From Cabins to Homes
Anne Theis, Civic Leader
Anne Theis had a significant role in the evolution of Independence Beach and the Village of Medina. Over a period of 40 years, Anne held a variety of city positions, beginning as city clerk in 1958 and ending as mayor from 1993-1996.
Anne and Paddy Theis moved to Independence Beach soon after their marriage in 1951. After WWII, there was a housing shortage, particularly for first-time buyers. Independence Beach property values were low, and the weekend cabins could be converted for year-round use. In 1951, the newlyweds had no money – Anne was quoted as saying “The lot and the cabin were $2,500 and we didn’t have 25 cents” –but they were able to borrow and scrape together enough money to purchase the property on Walnut Ave. There was no insulation, no decent windows, no plumbing and no chimney. A generous neighbor agreed to provide water. They built a fireplace and chimney just in time for winter; it was snowing the day they completed the chimney. They lived in the little cottage for seven years with no water and no indoor plumbing, until they paid off the money they had borrowed. After that, they were able to put in a well and build an addition.
Anne became interested in local government while she was lobbying the town board to complete Lakeshore Avenue to connect to County Rd. 19. At that time, Lakeshore dead-ended at Balsam Ave. To get to County Rd. 19, residents drove up Pine or Balsam to Ardmore Ave. City officials had been reluctant to approach the grumpy farmer who owned the corn field between Lakeshore and 19. The board agreed that if Anne could persuade the farmer to sell the strip of land for the road extension, the town would build the road. Since people had been driving across his field whenever it was dry, he figured he may as well let the City have the 30 foot-wide strip of land they required to connect the road.
By this time, after attending so many town board meetings, Anne was a familiar face at the town hall. In 1958, after the sudden death of the city clerk, Anne was appointed to fill the position. She was the village clerk from 1958-1960, took on the role of chief of police in 1960, and served on the village council. Later, she was a member of the Medina planning commission and represented the city on the West Hennepin Joint Planning Council. She was elected mayor in 1993, serving until 1996.
The Theises were very active outdoor enthusiasts. To keep food on the table during the lean years, they both became expert hunters and fisherman. In later years, they owned horses, and vacationed at horse ranches in Texas and Idaho, where they owned some property. Anne and Paddy were enthusiastic horseracing fans; they would fly up to Winnipeg in Paddy’s private plane to visit the racetrack. After Canterbury Downs opened in 1985, the couple were at the racetrack almost every week. Anne proved to be an excellent handicapper, and in July, 1987 she was the weekly guest handicapper in the Star-Tribune’s Guest Handicapper Contest.