ST. PAUL (WCCO) — At the Hamline Dining hall, hungry visitors find a full menu of their breakfast favorites. But those who serve the meal can’t help but notice that there’s something missing.

“It’s hard. It’s really hard, because this place is her,” said Jamie Brist, Erma’s granddaughter.

For 50 years, Erma Brist dished up breakfast every morning of the State Fair.

“This was one of the things she just loved to do — just come out here and work,” said Kathy Freiermuth, Erma’s daughter.

When kidney cancer and Alzheimer’s took her from her family this spring, they didn’t want the dining hall to suffer the same loss.

“We decided to come out here and do this to honor our mother because she worked here from ‘61 until last summer,” said Ron Brist, Erma’s son.

Sixteen members of the Brist family made up most of this morning’s kitchen crew — two generations of her kids and theirs kids. But that’s only a fraction of the family. Erma had seven children, 24 grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

They believe they are honoring her memory the way Erma would have wanted and dishing up a helping of comfort food not only for the visitor but the Brist family.

“We feel her here, yeah. She was an amazing mom, amazing grandma, amazing great grandmother,” said Ron.

Most of the Brist family has spent at least one summer volunteering at the Hamline Dining Hall. They said that Erma expected it.

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