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Last additions - People M - Z
Streefland farmPencil sketch of the Streefland farm, Burnsville.Jan 14, 2022
Len and Mimi NachmanActive with the Burnsville Historical Society since 1976 and multiple Burnsville Community Groups, Len and Mimi Nachman 2020.Jan 13, 2022
Willard Sneller obituary November 1942Willard Sneller owned the Windmill House in Burnsville,Dec 25, 2021
Ron Ronning at the schoolRon Ronning with his children at the Burnsville School.
Paul, Pamela, Joel and Rebecca - not in this order in photo.
Dec 11, 2021
Ron Ronning - December 2021Ronald Henry died in his sleep December 9, 2021 while at the home he shared with wife Bettye for over 20 years in Northfield, MN. A Minne sota boy, born October, 24, 1929 to Henry & Almeda Ronning.

Ronald and his siblings, Richard, Jack, and Jean, grew up with an appreciation and joy of the wilderness, fishing, and reading from their parents. Ron was a teacher - of music, and later of the humanities at Burnsville HS.

After retirement, he taught a love of music at the Cannon Valley Elder Collegium, of which he and Bettye were founders. How he loved teaching, relishing those "Ah-ha" moments when students grasped difficult concepts. Many of his students still remember learning Beethoven's 5th in his class. He was a father - to Paul, Pamela, Joel and Rebecca. With his children, he shared his appreciation and joy of the wilderness, fishing and reading. And, he was a teacher to his children - there were so many wonderful moments learning from Dad. He was a fisherman - he mastered the art of fishing in many locations in Minnesota. Ruth Lake ceded many of her great walleye and northern pike to Ron over the years. He was a husband - to Bettye Ruth, his wife and life partner for 70+ years. His best friend and sweetheart who, as he said, "Made me kinder." He was a good man. He lived life with dignity and kindness. He will be greatly missed. A remembrance celebration will be held this spring. Donations in his memory may be made to The Cannon Valley Elder Collegium (cvec.org).

Published on December 12, 2021
Dec 11, 2021
Jim PivecBurnsville graduate, family lived on County Road 11, sold apples. Photo while in the Navy.Dec 02, 2021
Bill MetzgerJune 8, 1983 Burnsville Sun

Local Boy, Bill Metzger, makes good in his chosen field

After graduating from Burnsville High School, Bill studied supermarket management at Dakota County Vocational Technical Institute and is now manager of the Tom Thumb in Savage...
Nov 19, 2021
Jack and Jean Young 1979May 1, 1979 Burnsville - This week New

Profile of Jack and Jean Young who run Jack's Place for 13 years and recently opened a driving range adjoining the property...
Nov 07, 2021
Community mourns death of athletic director Bob PatesJanuary 3, 1974 Burnsville Sun -

Robert Pates, director of athletics at Burnsville High School suffered a fatal heart attack December 22, 1973....
Oct 13, 2021
Faye PopeJanuary 4, 1964 Minnesota Valley Review reports: The recently organized Burnsville Chamber of Commerce will conduct a community idea meeting at Jens Embassy Club. Faye Pope, president of the organization says the purpose of the meeting is to establish goals for the current year activities... Aug 16, 2021
Mary Ellen Mullaney dies 2021 Mary Ellen Mullaney (Thibault)
Be Kind. Be Genuine. Care for Others. These principles guided the life of Mary Ellen Mullaney for 93 years. Born in Eau Claire, WI, Mary Ellen moved to the St. Paul Como neighborhood at the age of six and proudly claimed her St. Paul heritage the rest of her life.

She met her husband John (Don) at a church dance in 1947, and they danced through life together for 58 years. Mary Ellen and Don had five sons and fortunately for all of them, she was a woman of tremendous patience.

Mary Ellen was a faithful servant of the Lord who lived her values of honesty and kindness every day. The simplest pleasures in life brought her the greatest joy: dancing in the kitchen, picnics in the park, long lunches with lifelong friends, a full moon, a pretty sunset and of course, a good piece of chocolate. Her love for these little joys was contagious and made those around her find new appreciation for the blessings they had. She was always quick with a joke, and even quicker to offer you a sweet treat.

Along with her husband, she was a founding parishioner of Mary, Mother of the Church in Burnsville. She was actively involved at her parish for over 56 years teaching religion classes and Bible studies. She inspired those around her by modeling compassion and valuing relationships above all else. She is the foundation of our large family and will be greatly missed.

On August 1, Mary Ellen was reunited with her favorite dance partner and husband. At the time of her death, she was living in south Bloomington and previously was a 50-year resident of Burnsville, MN. She was preceded in death by her parents, siblings Margaret Cade, Frank, Joe and Jim Thibault and granddaughter, Annie. Her spirit is carried on by her sons John (Joan), Patrick (Tracy), Mike (Sandy) , Jim (Jennifer) , and Paul (Sara) ;17 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren; siblings, Harold (Molly) and William Thibault, Sister Jane Thibault SSND; sisters-in-laws, Gina and Barbara Thibault and more family too numerous to list, but not forgotten.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at Mary Mother of the Church on Tuesday, August 10, 2021 at 11:30 located at 3333 Cliff Road East, Burnsville 55337 (952-890-0045). Visitation beginning at 10 AM. Private interment. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be sent to School Sisters of Notre Dame attn. Sr. Linda Wanner 170 Good Counsel Drive, Mankato, MN 56001 or Church of the Epiphany Free Food Pantry 4900 Nathan Lane North Plymouth, MN 55442.
Aug 07, 2021
Pete OchsnerBurnsville Council member and later mayor, Pete Ochsner 1972.Jun 10, 2021
Alison Price artist 2021April 9, 2021 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News

Profile of Burnsville artist Alison Price...
Apr 10, 2021
Christian Vatsaas - former High School teacherFebruary 25, 1928 - January 30, 2021

On Saturday, January 30th, 2021, Christian Benjamin Vatsaas was called home, just 26 days shy of his 93rd birthday. The world has lost a great yet humble example of a godly son, brother, husband, father, and friend.

Christian was born in Shanghai on February 25, 1928 to Kristian and Sigrid Vatsaas, Norwegian missionaries to China. The family lived in the central city of Xian, until his father died in 1932. At age 5 he relocated to Norway with his mother and three siblings. They purchased a home in the small town of Fjellstrand, overlooking the Oslofjord.

Christian’s boyhood in Norway was filled with happy memories, but carefree youth was interrupted by the invasion of the German army in 1940. His family secretly provided overnight lodging to people escaping to Sweden. Radios were banned by the Nazis, but Chris used a nail, wire, and a razor blade to make a crystal radio. The parts were dismantled and hidden after each use.

At age 15, Chris took a factory job making marine radios. He bicycled to Oslo, over 25 miles each way over unpaved roads. His bicycle had no tires, due to a wartime rubber shortage, so he fashioned substitutes out of a garden hose stuffed with grass, fastened to the rims with bailing wire. This was one of many ingenious innovations that Christian crafted over his lifetime to transform the materials he had on hand into whatever solution he needed to create.

In 1947, Christian’s family immigrated to America, sponsored by cousins who farmed in Gonvik, near Thief River Falls. After a time in Gonvik, Chris’ family moved to Minneapolis.

In 1950, Chris worked as a carpenter apprentice on a construction crew. When he drove the first stake into the ground to mark the corner of a new church on 52nd and Chicago, he didn’t know that his wedding would be held there in 1955.

In November 1050, Chris was drafted into the Army and sent to Korea. He was still learning English, but his fluency in Morse Code earned him an assignment in the US Army Signal Corp. He served in Korea for 20 months, and in the Army Reserve until 1956. Chris became a U.S. citizen in 1953. When he returned home, he and his younger sister lived with his mother, who was dying of cancer.

This brings us to the moment when Chris met and fell in love with a slender Swedish-American beauty in the basement of a small Baptist church. Marilyn Carlson had been coaxed into attending a church social by a girlfriend who wanted to catch the eye of a certain handsome Norwegian boy recently back from the war. Chris only had eyes for Marilyn, however. He was immediately captivated by Marilyn’s striking red hair, and then by her reserved charm. That was the beginning of their lifelong journey together. They were married here at First Free on June 18, 1955.

Chris and Marilyn met during a polio epidemic, and Marilyn was working as Sister Kenny Institute’s first Occupational Therapist. OT was a new field, and there was little equipment available. Chris’ ingenuity, woodworking, and fabrication skills were the perfect complement to Marilyn’s innovation and creativity. Together they designed and produced many therapeutic devices, some of which were used at Courage/Kenny until recently.

Chris attended the University of Minnesota on the GI Bill, and graduated with a teaching degree in Industrial Arts. He was a popular Industrial Arts teacher in Burnsville, MN for 33 years. He is fondly remembered by his students, many of whom still have the projects they made in his classes. When his obituary was posted on the Burnsville Alumni Facebook page, the comments flooded in, recalling Mr. Vatsaas’ kindness, patience, and love of teaching.

Chris was a skilled carpenter and woodworker. In his spare moments, he built additions on the family’s homes in Richfield and Minneapolis. He also built their beloved summer cottage on lovely Lake Francis, along with furniture, a sailboat, canoes, kayaks, a treehouse, archery bows, motorized go carts, playhouses, doll houses, and toy furniture. Chris and Marilyn made hundreds of handcrafted wooden, ceramic, and screen-printed Christmas decorations. These still adorn shelves and Christmas trees across America, Norway, and Sweden.

Chris and Marilyn raised four children. He was a warm, affectionate, loving, patient, dependable, happy husband and father. He had a fun sense of humor, which was clearly molded by decades of teaching junior high. Chris and Marilyn were active members at First Evangelical Free Church for all the decades since. They served faithfully and developed many cherished lifelong friendships. They brought their children to church every Sunday morning and evening, and on Wednesday night. The kids have the perfect attendance pins to prove it.

In 1970, the family took the first of many trips to Norway, to reconnect with close family there. That trip resulted in warm, lifelong relationships across several generations. Chris and Marilyn’s last trip to Norway and Sweden was in 2007 with their four children and their spouses, and 11 grandchildren. The trip’s final stop was Chris’ childhood home and a spectacular 10pm sunset over the Oslofjord.

In 2000, Chris and Marilyn went to China on a tour sponsored by the Mission Covenant Church of Norway. Along with other descendants of the earliest missionaries from Norway to China, they visited several large, vibrant churches that were planted by Chris’ father in the early 1900’s. A tour highlight was meeting an elderly Chinese person who was able to lead them to the site where Chris’ father had been buried.

After he retired from teaching, Chris became active in the Bloomington Ham Radio Club. He loved using his ham radio to connect with people around the world, and he enjoyed his friendships with the other club members. He loved spending time with his kids, grandkids and great-grandkids. The cabin at Lake Francis was his favorite place, and he mowed the lawn and did other chores well into his 80’s. A year after his stroke in 2001, he was carrying cement blocks up the hill.

In spite of the many difficult circumstances he encountered early in his life, along with a wide variety of hospital stays over the years, Chris was an unfailing optimist who focused only on the many blessings that God had directed his way. Dad lived his faith more than he talked about it. He was a godly man who trusted God through thick and thin. 1 Corinthians 13 describes him well. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Christian is survived by wife of 65 years, Marilyn and their four children; daughter Janet Schubert (Thomas) and sons Bradley (Lynette), Richard (Cheryl), and Mark (Bethel); thirteen grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren (plus two on the way), sisters Bergliot Ostigaard and Grace Madsen (Donald) and brother David Vatsas; and loving extended family in America, Norway, and Sweden. He was preceded in death by his parents, and by his siblings in Norway: Eivind (Dagny), Olav (Hagborg), Knut (Lillian), and Gjertrude (Olav).

The family offers special thanks to Firebird Assisted Living in Glendale, AZ, especially to his main caregiver and beloved friend, Lucatio “Jun” Lopez. We are forever grateful for the genuine love and devoted care they showered on Chris during the last three years.

Funeral Service (immediate family only please) on February 12, 2021, at 2:00 PM, First Evangelical Free Church of Minneapolis.
Feb 17, 2021
Marie Popehn dies 2002Marie Popehn and her husband Francis operated a dairy store and beer tap at County Road 42 and Interstate 35 W.Oct 06, 2020
Francis Popehn dies 1976Francis Popehn, 57 died on February 24, 1976. He had operated the dairy store and taproom at County Road 42 and Interstate 35W.Oct 06, 2020
Emma Simanek Sodomka turns 100May 6, 1987 Burnsville Current:

Emma Simanek Sodomka, mother of Burnsville's Jim Sodomka and his sister Josephine Lannon turns 100 years old and has lived in the Burnsville the past few years. She is shown with son-in-law Leo Lannon.
Sep 16, 2020
Martin family barnMay 2, 1979 Burnsville Current photo of the Martin barn on County Road 11 and McAndrews Road near Lake Alimagnet.Sep 13, 2020
Jim and Rosella Ryan farm houseThe original owner was John Connelly and final owners Jim and Rosella Ryan. It stood until 1968 on Highway 13 between County Road 11 and 12th Avenue.Sep 10, 2020
Connie MorriosnFormer mayor Connie Morrison 2015.Sep 06, 2020
Lesly Rodriguez captures her life thus far in 2 minute videoJuly 17, 2020 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News by John Gessner:

Award, BHS class fuel film ambitions

Why is continuing her education after Burnsville High School important to Lesly Rodriguez?

The answer — and more about her life — is packed into a two-minute video she produced and narrated for the National Association of College Admissions Counseling’s 2020 Student Video Essay Contest.

“Being the first kid in my family to soon go off to college is a big deal, not only for me, knowing that I will soon begin a new chapter in my life, but to my family as well,” Rodriguez said in the video. “My parents couldn’t make it past sophomore year of high school due to the lack of education in Mexico, so to see their daughter making it past what they couldn’t, it sure makes them proud.”

The Burnsville resident was one of six winners in the video contest, open to high school juniors and seniors and community college students in Minnesota. She earned a $1,000 scholarship.

And though she has a year of high school left to go, Rodriguez, 17, knows how she wants to spend the money — studying cinematography at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s highly reputed film school.

As a BHS freshman she took the school’s Introduction to Media Production class and worked on the Blaze Weekly, the student news broadcast.

She found that her favorite place was behind the camera.

In the first semester of her junior year, Rodriguez took Media Production and Film as Literature, a new class taught by Sheana Eggers.

“She was really enthusiastic,” Rodriguez said in an interview. “I love the way that she taught. ... Whenever it came to a project, she made sure it was something we’d enjoy doing, and she always asked for feedback.”

Rodriguez’s final project earned plaudits from classmates during the semester-ending film festival.

“Everybody kept talking about how good it was,” said Rodriguez, who has discovered a knack for improvising shots and the realization that creativity trumps the quality of your equipment.

“What I was talking about in the film was appreciating the moment and appreciating where you’re at and not letting the worries of the past and the future ruin where you’re at right now,” said the daughter of Reyes Rodriguez Beltran and Desi Ruelas.

She discovered her passion for film at a low point, after being diagnosed as a freshman with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

“I noticed my symptoms around eighth grade, but didn’t really pay much attention to them,” Rodriguez said. “I just thought it was normal. It wasn’t until some more personal things happened that led me to starting therapy.”

Secure in the knowledge that “it’s OK not to be OK,” she is continuing therapy.

“I think I need it,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a long process. It’s normal.”

She discusses the disorders and her climb to better mental health in the award-winning video essay — a serious yet breezy take on her life from the family dinner table to the skating rink and a host of other scenes skillfully edited together.

Rodriguez said she’d like to someday affect change in the film industry.

“I want to bring better representation for the Latinx community,” because “it’s not represented as accurately as people think,” she said.

For example, lots of shows depict Hispanic youth talking to their parents in English, Rodriguez said.

“I talk to my parents in Spanish all the time, and so do a lot of my friends,” she said. “It’s always Spanish at home.”
Jul 20, 2020
Mary Ziegenhagen March 19, 1984 photo of Mary Ziegenhagen.May 25, 2020
Mary Ziegenhagen Minneapolis Star Tribune columnistApril 27, 1986 Minneapolis Star Tribune Question and Answers with Mary Ziegenhagen founder of the Burnsville Current.May 25, 2020
Mary Ziegenhagen Minneapolis Star Tribune columnistAfter leaving and later selling the Burnsville Current, Mary Ziegenhagen began work for the Minneapolis Star Tribune including columns with this sktech.May 25, 2020
Mary Ziegenhagen died 2020Ziegenhagen, Mary (Kinsella) Died peace-fully on May 2, in Cloverdale, CA, a few weeks shy of her 84th birthday. Born in Bloomington, IL, she spent her teen years in Moorhead, MN. Mary's husband David, born just two days after Mary, died 1/29/20.

Since retiring to Cloverdale in 2000, they were active community members. For several years, Mary headed up the annual Cloverdale Fiddle Festival and, as Cloverdale History Center board chair, guided it through a recent expansion. She loved her backyard garden and especially enjoyed the spring profusion of roses.

Trained as a medical records technician, Mary moved to Washington, DC in 1960 to serve on MN Sen. Gene McCarthy's staff and later as an assistant to VP Hubert Humphrey. She then served as an assistant to the director of the first groups of Peace Corps volunteers in the Philippines and later went to Western Samoa where David was Peace Corps country director. Returning to MN, she started the Burnsville Current newspaper in her basement and grew Current Newspapers to a five-paper chain covering seven Minneapolis suburbs. She also was an editorial board member of the Minneapolis StarTribune.

Mary and David are survived by two sons, Eric, in Chicago, and Marc, in Minneapolis; they loved visiting their parents in Cloverdale. Mary taught them to love road trips on the Great Plains, books and newspapers, music, movies and plays, the company of friends, the fight against injustice, and the solitude of nature walks. Mary was an avid reader, fundraiser, bird watcher, and advocate for the arts, land preservation, and women's rights. In addition to her sons, Mary leaves behind her sisters Elinor Smith, Alice Olson and Rita Kimmel, and brothers Mike and Tony Kinsella.

Published on May 24, 2020
May 24, 2020
Janet Bohn WilliamsJanet Bohn Williams, mayor of Savage 2020.May 22, 2020
The Ziegenhagen familyFounder of the Burnsville Current - Mary Ziegenhagen, husband David and sons Eric and Marc.May 17, 2020
Mary Ziegehagen dies May 2020Founding Burnsville newspaper publisher dies

by John Gessner May 28, 2020 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News

Ziegenhagen launched Current in 1975

“This town needs a newspaper,” Mary Ziegenhagen declared in her own account of starting a weekly newspaper in Burnsville.

“I read in the Twin Cities daily papers what went on yesterday in Afghanistan or New York, but there was nowhere to look for an explanation of the commotion at the intersection of Cliff Road and Highway 13,” Ziegenhagen wrote in an article for Burnsville’s 2000 community history book. “Then a bookstore in the Sioux Trail Mall closed before I knew it was open. News of a community waste-paper drive reached me two weeks after I should have delivered our stuff.”

Ziegenhagen, who launched the Burnsville Current from her basement and published the first edition on Oct. 8, 1975, died May 2 in Cloverdale, California. She was 83.

In March she was diagnosed with previously undetected advanced cancer and chose not to seek treatment, according to a Facebook post from her son Eric. Her husband, David Ziegenhagen, died on Jan. 29.

His mother “was and is my north star in many ways,” Eric wrote.

“She held her own as an activist for women’s rights, a newspaper founder and publisher, op-ed columnist, president of the Cloverdale Historical Society, medical transcriptionist, Peace Corps staffer; and long ago, assistant to VP Hubert Humphrey and Senator Eugene McCarthy.”

Ziegenhagen was born in Bloomington, Illinois, and spent her teen years in Moorhead, Minnesota. Trained as a medical records technician, she moved to Washington, D.C., in 1960 to serve on Minnesota Sen. McCarthy’s staff and later as an assistant to Vice President Humphrey.

She became assistant to the director of the first group of Peace Corps volunteers in the Philippines and later went to Western Samoa, where David was the Peace Corps country director, according to her obituary.

She started the Current after the family returned to Minnesota. It was the second local newspaper in town, along with the then Farmington-based Dakota County Tribune, which covered several communities including Burnsville.

“The Current believes that Burnsville, a community of almost 32,000 people needs its own newspaper,” said an editorial in the first edition. “During the last 15 years, Burnsville has grown and changed from a farming community with cultural ties to St. Paul to a spacious, attractive suburb with a direct line to downtown Minneapolis.”

The first edition “informed residents that the city council had approved a four-way stop with rumble strips at 134th Street and Oakland Avenue, that property owners could collect up to $200 from the city to recover their costs for removing trees with Dutch Elm or Oak Wilt disease, that the property tax mill rate would be lower the next year, and that Jack Young wanted to build a driving range and miniature golf course next to his restaurant on County Road 42,” said Ziegenhagen’s article in “Burnsville 2000: A Community History.”

When the paper was about a year old, Ziegenhagen was recruited and hired by the Minneapolis Star as its first female editorial writer, serving from 1977 to 1979. By then, her husband, a University of Minnesota journalism graduate, was working for the Current full time. Ten months after it launched, the paper moved from the family’s basement in the Birnamwood Town Homes to an office space on Cliff Road.

By 1982, Current Newspapers Inc. was producing five separate community papers for Burnsville, Eagan, Apple Valley-Lakeville-Rosemount, Prior Lake and Bloomington. The Ziegenhagens owned 55 percent of the company’s stock, and Joanne Shiebler, its first vice president of marketing, owned 40 percent.

“In 1983, California-based FNCO purchased and combined Current Newspapers Inc. with other suburban newspaper companies in the Twin Cities area,” Ziegenhagen wrote in 2000. “The companies have changed hands several times since then and, along the way, the name of the papers changed to Sun-Current, reflecting one of the partners in the merger, Sun Newspapers.”

Ziegenhagen’s creation lives on through this newspaper, Sun Thisweek, and others throughout the metropolitan area. The Dakota County Tribune and its former Thisweek papers merged with the Sun-Current papers under ECM Publishers, which bought both groups.

Today, ECM is a division of Adams Publishing Group, which also owns the remaining Sun Current, Sun Post and Sun Sailor newspaper groups.

The Ziegenhagens retired in 2000 to Cloverdale, where Mary led the annual Cloverdale Fiddle Festival and chaired the Cloverdale History Center board, guiding it through a recent expansion.

She is survived by sons Eric, of Chicago, and Mark, of Minneapolis; sisters Elinor Smith, Alice Olson and Rita Kimmel; and brothers Mike and Tony Kinsella.
May 17, 2020
Fr. Albert ZiskovskyJune, 1958 0 Fr. Albert Ziskovsky, pastor at St. John the Baptist is a priest 50 years.May 01, 2020
Liz Workman will lead Dakota County Board of Commissioners2019 photo of County Commissioner Liz Workman from Burnsville.Apr 13, 2020
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