Braa, Alma Marie (Jerstad)

(1898 - 1986)

On July 14, 1898 Alma Marie was born in Glenham, South Dakota. Her parents were Abraham and Marianne Jerstad. She had four sisters, Sina, Betsy, Ida, Clara and one brother, Oscar. In 1903, at the age of five, Alma, together with the rest of the family, moved from South Dakota for the homestead in Alberta near Donalda.

They first arrived by train in Wetaskiwin and had to wait several hours before beginning on the next part of the journey. Alma began exploring and got her foot caught in the rails and mother had to rush to get her off the tracks before another train arrived. They continued their trip across the country by covered wagon, until they arrived at Nils Eiklands where they stayed for three weeks. Here all the girls except Betsy got the measles.

While their house was being built the family lived in a tent. Even a hen shared the tent. Alma and her sisters were always told not to disturb the hen, who was sitting on eggs at the foot of their bed.

Alma began school at Norbo, the first school in the community. Later, Glen Park became the home school. She attended Bethany Church and Sunday school, and was confirmed by Pastor Klyve. She was very active in church, Sunday school and Pegge Forening. Pegge Forening is the Norwegian name for a girl's organization.

Alma's first job was working for a family in Red Willow. However, it was in Bawlf that she first started caring for the elderly. She remained working at the Bethany Sunset Home for approximately three years. The experience she gained here assisted her in her later years.

On August 14, 1927, she married Rudolph Braa, a Lutheran minister and widower who had one son, Raymond. By this marriage another son, Allen, was born. In 1928 they moved to Port Arthur, now known as Thunder Bay, Ontario, where Rudloph Braa was in charge of the congregation.

In 1930 they moved to Claresholm. There Adella was born. During the "dirty thirties" the family lived in Bawlf, Donalda and Camrose at various times.

In 1939 they moved to Wetaskiwin to open the private Eventide Home, renting the building from the city. During the war and until 1945 their son Raymond served in the navy and son, Allen worked after school at McLeods after school. Rudloph Braa passed away with a heart attack in 1947.

Alma and the children continued to run the home. However, in 1960. Alma decided to make a move. By this time the government was building several homes throughout the Province. Peace Hills Foundation was built in Wetaskiwin and was in need of a Matron. Alma sold her belongings, closed the Eventide Home, and together with her "old folk family," moved into the Peace Hills Home to become the first Matron. She had the honour of cutting the ribbon on opening day.

After having been Matron at the Peace Hills Home for eight years, Alma and Sister Minnie Carlson were named "Citizens of the Year". The Wetaskiwin Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture gave them peace pipe plaque awards.

After her retirement, she led a new life of activity in her own home and church. She held office in the L.C.W., sang in the choir and visited the sick. She also made many quilts for her family, the L.C.W. and for others to purchase.

Alma had many friends in for meals, morning or afternoon coffee, and she always took great pride in her garden. In spite of her busy life. Alma managed to travel to such places as South Dakota, Oregon, Montreal. Norway, Hawaii, Minnesota and Wisconsin. On some of these trips she rekindled her relationship with family and friends.

Alma passed away December 28, 1986 at 88 years, in Camrose Bethany Auxiliary Hospital.

Category: Wetaskiwin