Bio: Vorland, Pearl Anna (100th Birthday - 2013)

Contact: Robert Lipprandt 

Surnames: Kraut, O’Brien, Vorland

----Source: The Tribune - Phonograph (Abbotsford, WI) 11/13/2013

Pearl Vorland celebrates 100th birthday

By Kevin O’Brien

Pearl Vorland’s smile beams as she gazes over her kitchen counter, which has become a forest of multi-colored bouquets, candy bars and cards form friends near and far.

It’s the day after her 100th birthday, and Vorland just can’t seem to stand still as she darts around her home in Colby, looking over the all the gifts from the people wishing her well as she hits the century mark.

Her November 6 birthday seemed like something a local holiday, as the Abbotsford School board passed a resolution in her honor, and the Colby Show Choir sang “Happy Birthday” just for her.

One hundred years ago last week, Pearl Anna Kraut was born in Curtiss to Frank and Ida Kraut, their first daughter and second child. Her parents eventually had five children total, three of which are still alive.

When asked about her childhood memories growing up in Curtiss, Pearl said she remembers teaching other girls how to sew and bake and serving as a 4-H leader. She also fondly recalls visited her grandmother’s farm out in the country. “She would always have something for us to eat,” she said.

Pearl attended grade school in Curtiss, and when it was time for her to choose a high school, she picked Abbotsford. Two of her sibling attended school in Owen, but she went east instead of west. “I liked Abbotsford best,” she said.

Her classmates apparently liked her too, as she was elected prom queen in 1930, the year before she graduated. She was also a member of the band, orchestra and glee club, and acted in the senior class play “Apple Blossom Time.” “Oh, I loved school,” she said “Everybody was so nice.”

After graduation, Pearl thought about becoming a teacher but decided to enroll in beautician’s school at Madame LeCalire’s School of Beauty n Milwaukee. Staying with her aunt Lena, Pearl said it took some time for her as a small town girl to get used to living in the biggest of Wisconsin’s big cities. “Oh, I was scared, I really was,” she said.

Following her schooling in Milwaukee, Pearl worked at Frances Jackson in Abbotsford until she was old enough to get her beautician’s license. She started her career at Mosinee Beauty Shop, and took her state board test early so she could get her manager’s license at age 21.

It was1933 when she opened her own operation, the Colby Beauty Shoppe, above the Robinson Hotel in downtown Colby. Even during the Great Depression, women were still willing to pay $2.75 for a perm, and they would even sit on the steps outside her shop to wait until she was available. “I’ll never forget that,” she says with a smile.

Years later, women would come up to her and say “You gave me my first permanent.”

Eventually, Pearl moved her shop across the street and shared a building with Dr. Briggs, who built her a space to work in. She also helped her younger sisters, Ethel and Marie, open their own beauty shop in the Block Hotel in Dorchester.

Pearl’s daughter, Mary said her mother would even make house calls for her customers. “They’d have their hair all washed and she’d bring the pin curls.” She said.

In addition to her career as a beautician, Pearl also worked at Firnstahl’s Grocery Store and the Colby Drugstore. When the nursing home was first built in Colby, she used her skills as a beautician on the residents there.

Pearl married Gorton Vorland on October 7, 1943, while he was on leave from serving in Europe during World War II. Their wedding was at her sister’s house in Minneapolis.

While her husband was still away at war, Pearl bought a house on First Street in Colby, for $8,500 from Sherman Loos. It was almost unheard of for a woman to buy a house in those days, and she actually had friends stay with her until Gorton retuned. “I loved it here, I really did,” she said.

Pearl and Gorton had two children, Mary and James, and now two grandsons, Colby and Corey, who are currently pursuing PhD’s indifferent fields.

Many of the buildings and other landmarks from her youth are now gone, as well as many of the friends she grew up with, but like her daughter reminds her, she has continued to make new friends into old age.

Over the years, she has also helped create and pass on many community groups, as a charter member of the Colby Lioness Club, the Clark County Historical Society and Colby VFW Auxiliary. She was the auxiliary’s president from 1966-1967, and attended the National VFW Convention as a page.

As a long time member of the Colby Lions, she was a recent recipient of the Melvin Jones Award.

In addition, she was a founding member and leader of the Colby Brownies and Girl Scouts, and served as president of both the Mother’s Club and PTA in Colby.

Other groups she has belonged to include the Archery Club of Colby, the Royal Neighbors of America, the Eastern Star, Colby Homemakers (50 years), Colby Sewing Club, Colby Colonial House ethics committee, and the Business and Professional Women in Marshfield.

She has also volunteered for local elections and blood drives, and performed with the Emil Dallenbach Orchestra.

A dedicated philanthropist, she was chairwoman of the Cancer and Hears Fund, and last year, she received a Legacy of Philanthropy award for her 30 years of financial support for Marshfield Clinic’s medical research initiatives.

Pearl has been a member of both the Methodist Church and United Church of Christ in Colby, and has served as Sunday school superintendent, teacher, lay teacher, lector and a members of the Ladies Aid and Altar Guild.

In her 100 years on Earth, Pearl said she’s only had a couple closed calls when it came to her health - once when she had an appendicitis that nearly ruptured and another time when a bus she was riding in from Branson, MO, was hit by a tractor and she broke her leg.

Her daughter said her mother has been blessed with good health, with just a recent onset of arthritis. “Just recently she’s talked about aches and pains,” she said. “Before that, nothing.”

As far as hitting the 100-year-old mark, Pearl almost seems too busy to notice. “I never thought much about getting older, she said. “It just happens, I guess.”



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