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“I have called you by name, Sylvia, you are mine.”

These were the words on a banner Sunday afternoon, August 30, at Trinity Lutheran Church in New Richland, as you found a place to sit.

Shortly, members of the New Richland Legion Auxiliary, in full uniform, walked in and occupied the first three rows in front on the left side. They were there to pay respect to their fellow Auxiliary member of 69-plus years.

The family entered later and occupied the front of the church on the right (the same side where they gathered holding their lighted candles at the Christmas Eve service as a family tradition). Son, Curtis, gave a reading from the family in honor of their mother.

The children sang that great hymn, “Jesus Loves Me,” just as they did for Grandpa Gene at his funeral in 2013.

The Reverend Paul Andree conducted the church service with interment at St. Olaf Cemetery followed by lunch in the church basement.

Sylvia was born June 18, 1921. After graduating from New Richland High School she managed to find her way to Santa Ana, California, where she married Gene C. Dodge on June 5, 1943.

In 1945, Gene was honorably discharged and they moved back to New Richland.

I am nominating Sylvia as a founding member of a club that didn’t exist at the time of the following. Please read the following and express your feelings by saying, “Uffda.”

Fast forward to the spring of 1952. Sylvia is the mother of three youngsters and has just found out she is pregnant with birth expected in October (the oldest is now 6 years old).


The year 1952 was a tough spring, a lot of snow, freezing, thawing, and then more snow. The roads were a mess, plus road weight restrictions prevented the New Richland school buses from running (yes, school was held).


Sylvia and Gene stepped up to the plate and invited Robert Tollefson, Carol Tollefson and Robert Hanson (me; all teenagers) to stay at their place until the buses could get through. Now you have three youngsters, three teenagers, a young couple expecting another child in October, all in a not-that-big of a house for two-plus weeks of three extra people.


Think of the situation: three children age six and under, expecting a fourth, three teenagers, shuffled sleeping arrangements, one-plus bathroom – this was truly an “uffda” situation.

I think all of you will agree with me, Sylvia Dodge, you are nominated as a founding member of the “Minnesota Nice Club.”



Bob is a retired AAL (Aid Association for Lutherans) agent, currently working on his master’s degree in Volunteering. His wife, Genie, is a retired RN, currently working on her doctor’s degree in Volunteering. They have two children, Deb in North Carolina, and Dan in Vermont. Bob says if you enjoy his column, let him know. If you don’t enjoy it, keep on reading, it can get worse. Words of wisdom: There is always room for God.

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