Alma Irma Christensen “Lady of the Woods” passed away at age 99 on December 2, 2020 at Riverside Assisted Living in Pine River, MN. She was born on Easter, March 27, 1921 in a raging blizzard in Wilson Township, Cass County – just weeks after her parents came to America from Austria. She grew up on family farms in the Pequot/Pine River area.
With 7 younger siblings and the struggles of the Great Depression, her family couldn’t afford to send her to high school or college. But she was fiercely determined to get an education, saying “I just knew that if I stayed awake my dreams would come true.” She left home at 14, earning her room and board in town by washing milk bottles and helping with the children of her host family. Having started 1st grade speaking only German, she graduated from Pequot High School in 1939. Alma went on to complete teacher Normal Training and summer training at Bemidji State University. Starting at 19, she taught at Sunny Knoll, a one-room rural country school near Breezy Point from 1940 to 1942.
During WWII Alma moved to Rockford, IL with her sisters, supporting the war effort by building tips to tracer bullets in a munitions/ordinance plant. She married Elmer “Christy” Christensen on April 15, 1943 in Winnebago County, IL while he was on a week’s furlough from the U.S. Army Air Force. She followed him to different Air Force bases and ended up back at her parents’ home until the war ended. Together they raised 7 children in Pine River.
Throughout her life, Alma wore numerous hats: teacher, homemaker, artist, seamstress, historian, published author, avid gardener, self-taught botanist, wild edibles forager, traveler and adventurer. She was a proud member of the Kountry Kats Homemakers Club, crediting the U of MN Extension Services programs and presentations as her “college education.” She was a Cass County Fair Board member, judge, and longtime exhibitor at area county fairs, and won countless blue and grand champion ribbons on everything from paintings to chocolate cakes. Alma was a founding member of the Pine River Art Club and contributed many hours to the sewing circles of First Lutheran Church in Pine River.
For many people, Alma was best known as “Lady of the Woods.” Having learned to forage as a child to supplement the family dinner table, she steadily built an impressive knowledge of wild edibles. She became a sought-after presenter who taught classes for many organizations, Deep Portage Learning Center and the White Earth Wild Foods Summit. Being in the woods fed her soul.
Alma loved exploring the countryside and experiencing new things. After her children were raised, she enjoyed traveling throughout the U.S. and internationally. She took two trips to “the old country” Austria, and visited Canada, Mexico and even climbed waterfalls in Costa Rica. For many winters, she explored Arizona and the southwest or visited family on Kauai, HI. In later life, Walter Dix was a beloved companion and adventure partner.
Alma was preceded in death by parents Emanual “Emil” and Kreszentia (Sieber) Buschmann, husband Elmer, son Edwin, sister Irene (Barclay) Darden, and brothers Richard, Werner, Max and Harold Buschmann.
She is survived by children Rolland (Carol) Christensen, Linda Chantland, Lee Christensen, Carl Christensen, Arvid (Connie) Christensen, Donald (Bonnie) Christensen, brothers Rolland (Pat) Buschmann, Larry (Sandy) Buschmann, sister Norma Edwards, and many, many grand, great-grand, and great-great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
Condolences and remembrances can be shared at klinefuneralhome.com or mailed to PO Box 656, Pine River, MN 56474.