Leonard J. Duffney saved John M. Wilhelm and Timothy J. Besser from drowning, Lonsdale, Minnesota, November 27, 1999. Wilhelm, 40, and Besser, 31, were duck hunting from a boat on Phelps Lake when the boat capsized, throwing them into the 38-degree water near the center of the lake. They shouted for help. Duffney, 72, farmer, who lived along the lake, was alerted to the situation. He immediately retrieved his 12-foot aluminum rowboat from storage and, against the wind and in choppy water conditions, rowed about 2,000 feet out to the men. He positioned the stern of his boat toward Besser and assisted him aboard. He then positioned the boat next to Wilhelm and, with Besser’s help, lifted Wilhelm aboard. A part of the boat’s motor-mount board, at the stern, broke during the transfer, and the boat took on some water. Unable to row against the wind, with the added weight, to where emergency personnel were arriving on the bank, Duffney turned and rowed to the opposite bank. From there, Wilhelm and Besser were taken to the hospital, where they were treated for hypothermia. They recovered. Duffney was cold after the rescue and later suffered from sore muscles, but he too recovered.
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