Local business woman dies at 85


Long-time Maple Lake resident and business owner, Zita Manuel, passed away April 20, 2015, at the St. Cloud Hospital at the age of 85.
Born in 1930, Zita Margaret Steichen married Andrew Manuel in 1950. Zita, along with husband, Andy, (also deceased) moved to Maple Lake in 1952. Having met while both were working at Weber’s Grocery and Meats in Watkins, it was fitting that their first business venture in Maple Lake was to purchase the grocery store business from Frank Ruff. That business became Andy’s Meat Market. In 1960 the couple purchased Trotter’s Red Owl from Bob Trotter changing the name to Andy’s Red Owl and merging the grocery store and meat market into one business. At that time the store was located on Birch where the Maple Lake Laundromat most recently was. Soon after a new building was built to house the business on what is now an empty lot at the corner of Division St. and Birch Ave. Not long after that the business expanded to include a locker plant in the old creamery building.
“I remember her best sitting on a stool behind the counter at the Red Owl checking people out,” said Carole Bestland, manager of Maple Lake Wine and Spirits. “She was always so prim and pretty, always ready to lend a hand.” 
The couple had six children, Bruce, Roger, Carol, Laurence, Alice and Paul. All six attended Maple Lake schools and grew up taking turns working in the store. Roger purchased the grocery business from his parents in 1985, Andy passed away in 1987.
Manuel continued to be active in the community, serving on many boards and committees, including the Maple Lake Commercial Club and as a member of the  Maple Lake City Council from 1990-1994.
Mike Messina, Maple Lake Mayor during Manuel’s term remembers her as “a very giving person, very pro-Maple Lake, always wanting the best for her town.”
John Northernscold, current Maple Lake Councilman, served with Manuel on the Council, and recalls Manuel warmly.  “She was a very good woman, raised a great family,” said Northernscold. “I remember the Red Owl always had an orchid corsage for the women on Mother’s Day.”
Her final business venture in Maple Lake was Manuel’s Costume Shop, making and renting costumes from her home with daughter, Carol, until 2010.