Alton Benjamin Carlson, 95Published 9:31am Friday, November 30, 2012 Updated 11:39am Friday, November 30, 2012
Alton was born Aug. 6, 1917, in Wheaton, to Walter and Phoebe Carlson. His mother, Phoebe, died in 1918 from the Pandemic Flu that swept the Midwest.
Alton was raised by his maternal grandparents, Olof and Ulricka Larson, on the family farm in Wheaton.
He was an only child, but had several aunts, uncles and cousins who were like older siblings.
Alton attended School District 53 through the eighth grade. He rode his horse, Bolly, to school in the mornings and then sent her way home once he got to school.
At the end of the day, he and his cousin, Elaine would walk home, pausing to check out the gopher holes and ravines on the western prairie.
Alton was confirmed on May 17, 1931, at the Swedish Mission Church in Wheaton. When his grandparents passed away, he went to live with his father and his stepmother, Mabel, in Dassel. He attended high school in Dassel and graduated in 1935.
After high school, he worked at Rice Laboratories in Dassel, a company that made a livestock yeast supplement, for the pay of $1 per day. He decided to stay at Rice Laboratories for the next year when the pay went up to $10 per week.
The following year, Alton enrolled at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul and earned his bachelor’s degree as an agricultural instructor, graduating in January 1941. Alton’s first teaching job was in Garden City, where he met his future wife, Wilma Anderson.
He moved to St. Charles in July of 1941, and taught at St. Charles for three and one-half years. The emphasis of his teaching was on better and larger crop production in order to feed the troops and all those who were helping with the World War II effort.
On June 1, 1944, Alton and Wilma were married in Garden City, MN. On July 1, 1944, Alton received his Navy Officer Commission and reported to the naval station in Plattsburg, New York. In August of the same year, he received orders to report to San Francisco and then to the Hawaiian Islands.
Alton participated in the World War II battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa as a Lieutenant JG on a LCI-M that was part of a mortar flotilla. Alton witnessed the raising of the American flag on the top of Mt. Suribachi.
Once the flag was raised, the men on the boats and ships of his flotilla knew that the initial battle at Iwo Jima had been successful.
Alton was honorably discharged from the Navy on April 1, 1946, and returned home to Minnesota, where he was offered a teaching job in Winona. Daughters Virginia and Linda were born to Alton and Wilma in Winona where they lived in a Quonset house, built by the government for returning veterans.
Alton and Wilma moved to Alexandria in October of 1949, when Alton began teaching adult agriculture classes in Alexandria on the GI bill.
There were seven Ag teachers in the district at that time. Alton and Wilma purchased their farm near Alexandria and their son, James and daughter, Laurie were both born in Alexandria.
In 1956, Alton began teaching agriculture in Battle Lake. In addition, he became the FFA Advisor and influenced many young men in the area of agriculture, nutrition and conservation.
He sent numerous teams to state competition in FFA events and in 1973 his Horticulture team placed first in state competition and competed in the National FFA competition. He taught in Battle Lake for 23 years and retired from teaching in 1979.
Although Alton retired from teaching, he did not retire from agriculture, and spent the next two decades raising sheep and crops on his 120 acre farm near Alexandria.
He also took care of his apple orchard, raspberries and huge gardens. Every July, he made raspberry jam to sell at the annual bazaar at the First Congregational Church in Alexandria.
He also donated a 70-pound squash as a “prize” for a Booya Feed at the church. He gave away bushels of apples to friends and neighbors and always raised pumpkins for the grandchildren’s jack o’lanterns.
Alton loved his farm and the outdoors and often stood on top of the highest hill to survey his surroundings. His father-in-law once told him that there is only so much land on the earth and to own a small piece of it was a treasure indeed. Alton agreed.
After Alton retired, he could not give up teaching entirely and for awhile taught Swedish classes through Alexandria Community Education.
His grandchildren loved to hear him give Swedish grace at the table on special holidays. He also taught a number of students how to read through the Alexandria Literacy Project and took the students on local field trips to give them broader experiences.
Alton was a member of the First Congregational Church of Alexandria, where he held several different positions on the church council. He was also a member of the church dart team and competed in many dart competitions with other churches.
Alton was a man of few words, but when he spoke, people stopped to listen. He had great love for his wife Wilma and they celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary on June 1, 2012.
He had great love for his children and grandchildren. He had great love for his country, his farm and his fellow man. He was always interested in people’s backgrounds, where they came from and their history. He spent a lot of time in his later years studying his own genealogy, following the history of his grandparents who emigrated to the U.S. from Sweden.
He took his family to Wheaton to see the depressions in the ground where the first sod hut stood that his grandparents had built and lived in during the late 1800s.
Even in his later years, Alton continued to be interested in science, agriculture and preserving the earth. Before he developed Alzheimer’s disease, Alton was reading articles on nano-technology.
Alton spent his remaining years at home as his Alzheimer’s progressed, and towards the end received great care from the caregivers at Home Instead Senior Care.
He was transferred to Peaceful Bliss the day before he passed away and again, received special care and consideration.
Alton will be greatly missed by his family and those who knew him. He was a loving husband, father, and teacher.
Alton is survived by his wife Wilma, who resides in Alexandria; his son, James Carlson, who resides in Independence; daughters Virginia (Gary) Larsen of Underwood, and Laurie (Dwight) Cook of Alexandria; 10 grandchildren and their spouses; six great-grandchildren; and several cousins.
Alton was preceded in death by his grandparents; parents; and by his daughter, Linda (Lyle) Hoxtell who passed away in July, 1994 from complications with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS); and granddaughter, Carissa Hoxtell, who passed away in 2008.
Memorials may be given in honor of Alton to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Visitation: Saturday one hour prior to the service. A luncheon will be served following the service
Service: 11 a.m. Saturday, at First Congregational Church, Alexandria
Burial: Evergreen Cemetery
Funeral Home: Anderson Funeral Home, Alexandria
Condolences may be sent online at www.andersonfuneral.net