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Missing Staples man has Osakis connection

The pain of the unknown whereabouts of a missing Staples man hits home for several families in Osakis area.

Peter Achermann, 82, disappeared July 24.

Achermann farmed in rural Osakis in the 1950s and later moved to Millerville. He and his wife, Delaine, remained in contact with friends and family in Osakis.

He was last seen at Ernie's grocery store in Staples, reportedly in a happy mood, excited about his granddaughter's wedding the following day. He never appeared at that night's groom's dinner or the wedding.

Searchers have not found any major clues since the location of Achermann's 1995 Chevrolet station wagon July 25, found stuck in a mud hole on a dead-end minimum maintenance road in northern Becker Township in Cass County, located about six miles northeast of Staples.

Pat (Mrs. Pete) Rutten of Osakis has been friends with Delaine for more than 60 years.

The two couples were such good friends it's hard to believe they aren't family, according to Rutten, who has talked to Delaine every week since Peter went missing.

"It's tough to know he's not being found," she said. "It's so hard to understand there's not one iota of a trace of our friend."

Rutten traveled to the Achermann farm the second week of the search. While the two 73 year olds weren't able to join in the search through dense brush, woods, pastures, bogs and wetlands, they were able to sit together.

"I feel so badly for my friend," Rutten said. "I know what it's like to be without your husband."

Rutten's husband, Pete, died three years ago.

With her weekly phone calls to her friend, Rutten shares her support, offering a listening ear to her dear friend who hasn't given up hope.

Delaine Achermann still remembers the first time she saw Peter. The 16-year-old girl was fishing from a bridge over the Long Prairie River when she saw the handsome young man drive by. He waved to her and she later told her mother, "That's the man I'm going to marry."

They were married at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Belle River two years later.

"He is the most kind, gentle, generous man you will ever meet," said Delaine, as she broke down in tears. "We have no idea what could have happened to him."

Peter immigrated to America in 1949 from Switzerland. He traveled to Illinois and California before settling on a farm near Osakis, about two miles from the Long Prairie River, in 1952.

He and his wife, Delaine, later bought a farm in Millerville where they lived a quiet life before moving to the Motley/Leader area where they live today.

Delaine said she doesn't understand why there's been no trace of her husband.

"Our boys go out looking and they find nothing, the rescue workers and even the National Guard, hundreds of people are looking for Peter and they have nothing to tell me," she said.

His disappearance is out of character for him, according to his family. He has always called if he was going to be late for any reason, according to Delaine.

An extensive air and ground search has involved law enforcement officers and posse members from Cass and Wadena counties, Motley and Staples Fire Departments, Central Lakes Search and Rescue, community volunteers, family members, search dog teams and aircraft from the Minnesota State Patrol.

Governor Tim Pawlenty ordered the Minnesota National Guard to join the search August 7.

The search has focused in a 2.5 mile radius around the location where his car was found in northern Becker Township.

Achermann is a white man, about 5-foot-9, 175 pounds and has a gray beard and generally walks with a cane. He lives on a Moose Lake Township farm north of Leader.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Cass County Sheriff's department at 1-800-450-2677 or (218) 847-1424.

The West Central Tribune contributed to this story. The Echo Press and West Central Tribune are both owned by Forum Communications Co.