Lloyd Ebert, 101, Minnesota
Lloyd Ebert brought history alive for many
The former railroad worker shared his personal anecdotes using a wealth of detail and storytelling skill.
By Ben Cohen, Star Tribune
August 26, 2007 – 9:18 PM
Lloyd Ebert, who helped historical groups such as the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society clearly picture early 20th-century Minneapolis, died of a deer tick-borne illness, babesiosis, in Minneapolis on Aug. 9.
The former builder and railroad worker, who lived in Minnetonka, was 101.
Ebert built 12 homes and several of the buildings in the Linden Hills neighborhood, doing much of the work himself.
Whether describing his upbringing in Linden Hills or his construction work there, Ebert insisted on accurate presentations, but he brought them alive with plenty of detail and storytelling skill, said Joan Berthiaume of Minneapolis, cofounder of the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society.
“Lloyd became a fascinating wellspring of local history in the oral tradition,” said Berthiaume, who added that Ebert had a photographic memory. “He brought the stories to life, complete with the details about the personal characteristics of the people he was describing.”
He told stories of the dredging of the once-swampy lakes and stories of boyhood shenanigans. He and his friends used the dredging equipment as a diving platform after the workers went home.
Ebert could recall the names of the lamplighters of street gaslights, how the lights were built and their exact locations.
And he told of the 1914 wiring of his parents’ Linden Hills home for electricity. His family forgot to buy light bulbs and stores were closed, so he “liberated” some from the Lake Harriet Pavilion, he said.
As a teenager, he recalled riding the rails out West, picking fruit in Washington state.
Ebert provided his oral history lessons to libraries and historical groups in several communities, including Edina, Eden Prairie, Linden Hills and Gull Lake.
He also gave accounts of the Twin Cities’ history handed down from his maternal grandfather, Ebenezer Hodsdon who farmed near Lake Nokomis starting in the mid-1800s.
Hodsdon participated in meetings about naming the city at Col. John Stevens’ house. Several names were suggested, but Ebenezer favored “Minneahapolis,” the initial spelling of the city, said Berthiaume, who found Ebert’s account verified in a history of the city.
Ebert, a 1924 graduate of Minneapolis’ West High School, became so enamored of trains that he became a fireman on steam-powered engines in the 1920s, a task he performed with the Navy during World War II in the Pacific Theater.
Beginning in 1926, he and other family members built several of the buildings that house shops in Linden Hills.
After World War II, he built a cabin near Gull Lake, where he and his wife, Caroline, lived off the land for five years, doing a little carpentry on the side.
He worked for the Great Northern Railway for 25 years, retiring in 1977, enjoying gardening and stone polishing. He recently restored his decades-old wooden rowboat.
Ebert lived in the home he built in 1959 on Glen Lake in Minnetonka until he died. He remained healthy until he contracted the parasitic infection, said his daughter.
Caroline, his wife of 50 years, died in 1996.
He is survived by daughters Melanie of Minnetonka and Ramona of Shorewood; a son, Scott, of Minnetonka, and a granddaughter.
Services have been held.