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Samuelson's giving spirit extends to bloodmobile

Caring about others has long been in Bev Samuelson's nature.

Samuelson once wanted to become a nurse. She ended up employed as a church secretary. And retirement has her volunteering at area nursing homes.

So it's no surprise the Hager City resident also actively supports the American Red Cross Bloodmobile. She'll serve second-shift duty when the bloodmobile comes to Zion Covenant Church in Ellsworth next Monday from noon to 6 p.m.

As a member of the canteen crew, Samuelson offers donors coffee and pop, and makes sure there's cookies on the table.

"I'm always watching arms, too," she said Wednesday, explaining they sometimes bleed a bit from the place where blood was withdrawn.

In fact, the first time she worked at the canteen, one little lady started bleeding, she recalled. Usually not serious, the need to summon a Red Cross official to get the flow stopped happens once in a while, as does someone feeling faint and having to be escorted to a cot.

Samuelson said she was initially a bloodmobile caller, given a list of names of people on perhaps a sheet-and-a-half of paper to phone with a reminder about their appointments. That task's since been replaced by post card mailings. But she seems just as happy with her present opportunity to meet-and-greet participants in person.

After all, a big part of her 23-year job as secretary at Cornerstone Church in Red Wing was being someone congregation members could talk to.

"It's the same with the bloodmobile," she said, noting she sees many of the same donors at each of its three annual visits locally.

As a young child, the Red Wing native helped her father, Ted Mathews, deliver groceries when he worked at that city's old Farmers Store, she remembered. Coincidentally, the store was located in the downtown building now occupied by the church that used to employ her. The graduate of Red Wing's former Central High School attended a nursing program at Mankato (Minn.) State University for awhile before entering her church secretary's role.

After assisting nine pastors during her tenure, her lack of computer experience led to her leaving around six years ago, she said. The additional free time has given her a chance to travel, mainly to Virginia with friends Mr. and Mrs. Dave Webb, and to Oklahoma, where her husband's brother lives.

She and spouse Gene, a retired steam fitter at Durkee-Atwood in Red Wing, have been married for nearly 45 years and have four grown sons: Duane, David, Paul and Peter. They've lived on an 80-acre farm since 1964, growing a few crops, but without animals since the boys were youths, when they had some calves, pigs, chickens and sheep, she said.

A cancer survivor, Samuelson said she's collected donations for the American Cancer Society in her farming neighborhood in the past. She now frequently helps a shut-in with shopping and still delivers bulletins from the church to nursing home residents she regularly visits.

She also donates blood, she said. She hadn't done so following her bout with cancer, understanding her blood wouldn't be accepted for up to 10 years, until one bloodmobile visit when a Red Cross official corrected her that the time limit was five years, and signed her up.

"It doesn't hurt, it doesn't make you feel any different--in fact, you feel better--and it doesn't take long," she said. "Besides, you never know when you're going to need it yourself."