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ISSUE 121 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/12/2007

Memorial adds chime

By Elizabeth Mitchell
Associate Editor

Friday, October 12, 2007

The St. Olaf Memorial Tower, a familiar monument on campus, will soon add a new wind chime. The tower memorializes students who have died while at St. Olaf. Following Chapel on Friday, Oct. 12th, a chime for Ruth L. Norvold, St. Olaf class of 1925, will be officially added to the memorial tower. First dedicated Sept. 28, 2003, it originally had 109 names. Ruth Norvold's chime will be number 115.

Norvold, who died in 1922, was a member of the class of 1925, but her death was undiscovered until this September. Associate College Archivist Jeff Sauve said, "I became aware of Ruth's story when her niece, Sue Aho, contacted the Archives about donating a collected genealogy for the Norwegian-American Historical Association, an organization for which I also serve as an archivist. Ruth Norvold was mentioned in passing as having attended St. Olaf before her death."

When Sauve discovered that Norvold was not already on the wind chime list, he decided that she should be added.

Norvold died the summer before her sophomore year while trying to rescue another girl from drowning. The girl was swimming in Lake Oakwood in her hometown of Volga, South Dakota.

Jeff Sauve commented that cases like Norvold's, in which the student's death is unknown for a long time, can happen. "Most people don't realize that a student death doesn't always get press. If a student dies over break or during summer vacation, who reports it? The college never kept a running log of students that passed away so . . . as you can imagine it takes some research to identify students that might qualify for a wind chime."

His comment echoes a warning he gave in the program of the monument's original dedication ceremony: "As of this day of dedication, 109 names have been placed on the list. We hope that none are missing, but research continues with the help of family and friends."

The chime tower was built in August of 2003. "A dozen St. Olaf faculty and staff members who knew nothing about timber frame construction spent eight memorable days at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minn.," Sauve said. Generous contributions from the St. Olaf Student Government Association, Boldt Construction, as well as from the family of the late St. Olaf Professor William H.L. Narum supported the project. Two good-hearted timber-frame instructors at North House directed it."

Sauve believes many on campus are attached to the memorial. "Originally some members of the community were not so certain with this monument in the middle of campus. After several years now, I see the monument as a central piece and valued by the majority of the campus. In fact, I would say it is integral to the campus setting."

Guests at Norvold's chime dedication will include her niece, Sue Aho, who brought her death to the attention of the school archive, and other relatives from Washington, New York and Wisconsin.

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