To know Georgia (Stoll) Rettmer is to experience the warmth of a bright summer day—bask in rays of sunshine. It is no wonder that she has accomplished so much in her life and has been selected as the 2010 Bethany Lutheran College Distinguished Alumna.
Georgia first discovered Bethany during her high school days when she came to the campus for voice lessons. She enrolled at Bethany in 1949. For her, Bethany represented an extension of a happy childhood. There was a continuation of the values she had been brought up with and enrichment from interaction with special faculty. She fondly recalls time spent in choir with director Alfred Fremder. She also feels blessed to have studied under such notable faculty members as Rudoph Honsey and Barbara (Ylvisaker) Newsom. Attending chapel was an important part of each and every day. Looking back today, Georgia commented, “Bethany maintains a high-quality education and wonderful Christian values.”
After earning an associate’s degree from Bethany, Rettmer completed her education at Minnesota State University, Mankato, earning degrees in music and art. She began a career teaching and directing high school choir in Mapleton, Minnesota. After teaching in Mapleton, Georgia was married to her high school sweetheart, Forrest Rettmer. When the couple was blessed with a family, Georgia moved from classroom teaching into full time motherhood. The couple lived in Mankato where they raised their four children: Rebecca, John, Peter, and Kimberly.
Art and business inspiration
As the family was growing, Georgia continued to create art. Daughter Kimberly inherited the artistic gene but expressed it in a different way through written word and poetry. Georgia thought there might be something special in Kimberly’s words and hoped for an opportunity to share this unique gift with others. The two began to pair Kimberly’s inspirational words with Georgia’s lovely torn paper artwork, creating cards for family and friends. “You should sell these cards,” was the encouragement they heard from many. Neither of the women had much business experience but they did have an unquenchable optimistic spirit and fantastic support from family. So in May of 1984, Georgia and Kimberly started the business, It Takes Two. Their internationally distributed catalogs and cards speak of positive Christian messages that proclaim from Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name on the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
A new chapter
“In retirement, there are so many opportunities for volunteering. A whole new world opens up,” Georgia shared. To both current students and alumni, Rettmer reflects on the most important lesson learned at Bethany Lutheran College. “Carry the ‘One Thing Needful’ with you and witness wherever you go. You never know when you are going to touch someone. This is what you take into the world.”