Meet the 2014 Isanti County Outstanding Seniors

Bill Friedland warms hearts with volunteerism

Make a trip to Cambridge Medical Center, and patients and visitors will find a warm and friendly face greeting them.

Cambridge resident Bill Friedland has served more than 3,000 hours there. He’s primarily been a hospitality volunteer and clinic greeter, but he’s been known to do a bit of everything.

Bill Friedland
Bill Friedland

“Bill is always willing to assist anyone, and he is very knowledgeable and able to assist with any need that is presented to him,” wrote Lori Dimitry in a supporting nomination letter.

Friedland, with Mae Lindberg, will be honored during Seniors Day, Thursday, July 25, at the Isanti County Fair. The Outstanding Seniors Program and Century Farms Recognition program will begin at noon. The event will consist of musical entertainment by the Down Home band and Red Hatters, with the official award presentation at 1 p.m. Cake and refreshments will be served.

Friedland, who was nominated for the award by Cambridge resident Myrtle Danielson, likes volunteering because it helps break his shy personality.

“As a greeter, I meet people and talk to them to make sure they are comfortable,” Friedland said. “I love talking to people, especially since I grew up very, very shy.”

His favorite moments have been getting children to smile. Those moments when he gives a child a cookie make him feel grateful and special. He enjoys volunteering because it’s something different than he’s been doing.

He spent 50 years as a TV repairman, and he sometimes uses these skills at the medical center.

“It’s much better to get away and do something different,” he said.

Friedland was born at the Swedish hospital in Minneapolis. He moved to a farm in a small town in the state before spending many of his elementary years in California. He later moved back to Minnesota and spent 9 1/2 years in the Princeton National Guard 682nd engineer battalion in 1956.

He met his wife, Sandy, on a blind date, and they got married six months later in 1970. The two enjoy traveling across country to various national parks.

On top of volunteering for Cambridge Medical Center, Friedland pitches for the Springvale Baptist Church softball team. Though he never played sports as a child, he enjoys pitching and is the oldest regular player. He is also a treasurer for the same church. He participates in Meals on Wheels and has been a Springvale Township supervisor for more than 35 years.

It’s taught him a different kind of communication.

“When you’re looking at government, you have go to know the right way to talk to people,” Friedland said. “You can’t be argumentative. Once you figure out what the problem is, they usually quiet down.”

His biggest accomplishment, as an elected official, he said, has been implementing the cleanup day with his other supervisors.

On top of all of the volunteering Friedland does, he also manages to tend to his massive garden, growing everything from apples to sweet corn and potatoes.

Some wild berries from Friedland's garden.
Some wild berries from Friedland’s garden.

A majority of the produce is donated to neighbors and food shelves. He and Sandy make their “fall route,” delivering plump tomatoes and peppers to elderly people at church, senior apartments and local food shelves. It’s been his original hobby since he was 6 or 7 years old in 4-H.

“I can’t think of anyone who deserves the award of volunteer of the year more than Bill,” said Dave Anderson, his church’s pastor. “Perhaps he should be volunteer of the century.”


Mae Lindberg provides sweet treats to seniors

Walk into Mae Lindberg’s kitchen, and the smell of sweet baked goods permeates the kitchen.

Low-glycemic peanut butter M&M cookies are neatly piled on a platter on her kitchen table. Everything is neat and tidy.

The expert baker and longtime Cambridge resident is the female 2014 Isanti County Outstanding Senior Citizen.

Lindberg, together with Bill Friedland, will be honored during Seniors Day, Thursday, July 25, at the Isanti County Fair. The Outstanding Seniors Program and Century Farms Recognition program will begin at noon. The event will consist of musical entertainment by the Down Home band and Red Hatters, with the official award presentation at 1 p.m. Cake and refreshments will be served.

Mae Lindberg
Mae Lindberg

Lindberg was nominated for the award by Cambridge resident Myrtle Danielson.

“When I first met Mae Lindberg I was just 16, starting my first job as a dishwasher with

Grandview Christian Home,” Danielson wrote in her letter. “I didn’t know then, being the young and confident teen that I was, that Mae would have such a wonderful influence on me. Mae taught me what it means to be a good employee. … She taught us that showing respect for your employer and being self-disciplined and responsible were admirable work traits. She even showed us how honesty and compassion will always make you a winner.”

It was Lindberg’s love of baking that got her nominated for the award. She started baking for Grandview Christian Ministries in the 1970s and has continued to do so since for GracePointe Crossing.

During the holidays, she’s known to bake as many as 710 dozen cookies for residents. With more than 200 hours per year as a volunteer, Lindberg is busy putting smiles on senior residents’ faces. Her favorite thing to do is bake bread for them.

“I would get up at 5 a.m. to mix the bread dough,” Lindberg said. “They would love for me to come in on the weekends and bake with them because weekends were a little slower for them.”

Barbara Bergwall, SAC’s Enrichment Center coordinator, said Lindberg was a vital part of the Center’s recent relocation into City Center Mall in Cambridge.

“Mae’s extended hours that she has put in for SAC’s Senior Center has really made a way for the seniors to move into this new building,” Bergwall wrote. “Her talent has helped get funding and recognition for the move. We at the SAC’s Enrichment Center and the board of Isanti County Commission on Aging are happy to endorse Mae Lindberg as the Isanti County Outstanding Citizen of 2014.”

Lindberg provides company and comfort to many residents. Many of them don’t have regular visitors and they get lonesome. Lindberg’s baking allows residents to connect with her.

“A lot of them, I knew growing up,” Lindberg said. “They were like my grandparents, I suppose.”

She said it’s important to take care of these seniors because a lot of them don’t have families. She hopes to continue to take care of them for as long as possible and make them happy.

Darla Wessels, director of Nutrition and Culinary Services for GracePointe Crossing, has known Lindberg for more than 17 years.

“Mae (Lindberg) had always been a great mentor to the younger staff as she had her standards of service for our residents,” Wessels wrote. “Through the years she has trained many cooks and servers and her most pride and joy was to take on all the holiday baking for our campus. I can’t  begin to describe the time and detail she put in to all her baking.”

As the middle child of 8, Lindberg learned how to bake from her mother. All of them would continuously beg her mother to make various sweet treats.

Lindberg’s mother would only oblige if they all cleaned up after. From peanut butter cookies to rye bread, Lindberg is one experienced baker who will continue to bake until her hands won’t allow her to.

Lindberg’s friend Roger McNear has known her for more than 35 years.

“I have seen and known her in a large variety of situations — familial, social and community,” McNear wrote. “When you have the opportunity to experience the ethical commitment one has to family and community, you will need to look far and wide to find a person with a larger heart and commitment than Mae Lindberg.”