ELY Wherever she went, Linda Fryer represented her hometown.
“She would always wear an Ely t-shirt or sweatshirt and tell people about it and invite them to come,” Judy Hall said. “She worked for Eli every minute.”
Hall, 84, was Fryer’s life partner and saw firsthand everything Fryer did for the northeast Minnesota city of over 3,400 bordering the Boundary Waters canoe wilderness.
The story of Fryer’s debt to Eli will be memorialized Thursday when the city dedicates a section of Seventh Avenue in her name, naming it the Linda Fryer Way. Fryer died in January at the age of 72 after serving 25 years as the administrative director of the Ely Chamber of Commerce.
“Linda was exactly what our community needed,” Mayor Roger Scruba told the News Tribune. “She pointed us in the right direction. She was a good leader.”
Fryer and Hall came to Ely from northwestern Indiana in 1980, having previously built a cabin out of town in 1974. Fryer got his start in the city by owning and operating a Montgomery Ward catalog store. By 1988, the store had long since closed, but she headed the ward and, later, the Ely area tourist office.
Eva Sebesta is now director of the chamber and remembers Fryer as a strong station that had a balanced approach. Fryer once told Sebesta that a leader never misses a good opportunity to keep quiet.
“People really trusted her and respected her,” Sebesta said. “She thought things through and was very specific about what she did. Never windy.
Sources say Fryer helped establish Ely as a popular tourist destination. She loved the outdoors, loved to fish, travel, and promote the idea that Ely was a better place for people to enjoy it too.
“She was selfless and a driving force,” Sevesta said. “She was always looking for what could be done for the benefit of society.”
The Linda Fryer Road will follow what was once South Seventh Avenue east between East Sheridan…