Videos & Speeches
Apr 01 2014
The story of Kansas is one that involves many people, many jobs, much ado about caring for others. Our state is a state of manufacturing workers, factory workers, teachers, people who work hard — farmers — every day to make a difference in their community and to make a difference in our state and nation. Today, I want to pay tribute to one of those unsung heroes. In this case, it’s a businessman, a volunteer, a husband, a father, who lived a full life before passing away in December of last year.
Alvin Brensing was born and raised on a farm outside of Hudson, a rural central Kansas town with a population of 125. And after high school, Brensing graduated with honors from Salt City Business College in Hutchinson and in May 1937, at the age of 21, started working as a bookkeeper at the Stafford County Flour Mills.
As German immigrants, the Krug family realized that their American Dream was going to be accomplished by establishing the flour mill more than a century before. Alvin worked under William Krug and then Leonard Brim to help grow the company before being named its president in 1986. Under his leadership, Stafford County Flour Mills doubled its capacity and grew two and a half times its size. It is one of the last independent flour mills remaining in the United States, and the mill produces Hudson Cream Flour. Many of my colleagues and Americans will have seen the bag of flour with the great symbol and emblem — Hudson Cream Flour. And that Hudson Cream Flour has a reputation around the nation as a top-notch baking flour for its consistency and texture. It also serves as a tradition for this West Virginia family who wrote the company saying this:
After using Hudson Cream Flour for all the years I have cooked . . . I can remember even my grandmother and mother using nothing else . . . I read for the first time the “absolute satisfaction guarantee” and really had a good laugh! I thought, if those people in Kansas only knew the absolute satisfaction my family has enjoyed from their product. The things we pass down in our family are good morals, good cooking, and Hudson Cream flour!
After his wife died in 1993, he came to miss the smell of fresh bread and soon began experimenting with the ingredients himself. Alvin came up with three recipes, including “Al's Cinnamon Raisin Bread,” which is included on the back of every Hudson Cream Flour bag.
Alvin always put farmers and customers first. The current Stafford County Flour Mills president Reuel Foote reflected that Alvin often said, “Our word is our bond — if you agree to do something, you do it.”
While Alvin dedicated most of his life to ensuring the success and future of the mill, he was also a tireless volunteer in the Hudson community. Brensing took upon himself to maintain the Hudson Trinity Cemetery, where his parents and wife, Zelda, are buried. In fact, he upgraded a shed on the property into a building where loved ones can now comfortably look up the location of their loved ones’ graves.
Alvin was also known as the local weatherman, collecting data for the National Weather Service from a local grain elevator. And his daughters remember their dad turning the furnace on each Sunday morning to heat up the Trinity Community Church.
His legacy of leadership and volunteerism is what will live on as the Stafford County Flour Mills continue to support the community and educate youth, whether it’s through the county 4-H Program or through the dozens of mill tours given each year. The mill also continues Alvin’s tradition of giving each school kid a five-pound bag of flour after each tour to encourage them to experiment with recipes and baking.
Alvin taught through his actions that satisfaction in life comes from what you do for others rather than what you do for yourself. This is the legacy that I want to pay tribute to today, and this is the legacy that he lived and leaves behind for the future generation.
We want those who follow him and us to know that they have their chance to return home, put down their roots, and raise their own families in places like Hudson, Kansas. Our Nation faces so many challenges today, but we must remain committed to doing what it takes so that tomorrow and every day thereafter our children and grandchildren have the opportunity to enjoy that special way of life in places like Kansas and to pursue their own American Dream.
Madam President, I ask my colleagues to join me in paying tribute and remembering the life of a great Kansan, Alvin Brensing.