La Valleur pens memoir on her life in greater BL area

Photo by Tom Hintgen
Barbara La Valleur holds her MSUM journalism alumni award presented in Moorhead during college Homecoming on Oct. 8.

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

Barbara La Valleur, a 1963 graduate of Battle Lake High School, is the author of a memoir, “Front Row Gal.”

This book came off the press in November 2021. Her research and writing took four years. It is available in paperback and e-Edition, the latter of which includes 50 photos.

La Valleur was among five Mass Communications graduates of MSUM who received alumni awards Oct. 8 during the college Homecoming in Moorhead.

“The title for my memoir, ‘Front Row Gal,’ came out of my practice of always being in the front of any meeting or event I was covering as a journalist. My husband, Arnie Bigbee, and I always sit in the front row at church as well.”

As she mentions in the book’s Epilogue, “The view is clear in the front row. You are close to the action, i.e. the speaker or whoever is addressing everyone and you can also pivot to capture the crowd if that is important.”

La Valleur was asked about the reasons she decided to write the book.

“The purpose for me in writing my memoir is to leave behind my story of a life of possibilities. I hope to inspire others to do things that are outside of their comfort zone.”

She worked at the Fargo Forum and Wahpeton Daily News before finding her way to Europe where she lived for 20 years. In Germany she freelanced for seven newspapers, developing and printing her own photos.

Over the years La Valleur has had photo exhibitions overseas and Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa.

In the past several months her photo exhibits have included displays of her photography during exhibits in both Fergus Falls and Wahpeton. Specifically, they have included some of the 5,000 photos she took on a trip to Cuba with her church.

Previously, while Chief Photographer at the Wahpeton Daily News, she was part of a news media tour of what was then the Soviet Union.

In 1996 La Valleur and her sisters purchased their grandparents’ farm near Ashby. When her sister, Sharon Henneman, died, La Valleur and her daughter, Claire Shaw, bought the farm.

“We have 33 acres tucked in the rolling hills of Otter Tail County, north of the Otter Tail-Grant County line,” La Valleur said.

They call their property La Farm, a play on their last name. It’s where La Valleur and family members enjoy get-togethers, birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

She and her husband, Arnie, a retired Mayo Clinic employee, reside in Edina near the Twin Cities. 

Barbara’s daughters, Andrea La Valleur-Purvis and Claire Shaw, are both homeowners and live in Texas and Minnesota. Like their mother, they are both artists.