Evelyn (Klaus) Shursen
Life and Work
Evelyn Klaus was born in Stettler to Mr. and Mrs. Paul Klaus, just one of the couple's four children. Evelyn came from Estonian ancestry. She was one of the last children baptized in the little Estonian church, and her grandfather was the first Estonian landowner in the district (the land is still in the family's possession).
Evelyn attended Fenn School until its closure at which time she transferred to Wall Lake. With the closure of Wall Lake she was bused to the Stettler Junior High, where she won the IODE award for Grade 9. During high school she spent one semester at the Red Deer Composite High. After she graduated, Evelyn spent two years at the University of Alberta where she acquired her teaching certificate and then finished her Bachelor of Education at night school. Evelyn first taught at River Glenn in Red Deer and then for 30 years at the Stettler Junior High.
Music has been the centre of Evelyn's existence. She organized several singing groups involving her students at school. Among these were the Sure Singers and the Modern Mystros. She sang at countless weddings and funerals, led the United Church Choir for over 15 years, and sang with the musical productions of Gilbert and Sullivan. One of her later musical projects was collaboration with Arlin Petersen, in a production of Tale of Tail Creek; which was a hilarious musical comedy in which she portrayed an Indian Chief and her brother an Indian Prince.
If music was required, Evelyn and her dear friend and accompanist Elaine Hennel were there. In 1983 Stettler awarded Evelyn and Elaine by jointly awarding them Citizens of the Year, thereby recognizing their musical contributions to the community.
Evelyn has been involved in many more activities dedicated towards the betterment of the community. She participates in the Heart of Alberta Crime Watch, Helper Campaign to raise funds for computers for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as well as aiding in the preservation of the Estonian culture at the Stettler Museum.
In 1962 Evelyn Klaus married Elmer Shursen, who would be her life mate. Evelyn and Elmer were always involved in farming. Evelyn has maintained the farm since Elmer passed away. She has a sizable sheep flock, some goats, and at least one donkey. She raises beautiful flowers and medicinal herbs. She loves to pick wild mushrooms and berries; Evelyn's basement is a testimony to her canning ability.
Evelyn is truly a credit to the community and always is willing to share her "special" gift with all.