Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Odd Eide (1883-1952)

Portrait from the 1931 Minnesota State Legislative Manual.

    Polk County, Minnesota was featured recently in the write-up on Thrond Torsteinsen Morken, who represented that county in the legislature from 1913-1917. That Minnesota county again takes center stage with another odd named state legislator---Odd Eide! If that name immediately conjures up images of a cross-eyed man à la Ben Turpin or Marty Feldman, you are not alone! I'll admit that when I first stumbled across Mr. Eide's name a year or two ago in a Minnesota legislative manual I got quite the laugh out of it, and since that time I've always remembered him as that funnily named legislator with the name that could be misinterpreted as "cross-eyed." Aside from having a name that will make you laugh out loud, Eide was a prominent figure in Polk County, Minnesota for a number of years, serving as that county's representative in the state legislature on three consecutive occasions.
   Like several other oddly named Midwestern political figures who've been featured here, Odd Eide's story begins "across the pond" in Voss, Norway, where he was born on February 16, 1883. He would attend the Middel-Skolen (high school) in Voss and following his graduation in 1899 relocated to the United States. In 1901 he settled in Fertile, Polk County, Minnesota, where in that year he took work as a clerk in the general store/druggist shop of his uncle, Andrew Opheim. Following his uncle's death in 1915 Eide took over the day-to-day management of Opheim's business and also acted as the administrator of his estate. Eide also attended college shortly after arriving in Minnesota, graduating from the Park Region Luther College (located in Fergus Falls) in the class of 1902.
   Odd Eide married on November 30, 1910 to Clara Nelson (1884-1965), with whom he would have eight children: Knute Arne (born 1913), Anna Bessie (birth-date unknown), Anders Opheim (birth-date unknown), Clara Alfhild (1918-2001), Odd Arvid (1920-2009), Alf Rognald (1922-2012), Roald (1924-1976) and Agnes (1926-2009). Following his marriage, Eide continued with his business pursuits in Fertile and would become active in the civic and political life of that town, serving at various times as a member of the village council, clerk of the Fertile school district and was a member of the Board of Directors of the National Bank of Fertile. In November 1928 the citizens of Polk County elected Odd Eide as their representative to the Minnesota State Legislature, garnering 6,787 votes.
   Taking his seat in January of the new year, Eide served on the house committees on the Board of Control and State Institutions; Commerce Manufacture and Retail Trade, Drainage; Markets and Marketing; Municipal Affairs; and State and County Fairs during the 1929-31 session. He was re-elected as representative in November 1930 and in the 1931-33 session served on two new committees, those being Appropriations and Banks and Banking. Eide won his third term in the house in November 1932 and retired from political life at the end of the 1933-35 session.
    In the latter period of his life, Odd Eide continued to be active in Fertile public life, being a parishioner at the Concordia Lutheran Church, of which he served as president. Acknowledged as a "good mixer" with a penchant for gardening and stamp collecting, Eide also earned a reputation as a man who:
"Stood for his convictions and treated everyone equal. A staunch supporter was Mr. Eide, and he was untiring in his efforts to improve the village. He was a Republican with great force and sound judgement."
   On July 21, 1952 Odd Eide died in Fertile at age 69. His wife Clara survived him by over a decade, and after her death in 1965 was interred alongside her husband at the Concordia Cemetery in Fertile. 

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