Tulida H. Blackford
Birth date: September 24, 1926
Death date: May 28, 2012
Retired Registered Nurse, Age 85, of Forest Lake, Minnesota
Tulida was born to parents, Arnold D. Klein and Laura A. Klein (Olson), at the Litchfield Hospital in Litchfield, Minnesota, on September 24, 1926. She was named after her father’s younger sister, Tulida Harriet Klein who died of typhoid at the age of 18. Tulida’s father Arnold, came from a Dutch settlement located in Pella, Iowa and her mother Laura, was of Norwegian descent and the Olson family lived in the Litchfield area of Meeker County. She was the first of five children born to Arnold and Laura with sister Laurine being born in 1928, brother Alan in 1931, Phillip in 1934, and sister Phyllis in 1937. She grew up in Litchfield in the Klein’s Armstrong Park home, went to church regularly with her family and was confirmed in the Litchfield United Methodist Church. Tulida’s father had a steady job during the 1930’s Great Depression working for the Land O’ Lakes Company as a production manager. Tulida’s family was very thankful to God for the benefits of a steady paycheck during those difficult economic times and a good supply of dairy products plus lots of turkey and chicken meat. Tulida’s parents were deeply committed to Christ and His Church and raised children who were all strong Christians. Tulida graduated from Litchfield High School in 1944 and then went to the Hamline/Asbury School of Nursing in Minneapolis, Minnesota. During the next three years while Tulida was going to nursing school, her family bought a farm on Fifth Street on the edge of town in Litchfield from Rudolph Lentz. This is the home where Arnold and Laura raised the four younger children, kept horses, grew crops and had also had a big garden.
Tulida received a paid scholarship to nursing school as part of the nursing programs sponsored by the U.S. government during the period of World War II (1941 – 1945). The government knew they would need a large number of trained nurses in order to win the war and so Tulida signed up for nursing school right out of high school with the idea that she would help as a nurse with the war effort when she graduated. She lived and went to nursing school in Minneapolis from 1944 to 1947 and was always grateful to the U.S. Government for putting her through nursing school. Tulida had a very good nursing school friend named Chloe Anderson and together they regularly attended church services at Park Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis. By God’s providence, a new Associate Methodist Pastor named John C. Blackford (a Navy Chaplain just back from completing his World War II tour of duty) was assigned to Park Avenue Methodist Church. During a church service on December 1, 1946, Tulida who already was a strong Christian, felt that God was for some reason calling her to go down to the altar and rededicate her life to God. Tulida and John met for the first time during this altar call. Shortly after Tulida and John met in church, Chloe and her husband Elbert Anderson arranged a double date with Tulida and John and that is where their relationship began. Tulida said John actually asked her to marry him twice. First he asked her if she would be willing to be the wife of a Methodist pastor with full knowledge of all the sacrifices that would be required of a minister’s wife. Tulida said “yes” to that first proposal, in fact she would later say that she was ready to follow him wherever his ministry took them in life because she loved him so much. Then a week later John asked Tulida to marry him for a second time and spend the rest of their lives together and of course he received another “yes” from Tulida and the rest is Blackford/Klein history.
Tulida and John got married on May 7, 1948, at Park Avenue United Methodist Church. Shortly thereafter John was assigned to be the pastor of a multi-community Methodist Church centered in New Rockford, North Dakota. This church assignment included the cities of New Rockford, Cathay and Sheyenne, North Dakota. Tulida and John had their first child, Rebecca Joy, on September 27, 1950, while living in New Rockford. Tulida and John had many great memories from their first church assignment and over the years continued to correspond with many close friends from the three North Dakota congregations.
In 1951, John was assigned to a United Methodist Church in Hastings, Minnesota, where he ministered for eight years. With Tulida’s support, John began his Hastings ministry in a small white church on Highway 61, and with the help of God and a wonderful congregation, built the church membership and led the congregation in a building program. Tulida and John also had three more children while living in Hastings, James Matthew on December 9, 1952, Elizabeth Anne on May 7, 1955, and Joel Peter Klein on November 2, 1958.
In 1959 John was transferred by the Methodist Church Annual Conference to Lindstrom, Minnesota, and served at First United Methodist Church for twenty-five years. During this time Tulida worked as a surgical nurse starting in 1959 at the Chisago Lakes Hospital and then for 18 years starting in 1970 as the Director of the 40 bed Convalescent and Nursing Care Unit of the hospital. Tulida said she was always very thankful to the hospital Administrator, Don Ferguson, for promoting her to this good paying administrative position. It was Tulida’s additional salary from working at the hospital that made it possible for the Blackford family to have the money to live a good middle class life in Lindstrom and be able to assist their children financially so they could go to college. Also Tulida’s support of John’s ministry over the years made his 100% devotion to the saving of souls in God’s name possible. Mom was dad’s ministerial support system along with working full-time and taking care of the children. Due to health issues, John left the Lindstrom Church in 1984, and retired from full-time ministry. Tulida and John left behind so many good friends in the Lindstrom Church congregation and the Chisago Lakes community at large. They both stayed very close to many of their Lindstrom area friends over the years and felt so blessed to be part of that congregation for 25 years!
In 1984, Tulida and John moved to their townhome in Forest Lake, Minnesota, where John became a part-time Assistant Minister at Forest Hills United Methodist Church. Tulida continued to work at the Chisago Lakes Hospital as the Director of the Convalescent and Nursing Care Unit of the hospital until she retired in 1988 at the age of 62. John was involved in the life of Forest Hills United Methodist Church for 26 years until his death on February 13, 2010. Tulida has missed John so much these last few years after his passing and often remarked how much she wanted to join John in heaven and be part of the heavenly choir in eternal praise of our Lord God and Savior.
One of the members of the Lindstrom United Methodist Church once mentioned to John that the best thing he ever did was to marry Tulida! John understood this and knew that many of the great successes he had achieved in his ministry for his Lord and Savior had depended on Tulida’s love and support. Tulida and John were a team, and many times John handled the preaching duties at church while Tulida played the piano or organ. They even provided special music at many church services where they sang a duet while Tulida played the piano or organ. As a Methodist Minister, John received a very modest paycheck in relationship to the large number of hours spent on the job each week. Tulida’s support of John’s ministry in so many important ways allowed him to be able to put his heart and soul into the work he had been called by God to do. John expressed his great love for Tulida and his concern for her health and well-being right up to the end of his own life.
Tulida and John were also very proud of their children. They loved them all deeply and imparted, by faithful Christian example, a love for God in each of them. Tulida and John both have loved and supported their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren in so many important ways over the years. The children of Tulida and John and their families are as follows: Daughter Rebecca (Kenath or Skip) Sponsel and her children Michele (Timothy) Pamplin, Ken III Sponsel and Charles Sponsel; son James (Judith) Blackford and his children Jennifer (Heath Bredeson – fiancé) Blackford and John James Blackford; daughter Elizabeth (Paul) Scheele and her children Ben Scheele, John Evan Scheele, and Scott Scheele; and son Joel Blackford, and his children Meghan Blackford and Jacob Blackford. Tulida and John’s great grandchildren are the children of Michele (Timothy) Pamplin and their names are Zachary Pamplin, Nicholas Pamplin, and Anna Pamplin.
Tulida was preceded in death by her parents Arnold and Laura Klein and sister Laurine (Rollin) Nelson. Tulida is survived by brothers Alan (Joanne - deceased) Klein and Phillip (Shirley) Klein, sister Phyllis (Douglas) Kerr, her brother-in-law Rollin (Laurine - deceased) Nelson and many cousins, nieces, nephews and dear friends.
Tulida and John created a deeply spiritual, loving and structured home environment for their children to grow up in and this included a lot of time in church. In addition, we always had daily devotions together at one mealtime, mostly from the publication, “The Upper Room”. After the devotional reading was done, we all read a Bible verse called a “promise” that was printed on small, multicolored cards. We would all try to guess where in the Bible the verse was from. John always knew the answer, but would let us try to come up with the Bible chapter and verse first. Everyone in the family has great memories of so many wonderful times spent with Tulida and John. This included one week each year spent at Red Rock Camp. God changed the direction of John’s life at Red Rock Camp and in return John provided leadership and financial support to the camp through the end of his lifetime so that more souls could be saved in the name of Jesus Christ. Red Rock Camp was where many of us became born again Christians and where we deepened our faith in God. Then there were the many family vacations together with Tulida and John at family cabins on Lake Koronis in Paynesville, Minnesota, Diamond Lake in Atwater, Minnesota, and at the Sponsel Chalet in Cable, Wisconsin. These were relaxed vacations where we spent a lot of time sightseeing, eating meals together, telling jokes (especially some very bad puns), discussing our faith in God and generally just talking to each other a lot! Tulida and John always supported their loved ones with their prayers, their time and with generous financial gifts that helped family members get through many difficult times in their life. Tulida and John were always there for their children, and it has been much appreciated because they have been such a blessing in times of need!
Over the years Tulida said she attended thousands of church services, heard almost every sermon that John preached and spent 65 years singing in church choirs. She was also the director of the Lindstrom United Methodist Church Youth Choir for 8 years and also spent many years being a Sunday School Teacher. She was very proud of becoming a Registered Nurse and was active as an R.N. for 55 years from 1947 to 2002. She loved collecting sea shells and was an active member of a shell club, the “Minnesota Society of Conchologists” for over 20 years. She also loved sewing and quilting and was an active member of the Forest Lake Quilting Club for over 25 years. Tulida also loved gardening and taught all of her kids how to grow good food and made sure we “ate our vegetables”.
It was also very appropriate that Tulida died on Memorial Day, May 28, 2012. Our family always celebrated this National Holiday by observing Memorial Day Services at four local Chisago Lakes cemeteries. For 50 years John was part of these services performed by military veterans and did his part as a retired Navy Chaplin with many of us children joining him as he prayed and preached. After the services the family would join Tulida and John at home for a big noon meal and have family pictures taken in front of the American flag that was displayed alongside their home. Tulida will be buried next to John at Methodist Cemetery in Center City, Minnesota where one of these four annual Memorial Day services is held. We will now see Tulida and John’s graves each year on Memorial Day as we continue to attend these services.
Most importantly, Tulida loved the Lord our God with all her heart, soul and might. We know that Tulida is now in the loving arms of God and she is waiting for all of us to join her and John someday in Heaven in eternal praise of our Lord and Savior. All praise and glory be to God from whom all good things come!
Grace and peace to all. Amen!!
Memorials are preferred to Forest Hills United Methodist Church in the name of Tulida H. Blackford. All memorials will be given to the John C. Blackford Red Rock Camp Scholarship fund.
Visitation will be held from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, June 1, 2012 at the Grandstrand Funeral Home in Lindstrom, Minnesota, and one hour prior to service at church on Saturday.
Funeral Service 11:00 a.m. Saturday, June 2, 2012 at Forest Hills United Methodist Church, 1790 11th St. SE, in Forest Lake, Minnesota.
Private interment service for family members will be held at the Methodist Cemetery in Center City, Minnesota.