MORRIS – Sharon Carlson has assumed the responsibility for other people’s kids for 37 years. As she saw the last of her own children enter elementary school back in 1979, she was hired as the Morris Area school district’s first female school bus driver. “I took the job so I could be home when my kids were home. It was a kind of ‘good old boys’ network then,” Sharon recalled. “There were challenges being the only woman driver. But whatever the men could do, I did too.” Another woman was hired a year after Sharon. Today there are five women who drive school bus in the district.
Citlalli Ibañez did not speak a word of English when she came to Morris six years ago with children Natalia and Mauricio to join husband and father Ramón Obregón. Today, Citlalli works through Morris Community Education in an Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) bilingual preschool at Morris Elementary to help other Hispanic parents. Prior to working with Community Ed, Citlalli worked for AI Partners in Morris.
I hadn't stepped foot inside an elementary school classroom since...well I can't remember the last time. Entering Caleb Greene's fifth grade classroom at Morris Area Elementary School recently, it was familiar to see a world globe atop a table against a backdrop of walls decorated with brightly colored pictures, signs and classroom instruction. Mom was a first and second-grade teacher for 38 years and a lifelong educator. She was passionate about educating the active minds of young children.
Sitting across the table from me in a local restaurant recently, Deb Larsen talked openly about her diagnosis, treatment and life with breast cancer. "I was taking a bath when I discovered a painful lump on my left side near my underarm," she said. "You find it. It was sore from the beginning. I found a second lump in the same breast. The first was large; the second small and hard like a pea. I was 29 years old at the time." A visit to the doctor resulted in a mammogram and an ultrasound.
MORRIS — Reclaim. Explore. Reinvent. Ann Kolden isn't the person she once was. "The best lesson I ever learned is always be your own advocate," said Ann. "I was always very passive. Today, I'm stronger and wiser." A lifelong Benson (Minn.) native, Ann was born in October 1962. "I lived in Benson growing up and graduated from Benson High School in 1981." After attending the College of St. Benedict for a semester, Ann accepted a nanny job in Larchmont, New York. "That lasted four and a half months.
Sylke Boyd was a second-year college student in Karl-Marx-Stadt, Germany, when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. "The overarching flavor of the experience was a freeing one," said Sylke (pronounced SILL-ka). Later, "the fall of the iron curtain allowed me to pursue research opportunities in several European countries and the U.S." Sylke lived until age 27 in Karl-Marx-Stadt, which returned to its original name — Chemnitz — in 1990. Her parents, now retired, still live in Germany.
Dennis Sleiter is mooooooving on. After more than 42 years of his association with Ag Country/Farm Credit Services, Dennis retired on April 1. Farmland sold for $300 an acre when Dennis started at Production Credit Association (PCA) back in 1972. Today an acre costs $6,000. Back then, finish cattle sold for 28 cents per pound. Today you'll pay $1.59 for the same weight. What a difference 42 years makes. A native of Pipestone, Minn., Dennis grew up on a farm east of Pipestone, one of five children born to Merle and Sylvia Sleiter.
MORRIS — Marlys Alm sat quietly in her wheelchair as she listened to her children tell of growing up with Mom. They marveled that she turned 100 years of age in mid-February. To Marlys, it's no big deal. "Apparently the Lord wanted me to be here," she said. Marlys was born February 19, 1915, the daughter of Emil and Verrena LeSage. She was raised in Morris with two brothers, Wayne and Don LeSage, and one sister, June LeSage Holck.
She’s a familiar voice on local weekend radio shows, and can probably tell you the final score and who hit the winning run in the 1965 World Series. She can also recite the nicknames of many Morris Area High School Tigers and University of Minnesota, Morris Cougar athletes and coaches since the mid-80s.
Craig Awsumb was born and raised on the family farm about four miles north of Donnelly on land once known as “Little Norway.” “There were three families along the same driveway,” said Awsumb (pronounced AWE-zum). “The Juergensons, Sherstads, and Ole ‘Pete’ Aasumb (sic). “Dad bought the Sherstad farm,” and eventually Craig’s parents—Henning and Darlene—were the remaining farm owners on the site.