Posts Tagged: advice

Probituary, A Notice of Life: Phyllis Green

phyllis-greenPhyllis Green, interviewed by daughter Pat Beck

People around Decorah know Phyllis Green as a bridge player, club member, cookie baker, reliable volunteer, teacher and loyal friend. These qualities, plus a cheerful outlook, and a pragmatic can-do attitude have had a positive effect on people who have known her over eight decades. Phyllis was born August 16, 1928, and grew up on the Erickson family farm near Burr Oak. Though it was during the Great Depression, her life was rich with farm activities, 4-H, church, a sister, cousins, chores, and her pets. She learned the rewards of hard work, of challenging herself, of true love, and of giving.

phyllis_siblingsPhyllis lived in Decorah during her high school years because there were no school buses. She made this big transition shortly after she turned 13; she shared a room with people she didn’t know, cooked for herself, and was introduced to running water and electricity. Decorah High School offered High School Normal Training to prepare teachers for country schools. Phyllis’s long teaching career led to recognition as Scott County Teacher Award, North Scott Community Arts Patron, Iowa Social Studies Teacher of the Year, University of Iowa Distinguished Teacher Award, and The 51st Point of Light given by President Bush.

What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?

I am rather averse to advice. I learn by example. My mother taught me to try new things because that’s how you learn if you can do them or not.

What is the worst advice anyone ever gave you?

Since this is not a part of my thinking, I usually count on my own ideas – sometimes good and sometimes questionable. Isn’t that how you learn?

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was in second grade, my teacher showed me the love and understanding that touched and impressed me. It was in second grade that I set my goal to become a teacher.

When I finished high school, I taught two years in a country school. Then I married K. Ted Green, my life partner. We have five beautiful children. When they were all in school, I started college and completed my degree at Upper Iowa University. Because of Ted’s job with Oscar Mayer, we moved to the Quad Cities. I taught at North Scott Schools for 25 years. Living just 50 miles from The University of Iowa was incentive to continue my education. I completed my MA in two areas and was accepted in the doctoral program. Ted knew I wanted to further my education and he made this dream a reality by his complete support, encouragement, and understanding. These were the building blocks that made my dreams come true. I’ve always been curious about people and places. Ted and I enjoyed foreign travel so this was a part of our yearly plan.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?

I’d want lots of pictures of our family – children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, a good book, paper and a pencil, and a Hershey Bar. I know that is more than three things, but I usually get what I want.

Try to describe yourself in one sentence.

I am a hard worker, an honored wife, a loved mom, grandma, and great-grandma.

If you could eat anything everyday for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A Hershey chocolate bar.

Name one thing you could not live without.

I need a pencil and paper to record my feelings, my wishes, my poetry, my dreams, my stories, my ideas, and to communicate with family and friends – but if I can really have only ONE thing, it would be my family.

phyllis_ted_weddingTell us about your favorite memory.

I will never forget meeting Ted. I was at the county fair when a friend introduced us. He was the county boys’ 4-H president and I was the county girls’ 4-H president but we had never met. I finished high school, taught two years and Ted went to Madison to start his career.

Our wedding day started 63 years of “favorite memories.” We were married at Upper Lutheran Church and had our wedding reception at the Winneshiek Hotel.  We were blessed with four sons and one daughter. Each birth, baptism, confirmation, graduation, wedding have added to our favorite memories.

Also our 60th wedding party, planned by our children, was also held at the Hotel Winneshiek. I have so much to be grateful for!

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Probituary: A Notice of Life! Jim Schaffer

Jim Schaffer, born July 14, 1934 on the family farm in Iowa, on what was one of the hottest days of that century. Interviewed by friend Gayle  Nielsen

Some people are just so interesting that you NEED to let others know. Jim Schaffer is one of those people. We first met Jim and his wife, Judy, when they became our neighbors, moving into the house across the road from us from when their son, Ed and his wife Vickie moved to the next house down the road. It was so nice being included in the family gatherings and getting to know everyone.

One of the things that people notice about Jim is that he never stops learning. Even after retiring from iron working, he continued making iron yard and garden sculptures and even an iron spiral staircase at the house. It looked like a pirate lookout. He taught himself to paint and to make guitars. He just keeps getting better and better and learning new things. Jim is one of the most real and kind folks out there. It was a sad day for us when Jim and Judy moved away, and even sadder when Judy passed last year, but it’s nice to stay connected through family and through music.

GayleJim

Interviewer Gayle with Jim and her new guitar.

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?

I think I heard it from real estate folks… “get a lot while you’re young”.

How about the worst?

My advice to myself. I made a lot of bad decisions, but never anything with my family. I learned from my mistakes. I always did what I thought was “proper”. My family never heard foul language around the house even though I used it maybe 50 times a day around my fellow iron workers. I’m a product of the 1940s and I just don’t think cussing is proper (unless it’s in front of the cat).

What did you want to be when you grew up?

An iron worker. Always an iron worker. I also liked carpentry.

What do/did you do?

I was initiated into the iron workers union in 1962, at 21 years old. That was young. We worked as high as 1100 feet in the air, and there was no safety gear in those days. We iron workers were “the elite” then. I thought I could whip Ali (Muhammad Ali). I retired in 1996. Now I paint, especially portraits and play and build guitars.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?

Gin, vermouth, and olives.

Try to describe yourself in one sentence.

I have the ability to laugh at myself.

If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Macaroni and cheese. Of course, it’s not the healthiest thing, but macaroni and cheese.

Name one thing you could not live without.

Music. I started making guitars because I wanted a 7-string guitar for myself, so I started with a classical guitar and lumber from the lumberyard to make it. Then made the next one, out of rosewood, for my son Jimmy, and now I’m making guitars for disabled veterans and custom guitars for other musicians. I’m booked for the next year with orders.

JimJudy

Jim with his late wife, Judy.

Tell us about your wedding day or your favorite memory.

My favorite memory is my wedding day. I married Judy, in a church, in 1955. I never really dated anyone else. That pastor didn’t want to marry us because we were too young; she was 17 and I was 21. Well, I spent 61 years with her and we never even had a violent argument. I remember my dad giving us a toaster as a wedding present. Back then, we didn’t have big, expensive weddings and the gifts were something we could use.
Every guitar I make now has a hand painting of a bluebird, from Judy’s china pattern, in her memory. Everyone who gets one of my guitars get a painting of a bluebird on it somewhere.

Probituary: A notice of life! Sigrid Peterson

Sigrid Peterson, 95 – birthday March 11

Interviewed by granddaughters Thea Satrom & Tatum Schilling

TatumTheaSonjaGrandmaOur grandmother is the most loving and kind woman, and she is one of our greatest blessings. Her spirit is a bright light in our lives and the lives of countless others, and we did this interview to honor her and all that she is. It was a joy to learn more about her wonderful history, and our mother, Sonja – grandma’s sixth-born – and her six other children: Beth (Betty Ann), David, Rick (1952-2013), Connie, June, and Lyle. As she always says, “ingenting å takke meg for.” (Nothing to thank me for.)

What’s some of the best advice you can give?

You learn something everyday. And if you don’t you’re not listening.

Thea’s note: Grandmas advice to me before I left for yoga training, “Oh honey, just have a wonderful time and forget all your troubles because they’ll still be here when you return.”

Can you tell me about one of the people who has been kindest to you in your life?

Oh, my no. I can’t pick one.

You can pick a few.

There’s so many, honey. I really can’t pick one because they’ve all been so wonderful.

Grandma_LiftingUpIs it your children?

Yes, yup.

You don’t have to pick one; that’s okay.

Okay, that’s better because they’re all wonderful.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A soloist or professional singer. I spent one year at Concordia College for music. And my daughter, Sonja, and son, Lyle, also went to and graduated from Concordia.

What work did you do as an adult?

I worked at Luther College helping translate the Decorah Postan for about two and a half years and, when the grant ran out, I needed to continue working. So I moved up to the Cities to work with Mrs. Anderson of Anderson Windows, who needed a cook and companion. I worked with her for about 10 years, and then I retired.

What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?

Be truthful. And always be helpful, if you can. My mother was helpful. I think I’m kind of taking after her. And maybe doing some things myself that I know I need to do.

GrandmaPastCan you describe one of your happiest memories?

Well, vividly, I could. That is when Gordon (grandma’s first husband) came back from the service. Then it was just Betty Ann and I. When I hugged daddy, why, she hugged daddy. “I hugged daddy, too.” And everything that I did she had to do, too. It was a joyful life even if it had been a long, long trail.

EagleWatchingWhat’s one of your favorite things to do?

I enjoy watching the birds and taking Ole (her pushcart) for walks around the neighborhood. I love to move. It’s wonderful to stretch and have good posture. I am always working on it.

What are you proudest of?

My seven children. Yes, really. There could be lots and lots more hardship but yes, we all go through it. I was blessed with wonderful children and wonderful people that I could live with.

What is one of your favorite features of where you live now (with daughter, Sonja, and son-in-law Harlan Satrom)?

Oh, I enjoy being around family. We have dinner together with the family and we converse about our daily lives. When you get to be this age, life can slow down quite a bit, but we can still be grateful and enjoy life anyway.

How would you like to be remembered?

Well, that I showed my kindness and my happiness toward all.