By JAN WILLMS
Helping youth between the ages of 14 and 20 to succeed is the mission Ted Natus, recently crowned King Boreas LXXVII at the St. Paul Winter Carnival, hopes to work on during his year-long reign.
Natus, 74, president of Hamernick Decorating on Rice Street, will have a number of duties to add to his already full schedule, working six days a week at his store.
He said his plan for his time spent as king is to help people as much as he can, focusing on youth.
“Reuben Rosario said in a recent column he wrote that 15 young people in the 14-20 age group die every day, and they go unnoticed,” Natus said. “I want to help those who need help and want to better themselves.”
He said these are issues he wants to work on here in St. Paul and through his company. As King Boreas, he will also be traveling extensively, starting with a Feb. 14 trip to Canada. He will also be visiting Florida, Texas and Georgia with other members of the royal family.
“It’s all volunteer work, and we all fund our trips and pay our own way,” Natus said. “I am pleased to be able to do it.”
He said the trips across the country are designed to promote St. Paul and what a wonderful city it is. “It’s all about goodwill and being an ambassador for the city,” he said.
Since taking over as king, he and other members of the Winter Carnival royal family have visited schools and hospitals and nursing homes throughout the city. He said that his work to assist youth will primarily happen in St. Paul and through his business.
Admitting that he is not a run-of-the-mill King Boreas, Natus recalled that he left home at age 14, after his mom died. He hit the road, finding work as a firefighter and mining for copper.
At one point during his days in Montana, he helped daredevil Evel Knievel prepare for some of his stunts.
“A group of us hung around the same watering hole when we were in Butte, MT,” Natus said. “Evel was a part of the group.”
Natus was 29 when he ended up in St. Paul. He was enroute back to Montana when his car broke down here, and he had holes in his shoes and empty pockets and decided to look for a job in the saintly city.
He started working for the paint store on Rice Street that he now owns, and he never looked back.
Reflecting on his role as King Boreas, Natus said he likes to think of a Finnish word, Sisu, as describing what he hopes to accomplish. Natus, who is full-blooded Finnish, said the word means strength in time of adversity, or the power within.
“Too many of us forget we have power within,” he said.
Natus, who has five children and nine grandchildren with his wife, Lynn, said he has his family at home, his family at work, and now a third family—the royal family of volunteers who will reign for 2013 and promote the city of St. Paul.