Volume 122, Number
Holger Olson celebrates 96th birthday with new license
BY RICHARD PETERSON
Holger Olson of Minnewaukan figures he’s got four more years. Olson, who turned 96 on July 14 renewed his driver’s license July 13 and it expires in 2009. "It makes me feel pretty good that the state thinks I’m good for four more years," he says with a chuckle.
He doesn’t do a lot of driving these days, mostly a daily trip to the post office, but that driver’s license means independence, something both he and his wife, Ida, cherish. She’s no spring chicken either. She’ll be 90 in November. "We often wonder why we’ve been so blessed," she says. "We have pretty good health and we live alone with no help. Not many people our age can say that."
That’s for sure!
Oh, Holger has had some problems. He’s had four heart attacks, but since a pacemaker was installed to regulate his heartbeat in May of 2002 he’s been just fine. They spent three winters in Devils Lake to be closer to doctors when he had his heart problems but they came back to Minnewaukan for good after the pacemaker stabilized his heartbeat.
Holger was born in Sweden in 1909. He came to the Sheyenne-Oberon area with his parents and two brothers, Gus and Martin, in 1913. Brother Paul and sister Margaret were born in the US. Holger and Paul, who lives in Texas, are the only ones living. Holger graduated from Oberon High School in 1929.
Ida has been a Benson County resident all her life, having been born in Albert Township, along with 13 Beck siblings. She and her brother Stephen Beck of Everett, Wash. are the only ones left in that generation of the big family.
She left Albert Township to work in the A.E. Barko Store in Oberon where she met Holger. They were married in 1937.
He went to work for the Benson County Highway Department driving a road grader in the Oberon area and transferred to Minnewaukan in 1948. From 1957 to 1961 he was employed by the Ramsey County Highway Department where he was also a blademan.
In 1961 they purchased the Henry Kolsrud Fairway grocery store, which was located east of the American Legion building on Minnewaukan’s Main Street.
They operated the store until 1971, when they closed it. Ida was employed at Benson County Social Services for more than 36 years, so Holger spent most of his time at the store. "But I did my time at the store, too," she says.
While operating the blade Holger said he sometimes had to put in some pretty long hours. One stretch he was on duty for 28 hours opening roads so sick people could get to the doctor.
One time in the 1950’s he took off with the road grader to open roads east of Oberon all the way to the county line. Eddie Simonson was along to learn how to run the blade. It was 16 below with a wind that day, Holger remembers, and they had a coal stove in the road grader to keep warm.
Between 1 and 2 a.m. in the Warwick area they were flagged down by county commissioner Bob Wood, who insisted they come to his house to get something to eat.
Another time Holger went out with a road grader that hadn’t been working well. The machine had been in the Esmond area where it was operated by LaVerne Butts. The road grader stalled about three miles south of Minnewaukan in bitter cold. Deputy Sheriff Don Seibert saw the stalled road grader and reported it to county highway superintendent Ralph Goranson, who sent a vehicle out to pick up Holger. The next day it was towed to Minnewaukan and it was discovered about four inches of sand had been poured into the fuel tank. "Someone apparently didn’t like LaVerne," said Holger.
Holger has a memory that won’t quit. He can tell of opening roads for pregnant women and even opening roads so the hearse could pick up a dead farmer. Mention the name of someone he knew and he can tell you all about that person.
He remembers opening a road north of Isabel in the early 1950’s when this area had heavy snowfall. At that time roads were not built up high so snow could blow off them. Anyway there was a drift 20 feet high on the road. The county had a 2-ton Ford truck with a snowplow mounted on it. This was a two-man operation. Holger did the driving and Selmer J. "Slim" Aabrekke raised and lowered the plow. They’d take a run at the snowbank until the truck got buried. Then six or seven area farmers manning shovels helped dig it out. Then they’d take another run at it and bury the truck again. It took lots of effort to get through that snowdrift. He remembers that county commissioner Ernest Toso and Swingens were among those present.
Running the store was much less exciting. "It was pretty quiet most of the time," Holger remembers. "Except for Saturday nights when everyone came to town." The Saturday night thing petered out in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and there were fewer and fewer farmers on the land, which necessitated closing the little store.
Holger and Ida have five children: Deanna Hanson of Minnewaukan; John and his wife Donna (Nottestad) of Devils Lake, Ginny and her husband Gary Sears of Minnewaukan; Bill (Norma Schneider) Olson of Olympia, Wash. and Mike (Cindy Moe) Olson of Devils Lake. They have 13 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandson.
They didn’t have a big party for Holger this year. They had a somewhat more exciting birthday last year when Gov. John Hoeven, who happened to be in Minnewaukan inspecting flood damage with Rep. Dennis Johnson, learned of the party and dropped in unexpectedly to wish Holger a happy 95th birthday.
Holger doesn’t have any advice on living a long life. "I must eat right and live right," he says.
But it could also be genes. He had a grandfather who lived to be 100. So maybe Holger will be renewing his driver’s license four years from now.
Holger Olson of Minnewaukan shows his new driver’s license which is good until 2009. Holger turned 96 on July 14 and he figures if the state has confidence he’ll last another four years, he isn’t going to argue about it.
Looking on is his wife, Ida, who certainly doesn’t look like she’s going to be 90. The Olsons don’t have any idea why they’ve lived so long. "We often wonder," she says.
YCC program at Sullys Hill provides skills, friends & money
Work hard, learn skills, laugh often, make friends, be outdoors, make money. That sounds like an ideal summer job for teenagers and the Youth Conservation Corps, or the YCC program at Sullys Hill has been just that for many young men and women since the 1970’s.
The YCC is a program designed by the federal government to accomplish needed conservation work on public lands; to provide gainful employment for
15 through 18-year-old male and female students from all social, economic, ethnic and racial classifications; and to instill in the youth an environmental understanding and appreciation of the nation’s natural, historical, recreational and cultural heritage.
This year’s YCC staff and workers at Sullys Hill are not all new to the program. Supervisor Larry Moser of Cando has worked on the staff for three years. He directs the daily job assignments and supervises each work site, as well as working alongside the young people.
Tyler Vandevelde has also worked at the Sullys Hill site for three summers as a student in the YCC program and has advanced to youth leader status.
"Working at Sullys Hill, I’ve had great experiences with some of the best mentors I’ve had the opportunity to work with," stated Vandevelde.
Also in the program are Ben Potts and Zach Russell, both from Devils Lake.
"I think working outdoors has been great, especially with all the wildlife," stated Ben.
Zach said, " I enjoy working here because I like the people I work with and it’s fun to work outside with wildlife."
Matt Sayler, another member of the crew, commented, "I’ve had a great time working with the wildlife here."
Some jobs that the youths typically do are maintenance and cleaning of the game preserve buildings and vehicles; setting up the facilities for special groups; observation, feeder building, and habitat maintenance for the wildlife; and grounds work such as mowing, trimming and spraying.
With all the changes and improvements at Sullys Hill in the last two years, the youth have had several special projects such as dock repair, landscaping the new nature trails and birding garden and painting.
"Many of the projects that the youth work to complete would not be possible without the efforts of the YCC," stated Preserve Manager Joe Maxwell.
Left to right are supervisor Larry Moser, Zach Russell, Tyler Vandevelde, Ben Potts, and Matt Sayler in the new visitor center lobby.
Burgards excel in tae kwon do
Cass County Reporter
Ryan and Kaylee Burgard are making quite a name for themselves in tae kwon do.
They are the children of Emil and MaryLou Burgard of Wheatland and are students of Joe and Krista Fodero of Casselton. Both attend the Central Cass School, where this fall Ryan will be a sophomore and Kaylee a seventh grader. They are the grandchildren of Ed and Dolores Wentz of Esmond and Theresa Burgard of Balta.
It all started last June, when the Burgards took their children to Little Rock, Ark., where Ryan and Kaylee competed in forms, sparring and weapons in the Black Belt competition.
Ryan placed first in his ring for sparring and second in forms, but little did he or his family know what this all meant, as this was their first experience at the world tournament.
His performance earned Ryan an opportunity to compete for points in hopes of becoming among the top 10 competitors in the world. If he managed to stay in the top 10, he would have the chance to compete in the 2005 World Championships.
As it turned out, he competed in 10 states and the family logged about 15,000 miles over the past year — but it was well worth it, as Ryan earned his chance to compete in both sparring and forms in the world championships, finishing as the only North Dakotan in the top 10 for the
The competition was very intense and Ryan managed to claim a bronze medal.
And on the next day, he and his sister moved up to the Black Belt competition, as they were tested for their Second Degree Black Belts July
15 and 16.
Kaylee wound up third in sparring and will now have an opportunity to compete for a spot in the top 10 in 2006.
Ryan and Kaylee both finished as Triple Crown State Champions for North Dakota during 2005, and they are looking forward to another big year.
Ryan is a junior instructor training to be a certified instructor, while Kaylee is a junior leader training to be a junior instructor. They help with classes at the Casselton ATA Black Belt School, which is operated by the Foderos.
Ryan’s goal is to get a world championship patch on the back of his uniform. And with his determination, what looks impossible today might very well be possible tomorrow.
Ryan and Kaylee Burgard, who have roots in the Esmond area, are pictured with trophies they earned in the 2005 Tae kwon do World Tournament. They are both students at the ATA Black Belt School in Casselton.
BCATS class of 1937
The BCATS class of 1937 held a reunion June 29 at the White House Cafe in Devils Lake. Those attending were, left to right, standing, Mildred Foss Herda of Devils Lake, Wilma Peterson Brown of Underwood, Wash. and Lawrence Berg of Devils Lake. Seated are Eunice and Frank Reeves of Devils Lake, Laura Langley Cudworth of Sheyenne and Lloyd Aanderud of Jamestown.
Terrance K. Halsey has been announced as a 2005 NRCS Tribal Scholar by the National Resources Conservation Service of the US Department of Agriculture. This prestigious award provides him with full tuition, books, living expenses, as well as federal employment in support of his goal of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in natural resources. He is a sophomore at Cankdeska Cikana Community College in Fort Totten and plans to transfer to Minot State University. During 2004-2005 Terrance interned in the CCCC Natural Resource Management Program under the supervision of Doug Lohnes, USDA director. He currently interns with the Spirit Lake Nation Tribal Environmental Protection Agency, assisting field technicians with water quality testing.
These students completed the Benson County 4-H shooting sports summer session. Back row, left to right: Kirby Kallenbach, C.J. Houle, Anthony Kaiser, Cody Hoffert, Zach Johnson and Trevor Knutson. Front row: Jessica Johnson, Jesse Hoffert and Dylan Gigstad. Not pictured is Jamie Buckmier.
Sponsors were Harlow Co-op Elevator & Seed Co., Lannie Simonson Building Co., National Wild Turkey Federation, Benson County 4-H Council, Leeds/York Wildlife Club and Perch Eyes Guide Service.