Louise Marie Naeseth Hubbard
March 23, 1916 - June 29, 2021
Louise Hubbard died peacefully on June 29, 2021, in the Princeton Care Center in Princeton, New Jersey, after a joy-filled life of 105 years. Louise was a keen environmentalist, a loving mentor to nieces and nephews, and a delight to family and friends.
Louise was born in Valley City, North Dakota, where her father was pastor at Our Savior's Lutheran Church. In 1919 her father was called to Spring Prairie Lutheran Church, a rural parish near DeForest, Wisconsin; the family lived there until 1954. Toward the end of her life, Louise was comforted by memories of her childhood home at the Spring Prairie parsonage. She remembered her mother, Emma Louise Brandt Naeseth, walking barefoot among the wildflowers before the responsibilities of the day began, and she treasured thoughtful conversations with her father, Carelius Gunnarson Naeseth.
Louise was proud of her Norwegian-American heritage. Her mother’s ancestors were pioneer pastors in America and on the Naeseth side she was a third cousin of the Queen of Norway, the former Sonja Haraldsen. In 2011 Louise was pleased to have the opportunity to meet Queen Sonja during the King and Queen’s visit to Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Louise was a loyal alumna of the Luther class of 1939. She loved her time at Luther; before women were formally accepted as students, she studied on campus under the auspices of the Decorah College for Women. Louise had to leave Luther in 1937 so her younger sister could start college. After completing her education at Miss Wood’s School, an innovative elementary teachers' training college in Minneapolis, she taught kindergarten in Wisconsin. She was a creative, dramatic teacher, as evidenced by listening to her at age 100 recite from memory the entire book, The Giant’s Shoe, by Jessica Nelson North, including the giant’s very dramatic deep voice that must have given the kindergarteners lovely chills. Louise remembered that the recitation in class was inevitably followed by the request: “Say it again, Miss Naeseth!”
Louise was a lifelong teacher and mentor. Whether reading to younger family members, bird watching with older ones, editing and proofreading her husband’s reports for the United Nations, or just taking the time to listen, she was always ready to help. Over many decades she offered support to family – helping with childcare, sponsoring music camp, funding a cross-country bicycle trip, even sewing a wedding dress. Her frequent letters provided emotional support to her siblings.
Louise’s love of nature was apparent from an early age. A century later she could still sing charming little songs about birds from the piano songbook given to her and her four siblings by their grandparents. (The book itself had disappeared some time in the early 1950s, but the songs were still with her.) Louise fell in love with a young graduate student at Trees for Tomorrow, a summer camp for teachers in Eagle River, Wisconsin. Fred Hubbard and Louise were married for 57 years until his death in 2008. She provided essential support for his career as an environmental consultant specializing in water resources management. They lived and worked in New York, Honolulu, Edinburgh, Paris, Indonesia, the Philippines, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. When Fred retired, they focused on environmental issues in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, enlisting volunteers to help create a nature trail along the Hudson River. Louise modeled good conservation habits by walking everywhere, composting and growing vegetables on her terrace, and even by carefully picking the plastic bags out of the recycling bins at her apartment complex when she was over 90. She was a role model for everyone who knew her.
Louise was a voracious reader and volunteered at her local library. As she neared the end of her first century, macular degeneration stole most of her sight, but she remained cheerful and empathetic. Her friends had always loved her dry humor and quick wit. In a Skype conversation facilitated by caregivers at the Princeton Care Center, she was asked what made her happy. “I think I’m just naturally happy!” she observed.
Louise chose not to have a memorial service. She is missed by nieces and nephews from both her family and Fred’s, as well as many friends and admirers in the Midwest and in New York, where she lived from 1973 to 2019. In memory of Louise, contributions to your local library or to conservation efforts would be welcome. If she were with you now, Louise would be reminding you to look up at the birds, tell stories to children, and make sure to keep those plastic bags out of the recycling bins.