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Pea Soup Days grand marshals announced

Eloris Rivard and Sharon Ammerman are the co-Grand Marshals of the 2011 Somerset Pea Soup Days parade. The parade is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 11, starting at the Somerset Middle School.

It was a surprise to them.

Sharon Ammerman and Eloris Rivard have been named the 2011 Grand Marshals for Somerset's annual Pea Soup Days parade.

Although both women have extensive volunteer experience, they are not accustomed to being in the forefront.

"David Bracht (of the Somerset Lions) called me and insisted," smiled Rivard.

"I happened to be in the (Christ Lutheran Church) office when he called," recalled Ammerman. "He said that Eloris from St. Anne's Church said yes if I would say yes."

"He told you that?" asked Rivard quickly. "He told me that you would do it if I did it.

"He was playing us against each other," laughed Rivard.

The Somerset Lions are sponsoring the parade and the grand marshals were chosen based on their service to the community.

Ammerman was born in La Crosse and moved to Somerset in the early 1960's when her husband, Harold "Ocky" Ammerman, taught science for 28 years before passing away in December 2009.

She began her life as a volunteer when her father-in-law was a resident at Maple Manor in New Richmond back in 1976. She was asked to join the activity department within the year and continued until she retired as activity director in 1997 to help her husband with his painting business.

During this time, she became heavily involved with Christ Lutheran Church. Her duties there have included Sunday School teacher for 17 years, Bible Study leader, building committee member, Evangelism ministry team, church council, CLC vice-president for three years, CLC quilters, Tender Hearts Ministry, coordinator for the monthly meal at Grace Place and other various offices in the CLC women's group.

She also served as a Somerset Cub Scout leader for seven years and as a Somerset Girl Scout leader for eight years.

Ammerman also has been the Red Cross Bloodmobile coordinator ever since 1978. She said that every year the three bloodmobiles collect between 80 and 110 units of blood.

For a purely fun venture, she has been a member of the Pan Handlers Kitchen band since 1997, playing at nursing homes, senior centers and assisted living facilities.

"We're retired women playing glorified kazoos decorated with kitchen and household utensils," she explained. "I have a kitchen scrubber on mine."

Ammerman has three children: Fritz, a fiscal analyst for the Wisconsin joint finance committee; Doug, a research scientist at Sandia Research Laboratory in Albuquerque, N.M.; and Kathy, a computer programmer for the Wisconsin Administration Department. She also has two grandchildren, Lauren and Steven, and two step-grandchildren, Nick and Lynn. In addition, she has three great-grandchildren: Tyler, Kaitlyn and Heidi.

Rivard was born and raised on a farm about 3 miles north of Somerset on Highway 35. She said the original house is still on the property.

As the oldest of three children, Rivard attended a country school call Lake School for first and second grade before transferring to St. Anne's School. She eventually graduated from Somerset High School and studied nursing in Minneapolis. She started her professional career at Holy Family Hospital (now Westfields Hospital) in New Richmond.

During this time, she married her "best friend and classmate" Doug Rivard. Together they had nine children: Kathy, Patrick, Bernard, Renee, Cindy, Joel, Roger, Shelly and Margaret.

"We have 21 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren and they are the joy of my life," said Rivard.

They lived on a farm next to the Somerset Town Hall and Fire Department, where the Stillwater Medical Clinic now stands. She was working at Maple Manor (now the Gables) in New Richmond for three years and then at the Stillwater Medical Center in Stillwater for 26 years.

When she and her husband retired, they sold the farm and moved to a house in Balsam Lake. She moved back to Somerset after her husband died three years later.

After raising nine children and retiring from nursing, she began filling her days with volunteer work at the St. Croix County Health Center, Somerset Senior Center, Bloodmobile and St. Anne's Church.

She is also a member of the Pan Handlers Band.

Not ones to shirk responsibility, they are both preparing for their moment in the spotlight.

"My 6-year-old great-grandson is from Madison and is all excited about coming up to see 'Grandma Sharon's parade,'" laughed Ammerman.

"We are practicing our princess waves," demonstrated Rivard.