Bernard "B.J." Brinkman Oral History
Bernard “B.J.” Brinkman was born June 8, 1926, in Farming, Minnesota, to Bernard and Theresa (Egerman) Brinkman. He married Viola Schouviller on Aug. 8, 1949. The couple had five children.
A Democrat, Brinkman was first elected to the Minnesota state legislature in 1964 and served until 1986. He served as state representative for District 26 (1965-1966), District 26A (1967-1972), and District 16B (1973-1986). Although district boundaries changed over the years, he generally represented eastern and central Stearns County from just west of St. Cloud to Richmond. He also served as chairman of the Richmond, Minnesota, school board ca. 1960.
Brinkman served in the US Navy from 1943-1945. Moving to Richmond in 1953, he was employed by Great Northern Railway from 1949 to 1958. He then owned and operated Brinky’s Liquor and Gas Station from 1957 to 1986. He died April 24, 2006.
In an oral history interview conducted on July 12, 1973, B.J. Brinkman discussed growing up on a farm in Farming Township, his naval service in World War II and working at Great Northern Railway. His union activity while at Great Northern led to his involvement in politics and public service. When he first entered the Legislature in 1965, members were elected without party designation and caucused as liberals or conservatives. Brinkman was a Democrat in a strong Republican area but argued that the “man” was more important that the party. Although district boundaries changed over the years, he generally represented eastern and central Stearns County from just west of St. Cloud to Richmond, Minnesota. Brinkman recounted how he supported legislation to lower the beer brewer tax by 50 percent, which helped Cold Spring Brewing Company stay competitive with brewers from other states. He also supported no-fault auto insurance that among other benefits, aimed to lower insurance costs. In a heavily Catholic district, he also supported providing transportation for private school students.
St. Cloud State University, "Bernard "B.J." Brinkman Oral History" (1973). Minnesota Legislators and Politics. 1.