Preserving the Swiss Heritage in Minnesota

Festive Table at 100-Year Anniversary Celebration

100th Anniversary Celebration

The Swiss Benevolent Society of St. Paul, Minnesota, held its 100th anniversary celebration on October 21, 2012 at the Dellwood Hills Golf Club in White Bear Lake, Minnesota with 174 people in attendance—many members wore their Swiss Ethnic Costumes to the party, making our event much more festive.

The Edelweiss Alphorn Duo (Vicki Wheeler and Becky Jyrkas) started the program with an Alphorn ‘fanfare’ and continued performing beautifully with more ‘rafter rattling’ alphorn music!!!

SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKERS included Mr. Rudi Gutmann, Honorary Swiss Consul of Minneapolis, Mr. Martin Bienz, Consul General of Switzerland from Chicago, Mr. David Morker, President of the Twin Cities Swiss American Association and Pastor Fred Toni (who presented a blessing before lunch).

Memorabilia items from the 100-year history of the Society were on display, including 50 years of Pro Patria Badges (donated by Al Linder), original Swiss costumes and photos from celebrations as far back as 1926. (Some very early, original items were lost in a fire in the early years.)

A ‘Memory Map’ depicted Switzerland's areas of emigration of Society members' families. Vintage photo albums of early Society events recorded the progression of Society history.

The program was led by Society President, Julie Spreck, and included acknowlegement of the descendents of Helen Flick Diesslin, who organized the first meeting of 6 Swiss ladies in her home in February, 1913.

All Members-Click for larger version Four members of the TCSAA (Susan and Ernie Zigerlig, Michele Kunz, Rene Vanoni) sang two songs, a capella, in the language of our ancestors, which were very much enjoyed.

A specially designed 100-Year Pin was presented to 26 members who have been in the Society for 25 years or more.

The beautiful flowers for the table centerpieces were donated by Linders Greenhouses, and were awarded to past Board Members for their service in guiding the Society over the past many years.

The photographer, Tim Earnest, captured photos of member’s families, and a special group photo as seen on this page (click on the photo to see a larger version). The eldest Society member in attendance was Rose Soler Bearth, at the age of 101½ years.

The traditional Swiss punch, Apfelsaft, greeted folks as they arrived. A delicious lunch presented by Dellwood Hills catering staff included pecan encrusted walleye, champagne chicken and veggie lasagna, with chicken fingers and fries for the kids. Dessert was a cupcake with a Swiss Flag on top.

Door prizes included many Swiss items from Esther’s Gifts (New Glarus, Wisconsin), Don Soler’s hand crafted bird house, cribbage board and napkin holders, Richard DeGonda’s carefully carved wooden cross, Swiss knives, coffee table books of Switzerland, Swiss caps and ‘mouse pads’ brought all the way from Chicago by Mr. Martin Bienz.

The much awaited 100-year booklet, including Society members’ history and stories, was distributed by historian Jeanne Zwicki at the conclusion of our celebration.

The renouned accordionist, Hank Thunander, rounded out the day with his wonderful music.

Our actual 100-year anniversary date is February 20, 2013, but with the unpredictable Minnesota winter weather, we felt it was to our advantage to celebrate in October when our attendees would not be delayed due to a snowstorm.

The 100-year committee who organized this party were: Judie Bearth, Jean Danner, Agnes Farrell, Rosemary Huot, Kathy Soler, Julie Spreck and Jeanne Zwicki.

An 8x10 group photo of the Society members is for sale. The price is $2.50 per 8 x10 photo plus $1.00 for postage. If you are interested please contact

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