Teacher, Librarian, and Master Horticulturalist Felicia Finsterwalder Forder, known for her career starting as a Minneapolis public school teacher & librarian to the book business as national buyer died on November 10th at the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center with her husband William & son Aaron by her side. She was 76 years old.
Felicia was born January 11th, 1944 in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Her love of nature started at an early age in Girl Scouts continuing as a young lady attending Audubon summer camp. After her father Donald’s death, Felicia and her mother Irene owned and operated I & F Cleaning Village, the first coin-operated dry cleaner in the area. Upon high school graduation she went onto college at St. Catherine University located in St. Paul, MN graduating with her teaching degree in both history & library studies. Soon after, she moved to Baltimore, Maryland to finish her studies. Upon completion of her internship, Felicia came back to Minnesota to teach for Minneapolis Public Schools. After 12 years with the Public School System, Felicia aspired to enter the book business starting with a position as the manager of B. Dalton Booksellers in Rosedale Center in Roseville, MN. When B. Dalton was sold to Barnes & Noble, Felicia rose to became a national magazine buyer and later caught the attention of educational publisher McGraw-Hill, finishing her corporate career as Midwest Director while supplying educational books to all the major Colleges & Universities throughout the Midwest.
Though she found success in the educational and the publishing world, upon “retirement” she went back to her first love of horticulture & gardening, becoming a Master Horticulturalist using these credentials for flower show judging, “how to” educational seminars throughout Minnesota including the Minnesota State Fair. She also started a freeze-dried flower business called Feliciations supplying flower arrangements to large retailers. In addition, she served as Aitkin County Master Gardener for 10 years earning the University of Minnesota gold star award for her service.
Felicia belonged to the Lakes & Woods Garden club as one of the original charter members and served as its president among other club duties through the years. She earned the title of “plant lady” while volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and working on beautification projects for the Riverwood Healing Garden and Christ the King Retreat Center in Buffalo. She took a special interest in the McGregor Area Red Hats, the Aitkin Rotary Club, The Jaques Art Center, Farm 2 Table and Sylvia’s Children- traveling to Uganda, Africa to share her gifts and talents. Felicia believed in life-long learning and personal growth. In most recent years, she delighted fellow re-enactors in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), with artistic and horticultural instruction through her persona as Lady Sister Felicia von Finsterwalder, in character as a Sister from a 1170 German convent. Lady Sister was accompanied to “shire & kingdom” events by her ever faithful handmaiden Shari Melinda and often her King Charles cavalier. Felicia was a woman of prayer and faith. She lectored at Holy Family, St. James Catholic Church, and often at silent retreats at Christ the King.
Felicia is survived by her beloved husband William of 19 years, son Aaron (Sherry), stepdaughter Nancee (Bill), stepson Bob (Stacy), granddaughters Brooke (Mark), Tateum, Amber, Ashley, Taylor, Ava & great grandsons Aspen & Memphis and many other relatives & friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents Donald & Irene Finsterwalder & former husband James McCann.
Due to current Covid-19 restrictions, a celebration of life is planned this spring tentatively surrounding the Lakes & Woods Garden Club Annual Plant Sale. In lieu of flowers memorials are preferred to the Aitkin Garden Club. Arrangements are with Sorensen-Root-Thompson Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Aitkin. www.srtfuneral.com