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Narvestad's Legacy will be Remembered

By Kathy Velde Staff writer
Published in the Granite Falls Advocate Tribute, Thursday, November 6, 2008 4:50 PM CST

Carl and Amy Narvestad's love of life is a legacy that will carry the community of Granite Falls into the 21st century.

News spread quickly last week when Amy Narvestad's son Marcus Reinertson shared the news that Carl and Amy had given a sizable portion of their estate to benefit the people in and around Granite Falls.

"The estate distribution came to a little over $600,000,” said Reinertson. The legal documents show that bequests are being given to The Granite Falls Lutheran Church Endowment Fund; the Vestre Sogn Chapel Cemetery of Wang Township; the Granite Falls Airport; the Granite Falls Library Trust; Minnesota West Scholarship Fund to Yellow Medicine East Dollars for Scholars.

"Yellow Medicine East Dollars for Scholars has received notice that it has been named as one of the Amy Narvestad Estate beneficiaries," said Les Bergquist, president of the organization. "This generous bequest will benefit Yellow Medicine East High School graduating seniors for many years to come. Thanks are extended to Marcus Reinertson and the entire Narvestad family for benefiting Yellow Medicine East Dollars for Scholars as well as other Granite Falls community organizations. Carl and Amy Narvestad were very civic oriented individuals and were always working to make our community a better place to live. Their legacy will long be remembered," said Bergquist.

It is said that the imprint they leave behind can measure the sum of a person's life. The generosity of the Narvestads has left a huge imprint on the community and will benefit the lives of the people in the community for a long, long time

"They believed that a community needs education so the town doesn't dry up," said Reinertson. "Carl believed that the agricultural income that had been lost in the area needed to be replaced with more dynamic industries that would carry the city into the future."

The past to the future

The role that the Narvestads played in the preservation of the history of the area is well known. In 1972 the couple wrote “The History of Yellow Medicine County” and in 1979 wrote “The History of Granite Falls” and “in 1992, A Century oif Light -A history of the Granite Falls Municipal Electric Utility.” Carl wrote the 75-year history of Valdres Samband in 1974, while Amy completed her last major work, “Letters to Kathleen” in 2001.

During their lifetime they were honored many times. King Olaf of Norway presented Carl the Saint Olav Medal in 1990. When speaking with this reporter about the medal, Amy's voice revealed her sense of pride when she shared, "If we lived in Norway the people would call him ‘Sir Karl." The medal is being donated to the community. Carl was awarded the medal in recognition of outstanding services rendered in connection with the spreading of information about Norway abroad and for strengthening the bonds between expatriate Norwegians and their home country. "One time when Carl and I were in Norway, I was speaking to a woman who considered herself an expert in Norwegian dialects. She pointed out Carl to me and told me what region of Norway he lived in. I explained that Carl was from Granite Falls, Minnesota and she was off like a flash and cornered Carl for the rest of the night," shared Reinertson. Carl's knowledge of the language and his ability to speak allowed him to translate Norwegian into English. "He spoke a pure dialect from the 1860s and was often asked to speak on the radio when he traveled to Norway," he said.

When he was a child, Carl had two passions - flying and photography. Reinertson explained that one day a plane made a forced landing on the Narvestad farm. "Carl grabbed his camera and took a picture of the plane. He was able to touch the plane and talk to the pilot -from then on he had a love of flying and wanted to be a pilot when he grew up," said Reinertson. But by age 8 Carl had contracted polio and he realized his dream of becoming a pilot would be unfulfilled. "He never lost his love of flying - and knew that if Granite Falls was going to prosper it needed an airport," explained Reinertson.

While Carl's passion was flying, Amy's passion was books. "Books were her children," said Amy's son. When we moved to Sacred Heart she had a personal library of over a 1,000 books. Her library took up a whole room upstairs. She had me signed up in the junior book of the month club when I was very young. She couldn't throw away a single book - she'd say, ‘You can't give away your kids'. Mom bemoaned the fact that kids sat in front of the T.V. She wanted to get kids interested in reading -kids to appreciate the joy of reading. Through the donation to the library, our family hopes that more kids will get an opportunity to get interested in books," he said.

Both Karl and Amy were faithful members of the Granite Falls Lutheran Church. Karl, his father and grandfather were supporters of the little chapel - Vestre Sogn, which stands on a plot from the farm that Karl's grandfather Christen Narvestad pioneered in 1867. "I had to tell them, at the chapel, that they should cash in some bonds to repair the roof of the chapel before the details of the will were made public. When I told them they were getting a sizable bequest - there was no sound on the other end of the line - I thought I'd lost the connection," said Reinertson.

When asked if Reinertson and his sister Kristina Swanson of Willmar were disappointed that 45 percent of the estate was left to the people in the community of Granite Falls he said, "If I had been busting my back on the farm all these years, sure I would have been upset, but I was in college when Mom married Carl and Kris was in high school. We feel we didn't have a claim on anything. Mom used to say that Karl did it all - he did it all with 160 acres and one leg." Reinertson concluded by saying that he was having fun - enjoying being in town and giving the money away. Money that will carry Carl and Amy's legacy - their desire to see Granite Falls grow into the 21st century.


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