Nels Lundorff - 1927
Nels Lundorff was born on January 19, 1927 in Sandstone, Minnesota, where he grew up and attended school. He was called Bob all his life and he joined the U.S. Navy in January of his senior year in 1945 and served until August of 1946. He attended Hamlin University and was later employed at the Sandstone State Bank for 32 years, until his retirement in 1985.
The 17. of September 1955, he married Elsie Kristensen, who grew up in the nearby Danish community, Askov. Bob owned and operated the Quarry Queen restaurant in Sandstone from 1986 until 1989.
I have the following from his wife, Elsie Lundorff (written in Feb. 2010):
I was married to Nels Robert (Bob) Lundorff, on september 17, 1955. We had been seing each other sort of now and then. He was older than I was - I was born in 1937 and he was born in 1927. We met at a local dance hall and my father was quite jealous of this older man and would not be very polite when Bob would call on the phone. He referred to him as a �boar pig� or �slanted eyed cake eater� from down the line.
Sandstone was Bob's home and ten miles south of Askov, the Danish community in which I grew up. I was very young and threw aside a scholarship to Grand View College in Des Moines, Iowa, where most of my dad's family had gone for higher education. In fact, when the school began it was considered a Folk High School and my dad's mother, Mariane Gade attended there in the late 1890's and early 1900's. So that was the influence for her children and some of her grandchildren.
Bob was a funny man, that is what attracted me the most. He was always a quick witted guy and he never missed a chance to display it. I remember a funny thing that happened when we were courting. Bob and I were standing on our front porch at the farm. The window on the porch directly accessed the bathroom window. It was a nice summer night - I heard someone go into the bathroom and told him I thought it might be my mother. He blurted out, �Mrs. Christensen, is there a horse in the house�. He didn't know the window was open because the blinds had hidden it. My mother told me later that she �shut her water off quick�, when she heard that remark.
Bob and I moved to Sandstone that fall and rented a tiny house among some on the Lundorff property. He charged us 15$ a month, which was a pittance. I don't remember paying that, but maybe Bob did. It was not much of a house, with no running water and no bathroom. Bob worked for his father in the local bank which his dad, Nels owned. Bob had attended college in the Twin Cities at Hamline University for almost four years. He quit school when his G.I. Bill ran out. That was a government program to assure returning veterans af World War Two some funds to go get higher education. Bob returned to Sandstone where there was not much in the way of jobs. He had applied for a bartender position in the village owned liquer store. Nels saw his name on the list of applications in the minutes of the village meeting in the Sandstone Courier, the local paper. He told him if he wanted to work behind a counter so bad, he could come to work at the bank next Monday. Bob did; that was in march of 1953. He took to the work as Nels told me once, and enjoyed the people especially. I went to work at the bank the January following our wedding at Nels' beckoning - I think he waited to see if I was pregnant and then decided I could work there when I didn't turn up pregnant. In those days, a woman did not work outside the home if she was pregnant, at least when she showed that she was pregnant. I worked there with Bob for four years until I got pregnant in 1960.
Our first son , Robert Erling, named after Bob and my father, Erling Christensen, was born on May 1, 1960. My life changed a lot after being in the bank. I was lonesome and probably depressed as most of my friends were younger and had moved to the Twin Cities to find employement or go to school. The work at the bank filled that void for me. I was much younger than most the other Lundorff women. Bob did keep in touch with old school friends and some of the questions directed to me from them, were things like, �where did you go to school?�. They were referring to where did I go to college or university. I always felt a little �less than� because of that.
We had some medical problems with our first son, because his head was so large they thought he had water on the brain, and my doctor, old fashioned that he was, kept informing of what kind of suegery he would have to have to relieve the pressure. We took him immediate to Delux, Mn. the closest medical center. They could really tell me nothing until he was about six months and then the said he was just fine. �He will make a good senator some day�, were the words spoken to us. As time passed we realized that Rob had the same long head that his grandfather Nels had. So needless to say, we were relieved and overjoyed when Rob talked, walked, and did all the ordinary things of babyhood. Bob was a great father to his son.
Our second child, James, was born about two and a half years later. He was healthy and happy and of cause, we didn't fuss over him like we had Rob because there were no scary things predicted for him. He and Rob became good friends and pals and they were always together. Baseball became a favorite subject, I think, mainly because of their father, Bob was a sports fanatic (he had always wanted to be a coach). They threw the ball all the time to each other, went to games and watched their dad play on a local softball team. The other thing that Bob was really interested in was fishing. He and his father and brothers all loved to fish and with the abundance of lakes around the area, finding a place to fish was never a problem. We bought a little cabin on a lake north of us, and the two little ones also caught the fishing bug. I never really joined them because I really wasn't invited! During the time we enjoyed the cabin on short weekends (Nels believed the bank should be open on Saturday too). A very nice piece of land became available for sale for a very modest price, so we had to sell the cabin up north to buy the land with a really old house on it, at one of our favorite springfed lakes, Grindstone Lake. It was about nine miles west of town and we went thre every time there was enough time.
I was pregnant (Greta), when we bought the land west of us. In time, we decided to sell our house in town and build a nice house out there. It was quite different in style from our town house, and we loved it. It was a wonderful place to raise kids, especially when they liked to fish. Of couse, there was a basketball hoop placed above the garage door. Our one fear at the lake was having an accident where one of the kids would drown. Our rule was that they were never to swim, boat or anything without one of us present. That rule continued the whole time we lived there. It was a nice place to entertain people and we did and had lots of good times there. We had a pontoon boat and a speedboat and the kids liked water skiing and swimming.
While we lived at the lake our family hosted two teenagers for one year each. There was a boy from France and a girl from Brazil. They added a lot to our family life and understanding of the world. After the boy left for France and our oldest graduated from France, I relized how much of my life was left. It inspired me to make some plans (in one rainy afternoon) to dricve to the closest school, the University of Minnesota, Duluth. I called to inquire and was told that if I wanted to start school I would have to take the entrance exam the next morning. I asked Bob about it when he came home and he told me to �go for it�.
Within two weeks, I was in school with a full load of credits. I majored in social work, reasoning that if I wanted to work I would have to major in something that would give me employment in the area. The drive to school was a 175 mile round trip from my home west of Sandstone. I finished school in three years and two quarters. Bob and his growning daughter who was born in 1968, became fast friends as she rode with him to school, etc. The older boy had graduated and Jim took the bus. I managed to take care of the household and still do my school work. I got a job with social services in town, a county position and worked for five years at that. During that time, Nels decided to sell the bank without consulting his sons, Bob and Edward, who both worked there. They were called into Nels' office one morning and told to �sign there�. They asked what it was and learned it was a purchase agreement to sell the bank to an absentee owner, living in Florida, who also owned the Askov bank. I refused to sign, and of course, was really thought of as a bad woman. Ed and Bob received some money for some stock. I still objected, but the sale went on without me somehow. The new owner nabbed me by the sleeve ane day and said, �why are you doing this to me?�. I did not know what he meant, but evidently a few older progressive ladies in the community started some petitions asking Nels not to sell the bank to an absentee owner and to sell it to the boys. I had no knowledge of that, but he didn't believe me. I had a hard tiome with this whole deal, but eventually life went on. I was glad to have a job since Bob did not. The new owner told Bob to �get the hell out and take your son (our son who had graduated college was now working there) and his shit and get out�.
Ed remained on as an insurance agent and Bob went home. I think he never got over that. I decided to let it go and tried to treat Nels the same as I had for years (washing his dirty clothes and having him come to eat supper). I did not want to become a bitter old woman, and I did want to set a decent example for my children. Astime passed I realized that perhaps Nels did the sons a favor. Times were changing in the banking world. Bob had to argue for a few years to get Nels to alllow them to buy their first computer as he was seeing what was going on in other banks. Finally, Nels relented and said, �okay, you can buy a computer, but none of that software stuff�. For a long time after the computer was installed and input done by Bob, Nels would not accept a printout of the day's business. Bob had to copy it in long hand or Nels wouldn't believe it. After all, he had gone �from the outhouse to outer space� in his lifetime, and he just did not understand. One could not but admire him though, knowing that he had come to the U.S. in 1911 with just a few dollars in his pocket and rose to the position of owning the local bank which was quite an accomplishment for anyone.
After I had worked for five years I decided to get my master's degree and drove to St. Paul three times a week to get that. This was fine with Bob; he was very proud of me for doing that. I worked in various positions which to this day were a blessing because i have a little retirement pay from those jobs which makes the difference for me now in financial terms. There was no retirement from the bank. The funds we got from the sale of the bank were put into a little restaurant that we ran for three years. We didn't make any money, but Bob enjoyed very much meeting the people and getting the chicken ready to go for broasting. It was a small, byt satisfying operation. I think it helped Bob to get over the loss of his �center of the community� job at the bank. The bank was like a small community center and when the new owner took charge, it became more lige a funeral home. Bob had held every treasure job of almost every organization in the community. So while we didn't make mney, it was good therapy and not a waste of time in my book.
It was in the mid-nineties, that we were asked to host another child for a senior year in Sandstone. I let Bob make that decision entirely because I knew I wouldt be working and he was then at home. He was all for the idea and so a boy from Norway named Petter Holst came to live with us. We had an enjouable year with Bob attending all the football games that Petter was involved in, which seemed to be many. We had many good discussions with Petter in the evenings about the differences in culture and also some of the same things we shared since, in many ways, it was semilar to the Danish. It was a very satisfying year for both Bob and Me.
Bob and I did quite a lot of traveling. That was another of Bob's passions. We traveled to Europe, seeing Denmark and the origins of our family, all of Scandinavia, and most of Europe, visited my sister in Panama, took the trip to Costa Rica, the Bahamas, and Russia. Bob also traveled with Rob to Brazil (to visit our AFS daughter, Denise) and to Australie and England. Rob is a corporate travel planner and enjoyed his work, which sometimes involved having his dad with him. We also have visited our AFS son in France, Cyrille, and also Petter in Oslo - and their families of course. We also took the kids on lots of road trips to various spots in the US. All of the kids and parts of their families have visited us since they returned to their homes. In about 1994, we decided to move to town because life on the lake was becoming difficult to maintain. It was three acres of mowing, a big dock to put in and out, 300 feet of lakeshore to keep clean and the expense of a big house was getting to be a hardship. The kids were gone and we moved to a nice old house in town. Not long afterwards, I noticed that Bob was �pill-rolling� with his thumb and first finger. I knew that to be a sign of Parkinson's disease, and we saw several docters. He was put on medication for that but it really didn't help. Bob began to loose his wit and zest for life and was somewhat depressed. This went on trying different things to help him. None seemed to be of any help. The last week he was at home, I took him to the emergency room three times. The last time he did not come home and was sent to Minneapolis. He was there about sixteen days, and finally transferred to a nearby nursing home where he died four days later on August 16, 2005. His diagnosis from Minneapolis was �Shy-Drager syndrome�. It is a nasty disease where all the systems atrophy. His death certificate lists his death as Multiple Systems Atrophy. Bob's ashes were put down on our Golding Wedding day in 2005.
I carry on here in Sandstone in a little one level house that i enjoy. I am lonesome after living with such a vital man as Bob. There was never a dull moment, and he was always friendly and upbeat. So the lonesomeness is my only complaint, but I keep on keeping on with the help of good friends and some nice relatives.
Nels R. Lundorff died on August 16, 2005, after having been ill for a number of years. He was born on January 19, 1927 in Sandstone, Minnesota, where he grew up and attended school. Bob joined the U.S. Navy in January of his senior year in 1945 and served until August of 1946. He attended Hamlin University and was later employed at the Sandstone State Bank for 32 years, until his retirement in 1985. Bob owned and operated the Quarry Queen restaurant in Sandstone from 1986 until 1989. Bob had a sharp wit and wonderful sense of humor. He enjoyed fishing, woodworking, traveling, gardening, history, storytelling and entertaining at home. He was a long time third basement. Bob was involved in many civic organizations in and around Sandstone, including the Hinckley Knights Baseball team, Sandstone Chamber of commerce, Sandstone Lions, East Central Sports Boosters, Pine Toastmasters and the Sandstone School Board. He served on the Audubon Center of the Northwoods advisory board and was also a member of Grace Lutheran Church for 43 years. Bob was also a 50 year member of the American Legion. Bob loved sports and enjoyed playing volleyball, basketball, and softball and watching football and baseball. He was a faithful supporter of the Sandstone and East Central High School basketball and football teams.
Bob is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, Elsie; sons Robert (Bobbie) of Minneapolis; Jim of Sandstone; daughter, Greta of North Branch; and grandchildren Kevin and Laura. He is also survived by his sisters, Martha Wallin of Sandstone; Mae Nelson of Duluth; and Laura (Kirk) McMichael of Pullman, Washington. Brothers surviving him are Norman (Evelyn) Lundorff of Mora and Irvin (Louise) Lundorff of Grand Rapids. He is also survived by two sisters-in-law, Irma Lundorff of Sturgeon Lake and Mary Ann Lundorff of Sandstone, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his mother and father, Laura and Nels Lundorff of Sandstone; infant twin brothers; and brothers Chris R. Lundorff of St. Cloud and Edward Lundorff of Sandstone.