietorship of Concordia Lanes. Along with his ever-present boutonniere, it gave him a jaunty air and make him a hard-to-forget figure. That served him well in his frequent trips representing the city on commissions like the Highway 14 Partnership and the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. He was well-known in the halls of the state capitol, where he frequently went to deliver messages about the needs of New Ulm and southern Minnesota, which he often delivered with a smile and a laugh.

Albrecht was proud of the German heritage he shared with New Ulm, and helped promote it whenever he could. He helped found the German-American Parade in New Ulm, was a constant presence at Heritagefest and Bavarian Blast and pushed to build tourism in New Ulm by emphasizing that heritage.

As mayor he greeted groups of visitors with a smile, a laugh and a joie de vivre that left the impression that New Ulm must be a fun place to be.

Albrecht’s service to the community extended beyond government. He was a doer who was never averse to getting his hands dirty for the good of whatever project he was involved in. An example is his dedication in keeping the flower pots and hanging plants downtown watered and fresh looking. He organized the watering crew, and always took his turn driving the little water cart up and down Minnesota Street.

Albrecht used to joke about the notion that someone who moved to New Ulm had to live here 25 years before they became a true New Ulmite. “I’ve been here since the 60s, and I still don’t have my citizenship papers,” he would laugh.

Well, he has certainly earned that honor to be considered a true citizen of New Ulm.