Name: Gwen Stevens
Occupation: Director of Member and Community Relations, Peoples Energy Cooperative
Where we found her: Chamber of Commerce event
What was your first job? North Dairy Queen—over by what’s now Fareway Foods.
Did you get an extensive education on making the curly-Q? Ha! There’s a little trick to it. That Dairy Queen wasn’t as stringent about the rules. We had the largest ice cream cones of any franchise, probably.
So you’re from Rochester? Born and raised. I went to John Marshall.
Did you always want to go into marketing? I thought was going to be a trainer—for a sports team. But biology was kind of a hang up for me. I realized I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I read an article about how there were no females in the professional sports arena at that time. I was not so excited to blaze that trail.
Were you an athlete? I grew up playing basketball, volleyball and softball. … Out of high school, I played a year of softball at RCC.
And now? I don’t! I coach my girls in softball. I had a pretty big knee injury, so I don’t play much anymore. … I had to have two plates, 10 screws and some bone grafting. It’s fine now, but I can’t run. (I don’t like [running], so it gives me a great excuse!)
How old are your girls? 13, 11, and 8. They go to Willow Creek and Longfellow. I just bought my first Spartan apparel this fall.
Was that hard to do as a JM grad? I joke about it, but not really. I haven’t learned the fight song yet, but that’s my next step.
Five things you love? My family, my church (Autumn Ridge) and church family, my job and the people I work with. I love being outside. And I love to cook and eat.
Do you have a specialty in the kitchen? My kids would probably say my homemade chicken noodle soup. … It’s an all-day event. I make the noodles from scratch.
Best meal in town? Boy, that is tough. There are just so many. I love the local restaurants, the hometown restaurants, like Newt’s and Canadian Honker. Does Bunny’s Coconut Cake qualify as a meal? That’s probably my favorite thing ever.
Tell me about an adventure? We took our kids to South Dakota in our camper over MEA break one year. It was the year they got 21 inches of snow in one storm—and it was while we were there. In Rapid City, the snow was taller than our vehicle. We didn’t have any winter stuff with us—because it was fall!—so we had to buy rain gear, then use duct tape to seal off our pant legs so we could go hiking. And, of course, when we did go hiking, the snow was so deep that we couldn’t figure out how to get out. On top of that, there was a federal government shutdown. So the only place we could physically visit was Crazy Horse, because they stayed open and weren’t run by the government. At the end, we couldn’t get our camper out of our campsite, so we had to stay an extra day.
How did you meet your husband? I worked with his brother at Baker’s Square, and went to his brother’s 21st birthday party. That’s where we met.
Was it love at first sight? I don’t remember! A few months into dating, I was thinking: This guy could be someone I could see spending my life with. We’re 21 years married now.
Biggest surprise? My third child. She was not in my plans, in any way. I always call her “my little surprise blessing from heaven.” I can’t imagine life without her. We had just sold all of our baby stuff when we found out we were pregnant.
How’d you tell your husband? I remember standing in the front hall and I said, “You aren’t going to believe this.” He knew right away. He said, “You’re pregnant, aren’t you?”
Best laid plans … When I was in school at Concordia [St. Paul], I had my life planned. I wrote it down: This is the year I’ll graduate. We’ll have our first child in this year. Our second child this year. A new house this year. And everything fell in line… until she came along! And I can’t believe I didn’t want this. It shows that you don’t know what you don’t know.
Any regrets? I kind of wish I would’ve had my kids sooner, and had one more. It’s probably my biggest regret.
Advice you give? I tell my kids: Be a blessing, not a burden, to people. I tell them to just be themselves. And I tell them that the choices you make now, can impact you forever.