~Memories of the life of teacher, Anna Rylaarsdam, as told by her son, Ed Lotterman. Ed also includes detail about the life of Anna's sister, who also taught school.
My mother Anna M. Rylaarsdam graduated from NW Academy in 1932 and NW College in 1934 (if I am not mistaken). She was a contemporary of Morris Te Paske, later mayor of Sioux Center. She started teaching in Holland Twp #4 in the fall of 1934 and taught there for a few years before moving to Bellflower, California. She was, by the way, a very close friend of her teacher, Miss Margaret Blackburn, whose drowning death along with several NWC students at Lake Okoboji, was a major event in Sioux County history.
During her time in Sioux County, she boarded during the week with the Arie Smits family. Mom became a good friend of their daughter Marge Smits, later married to a man named Otter in MN, then to Bert Jacobsma after Otter died and then to Art Pater of Pipestone, MN. One of Marge’s children, a son, lives in a St. Paul suburb.
Mom was from Chandler, Minnesota. Her older brother Coert Rylaarsdam also attended NW College before going on to Hope College, as did her younger sister Jeanette, usually called Jetts. Jetts graduated in 1940. She roomed for most of her student days with Bill and Grace (Reinders) Schalekamp in OC. Bill ran the hatchery and an egg business. Coert went on to Hope, then New Brunswick Seminary and eventually got a Ph.D. and taught in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago for decades. He died in about 1998.
Jetts went on to finish her BA at Hope, taught a year in Traverse City, MI, was commissioned as a Navy Officer and served in the U.S. Navy Communications Annex in Washington D.C. that passed intercepted enemy radio messages on to the code breakers at Arlington Hall Station. She later got an MA and taught in the Grand Rapids schools for 2+ years. She was active in the RCA, was a delegate to General Synod more than once and served on an RCA delegation of election observers in South Africa when Nelson Mandela was elected in the 1990s.
Mom taught at Bellflower Christian School for a few years, then worked for Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach building B-17 bombers (a Boeing design but Douglas built as a contractor). Then she also joined the Navy and was a corpsman (essentially a nurses’ aide) in a Navy tuberculosis hospital in Corona CA. She married our father, Dorius E. Lotterman in Grand Rapids in 1947 and moved back to Minnesota after his death in 1950. She farmed west of Chandler and, I have been told, was the first woman to secure a loan from the Federal Land Bank in MN in her own status as a farmer and not as the widow of a farmer. When she first applied in the spring of 1958, she was told, “Mrs. Lotterman, our policy is that we simply don’t make loans to women.” I tell that story frequently in my work as an economist. She was an early feminist and broke a path for women in many aspects of small town Dutch immigrant culture.