According to the children of Verna Gerdes, their mother is “tops” in their family Hall of Fame, and that she certainly exemplifies the “Best in Winona County” to be named to the fair Hall of Fame.
Verna (Bolduan) Gerdes grew upon a farm on Peacock Ridge near Caledonia, the 4th child in the family. In 1948 she married Gordon Gerdes and in 1954 the couple moved to their own farm in Pleasant Hill Township in Winona County. On that Dakota, MN farm the couple raised 8 children and the family has grown to 31 grandchildren, 53 great-grandchildren and 9 great-great grandchildren and another on the way. In raising their children Gordon and Verna always made sure each one had a job to do on the farm.
“Our parents worked hard nurturing our family and the farm successfully… we were taught that everyone was needed and important no matter how small or great the job,” stated daughter Joan Horst.
Verna began her 4-H career as a member of the East Union Strutters 4-H Club in Houston County. She and sister Marcile won Grand Champion at the Minnesota State Fair for a demonstration on how to clean and adjust a sewing machine in the mid 1940’s.
In the early 1960’s due to Verna’s knowledge and love of 4H, she encouraged and mentored all eight of her children in 4-H through the Pleasant Busy Bees 4-H Club. Projects ranged from dairy cattle, vegetable gardening, flower gardening, sewing, food, Arts and Crafts, and Share the Fun. She encouraged each one in filling out their 4-H records, completing their projects, demonstrations, and entering the Winona County Fair Competition. Verna enjoyed being an assistant to the Winona County Fair judges in both the 4-H and Open Class areas once her children were grown.
In the Ridgeway Community, Verna is an active member of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church and has been part of both the ladies aide and the choir. Verna continues to be a member of the local Homemakers group. Gordon and Verna supported the Township Board when Ridgeway Days was started and worked every year until retiring helping to raise funds for the event.
Even into her 90’s Verna still supports her grandchildren and great grandchildren by attending school activities. At times she babysits her great-grandchildren and shares her knowledge with them
When asked why she lives in Winona County, Verna’s reply is that her area of the county is the “prettiest and God’s country”.