When Alice Smuda, 84, of Little Falls married the late Bennedict Smuda, he told her one day they would move to Little Falls. It was his hometown and where his heart was at.
Smuda said she met Bennedict on the east coast of the United States when he served in the U.S. Navy.
“A friend of mine set us up on a double blind date. I told her I didn’t want a sailor for I had heard about how they had a girl in every port,” she said.
But as fate would have it, she met Bennedict anyway.
“It was really love at first sight,” Smuda said and smiled.
The two were married for 59 years until he passed away, Feb. 11, 2015.
Even though the plan was always to move to Little Falls, life and other circumstances delayed the couple. For a while, Smuda and her sisters cared for their aging parents in Baltimore, Md.
About 41 years later, the Smudas moved to Little Falls, Aug. 8, 1997. Their house was just across the road from the Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Memorial Museum.
“My husband’s uncle, Frank and aunt Louise Smuda, used to have the Smuda Zoo there,” Smuda said.
Back then, Smuda’s sister-in-law Elvina, used to clean the museum. She also visited with the Smudas regularly.
One day, she told the Smudas that the maintenance man had quit and that the museum was looking for someone to take care of the grounds.
“We were retired by then, so we were asked if we wanted to do it,” Smuda said.
The Smudas started volunteering at the museum in 1999 for one day a week. But that soon grew to more for Alice Smuda.
“One day I was asked if I wanted to work an extra day and do the probates,” she said.
The probate records were legal records of the process that distributed properties and personal possessions to heirs.
“I’ve seen a lot in the probate records — death of a spouse, death of parents, even things related to the asylum,” Smuda said.
The historical records belong to the city of Little Falls, but are housed at the Morrison County Historical Society (MCHS), Smuda said.
When Smuda noticed the museum had computers, she made a comment to the curator Ann Marie Johnson, that she was going to take a class in computers.
She was already familiar with using typewriters, since she had previously worked in various office environments. Computers were the next thing to learn, she said.
“The next weekend I told Mary Warner (MCHS executive director) that I took an interest in the computers and wanted to learn. She told me they would teach me,” Smuda said.
Throughout the 18 years, Smuda has worked at the MCHS and the museum as the office assistant, she has done many things, such as researching and greeting visitors.
“You wear many caps when you work there,” Smuda said.
In fact, she liked her work so much there, that now after she has retired, she continues to volunteer her time.
She also volunteers at Bethel Lutheran Church in Little Falls.
“Between the church and the museum, they are really my second family,” Smuda said.
To celebrate Smuda’s years at the museum and at MCHS, a retirement party will be held in her honor at The Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Memorial Museum in Little Falls, Saturday, March 18, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The public is welcome to attend at no cost. Smuda also requests no gifts for this event.
Those who want more information, may call (320) 632-4007.