Anne Christopherson was a stickler for details. It's one of the many qualities that helped her serve both the Dana College and Blair communities.
“She was the ultimate hostess for Dana and the community,” former Blair Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Harriet Waite said. “When people came to the community, she was always willing to help make the event special.”
Christopherson, often called the “first lady” of Dana, died July 22 at Amery Hospital in Wisconsin. An Alzheimer's patient, she suffered a fall in the aftermath of a tornado at her family's cabin on Half Moon Lake, according to her obituary. She was 78.
When Myrv Christopherson became president of Dana College in 1986, his wife, Anne, was by his side, serving as director of special events. She extended her volunteerism to the community as well, serving as a board member at Good Shepherd Lutheran Home and the Memorial Community Hospital Foundation.
“Myrv and Anne reflected something of what was traditionally the role of a pastor and a pastor's wife,” former English professor and faculty chair John Mark Nielsen said. “Oftentimes, in a congregation, the wife is as involved as the pastor. That was Anne. She was just really involved in the life of the college.”
Anne was also the driving force behind the Sights and Sounds of Christmas, which drew hundreds of people to the campus each year.
“It was a huge event for our community,” Waite said. “It brought people in from all over the Midwest for that event. She was just a stickler for every detail being perfect because she wanted it to be great for Dana and great for Blair.”
Though the Scandinavian-themed festival, which featured music from Dana's band and choirs and a smorgasbord, was already established prior to Myrv and Anne's arrival, “she really worked to grow it and to be certain it was a festival, not only for the college, but it showcased the college's talents,” Nielsen said. “She really pushed that.”
And she pulled if off “with flair,” Dana College Foundation President Bob Coffey said.
“She just had a knack for getting things right and making sure the events pulled off without a hitch,” he said. “All the details were covered. She was so good at that kind of thing.”
In 2004, Anne and Myrv were honored with the Blair Area Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award for their roles at Dana and in Blair.
“As a couple, they went to everything in the community,” Waite said. “They supported all of the Chamber events. They supported all of the businesses after hours. They were always visible and part of the community when they were (on campus).”
Former Dana art professor Milt Heinrich said he appreciated Anne's “stately and professional manner.”
“She was comfortable with all groups. She carried herself well and spoke well and spoke easily with everybody from Danish dignitaries down to the maintenance staff,” he said. “On campus, I think both Myrv and Anne, had quite a bit to do with recognizing the talents of everybody no matter what their position was at the college.”
“To her, everybody was important and worthy of being treated nicely,” he said.
Kori (Williamsen) Archbold, a 2006 Dana College graduate, remembered Anne as a smiling face on campus.
“She was like the grandma of Dana and I remember going to Europe with her and the Dana chorale,” Archbold said. “She was such a joy and loved being around us students and I believe that’s what kept her young!”
Anne's smile and infectious laugh were among the memories members of the Dana community will long remember about her.
“She always was such a positive spirit, so friendly and warm and she just had a great, welcoming smile,” Waite said.
Myrv Christopherson was a bit of a jokester, which Nielsen said Anne appreciated and often laughed at his antics.
In one such instance, Myrv began teasing art professor F.W. Thomsen's wife, Orpa, during an opening banquet at the college.
“People were just in tears laughing and you could hear Anne's laughter above it all,” he said.
Anne is survived by her husband and children, Kirsten (John) of Gibsonia, Pa., Berit (Aaron) of Middleton, Wis., Bjorn of Decorah, Iowa, Nisse of Des Moines; sister, Ingrid (Gary) Wynveen; sister-in-law, Norma Marking; brother-in-law, Stan Sollie; and four grandchildren, Aleide Achenbach, Espen Achenbach, Torben Clark and Else Achenbach.