Second cousins reunite at Olympia church

Arlene Mindemann was part of a women’s circle at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Olympia when she overheard the name “Leafy.”

Mindemann, 82, thought the name sounded familiar.

She later got lot to meet “Leafy,” who turned out to be Leafy Lundin, 83, a relatively new member of the church, during a Bible study class.

Curious about the name, Mindemann asked Lundin where she had lived before she moved to Rochester, south Thurston County, in 1971.

Lundin was born in Eureka, California, and had spent time in Spokane, she said.

Do you have any connection to the Midwest? Mindemann inquired.

Why, yes: Her mother was from North Dakota.

Mindemann replied that she, too, was from North Dakota, born and raised in the town of Minot.

The more the two women talked, the more they realized their connection went beyond the same state. They were related.

That’s when Mindemann knew she had heard the name Leafy before: She was her second cousin.

Lundin, who gathered Sunday with Mindemann and fellow church members Janice Erickson and David Good — Good alerted The Olympian to this story — brought visual evidence of their family connection.

It was a photo, thought to have been taken in 1946, showing both women, then in their teens, at a family gathering at Roosevelt Park in Minot.

After the two realized they were second cousins, long separated by the intervening years, they had their, “Oh, my gosh,” moment, the two said.

“My parents would’ve been thrilled,” said Mindemann, adding that her parents relocated to the Olympia area from North Dakota before they died.

After that photo was taken in 1946, life took Mindemann and Lundin in different directions.

Mindemann eventually headed west and became a charter member of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in 1957, only to leave the area and finally return to Olympia in 1999, she said.

Lundin eventually settled in Rochester. Her husband recently died, so her neighbor, fellow church member Erickson, invited her to church about three months ago. And that’s when the family connection was made, she said.

On Sunday, as they sat in the church’s fellowship hall, Lundin and Mindemann appeared to be content to look at old photos and catch up.