I didn’t know Phyllis Lindberg very long — I met her probably about a year and a half ago — but during the time I knew her, I learned she was a bright, engaging woman who was passionate about her community.
Phyllis, 93, died Feb. 26. She lived in North Branch almost her entire life, which is certainly saying something.
The first time I talked to her was when I stopped by her house to drop off her Post Review; for one reason or another, it hadn’t been delivered that week.
We had a short, cordial conversation and then parted ways. Honestly, I wouldn’t have guessed she was over 90 years old. She seemed pretty steady on her feet, and her house was well cared for.
I got to know her better after I became editor of the Post Review and she called the office with a request.
She was working on an article about the “Standard on the Corner” corner in North Branch; anybody who has lived in town long enough is likely aware of that corner at the intersection of highways 95 and 61.
The corner was most recently home to a body shop, and it has a history that goes back to the late 1800s.
Phyllis and her husband had a personal tie to that piece of property — in 1946, they purchased it and operated Lindy’s Standard Service there, until 1960.
She asked me if I would help her edit her opinion article. I edit plenty of articles here at the Post Review, mainly submissions that are sent to be via email and a few by mail.
Phyllis didn’t want to go this route; she asked me if I would come to her home and help her edit the piece.
I’d never done something like that before, but I obliged. She seemed nice over the phone, and I thought it would only take about half an hour, so I drove out to North Branch and met her on an early March day last year.
The half hour I thought I’d spend with her turned into about two hours. She showed me pictures of the corner, talked about its history and some of her early memories of North Branch and we edited her piece, line by line.
I was struck by just how sharp she was.
At one point, she told me I was adding too many commas.
I chuckled internally at this comment.
I know there are rules to the English language, but I’m also cognizant of the fact that people have their own writing styles, and sometimes it’s best to let things be, as long as the writer’s point is coming across clear and concise.
So we went back through her writing, and I deleted some commas.
When we finished with the piece, she thanked me for the time I had spent with her that afternoon.
What I took away from this exchange was how much she loved her city and that she was still interested in learning about it. She had done all the research needed to write thoroughly about the Standard on the Corner area, and, in my opinion, she put together a piece that was interesting to read.
When I stepped out of her home that afternoon and into the warm sun that was doing its best to melt piles of snow, I thought to myself that I should really have thanked her for inviting me to come help her with her article instead of the other way around.
I learned more about the city in which I spend much of my time, and I also got to spend an afternoon with a delightful person.