"In honor of her wisdom, love, strength and compassion" I'm delighted to have the opportunity to include my mother's name in the Plaza of Heroines and by doing so to participate in honoring her as well as Carrie Chapman Catt. Including my mother in this incredible group of women who have had such an impact on people is especially appropriate because of the tremendous influence she had on the people whose lives she has touched as a teacher.
My mother was born near St. Paul, Iowa in 1925. The first of ten children she lost her father prematurely to cancer and grew up quickly like many farm kids. The Holtkamps moved to Hampton and later near Williams where the family has farmed for more than 50 years. In addition to being active in school and sports activities she of course helped on the farm. She enjoyed playing basketball at Williams High School and began teaching school herself immediately after graduating from high school. She went to college at the same time she taught school taking classes on Saturdays and during the summer and earned her Bachelors and Masters degrees from Drake.
She married Keith Devere Larson from Jewell, Iowa and they had four children: Cynthia, Jan, Alan and Randy. My mother taught school in Ames for more than 15 years. Altogether she taught school for 37 years. She was a wonderful teacher always taking time for the individual and taught with grace and humor as well as great patience.
It is particularly appropriate that her name be included here at Old Botany because she loves the plant life and beauty of the Iowa landscape. She always enjoyed teaching science. As a family we often explored prairies or wooded areas. She intrigued us as young children with discoveries of Jack-in-the-Pulpits and taught us that everything on earth is interrelated. I always thought it was her interest in the outdoors that caused our father an avid outdoorsman to pursue his Ph.D. in ecology which he received from Iowa State University.
While my father greatly enjoyed hunting and fishing it was my mother's love of the outdoors that combined education about plant life and wildlife and ecology with the joy of picking wild raspberries and gooseberries. Mom taught for several years in Minnesota when my father retired. They moved north to live in the lake country and she continued to teach there for awhile after his death. Anxious to be near family and old friends she returned to Ames (we hope for good) in 1991 to become house mother at the Kappa Delta House on Sunset Drive.
Just as she influenced hundreds of her students with her calm and tolerant manner I believe she now is a wonderful example to the women of Kappa Delta. She is unfailingly compassionate and the strongest and most honest person I know. No description of her would be complete without mentioning how hard she works - she never seems to get tired! Her life has been greatly blessed and strengthened by her lifelong faith as a Catholic and by her own mother Johanna. Her wisdom and capacity to love will never be forgotten.
I'm particularly pleased to add my mother's name in honor of Carrie Chapman Catt because Mom has always been politically aware. Although she cares deeply about many issues nothing is quite as important to her as believing in a person's honesty and character and feeling that he or she cared most about justice fair play and full opportunities for everyone.
Thank you for this opportunity to add her name to the Plaza of Heroines. Many people will see it and remember warmly the impact she had on their lives.
-Randy Larson, Jan Larson Rayburn, Cynthia Larson Anderson, and Alan Larson.
Larson- In Honor
Of Her Wisdom,