Mabel Gunderson, who taught elementary school for 30 years, died February 10 at Dove Healthcare Assisted Living in Osseo. She was 103.
Besides teaching, she participated in Lutheran Church Women, Ladies Chorus, and Sunday School at Chimney Rock Lutheran Church. After she retired, she spent much of her time writing, painting, making ceramics, and playing the organ.
Mabel Hulda Gutow was born on October 24, 1916, to Edward and Lena Gutow of rural Whitehall. She was baptized and confirmed at St. Paul’s German Lutheran Evangelical Church and attended Pike School in the country. She graduated from Whitehall High School in 1933. She recounted many times the four-mile walk to and from high school. She was the first member of her family to graduate from high school.
After receiving a teaching certificate from Eau Claire State Teachers College, she taught all eight grades in one-room schools near where she grew up. During World War II, she worked in the rationing office in Whitehall.
She married Reuben Gunderson of rural Strum in 1944. They had two sons, Paul and David, who survive her. She resided on the family farm in Chimney Rock until she moved to assisted living.
She returned to teaching in 1957. At Brick School, south of Strum, she taught grades 1-4. After that school was closed, she taught first grade in Strum for 14 years. While teaching, she continued her education, attending what is now the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She earned her bachelor’s degree in 1966.
When she retired in 1980—as she told guests at her 99th birthday party—she decided, once again, “to go back to school.” She saw an ad for the technical college in the paper and enrolled in painting, ceramics, and writing classes. She also joined the homemakers association and continued with church activities.
Besides her sons—Paul, of Farmington, Minnesota, and David, of Sunnyside, New York—she is survived by two grandchildren, Michele Reynolds, of Lonsdale, Minnesota, and Michael Gunderson, of Chanhassen, Minnesota; five great-grandchildren; and a sister, Helen Gibson, of Eau Claire. She was preceded in death by her husband, her parents, two brothers, and two sisters.
A funeral service was held at Chimney Rock Lutheran Church on Saturday, February 15. Rev. Terry Lorenz, who officiated, noted in his sermon that Mrs. Gunderson had been one of his first-grade teachers.