Retired school teacher, Audrey Brown, has lived life to the fullest. The Fergus Falls resident escaped death at age six, but was not ready to leave this earth as she had too much living to do. Her 81 years of life has been filled with many exciting adventures. Boredom is not found in her vocabulary. “I contacted measles at the age of six and it developed into encephalitis. I was in a coma for two weeks and no one was sure I would live-however I fooled them!” “We lived in Red Bud, Ill., during my high school days. I was on the yearbook staff and editor of the school newspaper. I was in several plays and in my senior year, three of us organized a variety show and took it on the road. to other area high schools. I was a cheerleader in my junior year, but my mom put the cabash on that when my grades weren’t up to her standards.” Audrey headed for Anaheim, Calif., after her marriage to Don Runge in 1951 and her completion of her Masters Degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana in 1959. She majored in home ec and sciences. While in Anaheim, home of the world famous Disneyland, Audrey met Jammie Farr, the well known Cpl. Maxwell Q. Klinger of the “Mash” TV series. Several of her students worked at Disneyland so she had many visits from Mickey and Minnie and their friends over the years. Three of those students from the class of 1970 visited her this summer in Fergus Falls. She was surprised to learn they had pursued careers in the area of home ec and teaching. Audrey’s only child, Kent, was born in 1960. When Kent was 15, his father passed away. Audrey continued teaching after her husband’s death and in 1979, the home economics teacher married the coach. She became engaged aboard the ship the “Queen Mary.” “Since our birthdays were July 16 and 17, we decided to get married in Las Vegas. We didn’t quite make the midnight time frame since we got tickets to Wayne Newton’s show. We hit the Justice of the Peace prior to the show and tell folks Wayne Newton sang at our reception.” When the students returned to class that fall and found out the coach had married the home economcis teacher, one of their mother’s called the Newlywed Game. And a week before Christmas they taped the show with Bob Eubanks. “He was really a great guy,” said Audrey. “We didn’t win, but we got tons of sponsorship prizes.” Of course they had to answer all those embarrassing questions; Example: The most unusual place you made Whoopie. Answer: Hot tub. Or the most unusual thing you ran through the dryer. Answer: A marking pen that turned Ed’s underwear pink. They didn’t win, but they got tons of sponsorship prizes. A few of those prizes included: Mr. Bubble, Off insect Repellent, Shout, Raid, Baby Wipes and Sleeping Pills. “I think they also gave us a lifetime supply of Certs when they did the replays,” laughed Audrey. In 1984, a large fire erupted in the area of her school. “They shut the school down for the day and many of the students’ homes were destroyed. We watched huge fireballs roll down the street next to the school, but it was saved.” Audrey reflects on another exciting adventure that took place at a navy base in San Diego. She was invited for a ride on the USS Poggy, a nuclear submarine. When asked for a volunteer to dive the sub, her husband volunteered her. “And I did it without any help!” Many young people crossed Audrey’s path during her teaching career in science and home economics. Several went on to accomplish outstanding achievements. George Zaber (1968) was a New York Yankees and World Series winner. Dana Schoenfield (1972) was the silver medalist in the 200 meter breast stroke at the Munich Olympics. Linda Emond (1977) is a broadway actress and appeared on Law and Order. Steve Stanton (1977) wrote the Tombstone Tourist. Gwen Stefani (1987) is the lead singer of the group No Doubt. Dan Ribley (1971) holds the world record in pole vaulting. “Ronald Reagan visited our school twice. The first time in 1972 when he was govenor and again on Oct. 31, 1987 when he was president. His helicopter landed on our athletic field.” The couple retired to a senior area in Sun City in 1990 and enjoyed a numerous variety of volunteer work. In 2007, Ed died and Audrey moved to Fergus Falls to be close to her son Kent Runge and his wife Laurie and their newly adopted 19 month old daughter from Ethiopia. Today the California home economic teacher is still teaching knitting and crocheting to her friends at the senior center, where she serves on the board of directors. She recently checked off another item on her bucket list. She took an Alaskan cruise with her cousin to round out the number of states she has been in— all of them!
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