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Queensland named Community Service Award recipient

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Jun 13, 2021

Elloyce Queensland, shown here in her front yard in Blue Earth, was surprised last week when she found out she had been named the 2021 Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award recipient. She will receive the award during part of the festivities of Giant Days, on Friday evening, July 9, at Giant Park.

Elloyce Queensland expressed shock when she found out she was this year’s recipient of the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce’s Community Service Award.

“I’m a little embarrassed,” she said. “There are so many others who do so much and should get this recognition.”

However, she quickly added she feels it is a great honor to receive the award and she is pleased to accept it.

“Blue Earth has been so good to us, to me and my family,” Queensland says. “It is such a great place to live and raise a family.”

Her husband, Ken, was the superintendent of Blue Earth Area Schools for 30 years. He died six years ago.

Both Ken and Elloyce came to Blue Earth to be teachers at the same time, met and fell in love, and were married on Dec. 19, 1954.

“I was a farm girl from Hartland, Minnesota,” Queensland says. “I went to Winona State College and graduated with a B.S. in English and a minor in biology.”

She had never been to Blue Earth before she came here for a job interview. She learned they were already going to offer her the teaching position before she even interviewed.

She taught English at Blue Earth for three years, until the couple’s first child, Kent, was born. They also had a daughter, Amy, soon after.

“I wanted to stay home and raise the children,” Queensland says. “But I also wanted to stay active in the community.”

Active is an understatement. The list of all the different groups and organizations she has been involved in is long and impressive.

For instance, she has been a Brownie, Cub and Girl Scout leader over the years. She has also been a mentor for the Blue Earth Area Mentors (BEAM) program for 20 years – and she still is one.

Queensland was the chair of the Blue Earth School 100-year Celebration Committee, was co-chair (with Rob Hammond) of the BE United Fund Drive, was on the BE Library Board for nine years and served as chair, and was on the County Library Board for nine years and served as its chair.

She is also a member of the Friends of the BE Library, was on the BE Sesquicentennial Committee and the Chamber’s Tourism Committee. Queensland has also served as an election judge – and its coordinator – for many years. There are also all her years of volunteering at St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center and with the Meals on Wheels program.

She has been a member of several clubs over the years, but one of her favorites is the Mitchell Chautauqua Circle.

“Belonging to that club feeds my love of reading,” Queensland says with a smile. In 1986, the Mitchell Chautauqua Circle named her their Woman of Achievement award recipient.

Queensland, who will turn 90 in November of this year, has also been very active in her church, Trinity Lutheran in Blue Earth, for a long, long time.

She has served as congregation president, chair of the pastoral call committee and served on the pastor intern committee and has been involved in Eucharistic ministry – helping serve communion to those who cannot attend worship.

But, her biggest love is teaching youth education classes (basically confirmation class), something she has been doing for 65 years.

“I started teaching at church right when I quit teaching at the school,” she says. “And I have truly enjoyed it.”

One accomplishment Queensland is extremely proud of happened quite a few years ago. She and several others, including Wendell Ankeny, Jody Lange and Rene Johnson, were on a committee which helped form a Day Activity Center for physically and mentally challenged children.

“The idea started with Wendell,” Queensland recalls. “And the First Methodist Church gave us the space to use. We served as the lead teachers at this center.”

There were other volunteers and parents who helped out and this idea eventually grew into special classes in the school system for those with severe handicaps.

Queensland also speaks with pride about her children, Kent and Amy, and her three grandchildren and now one great-grandson, Connor, whom she will travel to California to “meet” for the first time later this year.

Son Kent and his wife, Jane live in Shoreview. Their daughter Kelly is married and lives in Tucson, Arizona and their daughter Katy is married and lives in San Francisco, California.

Daughter Amy and her husband John Bobence live in St. Louis Park. Their daughter Kristin lives in Minneapolis.

But there are also all her “other” children, whom Queensland loves to talk about, as well.

“Ken and I had four exchange students who each lived with us for a year through the AFS Exchange program,” she recalls. “They were all from different countries, and it was wonderful to host them.”

She has photos of each of them and has kept up with them over the years.

But, there is another boy who she refers to as her “other” son. Trong Pham was a Vietnamese refugee who was one of the 40 or so Vietnamese who came to Blue Earth when they fled Vietnam back in the 1970s.

“Trong lived with us for three years and he was a wonderful boy,” she says. “His mother had sent him on a boat to America by himself. She came over here later.”

Queensland explains Trong’s mother found a job elsewhere and moved, but Trong wanted to stay in Blue Earth and go to school here with all his friends. So, he continued to live with the Queenslands.

“Trong went to college, married a nice Vietnamese girl and had three wonderful kids,” Queensland says. “They now live in Mankato and their kids are in high school and college now.”

She has kept in touch with them over the years. Trong was down in Blue Earth on this past Memorial Day to visit Queensland. He still calls her “mom.”

When this busy lady relaxes Queensland says she loves to read, travel and attend the theater with some friends. She has had season tickets to the plays at Minnesota State University for more years than she can remember. She is headed there this week now that things are opening back up.

“The pandemic was pretty tough for me,” she says. “because I am a people person and I love to be with people. My family, my friends, my church, are all very important to me. I am so glad we can get together again.”

Elloyce Queensland will be officially presented with her Community Service Award during a program at Giant Park and the Giant Welcome Center on Friday night, July 9, during Giant Days. She will also serve as the Grand Marshal during the Giant Days Parade the next day.

She still expresses humility about being recognized.

“I haven’t done any more than lots of others – not even as much,” she says. “This beautiful little city has given us more than we can ever give back. It’s a joy to be involved. Thank you, Blue Earth.”