Janet (Valine) Larson '46

Sara Jacobson

Janet began dating her husband, Elwood (Woody) at Minnehaha when she was in 11th grade, and he was in 10th, back in the 40’s. As she says, “that was it,” they were always together.They got married in ’51 and were married for 62 years, until Woody went home to be with the Lord in 2013. Woody always liked to joke that he had “married an older woman.” Janet says, “we grew up together and will be together again someday.”

Janet came to MA from the East Side of St. Paul, and Woody came from North Minneapolis. She took the streetcar with her friends and it took an hour every day to get to school. “It was a great place to do homework!” Because the school was just 9th-12th grade at the time, they got to know students from every class. Janet’s greatest memory of MA was being a part of Singers, under Prof. Robert N. Pearson. “I loved singing and it was such a wonderful experience!” In those days, MA Singers often sang for Sunday evening services at different Covenant churches. Woody was also in Singers, and he often took her home from events, even riding the streetcar an hour both ways before he was old enough to drive.

Spiritual Life in the 1940's

Janet was brought up in a very devout Christian home, and was active in the Evangelical Free Church. She met so many Christian friends at MA. “There was a real spiritual ‘happening’ at MA in my years, a real revival. Kids would get up in class and ask the teacher for permission to go to the chapel and pray. Or, kids would come into class and say tearfully, ‘I need to go and talk to someone.’ It was a very meaningful year and a lot of kids gave their hearts to Christ. The Lord was working.”

Life after MA

After high school, Janet enrolled in Nurse’s Training and graduated as an RN from Mounds Midway School of Nursing. She was able to stay home with their four children while they grew up, often working the night shift when Woody was home. In later years Janet was the Director of Nursing at Bethany Covenant Home for 10 years. She also supported Woody with his passion, the non-profit “Hospitality House Youth Development,” which is still growing today. Woody combined his interests: working with young people, sports, and the inner city, by founding the ministry out of the back of a station wagon, equipped with a few bats and balls. He aimed to draw kids who were interested in athletics and disciple them, ultimately hoping to lead kids to Christ. “Many kids Woody worked with have become active Christians in the world. That was a God thing,” Janet says. “Woody would always say, ‘it’s not me, God made it happen.’”

To The Students

What advice does Janet have for current students? “Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there. In school, with studying and tests, do your best. In the end, even if it seems like it’s too much work, it’s so important. It’s worth doing your best.”

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