Beatrice Cardinal

Early Years

On May 29, 1915, Beatrice Vivian Ferslev was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She was the second of 3 girls in the Ferslev family. (See more on the Ferslev family history page.)

Her first house was in the 800 or 900 block of South Maple Street on the west side of Green Bay. Before she turned 3, the family moved to the 500 block of South Maple, where they stayed until 1919. During 1919-1920, the family lived at 414 South Jackson Street on Green Bay's east side, but on Bea's fifth birthday in 1920 they moved back to the west side to a house on Cora Street. There they stayed for 18 years, until 1938.

(In 1938, Bea's family was forced to move as a result of a Depression bankruptcy. This took them to 816 Kellogg Street. The family moved to 975 Howard Street in 1943 while she was teaching in Shawano.)

Growing Up

Bea grew up on Cora Street, off South Oakland Avenue and just north of the slough which flowed where Seymour Park is today. The slow moving waters of the slough froze into a skating pond in the winter.

beatrice [+] Beatrice Ferslev in second grade [-]

In the elementary grades, Bea attended McCartney School, which was located only a block away on Ashland Avenue. In 5th and 6th grades, she went to Dousman School because McCartney didn't have enough rooms for all grades.

Beatrice started first grade at age 5 and she was a year ahead all the way through school. For 9th grade, Bea went to the old Franklin Junior High School on Shawano Avenue (located in the old West High building). Beginning with 10th grade, in the 1928-1929 school year, she went next door to the brand new West Senior High School. Through her high school years, Bea worked on the school newspaper, the Purple Parrot, and was a member of Quill and Scroll (which was then a new organization, having been formed in 1926).

The family took frequent trips to Door County (Wisconsin), Iron Mountain (Michigan), Milwaukee, and Chicago (Illinois) among other places. Once they went on a camping trip to Dayton, Ohio.

Bea was involved in many activities while growing up. Among them were the Epworth League and choir of St. Paul's Methodist Church and the Brown County Young People's Union (an ecumenical social group).

Early Adulthood

beatrice [+] Beatrice Ferslev

The first years after high school there was little employment available. Bea worked part time (mostly Friday night and Saturday) at the Green Bay Penny's store. She got her Social Security number while working a summer job at a restaurant in Ephraim (Door County), where her older sister Marjorie was living at the time.

When Bea and her younger sister Helen Lu decided to become teachers they enrolled at the Outagamie Rural Normal School in Kaukauna. Bea recieved her [+]diploma from Kaukauna in June of 1936 with mostly good [+]grades and, after taking an additional science course at St. Norbert College during the summer of 1936, received a "first grade" [first class] [+]certificate to teach in Brown County rural schools.

Lynch School in the Town of New Denmark, Brown County, was Bea's first teaching position starting in September of 1936. The pay was $75 a month and included janitorial duties ("sweeping, dusting, starting fire"). A [+]teacher contract only extended for the 9 months that school was in session.

Years School Monthly Pay
1936-37 Lynch School, Town of New Denmark $75
1937-40 Anston, Town of Pittsfield $80
1941-42 Town of Allouez  
1943-46 City of Shawano $100

Bea continued her education at the State Teachers College in Oshkosh, which later evolved into the Wisconsin State University and eventually the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. By taking correspondence courses, summer courses at St. Norbert College, and courses on Saturdays at both schools, she received her Bachelor of Science [+]diploma in April, 1945. Based on "the high scholarship which you have maintained throughout your college course," Bea was elected to the Phi Beta Sigma National Fraternity in Education. She received a lifetime state teaching [+]license for the elementary grades.

CAP [+] CAP patch

During World War II, in addition to teaching and going to college, Bea participated in the Civil Air Patrol and once she spent 2 hours helping to pass out rationing books. She carried on a correspondence with Alton Cardinal who would become her husband when the war was over. She also wrote other soldiers, including her cousin Oliver Jeffcott.

book club photo [+] The book club in 1952: Bea Cardinal, Marguerite Sickles, Helen Lu Ferslev, Marian Sippel, Helen Jeffcott, Eleanor Vanness, Dorothy Schible, Dorothy Berg, Barbara Detry. [-]

In 1941, Bea and Helen Lu joined several women (Marian Sippel, Eleanor Vannes, Eleanor Wenk, Barbara Detry, Marguerite Sickles) to start a book club. Over the years there were several additions and some departures, but some of the members stayed with the group for 50 years. The club met the third Tuesday of every month until the members were no longer physically able.

Settled Life

wedding book marriage record
[+] The wedding book record of the marriage.
Wedding party photo

On October 12, 1946, Beatrice married Alton Lyle Cardinal in a ceremony in her parents' house on Howard Street. The couple moved into a house at 973 Christiana Street. Two children were born while living there, Phyllis Ruth on January 25, 1948, and David Ralph on March 18, 1949.

Peter, Phyllis, David [+] The children in 1953. [-]
See also the family's early photo [↗] album

By 1951, with a third child was on the way, Bea and Alton designed and built a new house which would be located at 1093 Reed Street. The family moved in January, 1952, just weeks ahead of the birth of Peter Bruce on February 2.

In the Sunday School at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Bea taught all grades at various times. She also served as Sunday School superindendent and chair of the Christian Education commission.

One year Bea brought a Vacation Bible School class to the woods the family owned near Denmark. For several other years, Bea and others working with the United Amerindian Center ran a Vacation Bible School at St. Paul's church for elementary age Indian children in Green Bay. Older children in that program participated in a day camp located at the family's woods.

Elsewhere in the church, Bea served many years with the local congregation's Missions Commission and Christian Social Concerns and she held related offices at the church's district and conference levels. She also served with the Brown County Council of Churches.

While Bea had a child in school she was active with the local Parent Teacher Association. Later she tutored several children at Whitney School.

In the community, Bea was active in the Green Bay Voluntary Commission on Human Rights. (GBVCHR worked especially on housing discrimination issues.) Later, she was involved in the Ecumenical Lay School, a local program which annually brought expert speakers and serious theological discussion to the community. At other times, she drove for the Red Cross providing transportation for handicapped citizens and, with her husband Alton, helped deliver mobile meals.


Beatrice Cardinal died in the afternoon of April 10, 2007, Alton's birthday. Her body was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.


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November-December, 2005
April, 2007

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