My 1st grade teacher at Mississippi Elementary School back in 1977 was Mrs. Noni (Ramona) Bjornstad, who I learned passed away in early 2013.
Certainly one of the most influential people in my formitive years, Mrs. Bjornstad saw abilities in her kids, whether it be reading, drawing, or any special talent, and pushed for those children to be recognized. The self-confidence I received as a part of being in her class went miles with me, as I grew older, and I think all children should be given this kind of support, in all areas of their lives. But more importantly, when I was ill at home in 1980 and missed almost the entire 4th grade year, Mrs. Bjornstad took the time to tutor me from home, and I was able to keep up with the rest of the class and not have to be held back.
I would go back to visit Mrs. Bjornstad over the next few years, but as I got older, of course, the visits stopped. I hadn't spoken with her in over 20 years, and just recently learned that she had previously owned the same home that my wife and I bought in 1997 when we got married. I would have loved to have shared that with her, or visited with her one more time, to let her know that all of her hard work and time was so very much appreciated.
Her "life celebration" which I was unaware of, was right up the road from my home, and I wish I could have gone. Apparently she and her husband were foster parents to thousands of children over the course of their lives, and that speaks volumes for what kind of person she was. Kind, giving, and definitely worth remembering. Thanks for everything, Mrs. B.