Not the normal obituary request
It’s not often we have someone come into the Faribault County Register office and ask to put in an obituary for a woman who was born, raised and lived her entire life in Germany.
Actually, I am fairly sure it has never happened.
But, it did last week.
Blue Earth resident Maria Lindberg stopped in with a funeral folder for Marie-Luise Wollenteit, of Kassel, Germany. It was difficult to read, of course, because it was all in German.
I had to ask why the Register would print a death announcement for a German woman.
Well, the answer was that Marie-Luise Wollenteit did not live all of her 90 years of life in Germany. She only spent 89 of them there.
That is because she spent one year living in Blue Earth. You might think that perhaps she was a foreign exchange student here. But that is not quite true. Her four children were exchange students but she was an exchange mom.
Obviously there is a lot more to the story.
Back in the summer of 1971, Maria Lindberg and her husband Peter signed up with a program called Fulbright Teachers Family Exchange.
They then packed up their five children and moved to Germany to live in the house of Marie-Louise Wollenteit and her husband, Dietr.
At the same time Dietr and Marie-Louise packed up their four children and moved to the Lindberg’s home in Blue Earth.
The two families swapped homes for a year, and didn’t return to their own homes until the summer of 1972.
Both Dietr Wollenteit and Pete Lindberg were teachers. So for the whole year Dietr taught German at Blue Earth High School and Pete taught English in Germany.
The Wollenteit children went to school at Blue Earth for the year, while the Lindberg kids went to school in Germany.
While Maria Lindberg says at first she was not too keen on the idea of uprooting the family to Germany for a whole year, she eventually found it to be a tremendous learning experience, for her whole family.
It was likewise for the Wollenteits.
They worked hard on immersing themselves into the Blue Earth community, and were determined to meet and become friends with as many people as they could.
They joined clubs and organizations and went to as many events and programs as they could.
Their children, too, became very involved in the school and community, especially one of the boys, Hartmut, who is the youngest.
Maria Lindberg says he was very outgoing and made many friends at school and was involved in as many activities as he could be.
Besides teaching, Dietr liked to go to St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center and visit some of the old folks of German heritage there. Although some of them spoke a centuries old dialect, he said, and were hard to understand.
Dietr died about six years ago. Marie-Luise passed away on Jan. 17. Her memorial service was already held on Feb. 1, if my interpretation of her German memorial folder is correct.
Maria Lindberg says she thinks there could be many people in Blue Earth, who lived here in the 1970s, who will remember Marie-Luise and her family.
Condolence cards can be sent to Dorothea Wollenteit, 34130 Kassel, Am Hange 25, Germany.
And now you and I both know the rest of the story behind the request to print the death notice of a woman from Germany.