By Kris Leonhardt
Ivy Sorenson grew up on a farm east of Unity. She attended high school in Unity before starting her education to become a school teacher.
“I took it piecemeal,” explained Sorenson. “I went to school one year in Wausau for teachers training, and then I taught school a few years, and then I got the rest of my degree by going to night school and summer school, correspondence, and I finally got my degree in Indiana at Marion College.”
Sorenson was just 16 years old when she began teaching in 1928 at the one-room Sunshine School, located four miles west of Unity on what is now County Road K. She taught there for two years before moving to another one-room school, the Romeo School, which was then located between Unity and Spencer on what is now State Highway 13.
Sorenson stayed at Romeo School for eight years. She might have stayed longer had it not been for World War II.
“During the war, they didn’t allow married teachers (to work) because we were taking jobs away from men,” said Sorenson, who by then had met and married Arthur Sorenson. “In less than a year, they came and begged us to come back because the men were all going to war, so from then on I taught wherever they needed me.”
Ivy would leave the state of Wisconsin when Arthur became a naval officer.
“When my husband went into the service, when he came out, he got a job in Indiana in a veteran’s hospital,” Ivy recalled. “Housing was so hard to get that I sat in one bedroom that we rented for a long time, and I said that I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I went out to get a substitute job, and I got one right away. I taught another 20 years down there.
“We stayed in Indiana for another 13 years. Then we decided to come back (to central Wisconsin) and live in Wisconsin for the summer and go some place for the winter. Eight months after we got up here my husband died of a heart attack, so I just stay (in Marshfield).”
Ivy still retains solid memories of her school teaching years, recollecting what might have been close calls for her in a rougher time in a country school but the joys of molding young minds as well.
Ivy said that she enjoyed teaching children in the earliest years of their education because “they were much more eager, just delighted with everything you did.”
“If you told them they had to do something, if you let it slide, they would keep on doing it. But if you never let it slide, it was better,” she said. “I never had too much problem.”
Ivy is one of three family members who have lived past the century mark. Her father, Frank Meyer, lived to be 101. Ivy’s sister Pearl Beals is now 100 and resides in Bonita Springs, Florida. Ivy turned 105 this past September.