Client Interview: Johanna Fedde

Upon walking into Johanna Fedde’s apartment at the West Hills Village retirement community, one views a burst of color. Each wall is filled to the brim with paintings and photographs depicting life and nature in Norway, her native country. With the TV playing the afternoon news in the background, I met a lady who does not lack in stories or vigor. At 99 years old, Mrs. Fedde shared many of her unique life experiences while demonstrating an honorable pride in her achievements. She is currently a client of Select Home Care – Portland and we have been honored to provide care for her. Here is what we learned about Johanna Fedde:

She was born in Stavanger, Norway in 1919. Her life has led her from place to place but she never forgets her homeland and what it means to her. Due to her avid love for Norway, she is a member of the Nordia House, in Southwest Portland, which recognizes and celebrates Nordic culture in its entirety. In fact, the majority of the art on her walls will fill the halls of the Nordia House once she has passed. The Nordia House plays the role it does in Mrs. Fedde’s life because of her passion for education and knowledge. She has spent the majority of her life as a teacher; whether it was in Bergen, Norway, England, or Portland, Oregon. Mrs. Fedde carries pride and passion in the topics she has taught.

On her walls, I noticed black and white photos of family members from past generations. I asked her who they were. “The people there are my great grandparents who were farmers and the others are my grandparents – sailors,” she said. It was hard for farmers to get to civilization. They had to walk to the ocean and then row to town. Her grandfather did not want to endure this so he decided to he took a course to become a teacher but later became a sailor.

The topic shifted to her and her family’s experiences during World War II. On the 9th of April 1942, Mrs. Fedde watched as the Germans marched into her city. They rounded up the intellectuals and arrested them taking them to a camp in the north. This included her father who was a professor. Though there were no battle-related casualties, she described the horror of watching the Norwegian culture crumble and the education system reduced to little more than a German propaganda machine. Luckily, her father was released after 6 months.

Mrs. Fedde is a teacher, journalist, and philanthropist. She has her masters in health fitness and taught at Grant High School for 12 years. She says she is used to strict discipline and that that may have rubbed a few of her students the wrong way, but she knows they always respected her and she respected them. The most invigorating work she did, however, was during her time with the Western Viking newspaper. It is a newspaper that focuses on Norwegian affairs but for the people living in America. When talking about this subject, Mrs. Fedde lit up.

Johanna Fedde is an undeniably interesting woman. Though she occasionally seamlessly shifts from English to Norwegian and back again while in conversation, her knowledge and adventurous spirit resonate with the people around her. It was truly an honor for us at Select Home Care to learn more about one of our amazing clients.