Elaine has been an active member of Peace Church since 1969. Her very first Sunday, Peggy Maske told her she had to help with coffee since they were short-handed, and so she did. She’s been caring for our people ever since. As she wrote recently, “When I go to church I feel love and people that care about one another. It feels like arms holding you close. We certainly need love and caring at this time”
Elaine has always cared about kids and especially those who are outsiders. Growing up in Young America, she was the Swedish girl in an all-German community. She graduated from high school in 1945 during WWII. During high school she worked in a box factory as part of a government contract.
After graduating, Elaine worked as a nanny in Minneapolis and saved her money to go to school. She went to St. Cloud Teacher’s College and graduated in 1949. She taught fifth and sixth graders in Hopkins, Minnesota for four years and then taught in Steward, Minnesota. Elaine loved teaching, and her students loved her. She received several letters from students saying they wished they could stay in elementary school so she could still be their teacher. And a parent wrote: “This was the first year my daughter didn’t want school to end.”
Elaine married Len Augustad in 1957 and moved to Duluth. She worked as a bookkeeper for JC Penney’s for about five years. She had always wanted to be an accountant growing up. But the call to kids kept coming back. As she was raising her son, Alan, she helped in the school library and as a room mother. And then a job opened at Jefferson Elementary to work with kids having trouble with reading or math. Elaine was back in the classroom. She loved it. Those were always “my kids and I put all my energy into them,” Elaine stated. She worked as a teacher’s aide at Chester Park, Lowell, and Birchwood elementary schools before retiring.
This past summer, one of the first classes Elaine ever taught had a 60th reunion. They asked Elaine to come. Her love had touched them all. As Elaine said, “When you have lots of kids, sometimes you have a child that is hard to get through to, then I always remembered that everyone has something good and wonderful in them. Sometime you have to look a little harder to find it.”
Elaine’s goal in high school was to be a bookkeeper. But, as she said, “God had other plans and so I taught with all my heart.” That’s how Elaine does everything: with all her heart. Even in retirement she has been active working as an election judge, president of the Lakewood Senior group, president of the American Legion Auxiliary, and helping out at the Veterans’ Home in Silver Bay.
Thank you Elaine for all your caring – especially for our kids.
We feel your love. Interviewed by Kathy Nelson