30 Aug Jon Cartu Affirms: Daily Inter Lake
Linnea Ghilardi, 75
Linnea was born on Jan. 30, 1945, in Chicago to William Phillip and Doris Bartelt Phillip. She was raised in the near west village of Riverside, designed by the landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmstad.
Linnea passed away on Thursday morning, 1:30 a.m., Aug. 27, 2020, with her husband of nearly 40 years holding her hand and watching her take her last peaceful breaths.
Linnea had an idyllic childhood attending schools in Riverside and then graduating at the top of her class from Riverside-Brookfield High School (R-B). She excelled in her studies. She took to writing very early on in life and it became her lifelong passion to continue writing, even editing the school yearbook for several years. She wrote her own autobiography in eighth grade and had an article published in the Chicago Tribune while in grade school.
She was athletic and at one time was ranked in Illinois as among their best competitive swimmers.
Her parents owned a “cottage” in Green Lake, Wisconsin, and thus began Linnea’s affection and need with living on or near a lake, something that would occur even in her later years.
Linnea was accepted to Northwestern University, where she once again excelled in her history major. She was required to learn both German and French for her history major and she mastered both. She was able to enjoy an art history tour of Europe, which grew into a love affair with all that Europe had to offer.
She graduated in 1967 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, and within a few months, earned her Master of Arts degree, becoming the first of her cohort group to earn an MA degree.
Linnea was looking forward to either pursuing her doctorate degree or teaching in a high school in London, but fate had a different calling. She met Larry Ghilardi and they were married in 1967.
Rather than remain in the USA, they decided to take a lengthy tour of Europe in their newly purchased VW camper. They traveled throughout Europe for over six months, a trip that would have a lasting impact on them.
They returned to London for Christmas on multiple occasions and continued their travels not only in Europe, but also the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand.
They also traveled extensively in the USA in the 1970s.
Of course, there had to pay a way for pay for all of this. Linnea secured a teaching position at Glenbrook North High School, at that time ranked among the best high schools, not only in Illinois but also the USA.
Linnea further obtained a part-time teaching position at De Lourdes College, which was both a college for order’s sisters and a four-year college for women. Linnea’s class was a room full of nuns dressed in their habits. This experience would have lifelong ramifications in Linnea’s spiritual evolution.
She was a very creative teacher and had students engaged in active learning. She took field trips to plays and other cultural events in downtown Chicago.
She became actively involved with the Illinois Council for the Social Studies, editing their newsletter for a number of years. She also mentored new teachers entering the profession.
She felt that teaching was a calling and that teachers should have a passion for the subject matter and a passion to guide students to be become better thinkers and to be precise in their writing. This would come back to her 20 years later as you shall read.
In one of Larry and Linnea’s drives around the country, they “discovered” Bigfork in 1975, staying at a fishing campground called Elm Resort near the steel bridge. Those were the days when the kokanee salmon limit was 35 fish per day. She enjoyed canning both salmon and Flathead cherries.
In Linnea’s mind, she had found her home in Montana and she spent the next three years making it happen.
They obtained teaching positions in the Helena school system, with Linnea at Helena High School teaching World Cultures and American government.
She took world cultures to another level by starting an Honors World Cultures course, one that became highly successful. Her program was so unique that the publisher of the textbook used in teaching world cultures around the nation hired Linnea to write the teacher’s guide.
Linnea met Steve Armstrong in 1979 when he arrived at Helena High. They were married in 1981.
They enjoyed team teaching many courses and sharing many of the same students. Linnea would have them as freshman and they would enter Steve’s AP and regular American history course as juniors.
In the fall of 1980, Linnea created a week-long simulation of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. This placed incredible demands on that freshman class, as they had to have exact discipline and obey commands. While some in the community, even some of her colleagues, thought that Linnea was teaching “communism,” in fact, she was doing the exact opposite. Her lesson was on the deleterious effects of blind obedience and blind following of one leader and one supposed cause.
When Linnea had a student who was deaf, she wrote a grant to fund all of the teachers of this girl to learn American Sign Language.
She enjoyed sharing the study of local and Montana government, having the students participate in City-County Days, where students would follow city leaders and learn how a city operates. Field trips to the legislature were regular fare.
Several of her former students now have leadership positions in local government in Helena and in Montana state government, including current Gov. Bullock.
Linnea and Steve coordinated Helena High’s Close-Up program, taking students on week-long study trips to Washington, D.C.
Linnea became active in a distance learning program in the late 1980s, which was experimental and in its infancy. She had students in remote areas of Montana and even students in Alaska, all connected via a 300k modem!
Linnea was an avid outdoorsman. She enjoyed hiking ranches in central Montana seeking the elusive prong-horned antelope. She enjoyed fishing in Flathead Lake. She delighted in hiking in Glacier Park and other trails in the Flathead Valley. Her waterskiing skills could put others to shame.
Linnea was supportive of and enjoyed Steve’s music, often sitting behind the trombones while Steve performed with the Helena Big Band. She also followed Steve on his numerous gigs in several locations in and around Helena.
She became politically active in Helena, winning a seat on the Helena Citizen’s Council, an advisory group to Helena’s City Commission.
She and Steve also continued international and USA travels, visiting China, Japan, Russia and a safari in Kenya. They also returned to Europe on an “If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium tours.”
Another highlight was a journey to the Holy Land (Israel) and Egypt at a time when there was a modicum of peace in the region.
She delighted in a trip to Alaska to Prudhoe Bay following the Alaskan pipeline, as well as a journey on a paddle boat down the Mississippi River.
Linnea and Steve took numerous driving trips throughout the USA, exploring both the southeast and the southwest regions of the country.
By the early 1990s, in only Linnea fashion, she decided that it was time to return to the greater Chicago area.
She was hired in an administrative position in a suburban school district, a position she held for two years.
After that time, she began to pursue her lifelong dream of earning a doctorate degree and writing a dissertation. As you read earlier, Linnea believed that teaching was a calling, and her research was directed at showing how some of the most inspirational teachers she knew had that calling.
Her dissertation was 450-pages in length, and with exacting research and dynamic observation, she earned her a doctorate degree in 1999.
She decided to retire from education and begin a quest for other intellectual joys.
Linnea was a member of the American Mensa Society, the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Society of Mayflower Descendants. She enjoyed her research into her family history and proving…