Lois Glewwe was known for sharing — her time, her opinions and her wealth of knowledge about local history, which leapt from the pages of the books, blogs and social media posts she wrote.
"I've heard that when people like Lois die, it's like burning a library," said South St. Paul Mayor Jimmy Francis, whose family has known Glewwe's for a century.
Glewwe, a South St. Paul author, storyteller and archivist, died Feb. 16 after an accident at home. She was 72.
Lois Anne Glewwe was born to Ethel and Reuben Glewwe in 1950, the baby of the family by 18 years; siblings Elva and Rollin were young adults when she arrived. Her father owned a car dealership and worked for Minnesota's highway department while her mother stayed home, often caring for foster children.
Glewwe was like a cousin to niece LouAnn Goossens, who remembers playing dress up with her in the backyard as a child and listening to the Four Seasons croon "Big Girls Don't Cry" on Glewwe's very own record player.
Glewwe attended the University of Minnesota, where she studied Indian art history. She then received her masters degree in southeast Asian art at the University of Pennsylvania and moved to India. After a year, she came home with a nose piercing and a penchant for donning saris, which fascinated Goossens.
"She was like a magnet — you wanted to talk to her," Goossens said.
She returned home in 1985 to care for her parents, who died in 1986. For the next decade, she worked a series of nonprofit jobs in and around St. Paul, several of them high-profile.
She soon got a job coordinating South St. Paul's centennial celebration in 1987. Goossens recalled Glewwe's idea to hold monthly events rather than just one party. The New Year's Eve costume ball at the Lawshe Museum was a highlight.
"She was just a force," Goossens said. "[She was] funny and had a lot of stories."
Goossens said she pictures Glewwe carrying a huge purse and sporting glasses, a chunky necklace and red lipstick, a glass of wine in hand.
Glewwe served as communications director for the St. Paul Winter Carnival, as a South St. Paul City Council member and as executive director of the Dakota County Historical Society.
Glewwe hailed from a political family and Goossens recalled working on family members' campaigns with her aunt. Glewwe herself once ran for the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Matt Carter, executive director of the Dakota County Historical Society, recalled watching a presentation Glewwe gave to an after-school group on South St. Paul's important place in the women's suffrage movement — the city was likely the first place women voted after the 19th Amendment passed.
That day, Glewwe was in her element, Carter said, and as always, knew the "very small, minute details" of the city's colorful past.
Glewwe wrote seven books, including a 1987 history of South St. Paul, a 1989 history of West St. Paul and a book about Inver Grove Heights published in 1990.
In 2016, "South St. Paul: A Brief History" was published.
"That's one we always make sure we have in stock," Carter said.
Glewwe, who retired in 2014 to research history, loved animals, including her many cats, and stayed active at the First Presbyterian Church of South St. Paul.
Glewwe was preceded in death by her parents and brother. She is survived by her sister, dozens of nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, and dozens of great-greats, along with many cousins and friends. Services have been held.