The site of Earthrise is the farm that Armond and Gertie Fernholz purchased in 1944. Armond grew up the oldest of five siblings on a farm near St. Leo, Minnesota. Already as a very young boy, Armond had a great love for the land and for farming. He also had a deep love of baseball and for a short time pursued training in a major league farm system. His love of music also found him dreaming of becoming an orchestra director. It seems farming grew to be his strongest passion, becoming his way of life rather than just a job. In 1936 he married Gertrude Wollschlager who also lived the ways of farm life. In the early years of their marriage Armond would take every opportunity to go to St. John’s University in Collegeville to learn more and more the ways and deeper meaning of his farming vocation.
This love of the land was firmly instilled in the hearts of his nine children in the ways their father lived out his true vocation. Armond also worked long hours driving up and down country roads, knocking at doors, and rallying as a member of the NFO, (National Farmers Organization), trying to unite farmers to work for collective bargaining and justice at the marke place. Armond lived at Earthrise until Feb. 8, 2008, when he and Gertie went to live at the Madison Lutheran Home. Still at age 96 you would see him slowly walking the gravel driveway, admiring the clouds, and trees he had planted many years ago, as well as looking with pride at the farm house that held so many stories. Armond lived at Earthrise until Feb. 8, 2008, when he and Gertie went to live at the Madison Lutheran Home. Armond passes away one month later on March 12 at age 97. He turly deserves to be called a faithful and devoted man of the land.
Gertrude or Gertie, as most people know her, now lives at the Madison Lutheran at age 92. Her father, John, came from Germany at age 16 and settled in Wisconsin where he worked many long hours in a brick-making factory until he came to settle near Madison, Minnesota. Here he met and married Rose Stoick. Gertie was born the third of nine siblings near Madison, Minnesota. She was blessed with a natural talent for music and her keen ear guided her fingers along the keys to melodies she could play without the written note. Sewing was also a very strong talent as well as her very green thumb that helped bring forth a yearly lush garden. Garden produce was harvested , frozen or canned for the wintery months ahead. She passed this art onto her daughters along with her bread-baking skills.
Gertie also did her share of farm work as well as providing for all that her nine growing children needed from a most loving and affirming mother. Today at age 94 she still makes her home at the Madison Lutheran Home. Her arthritis has confined her to her wheelchair in these sunset years. In the midst of a memory that has become more clouded she has not lost her deep sense of gratitude, faith, love and her delightful sense of humor. She truly remains a Mother for All Times.