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Bob Lind, Published December 07 2012

Lind: Brother, sister keep strong ties to roots, community

It was some honor for this brother and sister.

Edward “Eddie” Gudmundson, of Moorhead, is 95. His kid sister Rose Gudmundson, of Fargo, is 90.

They’re of Icelandic descent. And they were selected to be grand marshals at the annual Icelandic celebration in Mountain, N.D., last August.

The event is called the Deuce of August celebration because Iceland’s new constitution was introduced Aug. 2, 1874.

Eddie and Rose were born in Mountain. Eddie became a pharmacist, a career that was interrupted by military service during World War II. Rose became a teacher, and a good one; so good she still gets flowers from a “kid” she taught in fourth grade.

Action in the Pacific

Eddie graduated from North Dakota Agricultural College (now North Dakota State University) in pharmacy in 1940. He worked for Strehlow Drug, Casselton, N.D., until enlisting in the Navy in 1942.

He was assigned to an evacuation ship that was involved in the invasion of Guam, bringing troops to the island and evacuating casualties. It also took part in two landings in the Philippine Islands.

Eddie applied for a commission and was sent to the University of Pennsylvania. He married Opal Labakken there in 1945. He was sent to midshipman school at Notre Dame University and was discharged as a petty officer in late 1945.

He then worked for pharmacies in Bottineau, McVille and Abercrombie, N.D., and for Moorhead Drug, where he worked until he retired.

He and Opal had two sons, Curtis, of Plymouth, Minn., and Wayne, of Moorhead. Opal died three years ago.

Eddie keeps strong ties with the Icelandic community in Mountain, and he’s active in the Fargo-Moorhead Icelandic Klub.

He’s a trombonist who played with the Mountain community orchestra when he was a youth, then with the NDSU Gold Star Band and the Red River Valley Veterans Band. Now he plays with the Golden Notes New Horizon Band.

A student remembers

After a summer of training, Rose, then 18, taught at Sunnyside School near Mountain. The one-room school had eight students in four grades. Her salary was $65 a month.

Then Rose joined the Navy, serving in the WAVES from 1943 to 1946.

After the war, she attended Mayville (N.D.) State College, graduating in 1950 with a degree in elementary education.

She taught in Grafton, Grand Forks, Aneta, Walhalla and her hometown of Mountain, all in North Dakota, and in Seattle, before moving to Fargo to teach third grade at Washington Elementary School and to take more training at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Rose retired in 1983 and became an active member of the Retired Teachers Association of Fargo and Cass County. She volunteers at Bethany Homes and, like her brother, is an enthusiastic participant in the F-M Icelandic Klub.

In 1978, Rose was named North Dakota Teacher of the Year. Vern Bennett, who was Fargo schools superintendent, said at the time that, “Every child is special to Rose, and thus each child under her guidance develops self-confidence – the key to positive learning. Rose has touched many lives and made them grow in new, positive and unexplored directions.”

As her nephew Wayne says, this might explain why so many of her students stay in contact with her.

One of them is Merlin Johnson, of Tacoma, Wash. He was her fourth-grade student in Grand Forks.

Merlin, now in his 70s, still remembers her. He calls her on her birthday every year, and he sends her flowers.

Rose lives with former Fargo schools principal Jeanette Stone. So when Rose fell a while ago and broke her hip, Jeanette took care of her.

One day, Jeanette, too, received flowers. They were from Merlin, in appreciation of her looking after his teacher from 65 years ago.

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