Teddi Carlson wins coveted Statewide Spirit of CFEL Award

Teddi Carlson was recently awarded the statewide “Spirit of CFEL” award when that organization held its state convention in Watertown in late September. Her co-winner was Marie Benthin of Watertown. Teddi’s local club, Town and County Community and Family Extension Leaders (CFEL) nominated her for the statewide honor.
Theora Carlson, affectionately known as “Teddi,” joined the Town and Country CFEL club in Bison fifty years ago in 1972. She’ll have to wait two more years to claim a 50-year membership pin, however. There were two years when she and her family moved back to their home state of Minnesota to be with their widowed parents.
In those early days, Town and Country was one of over 20 clubs in Perkins County. Now it is the only one that remains.
Teddi has held all offices of the Town and Country club and is currently the vice-president. She also served two three-year terms as the state’s CFEL Area I director from 2014-2019. Area I consists of members in Perkins and Harding Counties. 
Teddi counts the numerous state conventions that she’s attended among her fondest memories. According to her, the highlight of being a member of this organization is the many people that she’s met and “making new friends.” She says she’s learned so much from the various programs and lessons that have been offered at all levels. She encourages others to get involved with this organization to learn and to make friends. 
In addition, she’s enjoyed events such as the Christmas Fair that CFEL started and sponsored for 40 years, the Parade of Trees at the courthouse which has been her pet project, the picnics, Christmas parties and eating out with her peers. Contributing to a Perkins County CFEL cookbook in 1983, for Bison’s Jubilee Year, was especially memorable. 
In 2005, during the years when there were many clubs in the county and an annual banquet and awards ceremony held, she was named Perkins County’s Honored Member.
Born in Graceville, MN she was the 4th of 5 sisters in her parents’ blended family. Her dad and uncle had a filling station at one point and, later, her dad owned a hardware store. She clerked there beginning at the tender age of seven! Each year at Christmastime, her dad allowed her and her younger sister to choose a doll from the toy section of his store.  
Teddi’s mom was a country school teacher and she followed in those academic footsteps to also become a teacher. She taught in Wisconsin and Minnesota schools until her husband’s health required a quieter lifestyle and they settled in Bison where she taught kindergarten and music classes. She was involved in education for 40 years. To this day, the energetic 85-year-old still plays piano for the music students at Bison school.
Music has always been a huge part of Teddi’s life. As a child, she took piano lessons for 10 years and, for over 50 years, she’s taught piano lessons to many of Bison’s youth.  She’s been the pianist at Slim Buttes Lutheran Church for most of her 40-year membership there. She’s directed Easter cantatas and she has a pretty soprano singing voice.
Teddi married Clem Carlson on New Years’ Eve in 1961. He was a Korean War veteran and a short-time POW. That experience left him 70% disabled. Although he’d been a seminary student in Minnesota, his health didn’t allow him to become ordained or to pastor a church. He was a carpenter, however, and built the house that Teddi still lives in. She was his caregiver for many years until his passing 20 years ago from Parkinson’s disease.
Both of Teddi’s children live in Rapid City. Becky is 59; Mark, 57. Her small family also includes one granddaughter, Natasha, and her husband. They are stationed in California with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Teddi has also been very active in Perkins County’s Stateline Right to Life group, her church ladies’ aide and Music Boosters at the school. She enjoys quilting, reading and gardening. 
In 2020, because of her longtime dedication to Bison School and to the Bison community, she and fellow Town and Country member Joyce Waddell were honored to be named Parade Marshalls for Bison’s annual Gala Day Celebration.


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