July 26—Jon Romer is from Albert Lea, a former music teacher and head of the voice department at Gustavus Adolphus College. He worked with the Ojibwe people in northern Minnesota and was a department chair at Lea College for three years. He also collects photos.
“One of our top music students (Brad Brandt)…was a very loyal student of Lea College and very active in many areas of college, then Brad, because of his interest and passion for college , held an album,” he said.
This book, which contained accounts of sporting and musical events, graduations and other activities, was forwarded to Romer – who was Brandt’s teacher – and Lowell Barr.
Barr and his wife supported the college, so after he, Romer and Al Arends reviewed the book, they presented it to the Freeborn County Historical Museum, Library & Village last Thursday.
“I just felt it was so important, and there were so many important people like … Lowell Barr and many others in Albert Lea who were so influential and worked so hard to make college a special place that ‘it was, that I felt it was really important to keep this in the museum,’ Romer said. ‘I’m really grateful that County Freeborn has the museum.’
Lots of photos directly related to Romer’s work at Lea College.
“The pictures we had [were] several graduations from Lea College, from the choir,” he said.
Romer admitted that he was also instrumental in obtaining a pipe organ from Bradner, Ohio, which was installed in the country house.
“There’s a picture, on the front page I think, of the album…of that pipe organ,” he said.
There were also pictures of student parties as well as the Albert House, which was on Broadway and held student activities.
“There was a room in the Albert house, which was called the Spanish dining room, so theater productions took place there,” he said.
He also donated around 300-400 photos in the album.
“It’s the story of the community, and I think as a teacher, I think Albert Lea always had a big concern, a positive concern for the education of the people growing up here,” said he declared.
He said that these photos mainly spoke directly about the activities of the college which had an impact on the culture of Albert Lea, their sporting, musical and theatrical events and performances.
“Many times…in the classroom, very little has a direct impact on the community,” he said. “But one of the things that stood out for Lea College was its relationship with the community, and that was important because of what was invested in the college by the community and the people in the community, who they saw, felt and knew what was going on in college.”
According to Romer, the book was originally launched in 1967 by Brandt, but the idea of donating the book began about five years ago.
“We didn’t want that to go away,” he said. “We wanted this to be part of the continuing story of education at Albert Lea.”
Alrends donated two yearbooks and another album of men’s basketball teams.
Along with the album, a CD and DVD were donated. The DVD is a documentary about the final meeting of Lea College.
“There are other elements in there on this DVD of people, graduation speakers, … grad students walking around campus going to, I think, college graduation,” said Romer said.