Resident using  tablet  at Vista Prairie at Ridgeway in New Ulm, Minnesota

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A Labor of Love

As another Octoberfest winds down in New Ulm, MN, Janice is reliving loving memories in this picturesque community along the Minnesota River. More recently, Janice has joined another community, Vista Prairie at Ridgeway on 23rd.

At 83, Janice moved into Ridgeway on 23rd about a month ago. It was getting harder to do things for herself she says. She lost her husband Paul 17 years ago, after 42 years of marriage. He was deeply involved in the German-Bohemian Heritage Society, which he headed for 15 years. Paul’s passion, following his retirement from Kraft Foods, was to publish the dictionary that Janice is holding, to help preserve the unique German-Bohemian language dialect. They both sang with the German-Bohemian singers (pictured on the book jacket) -- Octoberfest favorites.

As Paul’s health failed, Janice promised to finish the work on the dictionary, which she did, three years after his death. “He did not want that language to die,” Janice explains. “When his family immigrated to the U.S. and settled in New Ulm, that’s the language they spoke.”

Paul also played a key role in erecting a monument in German Park to honor immigrants from the area, known at the time as Bohemia, now the western Czech Republic. Click here to see a photo of the German Bohemian Heritage Monument. A plaque at the site honors Paul’s role and includes this quote from him, “Already as a young man I recognized the uniqueness about this culture,” reads the inscription. “Belonging to this organization has taught me just how unique and special it is. This makes my job not one of labor, but rather one of love.”

And now Janice has contributed her labor of love, making sure that Paul’s native language and his memory is honored in their family, and in New Ulm.

Vista Prairie at Ridgeway on 23rd offers 48 assisted living apartments and 13 memory care suites. Its sister Vista Prairie community, Ridgeway on German welcomes residents in 44 assisted living apartments and 11 memory care suites. Call Kyla Franta at 507-354-7400 to learn more about both Ridgeway locations. Kyla has served Ridgeway for 18 years. She’ll be happy to give you a tour.

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