February 2023 Newsletter

Behind the scenes at

The Resort Kitchen

By Dale Dauten

We recently got to visit with Lena Heise and Rose Hilgedick, the two women in charge of making magic happen at The Resort’s kitchen. Rose summed up their work together, saying, “You know what makes the kitchen work? We like each other. We really like each other. We get along.”


That camaraderie was evident as the two got ready for a Thursday night pre-bingo dinner. And while they were quick to smile and quick to laugh, it took a minute to answer some of our questions, like the one about which was the most popular item on The Resort menu. After some thought, Lena turned to Rose and ventured, “meatloaf?” Rose gave a shrug and a nod, adding, “People love the meatloaf.” (Later, Rose mentioned her personal favorite of the dishes they make: the San Francisco Chicken.)

As for residents’ favorite dessert, Rose said, “We get the most comments about the lemon pudding.” Then Lena explained that it was mousse and lost me explaining how it was made, but added, “We put a slice of lemon on top, so it looks pretty.” Then she laughed and added, “It’s a girl thing.”

The Resort kitchen turns out several weekly meals: besides the Thursday dinner, there’s the Friday night Bash and the Saturday breakfast. Wednesdays are for prep work and Mondays for cleaning and ordering.

It’s Lena and Rose’s first year in charge, but both had previously served as volunteers in the kitchen. Not surprisingly, both love to cook, although they came to their new positions in different ways.


Rose grew up in Elmo, Missouri in a family of nine kids. That, she told us, “was where I first learned to cook in quantity.” It was skill she later put to work as a church volunteer, and eventually as a volunteer at The Resort.

As for how she came to live at the park, Rose recalled for us how she’d been RVing with her husband and gave us a bit of their family history: “Wayne and I met in a bar. I took him to a Christmas dance – it was for the coal company where I worked. My boss offered him a job. We married a year later.” The couple ended up moving to Flagstaff, then Albuquerque, then Durango. “Once the kids were grown,” Rose recalled, “I said to Wayne that I was sick of snow.” So the couple started exploring living options, venturing out in their RV. “We came across The Resort,” Rose explained, “and came back for five years. When Wayne died, I bought a place.”

As for Lena’s path to the Resort kitchen, she has the ultimate qualification: Lena and her husband, Ron, owned a restaurant. When Ron visited with us in the kitchen (that’s him with Lena in the photo below and you may recognize him as one of the gate hosts), he described their Chuck Wagon Café as “a small truck stop in Claremont, Minnesota – we had the café but also gas and diesel.”

The Heises owned the place for seven years, although it came later in their working lives. Ron explained: “We were in Indiana and wanted to come to Minnesota and we bought it on a whim. It was for sale and we thought, ‘Why not?’” Lena smiled when recalling those times, saying, “It was the CB days and we’d get truckers from the highway who’d call in their orders on CBs.”

Owning a truck stop was quite a change for both Ron and Lena. After all, she’d already had a career with the Mayo Clinic, managing Patient Services; and Ron had owned a used car and motorcycle dealership.

The couple discovered The Resort several years back and now split their time between the park and their home in Minnesota.



One of the ways we hope to make The Resorter useful is by passing along recommendations from residents of local medical practices. Annette Thorson of The Resort’s sister park, Silveridge, came through for us. Here’s her recent message:

I typically have seen a dermatologist every six months for ongoing skin cancer issues. I started seeing Dr. Michael Lehrer last year and continued this year. I am very impressed with his knowledge, interest, and sense of humor. My dermatologist in the Minneapolis area has much more experience, but Dr. Lehrer follows similar guidelines and often offers suggestions for prevention in a very nice manner. This is important when you are spending six months of the year or more in the Arizona sun. Dr. Lehrer’s office is on Baseline and Hawes; it is very near here. His education was at the Mayo Clinic here in Phoenix.


Sossamon Dental Office right next to CVS at Southern & Sossamon is also very good and reasonably priced compared to my dental office in MN. They are also very willing to work with out-of-state dental insurance.



Thanks, Annette, and we invite others to share their thoughts. Just send them to our Editor, Dale, at ddauten@gmail.com.



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