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Minn. couple builds fish house for veterans to use

By Stephanie Stanislao

Forum News Service

PELICAN RAPIDS, Minn. — Larry Villella has served his country, and now he wants to continue his service in Minnesota and North Dakota by helping fellow veterans simply have fun.

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Villella, a disabled Vietnam War veteran, and his wife, Cathy, have been operating an ice fishing facility for veterans and their families the past two years. The program allows veterans to relax and spend a day, or even a night, fishing and having a good time.

Veterans who visit the fish house need not worry about cost, as the program is free to all veterans and their families. Transportation for visitors to the heated ice hut is provided by the Villellas, along with all bait and tackle. Visitors need only furnish a fishing license to use the facility.

The fish house, located by the Villella family home in Pelican Rapids has become a retreat for many veterans. The project, which took six months to complete, cost the couple about $3,000. To keep the fish house program running the couple relies on donations and help from volunteers.

“It’s kind of a costly endeavor, but we enjoy doing it,” Villella said.

Villella also mentioned that he hopes that the fish house continues to see use, and that eventually they can add more fish houses to the program.

“There’s nothing better than sitting around a fish house talking with veterans about their stories during was,” he said.

In addition to the fish house program, the Villellas also offer pontoon rides and fishing during the spring and summer months to veterans.

For more information about the fish house program or to contact with the Villellas, visit their website at