90-year-old judge donates 11,000 stamp collection

Totaling more than 11,000 stamps, a 90-year-old from Albert Lea is donating his collection to a local museum.

It has taken Bill Strutz a lifetime to amass the collection that will now reside in the Freeborn County Historical Museum. Initially he said he started collecting stamps when he was just 9-years-old, and he just kept it up through the years.

“Then when I got to junior high school, there were a few other diversions like music, sports, and girls,” Strutz joked.

As life went on, and Strutz became a judge in Freeborn County, he used stamp collecting at a diversion from the crime and violence he dealt with from the bench.

“There were some pretty agonizing cases, I did a lot of the child abuse. We had a lot of beat up kids,” Strutz said. “And beat up spouses and so on.”

For the 21 years he spent presiding over Freeborn County’s toughest criminals, Strutz could always find peace in his collection.

“Well, I don't collect as an investment.”

The current collection, while large, is also diverse, featuring stamps from all over the world. They have been carefully placed in binders and organized by country.

“So there's a lot of memory lane stuff connected to this.”

Sturtz’s said that not keeping the stamps in the family wasn’t really an issue and the cost of appraising the collection would have been too expensive. 

“None of my children or grandchildren are really interested. So I thought it would be a lot better and put them in a place where a lot more people could look at them.”

Stamp collections are typically things found in county historical museums, but executive director Pat Mulso said this was different.

“To tell you the truth, when I first heard about it I thought well, I'm not sure it is something that we can use,” Mulso said. “I think because he was raised here, and he started the collection here, he's lived here his whole life.”

Mulso is hoping Strutz’s personal connection to the stamps and their stories will be something museum goes will find interesting and engaging.