OFFBEAT: George Pillsbury remembered at this year's Bake-Off

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-11-10T00:00:00Z 2013-11-14T15:31:06Z OFFBEAT: George Pillsbury remembered at this year's Bake-OffBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Editor's Note: Columnist Philip Potempa is reporting from Las Vegas while covering the 46th Pillsbury Bake-Off.

This year's Pillsbury Bake-Off competition marks the first year the event has been held since the passing of iconic George Pillsbury.

Along with beloved wife Sally, the couple also missed the last Bake-Off in March 2012, which ranked as just the second time since the Bake-Off launched in 1949 that these names of kitchen royalty, who have traditionally led the "Grand March Parade of Contestants" into the ballroom to launch the contest, were absent.

The couple who have always lived in Minneapolis, near the headquarters of General Mills (now the parent company of Pillsbury), were about to celebrate their 66th wedding anniversary.

George, 91, was also a philanthropist and former Minnesota senator and proud Republican. He had just completed a book about the history of his famous family. "The Pillsburys of Minnesota" (2011 Nodin Press $29.95) was written with help from author Lori Sturdevant, a Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial columnist who met Pillsbury in the 1970s while covering the legislature as a reporter.

Pillsbury died Oct. 13, 2012 at the family home following a stroke he suffered a few days earlier.

In his wire service obituary, Neal St. Anthony, a business writer and columnist for the Star Tribune, aptly described him: "the great-grandson of 1880s Minneapolis Mayor George A. Pillsbury; the grandson of "Big Miller" Charles A. Pillsbury, the builder of the flour-milling Pillsbury Co.; and the great-nephew of Gov. John S. Pillsbury. His maternal great-grandfather was Civil War-era Gen. Samuel Sturgis, for whom Sturgis, S.D., is named."

His Minnesota Senate term was from 1970 to 1982, and his son Charles Pillsbury of New Haven, Conn., said in the wire obit that "his father was the last member of the Pillsbury Family to work for the company."

His other son, George Pillsbury of Cambridge, Mass., told the Star Tribune his father always said "his best move was marrying Sally Whitney Pillsbury more than 65 years ago, who became his partner not just in marriage, but in business and philanthropy."

Home sweet home

C.A. Pillsbury and Company was founded in 1872 by Charles Pillsbury and his uncle, John Pillsbury. John Pillsbury's son, John S. Pillsbury, built the Southways Estate on Brackens Point in Minnetonka, Minn. in 1918 with his wife Eleanor as a summer retreat. It wasn't until 1991 when Eleanor died at age 104 that the estate was sold for the first time. Originally built as a summer house, by 1930, it became a permanent residence for The Pillsbury Family. The property is now on the market for sale once again. Of course, you'd better have some dough if you're interested. When it was built, this was the era of the Gilded Age mansions with each trying to outdo the other in sophisticated elegance, and it was designed by architect Harrie T. Lindeberg. After Eleanor's death, the estate was purchased by James and Joann Jundt, co-owners of the Minnesota Vikings.

The 13-acre estate includes seven structures including the main house, a caretaker's cottage and greenhouse, garage, pool complex, smoke room and tea house. The 32,461-square-foot main house has nine bedrooms, 16 bathrooms, formal rooms, hearth room, sunroom, library, family room, conservatory, game/billiard room, gym, playroom and large wine cellar. Owned by the Pillsbury Family for 95 years, it was previously priced at $54 million and is now reduced to $24 million, according to Terry Walsh, marketing coordinator for TopTenRealEstateDeals.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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