Tag Archives: Wayzata

Red, White, and Blue… and Gold: The Many-Faceted Life of Alfred Lindley

This blue, red, and white sporting sweater carries with it a lifetime of memories. Owned and worn by Wayzata resident Alfred Lindley, this sweater was donated to Hennepin History Museum by his sister, Mrs. Ward Burton. Mrs. Burton was a supporter of the museum, and thought that this sweater was the appropriate item to tell her brother’s story. And a dramatic story it is!

Alfred Lindley was born in Minneapolis in 1904 and spent his childhood at a home at 1920 Stevens Avenue (just a few short blocks from Hennepin History Museum.) After graduating from Blake School in 1920, he left for the east coast, first for a year at Phillips Academy, followed by Yale University. At Yale he quickly gained a reputation as an accomplished athlete; while at Yale he played football for four years, rowed for four years, and spent three years playing hockey. It was in rowing, however, where he made his largest mark: in 1924, Lindley served as stroke for the Yale rowing team and helped his team to bring home an American gold medal in rowing in the 1924 Paris Olympics. (Among his teammates was fellow Minnesotan, Wayzata resident Alfred Wilson.)

After graduating from Yale, Lindley returned home to Minnesota and took up residence in Wayzata. He attended law school at the University of Minnesota but squeezed out time to pursue his sporting interests. In addition to rowing, football, hockey, and boxing, Lindley was an avid mountain climber. He had climbed the Jungfrau in the Swiss Alps at age 16, and now as an adult, he joined the first expedition to scale both the north and south peaks of Mount McKinley, now Denali, in 1932. He also competed in the 1936 Olympics in skiing!

“By inheritance he might have led a life of comparative ease and devoted his spare time to his great interest in the field of sports, in which he was so proficient; but desire to be of public service was inherent in his character”

So wrote his friend and fellow mountaineer, Henry Kingman, upon Lindley’s death. Indeed, in addition to his sporting life, Lindley became politically active, first campaigning for Harold Stassen for Governor of Minnesota, and eventually in 1940 winning a seat in the Minnesota legislature himself.

Lindley’s dramatic and action-packed life ended in an equally dramatic way. In February 1951, Lindley and his friends Edmund Pillbsury and Dexter Andrews were on their way to Aspen, Colorado, when their plane tragically crashed in Nebraska after encountering heavy fog and freezing rain.

This sweater, which his sister reported was worn by Lindley for both rowing and for hockey, is a tangible connection to an accomplished local man. And even if his story doesn’t inspire you to head for the mountains or to the lake, this bit of advice offered up by Lindley himself stands the test of time: Everyone, he said, “should indulge in some sort of exercise daily because it develops character as well as physique.”

Thank you to our members and donors for your support of Hennepin History Museum! Your contributions help us to preserve and to share local history. To make a contribution please click here

SOURCES

Harry Kingman eulogy, American Alpine Club 

Ben Spock on 1924 Olympic Eight

“Alfred Lindley, Edmund Pillsbury, Dexter Andrews Die in Plane Crash,” Star Tribune, February 23, 1951 p.1

A Century of Mountaineering 

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