I would like to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to Rep. John Ward for his part in retrieving a piece of my mother’s legacy. It is well known that the end of an era has come with the recent demolition of the former the Brainerd State Hospital. My mother, Georgia Sedahl, had the privilege of being in the first psychiatric technician class beginning her career there in 1960. She retired in 1986 with the title of volunteer coordinator/ public relations specialist. Mom was passionate about the purpose of the hospital and the care given to those with special needs. It was such an honor for our family when, in May of 1992, Building 4 became known as the Sedahl Center, recognizing her contributions to the residents of the facility and the community that it served. Mom, who passed away in January of 1991, would have been so humbled to receive this honor.
When I learned from my niece, Kari Brusseau, that Building 4 was to be demolished, I knew I had to find a way to acquire the plaque and photo of my mother located inside, as well as the Sedahl Center sign posted outside its entrance. Kari suggested that I might contact Rep. Ward for help. I found him on Facebook and wrote of my desire to retrieve these items. He responded immediately with a positive attitude of, “This can happen.” I was elated!
Within a few days he contacted me by phone to clarify my request. He and his assistants were able to secure the items, and had the plaques cleaned and repaired. Rep. Ward even had the photo of Mom replaced on the plaque, as the original had been damaged over the years. He was also able to have the Sedahl Center sign from outside the building removed and secured for me. I am so thankful to Rep. Ward for working in such a timely fashion, taking my request to heart, and making it real. I realize that it took several people to have this all come together, but none of it would have happened without Rep. Ward’s persistence. Once the items were obtained, he was quick to get them to my niece so they would be in our family’s hands before Thanksgiving Day. They are now in Duluth with me hanging in my memorial garden. These items mean more to me than I can express. Thank you, Rep. Ward, for rescuing what was once bound for the demolition pile, but are now priceless family treasures.
With deepest appreciation and gratitude,
Barbara Sedahl Eckenberg