In Memoriam, Floyd E. Risvold (1912-2009)

"Keep Your Powder Dry"

Floyd Risvold at Big Sur, California in 1932

Floyd E. Risvold, a noted historian, author, and postal history collector, died in Edina, Minnesota on June 2nd. He was 97 years old.

Mr. Risvold's passion for history, particularly of western expansion in the United States, was fueled in his youth by his service with the National Coast and Geodetic Survey on expeditions throughout the West, Southwest and Alaska. While on these many wilderness trips between 1932 and 1946 he gained a lasting respect for and shared kinship with those who had preceded him over one hundred years before. Their exploits and accomplishments were kept alive in Mr. Risvold's daily routine as evidenced by his cheerful "keep your powder dry" standard form of saying good-bye.

After his marriage in 1941 to his beloved wife Sophie, and his return to Minnesota, Mr. Risvold owned and operated a successful baby clothing business. While dividing his time between business and his growing family, after daughters Diane and Kathy were born, he still found time to indulge his passion for collecting.

Mr. Risvold was ahead of his time in his collecting habits. After reading period accounts and books on a subject, he focused his interest and sought out the most important items available or the one key piece needed to best tell the story. These artifacts and letters had to spark his imagination and shed light on the historical events in a way that books could not. His ability to absorb and retain historical information was simply stunning. If one selected an item in his collection and asked him to elaborate on the historical context of the item, you had better make yourself comfortable for the detailed narrative that would follow.

Mr. Risvold loved to share both his knowledge and his collections. However, his meticulously annotated and researched album pages were not well suited to standard forms of philatelic exhibiting. Still, he did exhibit selected pages by invitation in the Court of Honor at the international stamp show held in Chicago in 1986. More recently he showed pages at the Taos Philatelic Rendezvous held in September 2008 (picture below with his daughter Diane) where he the won best in show award.

Floyd Risvold, Diane Pearson, Richard Frajola at Taos Philatelic Rendezvous 2008

Mr. Risvold's single-minded determination to acquire only the most significant items in his areas of interest resulted in the formation of several collections, each of which is highly important. His collection of Minnesota Territory was the subject of his 1985 book: The Minnesota Territory in Postmarks, Letters and Covers. His interest in Abraham Lincoln led to the publication of his book: A True History of the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the Conspiracy of 1865. Other collections include the finest group of documents and letters relating to the Fur Trade in America ever assembled, the California Gold Rush, Western Exploration and Settlement, the Civil War, and Spanish Colonial postmarks.

For those who were fortunate enough to have spent time with Mr. Risvold, the experience was unforgettable. His great passion for history and philately was contagious. He will be sorely missed by all whose lives he touched.

Richard Frajola (June 4, 2009)