Community Giving

Odette Hedlund

Fund Name:: Odette Hedlund Memorial Scholastic Fund
Fund Established: January 1, 2000
Community Foundation(s): Willmar Area

Odette Hedlund was born in Stillwater, Minnesota in 1921. She was a respected math teacher who loved people.

Odette grew up during the Depression when money to attend college was scarce. She worked hard to finish her degree in three years. As a math teacher in Stillwater, she heard about an aeronautical engineering fellowship through the Defense Department. This fellowship took her to Hartford, Connecticut to work on a top-secret project designing a jet engine for fighter aircraft.

After the war she returned to Minnesota to join her future husband, Ralph. Once married, she worked for Honeywell in Minneapolis, creating a stacked circuit for humidity control. In 1949, they moved to Willmar, Minnesota where they raised two daughters.

Odette and Ralph were entrepreneurs who developed and promoted a low-fat dairy product that led to a successful business for 14 years.

In 1963, Odette returned to teaching math at Willmar Junior High and taught for 20 years. After Odette retired, she tutored students of all ages and was active in many community organizations. In 1993, Odette passed away from cancer.

The Odette Hedlund Memorial Scholastic Fund was established by her family for graduates of Willmar High School to pursue a degree in science or mathematics. According to Ralph, “Every day was a new adventure. She loved problems and challenges. She was always a student, learning every day with her family.”