A Knowing Woman Dedication

Posted on September 13th, 2006 by

<I>A Knowing Woman</I>, a sculpture by Gloria Tew, was unveiled at Gustavus on Sept. 11. (Photo by Ashley Henningsgaard)

<I>A Knowing Woman</I>, a sculpture by Gloria Tew, was unveiled at Gustavus on Sept. 11. (Photo by Ashley Henningsgaard)

On Monday, Sept. 11, a new sculpture given to Gustavus Adolphus College by the children of Lloyd and Fran Engelsma was unveiled during ceremonies in the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library. The piece, titled A Knowing Woman, was created by sculptor Gloria Tew, who studied with Gustavus sculptor-in-residence Paul Granlund in the early 1970s, and is dedicated in memory of Fran Engelsma, one of the founding members of Gustavus Library Associates.

The Engelsma family had approached Tew shortly after Fran’s death in January 2003 about creating a sculpture that would capture the spirit and essence of their mother, a woman who stood graciously beside her entrepreneurial husband for decades—strong but gentle, committed but usually out of the limelight. Tew seemed to be just the artist to take on this project. She and Fran had attended Minneapolis’ Roosevelt High School together. (Gloria was the tiny cheerleader and Fran the statuesque salutatorian. Neither realized at the time how much they admired each other’s attributes and gifts.) The two were separated by different life experiences after high school but then were reunited in the early ’60s by a mutual friend and became close friends, sharing the same commitment to Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church, vacationing together, and staging elaborate gourmet dinners at each other’s homes. Gloria immersed herself in sculpture following the tragic death of her daughter in 1969; Fran immersed herself in supporting a college library although she was unable to attend college herself.

The sculpture Tew created depicts a woman who is reaching her hand out to people, inviting them to read and to learn. The woman’s head is tipped slightly to reflect a regret that a college experience was not available to her.

Tew was aware that Fran Engelsma was a Gustie at heart. Although she was the salutatorian of her high school class, Fran had been told from an early age that her family could not afford to send her to college and that she would be expected to work after high school and contribute rent money. She worked for a time at the First National Bank in Minneapolis but was soon “recruited” to work at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church with the Rev. Reuben Youngdahl. It was there that she became more thoroughly acquainted with Gustavus. She admired the Gustie spirit and the connections that ran so deep among the many graduates who were also members of Mt. Olivet. “My career at Mt. Olivet was my college education,” she would say.

It was very important to Fran that a college education be made available to her children, and of course an even greater dream that one of them would be a Gustie! Then, in 1977, she had the opportunity to participate in the creation of Gustavus Library Associates. It was a perfect fit for Fran, who was already an avid reader and adult learner and an “honorary” Gustie, and she jumped at the opportunity, becoming a leader in the organization’s formative years and contributing to its many successes.

A Knowing Woman stands in the library as a tribute to Fran Engelsma’s commitment and contributions to college education for generations of students and to the organization she helped found.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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