Grads are inspiration to longevity and education

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Elsie Johnson 36

Grandmothers can inspire us to do many things. Kelsie Johnson’s grandmother, Elsie Johnson ’36, inspired her to attend St. Cloud State University along with five other grandchildren including Kelsie’s sisters Kristen Johnson ’09 and incoming sophomore Katie Johnson.

“We all just decided that it would only be natural to follow in her footsteps,” said Kelsie, a junior from Big Lake. She said she also hopes her younger brother will follow the family tradition after high school.

Elsie also is an inspiration to longevity. On May 16, she turned 100. The family celebrated with a small party.

After graduating from St. Cloud State with a teaching degree in music, Elsie went on to be a piano teacher at her home and a first grade teacher at the old school house in Big Lake while her husband and children worked on the family farm. She also taught in Anoka for about 20 years.

Kelsie, who is majoring in English, remembers hearing her grandmother tell fond memories of St. Cloud State, which was one of the reasons she and her sisters and cousins decided to attend.

Elsie lived on campus and was in the women’s choir. Some of that musical influence and campus music involvement also rubbed off on Kelsie who is in the Husky Sports Band drumline.

“We would go to her house after school and look through old yearbooks and she would tell us how great St. Cloud State was,” Kelsie recalled. “We looked up to her.”

Elsie isn’t the only inspiration to longevity and higher education traditions at St. Cloud State.

In June, fellow alumni Matilda (Lorenzen) Schaefer ’55 also turned 100. Schaefer has lived in the same house in St. Cloud for about 80 years and attended St. Cloud State alongside her sister Theresa Lorenzen ’60.

“She’s always had a very quick mind and still does,” said her son Richard Schaefer ’64.

Like Elsie, many from Matilda’s family have followed her in attending St. Cloud State. Along with Richard, Matilda’s daughter Judith (Schaefer) Janey ’60 graduated with a degree in teaching.

Richard’s daughter Kristen Schaefer ’03 and son-in-law Adam Jenson ’01 also are SCSU alums while his brother Jack Schaefer and daughter Jill (Schaefer) Jenson attended.

- Adam Hammer 05

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