Posts Categorized: Probits

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.

Probituary – A Notice of Life: Marvin Wicks

Interviewed by friend Becky Olafsen • Originally published in the Fall 2015 Inspire(d)

Becky and her husband, Peter, frequently share the pew with Marvin Wicks at Greenfield Lutheran in Harmony, Minnesota. With a sparkling smile and laughing shoulders, Marvin comments on the world and weather until the service begins. However, Marvin is sometimes absent from that pew because he is in the church cockpit, running the videotaping and audio controls.

Marvin is no stranger to a control panel, being a United States Air Force veteran of 23-year’s service as a fighter pilot during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. This “gentle gentleman” is also a veteran of the agricultural conflicts of the Driftless Area. After serving all over the U.S. and around the world, Marvin came back to the area and farmed near Eyota, Minnesota with his wife and children. After 23 more years of service on the farm, he and his wife retired to Harmony.

MarvinNowIn retirement, Marvin has been active as an ARP tax preparer, a chip carver in the Norwegian traditional style, and as a volunteer with the Winneshiek County and Harmony Historical Societies. He has studied many local historical events, but when asked about the most interesting, he replied, “The removal of the Winnebago Indians from the area. They were removed from Wisconsin and promised a permanent home in Northeast Iowa. Then the United States government decided to move them to Minnesota to allow white families to settle in the area. An enormous logistical undertaking to move thousands of Indians, animals, and wagons hundreds of miles. A sad chapter in our history, but a fascinating story.”

Marvin_Wicks_VNWhat is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
As part of my military training, ”Your power is in your ability to decide.”

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A pilot. At the age of 10-12 years it was a great event to see an airplane in the sky. The entire family would be out in the yard watching as one “puttered” by. I was lucky enough to live my dream. I got my private pilot’s license in Decorah at age 17 in 1945, and I began Air Force training two years later.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?
A bible for hope and care of the mind, a parachute for shelter from the elements, Marvin_Wicks_Kand a large knife to aid in survival. I guess military training stays with you.

Try to describe yourself in one sentence.
Always concerned, maybe even worried, for the unexpected, which results in my detailed planning, which leads to anticipation and pleasure as events unfold.

If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Norwegian desserts six days a week with English plum pudding on Sunday. I grew up with Norwegian pastries, and England is one of the places I was stationed.

What have you learned in your lifetime?
As you meet people from such varied backgrounds, it is amazing to me how much we are all the same. I think our travels and living around the world have added to the realization of all the good things available in our own backyard, the Driftless Area.

Of all the places you have visited which one stands out?
I would love to revisit the ruins in Athens and at Leptis Magna, an abandoned Roman ruins on the north coast of Libya. The significance of what these people accomplished so many years ago brings to mind our insignificance as we rush through our busy lives.

What is a favorite memory?
All my favorite memories revolve around my family and all the places we lived. But, the special memories begin on my wedding day after several months of separation during the Korean War. Often asked where I met my wife, I say I never did, meet her, that is. We grew up together on nearby family farms south of Burr Oak, Iowa. Our wedding day, beautiful sunshine, surrounded by happy family and friends, the pastor telling me to visualize my bride on a pedestal. After 59 years with her, four years without her, I carry that vision still.


Norma Wangsness

Norma_W_ProbitPhoto_UseNorma Wangsness (center) lives a life of love and art and a little red lipstick

Interviewed by daughter Le Bahr

Norma Wangsness was born in Ossian, Iowa, as a third generation American Norwegian. She studied drawing and painting at Luther College under Orville Running and then rosemaling at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah with Sigmund Aarseth. In 2011, Wangsness was commissioned by the museum to create a plate in honor of Norway’s King Harald V and Queen Sonja’s most recent visit to Decorah. She painted a portrait of the Royal Couple and bordered it with rosemaling that matched the pattern of the Queen’s bunad. Wangsness and her husband, Willis, operated Wangsness Photography Studio in Decorah for many years, becoming regional and national leaders in photographic excellence.

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Mother and Dad were good examples of advice. They were hardworking, honest, Christian, and loving. Also mother always said, “Make one test cookie first.” “Don’t put it down, put it away.” And “If it’s flat, dust it!”

What did you want to be when you grew up?

My Senior High School annual said I wanted to study voice and opera. I love to sing. In Girl Scouts at age 14 my leader gave me her set of photographic oils, two 11×4 photographs, and encouraged me to paint. Little did I know it would lead to my profession and a love of cameras led to our future to have a professional photographic career.

What do/did you do?

At age 10, I started working as a waitress in my parent McCandy Café in Ossian, Iowa. I married my roller skating partner and best friend at 17. We had two daughters – Linda Christine and Le Ann. Willis and I also owned McCandy Café for six years but our photography love led us to purchase the Henning Photographic Studio in Decorah. My Norwegian roots and love of painting became the fun career of rosemaling and also portraits and landscapes.

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

My bible, a paint brush, and paints.

Try to describe yourself in one sentence.

I’m third generation, 100 percent American Norwegian, love to keep busy, and a perfectionist.

Name one thing you could not live without.

Family, friends, and my red lipstick!

Tell us about your favorite memory.

My favorite memory would be my first dozen red roses from Willis for Easter. From that first Easter, he always bought Linda, Le Ann, and I a corsage for Easter – even his last Easter with us. I’m also a “depression kid” and they were hard times, but we made do with what we had and yet my growing up was a happy time.