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Meeting an interesting character

By Staff | May 22, 2016

So, sometimes in this business, you run into a character. A real character.

It has happened to me many times in my long career. It is what makes this job of being an editor so interestingand fun.

It happened again last week.

I was working away at my desk in the far reaches of the Faribault County Register office when in blew a whirlwind. Papers flew off the desk. It took me a little while to realize what had happened.

I had a visitor. And this was no ordinary visitor. She immediately took over the office and the conversation and the next half hour of my life.

She was a well-dressed 91-year-old woman by the name of Georgette Vikingstad Valle.

She introduced herself and her daughter who was traveling with her and said she lived in Washington State and in Arizona. She then proceeded to tell me all about her life and why she was visiting me in my office in Blue Earth, Minnesota.

My mind could hardly keep up with her dissertation. My pen certainly could not take notes fast enough.

It seems she was born and raised on a farm north of Elmore. And, she was back for a visit to see Blue Earth, Elmore and the old homestead. She wondered if I knew of the Vikingstad family. I had to admit I did not.

Her father, George Vikingstad, she related, once threatened to sue the Elmore Eye newspaper because they had called him a communist. He wasn’t, she said, but he was a liberal member of the Farmer-Labor party.

The paper printed a retraction. He dropped the lawsuit. I don’t think this story was a veiled threat that I print only nice things about her, but you never know.

It seems that after she left Faribault County she attended, and graduated from, the University of Minnesota as an occupational therapist. She married a Norwegian dentist, Odd Valle, in Norway, and ended up living in Washington State.

But, Georgette Valle was no stay-at-home homemaker wife. She was a passionate proponent of the environment, and served for 24 years in the Washington State Legislature. She also was on the Burien, Washington, City Council, for four years.

She is the co-founder of the Seahurst Park Environmental Science Center in Burien.

Oh, and did I mention she is an accomplished actress, storyteller, book author, birder, blogger (yep, she blogs), well-known speaker, strong defender of women’s rights and, well, you get the idea. She’s a dynamo.

I eventually figured out she was visiting me to promote her third book. It is a series of riddles whose answers are the names of birds. It is called “Hi Diddle Diddle, Read a Bird Riddle.”

She gave me a copy. It is pretty clever and interesting. I think I got one of them right.

Her other two books are more autobiographical. One is titled “Always a Rebel and Never Without a Cause,” and the other is “Courageous Women.”

I have the feeling she held her own and then some in what once was probably a ‘good old boys club’ of a legislature.

And, just like that, she declared the interview to be over, thanked me for my time, said it was nice to have met me, and blew out the door.

I exhaled a sigh and said “Uffda.”