Posts Tagged: conversations with our elders

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: Duane Bruening

brueningInterviewed by daughter Elizabeth Breuning – Cowie. Originally published in the Feb/March 2010 issue of Inspire(d) Magzine.

Duane Bruening, husband of Eileen, father of eight, Grandfather of 17 (as of 2010), and Korean War Veteran reflects on more than eight decades of life.

What was the best advice anyone has offered you?
It came from Art Hass – my high school football coach. He had been a marine officer in WWII and urged me to follow if another war broke out. I took his advice the summer before my jr. year at Loras College and enlisted in the US Marine Corps as Korea erupted. The Marines instilled in me a sense of how to manage men- how to earn their trust and loyalty by first giving them mine! I took this and many other lessons and used them in one way or another in our family business.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a small boy I wanted to be many things from a cowboy to a race car driver. But my first clear memory was to be an engineer as I enjoyed building things. When I entered college, I declared my major as an electrical engineer –but transferred from Iowa State to Loras College and became a double major in economics and accounting.

What did you do?
After graduating from Loras College I reported back to the Marines with my wife and two children. We were stationed in North Carolina at camp Lejeune and I stayed in the Marines for two years and ended my career as a captain. The next 50 years I was an excavating contractor with Bruening Rock Products, Inc. When I moved back to Decorah I bought half of the business with my father. Two of my sons have made a career with BRP as well as my Grandson, Tyler. I celebrated my 80th birthday this past September and my family hosted a party for me at the office. I couldn’t help but reflect on all the wonderful memories I have from my life with the company.

If you were stranded on a desert island what three things would you want with you?
If I were stranded on a deserted island I would wish to have a most comfortable beach chair, a hammock strung between two trees, and last but not least a Coast Guard Helicopter over head with a young man aboard ready to deliver a large double cheese, double sausage, double pepperoni pizza from Mabe’s!

Tell us about…. your wedding day:
On an unusually warm and sunny December 1st in 1951 I wed my best gal, Eileen Marie Murphy. We wed at Nativity Church in Dubuque, IA at 9:30 am. All of my Loras buddies, family, and friends were there. The details of the day are now a little foggy, but when I said “I do” I know my heart was filled with joy and I knew I was a lucky man to be Eileen’s husband – she was so beautiful in her wedding gown. We celebrated with a breakfast at my In-Laws, pictures, and an early dinner at Timmerman’s. To cap off our big day Eileen’s parents hosted a reception for us at the Elm’s home. One of the memories that sticks out is the spiked punch. The party was to be free of alcohol, and the first batch of punch was as intended. My college pals eventually spiked the punch though and the fun began! The Loras gang had a good time, and my new Mother-in-law eventually noted a different taste in the punch and was concerned… but she was a nice lady and my new bride took it in stride so the day ended with love in all our hearts. The real kicker of the day was by night fall I took my bride home to our new apartment only to leave her in order to report for my holiday hours shift at the post office.

Probituary: Betty Rikansrud Nelson

BettyNelson_Spring15_ProbitOriginally published in the Spring 2015 issue of Inspire(d) Magazine • Betty passed away March 8, 2015

Interviewed by her granddaughter, Sarah Rattenborg, while at lunch. They got a few looks because of how much they were laughing. Betty’s ideal “balanced meal” was a piece of milk chocolate in one hand and dark chocolate in the other!

Pictured at right: Betty, her husband Dave, and Sarah during Nordic Fest 1991.

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
A friend once told me to take an adult education class in weaving from Lila Nelson because she is such a great teacher. I “got hooked”!

What did you want to be when you grew up?
An airline stewardess, but I figured I was too tall.

What do/did you do?
I was an accountant at Hacker-Nelson and also taught accounting part time at Luther College. In my retirement, my favorite hobbies have been weaving, jigsaw puzzles*, and cuddling with my cat

*Interviewer note: At this point I would like to point out that Grandma Betty does jigsaw puzzles without looking at the picture on the box, and that is really cool.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?
1. Something to read
2. Something to do with my hands, like weaving or needle work
3. A great big Sudoku book

Try to describe yourself in one sentence.
I’m a know-it-all! I have an answer to everything! It might not be right, but I’ve got an answer.

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

Name one thing you could not live without.
My family. Friends can come and go when you or they get to different places in your lives, but family sticks with you.

Multiple choice: tell us about…Your favorite memory.
Tent camping with the family. There was one summer we finally got a couple of my kids and their families all together camping. There were some rough spots when people didn’t feel well or had different ideas of what to do, but it was nice having the families all together.*

*Interviewer note: It was awesome. It’s one of my favorite memories too.