It’s been a ‘grand’ life for AliceAlice Iversen couldn’t stand watching her father walk five miles to work everyday and her family scraping to come up with the $80 per month tuition and $20 bus fare it took to send her to the private Duluth Cathedral High School. So, without telling her parents, she transferred to Duluth Central for her senior year.
By: Sonja Peterson, Lake County News Chronicle
Alice Iversen couldn’t stand watching her father walk five miles to work everyday and her family scraping to come up with the $80 per month tuition and $20 bus fare it took to send her to the private Duluth Cathedral High School. So, without telling her parents, she transferred to Duluth Central for her senior year.
“My parents didn’t even know until I brought home my first report card,” Iversen said.
It’s a telling story. Iversen has continued to display generosity, independence and a go-getter attitude throughout her life as a deeply involved member of the Two Harbors community. It’s led to her selection as the Heritage Day’s Parade Grand Marshal.
She graduated from Central in 1938 and found a job in Two Harbors working at the New Life Café. When World War II began, she decided to do her part for the war effort by joining the Marine Corps. She learned bookkeeping during her time in the service.
When she returned to Two Harbors, she got a job bookkeeping for the Co-op grocery store. That led to her becoming the first employee of the credit union operated out of the Co-op. She worked for the bank until it became the Two Harbors Federal Credit Union in 1965. She retired but still volunteered as part of the supervisory committee.
Iversen was also part of the Community Health Center Guild that helped start the community-owned health organization and purchased the town’s hospital. It was essentially one of the nation’s first HMOs.
“You need health care, and you need a credit union,” her son Paul Iversen said, pointing out how important his mother’s work has been to Two Harbors.
Iversen has contributed to a long list of community organizations. She was the VFW Ladies Auxiliary 8th District President and a member of an award-winning VFW Auxiliary Drill Team. She helped start and volunteered at the tourist information center and also was a member of a committee that worked to get the community center built.
She was an active union member and DFL party member. In 2004, she was invited to give the Pledge of Allegiance at a rally for presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry. She was so nervous she wrote the Pledge of Allegiance on her hand. But she wasn’t too nervous to give Kerry a talk about issues important to her when she met him at the airport and was the first in line to shake his hand.
Iversen is a member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, and also has French-Canadian heritage. “A lot of people think that the heritage around here is all about Norwegians and Swedes,” Alice’s son, Paul said.
She’s one of only two “honorary Norwegians” inducted by the local chapter of the Sons of Norway. Alice’s husband was Norwegian, so Iversen, lacking a single drop of Scandinavian blood, ended up serving as financial secretary and later secretary and historian for the Sons of Norway.
She raised her two sons with her late husband, Harry Iversen. Both were involved in the community, particularly as union members. Paul was a member of the Two Harbors City Council. John, a California resident, was recognized for his community involvement by being selected to carry the Olympic Torch in 1996.
Iversen grinningly calls the fuss about the grand marshal honor “a bunch of baloney,” but she’s looking forward to the 1 p.m. parade. “She’ll be riding in a 1921 Cadillac convertible, one year younger than she is,” son John said.
“I didn’t even realize I did all this,” Iversen said. Aside from all her volunteer efforts, she likes to eat out and exercises several times a week. She’s also enjoyed traveling with family and friends to destinations such as Norway, Nova Scotia and Hawaii.
Looking back on it all, Iversen let out a laugh. “I’ve had a fun life.”