Generosity on the Gunflint Trail: Bruce and Sue Kerfoot |

Generosity on the Gunflint Trail: Bruce and Sue Kerfoot

Updated: November 05, 2020 08:31 PM
Created: November 03, 2020 10:51 PM

They've won an award they never even knew about. Bruce and Sue Kerfoot are being honored with the Generosity Award from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation for their nearly immeasurable contributions to their Gunflint Trail community.

Bruce grew up on the Gunflint. "I'm a native of the trail. My mother was one of the first white women to move into the territory. I was one of the first white kids born up here. I've lived my whole life on the Gunflint," he shared recently at the WDIO studios.

He and Sue ran the Gunflint Lodge for over 50 years. "We started out as a rustic fishing camp, and rebuilt the whole resort, slowly, and incrementally."

They were also in the outfitting business. It wasn't easy, but so rewarding. And they've shared the glory of the wilderness, with so many.

"Some of these people came back year after year, and they'd tell us how much it meant to them. Maybe straightened them out a little bit," Bruce recalled.

During that time, they raised a family and helped build their community, one ambulance at a time. He and Sue were founding members of the Gunflint Volunteer Fire Department, which started out more like a medical service. "We were both EMTs, and Sue was an EMT trainer."

The garage was on their property, and Bruce was often the first one out the door with the rig, meeting the rest of the team at the scenes. He recalled one particularly memorable case where they saved a woman from freezing to death. "I believe she was, until recently, the coldest known hypothermic reaction in an adult in the United States."

He was on the school board, a scout master, and ended up being a national representative for outfitting and recreational funds. 

More recently, the Kerfoots helped get the Chik-Wauk Museum up and running. "We were part of a half a dozen people with a little dream about having a museum reflective of the heritage in our community, our history and everything."

They've been open for over a decade now, and they get 9000 visitors a summer. All who walk away with a better understanding about this unique corner of the world.

Bruce stays busy making things for the gift shop. "We have a group at Chik-Wauk we called the Sawdust Seniors," he said. He's proud the museum is self-sustaining, and doesn't need outside help to keep going.

Plus, the couple has volunteered with the Red Cross. "We were down there during Hurricane Katrina, helping feed people."

Now the Kerfoots have been honored for their seemingly unending support and contributions they've made over the decades. The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation has awarded them the Generosity Award. "We didn't even know what that was," Bruce laughed. "I guess you don't participate in this kind of stuff to seek recognition."

Because for them, it's a way of life. "We have a proud little community. We're helping each other, we help solve our challenges, and we're proud to share it. But we want to invite people to come and appreciate and learn."

The Touchstone Awards are coming up on Tuesday, November 17th, at 6:30pm. You can watch them right here, on WDIO.

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