Speer Memorial Library and its patrons will have a rare opportunity to view a minute portion of the art of giving and collecting - that is the giving of valentine cards and the collecting of small tokens of fondness for a teacher, Grace Axelsen Welzenbach.

Helen Heinrich, daughter, has graciously offered to display her mother’s treasure chest that is a footlocker, of vintage valentine cards that nestled in the dark for over 70 years. The collection was previously on display at the McMillan Memorial Library in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., and it brought her so much pleasure to see the enjoyment of the viewing public that she hopes that the community of Mission will also enjoy the collection.

The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. These intricate, delicate paper valentines — given to Mrs. Welzenbach from the 1920’s to the 1940’s, when she worked as a Minnesota country schoolteacher — will be shared with patrons of Speer Memorial Library in the month of February. Of her mother, Helen said, “My mother saved everything. I think she saved every valentine she ever got as a teacher.”

Beginning her teaching career in 1921 and retiring in 1972, Welzenbach moved to a nursing home in Garretson, South Dakota, in 1993. Her Minnesota home was sold, with her lifetime’s accumulation of goods reduced to a movable piece of auction.

Mrs. Grace Axelsen Welznbach, born in 1902, took a course for fledging teachers in high school, and then found teaching jobs at rural schools at Luverne, Minnesota. Later she taught and served as principal of a larger school in Ellsworth, Minnesota. Welzenbach, who started her work at 19, retired in her 70s. She began her teaching career in 1921 and retired in 1972. She lived a long and momentous ninety-five years of age.

Speer Memorial Library is located at 12th and Kika De La Garza Loop in Mission. The library is open (except for Holidays) Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The Library’s homepage can be accessed www.mission.lib.tx.us.