Harryette Bondesson

Honored by:Gail Snodgrass
Brick location:F:8  map

At the age of 63, my Mother Harryette Bondesson rode her spirited Arabian horse, Star Samurai, across the state of Nebraska as a part of Omaha's River City Round Up celebration. Not realizing Harryette broke and trained the magnificent animal herself, some sage cowhands who were along the trail ride didn’t think she would be able to handle such a horse and offered to switch animals. She proved them wrong and they became fast friends and she consistently is asked to go on extended trail rides with "the boys".

This epitomizes my Mother. She's strong and strong willed, never one to go along with the crowd. She has always done what she felt to be right for her, regardless of social norms or pressures. As a child during World War II, she requested toy guns for Christmas instead of dolls. As an adult, her idea of a great Mother's Day gift was a mushroom hunt in the woods or a fishing excursion.

Harryette is a free spirited and independent person who has always been a modern thinker. Her father died two weeks before she was born. There was a timeperiod when her mother could not afford to care for her and her next eldest sister, and they were boarded at the Masonic Home in Fremont, Nebraska for 5 years. At the age of 11, she lost her only brother in WW II. Regardless of the trying times of her childhood, she is very comfortable with herself yet adventurous, not wanting yet motivated, sensible yet fearless.  Though she did not seek a formal education, she apprenticed to a graphic designer in Omaha. She then worked in the Brandeis Advertising Department and then at the phone company.

In 1953 she married Glenn W. Bondesson, 17 years her senior, and in 1958 their only son Jeff was born. In 1961 I was born, and we moved from Omaha, Nebraska to Des Moines, Iowa. Feeling the need to be a more influential guide to her children, she did a variety freelance work out of her home from 1966 to 1979. Once Jeff went away to college to become a doctor and I went to ISU to become a graphic designer, Harryette resumed her career in creative design and advertising. She started with a Des Moines printing company and moved to Ardan Stores as the Advertising Art Director. She was then hired away to Omaha as the Art Director for Brandeis Department Stores. Undaunted by the closing of Brandeis, Harryette (then 55) and two co-workers formed a partnership and opened their own design studio where I had the opportunity to work with her.

Working with Harryette, I realized she was my career mentor and probably always had been. A pivotal moment in my childhood was receiving a grade in my first art class. I ran all the way home clutching my report card, afraid to open it, I handed the envelope to my Mom. She peered inside smiled broadly, swooped me up in her arms and called me her "little artist". From then on I knew I wanted to become what was then called a Commercial Artist.

Harryette tried to instill in me the values she held dear, like honesty and integrity, loyalty, tolerance without pretense or prejudice. She raised me to be an independent thinker, such as herself, and to trust my instincts and common sense. Her larger than life sense of humor showed me how important it is to laugh and enjoy life. If I someday have a daughter, I hope that we can have as close a relationship as Harryette and I do. She is more than my Mother. She is my mentor and my best friend.