A Century of Living and Loving-Pearl Kvistad Celebrates 100!

By Lori Johnson

BLACK RIVER FALLS - Who knew when Pearl Gunderson, daughter of Cora (Berg) and Roy Gonderson, made her way into the world back in 1920 of all the history she would able to witness--some good, some not so good, some downright awful: The roaring twenties, Charles Lindberg making his first solo nonstop transatlantic flight in the Spirit of St. Louis, Amelia Earhart following, the Great Depression, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, annexing of states, inaugurations of Presidents Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump, the Gulf War, moon walks and shuttle disasters, 9-11.

Through it all, Pearl was making history of her own. She grew up on her grandparent’s farm in the Town of Preston in Trempealeau County, By the age of seven, her grandmother taught her how to crochet, knit and sew, even making her own patterns. And like other girls during that time, she was also taught how to bake the Norwegian goodies so loved today. When she was 20 in 1940, she married Norman Kvistad from Taylor, giving him nine children. After his passing in 1961, she married Orville Kvistad in 1962. and had two children. She watched her children grow and enjoyed life on the farm and the changes from horse drawn vehicles to cars, lanterns and lamps to electricity, outhouses to indoor plumbing. She saw her children marry, have children and then grandchildren of their own. She suffered the loss of her husbands, but stayed strong, worked hard and kept on living life to the fullest.

Fast forward to February, 2020 when Pearl’s family and friends gathered at the BRF Legion Hall to celebrate her 100 years of life. Her family numbers 11 children, 32 grandchildren, 65 great grandchildren and 29 great great grandchildren with three more on the way this year. Folks traveled from Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and just about every corner of Wisconsin to honor her. They were greeted at the door by Pearl’s great granddaughter, seven year old Lily Katherine Leisgang, who said “Welcome to my Grandma’s party!”

“Dressed in a warm sweater complete with corsage and a pink ribbon, Mom was so thrilled to see everyone. She didn’t say too much, but her face just beamed as everyone came up to her, told her how good she looked and marveled at how much she had experienced in her long life. One grandson moved heaven and earth to get the day off work because “it’s not everyday I have a grandma who turns 100.“ We were thankful the weather cooperated for all the travelers and it was a lot of fun visiting with everyone, “ said Pearl’s daughter, Thea Leisgang.

With all these loving family members and friends surrounding her, singing Happy Birthday with the accompaniment of Roxie Luther who provided music at the party, enjoying the great food and birthday cupcakes, as happy to see her as she was to see them, you can definitely call 100 year old Pearl Kvistad a history maker herself! Happy Birthday Pearl!


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