“Hartland to Capitol Hill: The Journey of a Wounded Healer” is a book is based on an unpublished memoir written by Ernie Gunderson’s mother before she died in 2000. Gunderson and Eunice Collette, son and daughter of Mary and Gordon Gunderson, will introduce the recently published memoir.
Gunderson will share excerpts from the book and show slides. Collette will sing songs she says were inspired by her mother. The book and a CD will be available for sale. The Friends of Lake ELmo Library are sponsoring the event.
The daughter of Danish immigrants, Mary Gunderson’s memoir describes settling in rural Minnesota just before the Great Depression. Hartland is the small town where her early memories began. She describes her career as a country schoolteacher in the 1940s, then her life marrying a farmer and raising eleven children, two of whom succumb to mental illness and suicide.
Her recovery from this family tragedy began when she founded a chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) in her hometown, becoming a personal and political advocate for others suffering from mental illness. Her NAMI work led to Washington, DC, where she was invited to lobby for mental health parity and tell her story to congressional delegates on Capitol Hill in 1990.