Mathilda Grace Rasmusson

Honored by:Nancy Sebring
Brick location:G:21  map

Mathilda Grace (Meyer) Rasmusson
Born: October 21, 1918; Grundy County, Iowa
Died: Jan. 31 1986; Story County, Iowa

Mathilda Grace Meyer was born in Grundy County, Iowa on October 21, 1918, the first of five children born to Harm J and Rachel Meyer. A descendent of German immigrants, Mathilda and her younger brothers learned the value of hard work, the value of a dollar, and the appreciation of strong will and determination which would serve her well in later life.

Following graduation from Wellsburg High School, Mathilda attended Iowa Teachers College in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Soon she was employed as an elementary school teacher. Her teaching career took her to McCallsburg, Iowa, a small town in rural Story County and she met a young farmer, Harry Rasmusson. Although their relationship was interrupted by WW II, they married following Harry's return from the European Theater. For the next 40 years, they would make their life on a farm in Story County. Mathilda kept busy raising four children: Linda Rae, James Lee, and twin daughters, Nancy Ann and Nina Kay. She also sewed, gardened, substitute taught and stayed busy in Methodist church activities.

Four children meant cooking hundreds of hot meals, washing hundreds of pounds of laundry, sewing miles of stitches, and chauffeuring thousands of miles. She never missed any of children's school or church activities, and was an active volunteer for many school and church-related events. Mathilda's trademarks, well known to family and friends, were her delicious home baked breads and rolls and "family reunion" cherry pie.

Education was a priority in the Rasmusson household, and Mathilda made sure that each of her children would have the opportunity to attend college and pursue a career. All four children graduated from Iowa State University; the girls with teaching degrees and Jim with a degree in agricultural science. Since that time, Linda, Nancy, and Nina have followed in their mother's footsteps as teachers and Jim has made a home on the farm in which they were raised.

During the children's teenage years, Mathilda developed breast cancer which she courageously battled for the next twenty years of her life. In January, 1986, Mathilda died from the disease after a long and painful treatment period. Throughout her illness, she never gave up, never complained, and remained optimistic about the future and interested in her family and friends.

Stephen Crane defined a hero as an ordinary person faced with extraordinary circumstances. Mathilda Meyer Rasmusson lived an "ordinary" life as wife, mother, friend, and neighbor. She became a heroine when she lived that ordinary life in the face of extraordinarily difficult circumstances. She provided her family and friends with a living example of courage and for that is deserving of membership in the Iowa State University "Plaza of Heroines".

Submitted on 6/4/95