Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Profile: Velma Isley

This is a memory of Margaret Matthew Patzer about the St. Vincent Fair around 1928. Margaret is referring to Velma McCrystal Isely who was a great teacher and a wonderful person. Velma Isely was the Mother of John (Class of '63) and Elizabeth (Class of '57). She was a woman of great intelligence and compassion. I remember her silencing a group of bullies harrassing a mentally retarded girl with her great moral compass. I think I learned so much about social justice when she stood up for the weak and oppressed that summer day in 1957. I think that I was so impressed by Velma Isely's strong sense of ethics and she was a profile in courage. I have tried always to follow her example in being an advocate for the consumer in my work in law.

- Michael L. Rustad
My cousin transported my pet lamb along with some of his animals to the St. Vincent Fair. The afternoon I was to show my lamb, I convinced a friend to skip afternoon school with me and find a ride to St. Vincent so I could show my lamb. As we entered the gate Velma the lady in charge of registration and who knew me asked what I was doing there on a school day. When I said "to show my lamb" she said it was not registered so she registered it immediately. When it was time for me to show my pet lamb I found us moving closer to the front and finally in first place! I had won a trip to the St. Paul State Fair. When I left later that year my dad emptied his wallet to give me money to help buy food while there (this was about 1933 at the peak of depression) and I felt badly that he had to give me the only money he had.

- Margaret Matthew Patzer
Mrs. Isley was the wife to the agent at the depot in Noyes where my Dad worked. She was also my Kindergarten teacher.

The things I remember about Kindergarten are:

- Mrs. Isley singing Button Up Your Overcoat and encouraging us to sing along

- Learning the letter U's "short" sound - she taught us by using the example of what happened when you tried to lift a bucket full of sand - "...ugh" She had me demonstrate it in front of the class.