Connecting people through the power of history and culture

Tarryl Clark (1961-) Tarryl Clark became one of the new women in the Minnesota State Senate when she was elected District 15 Senator in December 2005. Based on her experience working with legislators as an advocate for working families and seniors, she quickly won the Assistant Senate Majority Leader position in November 2006. She said she planned to work “…with people to find common ground on the issues the people of Minnesota care about.” Among Clark’s interests and concerns are all levels of education, accessible health care, jobs, energy, and community development. Clark said her grandmother was her role model, advocating public service work throughout life. Her grandmother said, “I always go to church and I always vote.” Her grandmother instilled in her an innate propensity toward public service. Clark graduated from Drake University with a B.A. in sociology/psychology and earned a Masters in Education from Arizona State University. She graduated from William Mitchell College of Law in 1992. Born in Norfolk, Virginia, while her father was stationed there in the Navy, Clark moved with her family from Arizona to St. Cloud in 1988. She quickly became involved in work that challenged her interests in improving the community. Clark has held numerous public service and non-profit organization positions: Coordinator of St. Cloud Area Habitat for Humanity, attorney for the Senior Citizens Law Project, Human Relations Director of Land of Lakes Girl Scouts, Senior Policy Analyst at the Children’s Defense Fund; she was Director of the Community Response Task Force, Regional Coordinator of Northwest Area Foundation Devolution Project, and Executive Director of Minnesota Community Action Association. Clark lives in St. Cloud with her husband. In her spare time she enjoys reading, sports, riding bicycles, quilting and sewing. She is involved in genealogy and enjoys traveling.

Rose Arnold (1935-2004) Rose Arnold was the first female Stearns County Commissioner. She was praised for helping to start an effort to improve communications between local and state governments. Elected the 3rd District Stearns County Commissioner in 1988, she was reelected four times, serving on the Board as the only female member for 14 years. She was one of only two commissioners to ever serve as president of the Association of Minnesota Counties. As president, Arnold said, “It’s one thing to argue our positions on issues, but we can treat people with respect, too.” Arnold made it a point to research things, listen to people, and go out of their way to help people. Her son, Tom Arnold, said Rose would talk on the telephone for hours when someone called with a problem. “She respected all people and she respected their opinions.” Born in Richmond, Minnesota, Arnold graduated in 1953 from St. Boniface High School in Cold Spring. In her senior year yearbook she is quoted as the women who, “knows her mind and speaks it; has a goal and seeks it.” Arnold’s first job was at the Twin Cities Arsenal during the Vietnam War. She also worked at the Sauk Centre Northwestern Bell Telephone Company, Burlington Northern Railroad Company, and Liberty Loan. In 1970, she became a reporter for the St. Cloud Times, covering Stearns County Commissioner board meetings. While there she learned about issues facing the county. As County Commissioner, Arnold was instrumental in enacting county-wide zoning ordinances, solid waste ordinances, the purchase of Quarry Park, reorganizing the county’s Human Services structure, adopting technology innovations such as web-casting and cable casting of County Board meetings, creating a Human Resources and Public information office for the county and many other initiatives. She retired in 2002. Arnold was an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary in Eden Valley and St. Benedict’s Church in Avon. She served as president of the Stearns County Historical Society. Her hobbies included traveling, fishing, knitting and quilting. Rose Arnold married Richard Arnold in 1955. The couple raised four children.

Joanne Benson (1943-) Joanne Benson was elected on the Republican gubernatorial ticket with Governor Arne Carlson as the 44th Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota. She served from January 3, 1995, to January 4, 1999. Born on a farm in La Sueur, Minnesota, Benson graduated from Glencoe High School. She received her B.A. with honors in Elementary Education and Special Education from St. Cloud State University. From 1973 to 1990, she held a number of positions at St. Cloud State University, including instructor, assistant professor at Thomas Gray Campus Lab School, Director of Alumni and Development, and Coordinator of Kids Teaching Kids. Benson was an elected Minnesota State Senator representing the St. Cloud area from 1991 to 1995. She was the first St. Cloud woman to win a statewide election and the first to run for governor. Education of Minnesota’s youth was the cornerstone of her public career. She sat on education committees, the Legislative Task Force on Post-Secondary Education Funding, the Governor’s Commission on Violent Crime, and chaired the Task Force on Mandates in Education, Welfare Reform, Health Care Reform, Transportation, Environment, and Natural Resources. In 1998, Benson was a front-runner candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor of Minnesota but did not win party endorsement. She said her male opponents felt she was “too nice” to be governor, implying that she would not be firm, tough, or work hard to get things done, a view with which she did not agree. In her political life Benson believed in: 1) Citizenship, it is important to be a good, active citizen. 2) Communication, it important to share and communicate ideas 3) Celebration, once you communicate and you are an active citizen take the time to celebrate the good work people do. Benson left office in 1999 to become the chief education officer for the Minnesota Business Academy. In that capacity, she worked with civic and state leaders to create an MBA, recruit students, and raise money for the school. She serves on the SCSU University Foundation Board. In retirement, Benson believes in faith, family, friends, and fun. With her husband, she enjoys travel, visiting children and grandchildren, hiking, climbing, bicycling, and reading.

Carolyn Hall Garven (1944-) Carolyn Hall Garven has been an advocate for people since she arrived in St. Cloud 38 years ago. Her energetic commitment to community has propelled her to various leadership positions, including former Chair of the St. Cloud City Council. Garven was born in Highland Park, Illinois in 1944, the middle child of Betty and Larry Hall, who moved their family to the Kenwood neighborhood of Minneapolis in 1948. It was her father’s Presbyterian practicality and sense of giving that instilled in Garven a dedication to hard work and service, and her mother’s optimism and civic action in the face of the terminal illness that affected Garven’s own “glass half-full” attitude. An achiever at West High School, Garven graduated in 1962, moving to Western College in Oxford, Ohio, and then, to Macalaster College, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in Social Science and Elementary Education. Garven and her husband, James, moved to St. Cloud in 1968 where she taught in Sauk Rapids for almost 33 years, retiring in 2000. She earned remedial Reading and Developmental Disabilities degrees and an M.A. in Special Education Administration. She entered educational politics when her grievance against school administration was used by MEA to challenge the State under Title IX of the Education Act of 1972, which prohibited discrimination because of pregnancy. Garven had been refused three days paid leave after the birth of a daughter but MEA won the right for all teachers. Teacher’s issues occupied Garven for 20 years while sitting on the State’s Teachers’ Rights and MEA Boards, but she tackled community concerns after her election to the Council in 1999. Her efforts on the Homeless Concerns Task Force resulted in the City’s commitment, with financial support from the HRA, to construct a community shelter. Collaboration included Stearns County Social Services and the Salvation Army,  the Public Arts and MTC Commissions, and the Benton County Economic Development Committee. “I want to do what’s right for the people,” says Garven, a consensus-builder who believes in working in a “constructive, progressive manner to move forward” on issues that affect people’s lives.

Myra Eldred Dragoo (1883-1961) When Myra Dragoo in 1924 became the first woman elected to the St. Cloud city Council, her colleagues quickly elected her president. However, she did such a good job that the men had to confess to the conspiracy: They only elected her president so she wouldn’t be able to talk too much. Dragoo had thoroughly dispelled her colleagues’ fears about women in government. Dragoo, who kept the council seat for eight years, was a welfare worker in Stearns County for 29 years. She started as a volunteer Big Sister. After a successful year, Dragoo was asked to serve as a member of the Stearns County Child Welfare Board. She worked with unmarried mothers, delinquent youths, and homebound children. Often, young people were paroled to individual board members, including Dragoo. She then became a full-time investigator for the Old Age Assistance Program. The job was supposed to last long enough for her to earn enough money to buy a spring outfit. But she was so struck with the impact of the program that she devoted her energy to the thousands of applications that came in. She saw the county’s welfare program through states of growth. Dragoo was active in the St. Cloud unit of public health for a number of years, organizing and heading the first active Christmas Seal campaign in 1931. She was appointed president of the Stearns County Public Health Association in 1935. Dragoo also was program chairwoman of the St. Cloud PTA and past president of the Reading Room Society.