Edith (Hodges) Mjolsness




Life and Work

If ever there was a person who enjoyed a challenge, it is Edith Mjolsness. Born on May 21, 1932, to Charles and Kathleen Hodges in Olds, Alberta, Edith inherited her independence and drive from her father, a well-known, self-taught pilot.

Growing up in Olds, she played sports with her brother, Wesley, and rode in her father's plane on jaunts to Sylvan Lake. From an early age, Edith loved skating and playing hockey. Willing to suffer bruised legs from using magazines as goal pads, she often played goalie at Wesley's team practices.

After the war, the Hodges family returned to Olds where Edith graduated from Olds High School in 1949. The County offered graduates a $500 bursary to attend the University of Calgary for six months and obtain their Junior Elementary and Intermediate Teaching Certificate. Edith's dream was to go to Queens University and become a linguist, but realizing her dream was too costly for her family, she accepted the County's offer thinking it might be a stepping-stone to Queens. She did well in her studies and enjoyed playing on the University of Calgary basketball team. When she graduated at 17, Edith was sent to Rugby School west of Didsbury to teach 13 students for the remainder of the school year.

In 1950, at age 18, Edith taught 32 children in Grades 1 to 8 plus supervised a Grade 9 student in the schoolhouse that is now at the Sundre museum. While teaching at Bergen, Edith boarded with Charles and Eileen Erickson, who introduced her to their cousin, Raymond Mjolsness. Ray and Edith were married January 27, 1951.

As a newlywed, Edith packed away her teaching certificate and tackled the chores of a farm wife. She was soon milking cows and driving tractor. By April 1952, Calvin, the first of the Mjolsness' five children arrived and later on Jon, Jane, Loretta and Colleen.

When Ray broke his wrist, Edith went to work cleaning houses. Jean McLeod from Sundre, who was teaching in Springbank, offered to help her get a job at Happyland Kindergarten. Edith was delighted to find her teaching certificate was still valid after a 13 year absence and took a place at Springbank School. She then began a seven-year process of night classes and summer schools to get her Bachelor of Education degree in 1969 with a major in French and a minor in social studies. Edith worked as a substitute teacher at David D. Oughton, until she joined the staff at Marlborough Elementary and then transferred to Keeler Elementary.

In 1981, Edith and Ray bought land on Doyle Drive in the Bergen area where they built themselves a retirement home. Edith applied for a teaching job in Sundre and the only teaching placement available was science specialist at Sundre school. The Alberta Teachers Association honoured her with the Science Teacher of the Year award for 1983. Before illness forced her to resign, Edith added high school French to her teaching duties.

-Written by Edna Bakken from an interview with Edith Mjolsness and information in an article by Leslie Munns published in the Sundre Round-up, February 22,1984.


Letter of Appreciation by Jane Mjolsness

Dear Mom,

I am writing you this letter to let you know how much I appreciate everything that you have done for me throughout my life. You have been a real inspiration for the paths that I have taken and the help that you have given me to lead me along those paths has made transitions smoother. As a child I looked up to you and how other kids related to you. This gave me the passion to follow you into the field of education and working with youth. You supported me from the start to my retirement, without you I couldn't have done it.

Your gentle encouragement, along with Dad's words of wisdom, have helped me through some very trying situations. I always knew that you were there to hold me and guide me when times got tough, and there to celebrate with me through my accomplishments. It is very difficult to express in words the love and thankfulness that I have for you and all that we have been through together. I treasure each memory of our life together.

I love you. Jane