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Evelyn (Klaus) Shursen

Evelyn Shursen welcomed Estonian Charge d\\\' Affaires Rasmus Lumi at a reception in Red Deer in Fall, 2007. I was born at Stettler Alberta in 1939, the eldest child of Paul and Agnes Klaus (nee Skarra). My fraternal grandfather, Juri Klaus came to Canada from Estonia in 1902. Grandfather wore out a pair of leather shoes searching for the right homestead. Upon finding that place, 10 miles south of Stettler, my Grandmother, Maria, came from Estonia to join him. My Dad was born here. My mother, the daughter of Jack and Mary Skarra was born in Saskatchewan. My parents married and lived in the same yard as my fraternal grandparents. During my childhood years my grandparents told my siblings, sister, Letty, two brothers, Roy and George many stories about their lives in Estonia and their reasons for leaving the home land. My early education was in one-room schools; I attended Junior High and High School in Stettler. It was during my school years that I determined that being a teacher was what I would do as my career and following graduation from Stettler High School I completed my education at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. It was also during my school years my parents provided me the opportunity of piano and singing lessons, which I continue to utilize today. My first teaching position was in Red Deer, Alberta but after one year I moved back to the Stettler area and taught at Stettler Junior High School for 35 years, retiring in 1994.

I married Elmer Shursen in July 1962. We lived in the Linda Hall area south of Stettler running a mixed farm. Following Elmer's sudden death in 1995 I decided to try my hand at raising sheep, at one time having a flock of 700 animals. In 2007 I realized that getting up every few hours during lambing, etc., was not something I enjoyed any longer and made the decision to sell my flock.

Community Affairs has long been an avid interest of mine and I continue to be an active participant. I have, over the years, been actively involved in various School Councils; Social Studies, Language Arts, and Choral to name a few. My music and singing continue to play an important role in my life; I am, and have been for many years, the Choir Director for Stettler United Church. I have had the pleasure of participating in many local community productions and leading a number of local choirs, young and old alike. In 1983 I, along with a long-time friend, was named Stettlers' Citizen of the Year and in 1995 I was the recognized by the County of Stettler for my involvement in Cultural Arts. I am an avid gardener; enjoying working with the soil and sharing the beauty of my flowers and fruits of my labor with family and friends. My one-time passion of growing orchids is no longer viable but my love for the plant has never diminished.

My relationship with my grandparents, while a youngster, sparked my interest in Estonia, and living in an Estonian community provides me the opportunity to celebrate the Estonian culture. The museum in Stettler provides its visitors with a very real insight into the Estonian culture as well, a culture and community I am ever so proud to be a part of.

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