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Woman of the Year:

Karen Crabtree

S

"Even if you don't have a lot of money or things, one thing we all have is the gift of time"

trong, determined, passionate, dedicated—these are just some of the words that can be (and have been) used to describe Karen Crabtree. But Crabtree, who grew up in Roseau, Minnesota, and currently lives in Frazee, Minnesota, is much more than the words used to describe her. ‘NO SHAME IN DROPPING OUT’ Growing up, Crabtree said, her life was pretty average—until it wasn’t. “I had a great family and a normal life,” she explained, “I was a smart kid, but I started dating when I was 15 and got into a pretty unhealthy relationship. I had my oldest son when I was 16.” With a baby on the way and the fear of losing sight of her dream to go to college hanging heavy over her head, Crabtree sought refuge in the guidance of school officials. PAGE 6 | WOMEN 3600

STORY BY MEAGAN PITTELK

“I remember one of the leaders in the school—as I’m trying to figure out what I’m even doing—pulled me into his office and told me that there was no shame in dropping out of school,” she said.“That was really hard to hear, and I was a mess. My dream was to go to college—it wasn’t even a question. That’s what I was going to do.” Instead of dropping out, Crabtree leaned on her parents for support and graduated from high school—on time. “I had my son between my junior and senior year, and I graduated just like anybody else,” she said.“After that, I went to Winona State University for college with a one-year-old, which was a long way from home, so I don’t recommend it.” After a year of working full-time, at minimum wage, and going to school full-time, Crabtree was unable to continue paying for her education. “I remember being so broke that I was

walking through the grocery store with a one-year-old—in tears, with quarters in my pocket—trying to figure out what I could buy for groceries for the week,” she said, her voice catching at the memory.“I had absolutely nothing.” It was then that she chose to leave school and move in with her son’s father in Iowa.The relationship, which had never been a particularly healthy one, quickly turned volatile. “There were a lot of domestic problems and, one weekend, a friend of mine from college came down to visit and he happened to flip out while she was there,” Crabtree explained. “She was like, ‘You’re leaving,’ and it was one of those life-changing moments. It was four in the morning and, I grabbed my son, and I left.” She moved home to Roseau but, after a short six months, realized that she wanted to move forward with her life. In 2002, she found a place to live in Frazee—


WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 7


where she knew no one—and got a job as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), a career that she had previously worked in while living in Iowa. She met a new man, who she would marry and have two children with, and she finished her Associate’s Degree at the technical college in Detroit Lakes. She began taking classes a few times a week at Bemidji State University, working towards her Bachelor’s of Social Work. It seemed, she thought, that things were looking up. ‘EVERYTHING THAT COULD GO WRONG, DID GO WRONG’ Crabtree’s new husband, who owned a hardwood flooring business, had always dreamed of owning a farm. Crabtree, an avid hunter, fisher and outdoorswoman, loved the idea of farming and, thus, the couple started their own dairy farm. Both maintained full-time jobs outside of farming, although Crabtree said that they were still scraping the bottom of the barrel. “We were making it, but it was already a struggle,” she said.“We were farming every day and working outside of that, but we were that working poor where, no matter how much we worked, it never made a difference.” Unfortunately, with the future recession lurking unbeknownst to the couple, things were only going to get worse. “We put everything we had into this farm, but everything that could go wrong did go wrong,” Crabtree said.“Times were already tough—and then the recession hit. My husband’s flooring business was pretty much gone after that, because that’s something people don’t do when they don’t have money, and the price of milk went way down.” Crabtree wasn’t about to give up, though. She enrolled in the Master’s in Community Development program at North Dakota State University, and she began working as social worker at Essentia-St. Mary’s in Detroit Lakes. A year later, she became the Manager of Community Health and Social Services at Essentia-St. Mary’s, a position that allowed her to work with community development in a way that was completely her own. Crabtree’s luck, though, wasn’t ready to be turned. PAGE 8 | WOMEN 3600

“It was 2015, and my life completely fell apart,” she said. Her marriage, which had been on rocky ground since losing the farm, ended in a divorce. She found out that her oldest son’s father, with whom she shared custody of their son, had been abusing him. “We were going to Iowa to testify all the time, and my son was not okay,” she said,“but his dad is now in prison, thank goodness.” She broke her ankle, threw out her back to the point of requiring surgery— which caused her to miss work for three months—and was a victim of rape. “It was really, really hard, and I didn’t handle it very well,” she said.“I was kind of a mess and, if it wasn’t for people sticking by my side, I don’t know what would’ve happened.” After a year that, to many, would seem impossible to recover from, Crabtree picked herself up, with the help of friends, family and coworkers, and found that the community was there to support her. “The community came together to provide a benefit for me, because I had been out of work for so long and was raising three kids,” she explained.“The whole year, the whole experience, was so humbling.” ‘IT’S TIME’ “After that year, 2016 was kind of a year of rebuilding,” Crabtree said. “I realized that it was time to get my life together, and I was like, ‘Okay, this is your opportunity.’” She threw herself into work and, in May of 2016, helped create Becker County Energize (BCE), a local movement that encourages people in the community to come together to make a positive and healthy difference in community members’ lives. “I pulled together a bunch of stakeholders from the community and developed a steering community,” she explained.“A lot of it is based off of Crow Wing Energize, but I used a lot of my community development background and training and tweaked it to fit our community.” She focused on BCE, on driving her three children (now 18, 12 and 11 years old) to and from various sports and activities, on her own hobbies, and on finishing her thesis.

“I should be done by December with my Master’s, so I’m focusing on getting my thesis done,” she said,“but I also play guitar at various things. I volunteer, and I try to do all of my hobbies as much as possible, because that self-care part is really important.” How Crabtree has time to dabble in hobbies is beyond comprehension—she is the president of the board for the History, Arts and Cultural Association of East Otter Tail County in Perham, a volunteer for the League of Women Voters in Detroit Lakes, a youth leader and worship team volunteer at her church and a volunteer for other events in lakes country, such as Stomp That Stigma, a mental health awareness group in the area. Volunteering is something she’s always done, she said, and that she encourages everyone else to do too. “Try to get involved and stay involved, even if there isn’t much that you can do,” she said. “Even if you don’t have a lot of money or things, one thing we all have is the gift of time.” Crabtree credits her experiences with poverty and other struggles throughout her life for enhancing her understanding of others, and encourages anyone that is currently struggling not to give up. “All of us have an opportunity, every single day, to make a difference in someone else’s life. It’s easy to be comfortable and, we all like having an easy life, so it can be hard to go out of your way to talk to someone who is different than you are,” she said.“But, at the same time, all of us want to be treated with human dignity, and all of us want a better life. Sometimes, it takes putting yourself outside of that comfort zone and asking how you can make a difference—and who you can do that for.” And, through persistence, curiosity and faith, that’s exactly what Crabtree tries to do every day. “It’s not work when you enjoy coming to work every day, and our community is so giving and so considerate—there are so many people that want to help and want to make a difference,” she added.“I couldn’t feel more blessed to be able to get to do the things that I do, because not very many people that I know are passionate and love what they do. And, five years ago, if somebody told me where I’d be today, I would’ve laughed.”


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10's

Anna Schumacher Finding her power at a young age

STORY BY MEAGAN PITTELKO

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nna Schumacher may be young, but she’s set on making a differ- ence in the world. “I honestly can’t go to bed on a day when I haven’t done something that I think is worthy,” she said, sipping an espresso drink.“I want to help people.” Schumacher, who graduated from Detroit Lakes High School in May, had been at work since 6 a.m. “I’ve been a Certified Nursing Assistant at Ecumen since January,” she said.“And I love it. My personality is very much that of a caregiver, so I fell in love with caregiving right away and I really love all of my residents.” She added that her favorite part about being a caregiver is having an active role in her residents’ lives. “We try our best to make living in the nursing home enjoyable and I like bringing a little bit of joy into people’s lives,” she said. Schumacher will be attending Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, where she hopes to study biology or psychology with the intent of going to medical PAGE 10 | WOMEN 3600

school afterwards. But, before she moves forward in life, she’s happy to reflect on all of the life she’s already spent living in Detroit Lakes. During her senior year, Schumacher participated in the Bezos Scholars Program and spearheaded the group, “DLthriving,” a student-driven group focused on changing the conversation surrounding mental health and wellness. The group held an open forum, which drew nearly 200 people to the Holmes Theater in April. “It was really inspiring, and I think it started to help build a bigger movement in DL,” Schumacher said. “The feedback that we got from attendees was very positive—they were happy to be introduced to the resources in our community, so that was really fulfilling, and I think the community is a little more open and candid about discussions on mental health now.” Since then, Schumacher has spoken to youth camps about mental health and has grown to have a more intimate relationship with the subject after her broth-

er passed away unexpectedly earlier this year. “I felt like I didn’t know anything about mental health, which is why I created DLthriving,” she said,“and I still consider myself a novice. But mental health has been really big in my life lately and has come into play a lot since my brother died, and I want to continue educating myself.” While at college, Schumacher said, she wants to get involved on campus and in the community right away—something that she learned growing up here, she said. “There’s always been a lot of support here,” she added. “No one ever said, ‘You can’t do that.’ Instead, it’s always been, ‘Oh, we can make that happen.’ All the foundations for the life I’ve built for myself came from growing up in this community—my work ethic and attitude of gratitude are things that I’ve gotten from growing up in a small, midwestern town.This is where I come from, this is the community that shaped me.”


20's Cassi Ohman

Making a difference for furry friends in need. STORY BY KAYSEY PRICE

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assi Ohman has always been an animal person. Growing up, she said, her parents always had animals, and she even remembers being about 12 or 13 years old and helping her cat give birth to a batch of kittens. It’s no wonder, then, that she gravitated toward the Marshmallow Foundation. “I always felt kind of drawn to the pound,” said Ohman, remembering her first job there: working the front desk. “I ended up over on the other side with the dogs a lot,” she added with a laugh. She worked there for a while and then quit, but eventually came back and found herself basically running the show.That’s when, at 18, she decided to apply for a manager position—and she got it. Ohman said it’s been quite a whirlwind since, but it’s her passion, so she stays at it. “It’s kind of become my baby,” she said, naming off a few “big saves” that have solidified her desire to help. For example, she said that one batch of puppies came in and one of them had a broken back, so she took him home and fostered him.

Someone donated a wheelchair and, eventually, he was ready to be adopted. “He has a Facebook page, so we get to see the updates,” she said, smiling. She said that’s when she realized she can be “a voice” for the animals, and if she didn’t do it, maybe no one would. “We’ve taken in 360 animals this year alone,” said Ohman.“If you think about it, where would they be otherwise?” Ohman said she wants to help every animal, which is just not possible, especially now that she already owns six dogs. “It’s really hard for me to say no,” she said, adding that she’s had to set some “ground rules” for herself. “I’ll take home the kittens or puppies that need to be bottle fed.” It sounds adorable and like a lot of fun, but she said that it’s also a lot of work. “It is so much work—up every two, three or four hours feeding, letting them out,” she said. But she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love fostering,” she said. “It’s work, but it’s worth it.” WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 11


30's Natalie Bly

Despite a childhood marred by tragedy, Natalie Bly says she counts her blessings every day

T

hough she’s only been an official Detroit Lakes resident for four years, Crookston native Natalie Bly has made her mark on the community in a myriad of ways. Whether it’s working full time as the director of Mary’s Place, the local emergency shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence — which is also the job that first brought her from Fargo to Detroit Lakes six years ago; working as a WE Fest volunteer, setting up chairs and serving drinks at the bar to help raise funds for the Humane Society of the Lakes; serving on the boards of about a half dozen local nonprofits; or, as a member of the Detroit Lakes Jaycees, serving as co-admiral of the 2018 Northwest Water Carnival, Bly has thoroughly embedded herself in the fabric of this community — which is why the United Way gifted her with its 2017 Communi-

PAGE 12 | WOMEN 3600

STORY BY VICKI GERDES

ty Spirit Award during this past spring’s Celebration of Heroes. “One week later, I received the Chamber of Commerce’s Rising Star Award,” said Bly.“This has really been a big year for me. I have to count my blessings every day.” She says she learned about volunteerism at her mother’s knee. “She volunteered for all our activities,” Bly added, referring to herself and her two younger sisters.“From Brownies to ice skating to whatever else we were involved in, she was always there, and I helped her. As the oldest child, that’s just what you do.” But just as she was on the cusp of young adulthood, Bly’s life took an unexpected detour into tragedy. “I was 14 when I lost both my parents,” she says.“It was a murder suicide. My dad shot my mom, and then himself.”

The date is one that Bly will never forget. “This Valentine’s Day (2018), it will be 25 years” since it happened, she says.“My life changed in the blink of an eye. I never slept in that house again.” Instead, she went to live with her aunt and uncle; her younger sisters found homes with other family members. “I grew up with my four cousins after that,” Bly added.Though she remains close to her sisters to this day — they recently attended a performance of “Grease” at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres together — they never again shared a home. Despite the tragedy that shadowed their lives, however, one thing Bly remains grateful for to this day is the support that the Crookston community gave to her family. “The community I was born in helped to raise me,” she says. “Because


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my community was there when I needed them the most… that’s why I give back today.” Though some people might think that choosing to be the director of a shelter for domestic violence victims might hit a little too close to home, Bly said that the time she spent with the Lakes Crisis & Resource Center (which operates Mary’s Place) was a gift. “It was almost like healing,” she says, adding that she found it easy to be accepting of the women and children who came to live at Mary’s Place because “I had walked a mile in their shoes.” About three years ago, she decided to make use of the business degree she had earned from Minnesota State University Moorhead, and left the LCRC to take a job as real estate manager with the Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation, in the MMCDC’s Detroit Lakes office. Luckily, her job affords her the freedom she needs to continue to devote the time necessary for all of her volunteer duties.

Besides the Jaycees, United Way, Chamber of Commerce (where she serves on the planning committee for the annual Santa’s Grand Parade of Lights) and Humane Society, Bly’s volunteerism also extends to being involved in her children’s activities. “This year will be my second term as president of the Rossman Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization,” she says, adding that she also serves on the boards of the Lakes Area Imagination Library and the Becker County Museum. “It helps that my kids are my biggest supporters.” Though she and her husband split after 10 years of marriage, they now share custody of daughter Brielle, 11, and son Silas, 9, and maintain a good relationship. “He’s a great dad and was a

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great husband… we were just on two different paths,” she says. While some people might marvel at all the different activities that keep her life so busy, Bly says, “I love organized chaos, and meeting new people.” She adds that one of her favorite sayings is, “There are no strangers in this lifetime, just friends we haven’t met yet.” Giving thanks for all the good things in her life is one of the keys to her success, she emphasizes. “One of the first things I do every morning is pray,” says Bly. “I pray for all the blessings I’ve been given, and I pray for others because I’ve been so blessed. “I really believe that if you work hard and dream big, the rest will take care of itself… I have a wonderful life.”

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40's Cylinda Scheiben The Eagle's Club where everybody knows her name

C

STORY BY KAYSEY PRICE

ylinda Scheiben knows a thing or two about being a busy, working woman. She’s done the whole juggling act that is having a job and kids, having worked for many years at her father’s business, Select Auto, and raising three boys who are all out of the house now. But she’s also gone beyond the home and the work sphere, reaching out into the community via the Eagles Club, which has kept her very busy—and made her a community-oriented citizen to boot. “When I got involved with the Eagles, it was because of friends,” said Scheiben, who has been a member of the group for about five or six years (and a president for two of those years).“The Eagles members just kind of became our family.” She went on to explain the work the group does around Detroit Lakes: raising money for different charities with differ-

ent fundraisers, like raffles and cookie walks. They’ve done things like a backpack program where they picked a family in need and donated food, clothes, and other necessities. They help the Eagles men, the Aerie, put on their auction. Then, of course, there’s the volunteer hours at the weddings and dances they host. It’s a lot of good for the community, but Scheiben says she’s never been prouder than when she and her fellow Eagles, along with the ABATE (American Bikers for Awareness, Training, and Education) motorcycle group, put on a motorcycle run to raise money for lupus. “Five years ago, my husband was diagnosed with lupus,” she said, adding that they raised $2,500 the first year and $1,500 last year. “To be able to give that to Lupus Link...that is my biggest honor to help with something because it’s per-

sonal.” But she’s quick not to take all the credit. “It’s a group effort,” she said, adding,“I can’t do it without my Eagles Auxiliary ladies.” Though, she fears that community connection that has been so close to her heart is slowly fading, and that there may come a day when groups like the Eagles, the VFW, and the Legion no longer exist. “Unfortunately, the younger generations do not have the time or the want to help out,” she said, explaining that she thinks people may want to be part of something bigger than a community club. “Do we raise millions of dollars? No,” she said. “But we do great things for our community. I don’t think I could be any prouder to be an Eagles member—it’s all I talk about.” WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 15


50's

Amy StollerStearns Bringing us the gift of music and art

I

t was a job opportunity Mike Stearns had received with Midwest Bank that brought him and his wife Amy to Detroit Lakes in February 2002. But in the 15½ years since, it is Amy who has stepped into the spotlight most often — in fact, she’s a regular presence there, as the person who introduces each performance that comes to the main stage at the Historic Holmes Theatre. After about 10 years of working in marketing and public relations at a couple of Fortune 500 companies in the Twin Cities, Amy had plans to be a stay-at-home mom to the couple’s 9-month-old son, Ben — at least at first. But it wasn’t long before the young wife and mother found herself gravitating toward the newly-opened Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center, and especially its adjacent theater facilities One day, Stearns stopped into the Historic Holmes Theatre and met its new theater and cultural director, Kelly Pratt Raymond. The two clicked, and by April of that first year in DL,Amy had already begun working at the theater on a part-time basis, helping with box office sales and show promotions. “It was just the two of us working there,” she said in a Nov. 23, 2003 interview for the Detroit Lakes Tribune.“It was a wonderful opportunity to be there when the theater was just about to open (in May 2002).” Stearns continued working for the theater PAGE 16 | WOMEN 3600

STORY BY VICKI GERDES

on a part-time basis until July 2003, when Raymond left and she was promoted to the position of theater manager. “Kelly laid such a wonderful foundation for the theater,” she said at the time. “It was great to learn from her.” Stearns also drew on some of her early experiences in the field, first as an entertainment booking agent for Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., where she was a student at the time, and later touring as a performer with the musical group “Up With People,” to locations throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia. Stearns would eventually take a job with the marketing and promotions department of “Up With People,” traveling in advance of each stop on the annual tour to set up publicity,arrange for host families, plan activities for the group and so forth. With a cast of 130-150 people for each tour, it was quite a challenging experience — and a far cry from what she thought would be her career path upon enrolling at Augustana, where she graduated with a degree in English, history and secondary education. “I had planned to be a teacher at the college level,” Stearns said. Then, ‘Up With People’ came along, and she continued to tour with that group until her father’s illness brought her back to Minnesota, to be closer to her family. She went into the public relations and marketing field full-time (earning her mas-

ter’s degree at the University of St. Thomas along the way). It was also during her time in the Twin Cities that the young Amy Stoller married Mike Stearns, whom she had met while still a student at Augustana. The couple celebrated 21 years of marriage in June. Though she never did get to use that bachelor’s degree and become a teacher, Stearns’ college and post-college experiences in the entertainment field have proved invaluable during her ongoing career as executive director of the Holmes Theatre, which in its first 15 years of existence has grown to be a leading force in the local fine arts community, offering both visual and performance art enrichment opportunities for children and adults alike that extend well beyond its four walls. In March 2011, Stearns and the theater were rewarded for their efforts in a big way, becoming the recipients of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts’ inaugural Sally Ordway Irvine Award for Arts Access. Though there are several “Sally Awards” given out annually by the Ordway, this was the first one awarded specifically for “extraordinary efforts to engage a broader and more diverse audience in the arts, or to deepen the involvement that Minnesota citizens have with the arts.” Stearns’ work at the theater has done much on both fronts, though she is quick


to point out that she has not been alone in the effort. “I’m the conduit,”she says.“There are so many great people who make this place work… I’m just lucky enough to be the one that helps connect them. “I think I’ve stood on the shoulders of so many others who have gone before me,” she added. “People I’ve learned from in college, my friends and colleagues… and especially the people I work with here. I get to be the spokesperson, but there’s so much effort behind that, from so many others.” Outside the theater and its outreach programs, Stearns was also one of the community members behind the revival of Detroit Lakes’ winter festival, Polar Fest, which has grown from a small weekend celebration into a full 10 days of events held in February of each year. She also helped to create a new community event, Parkfest, which grew out of Detroit Lakes being chosen as one of the communities to be “Capital for a Day” during Minnesota’s Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) back in 2008, and lasted for several years before its demise in 2016. Most recently, she has been part of the committee that initially helped get Detroit Lakes named as an ice supplier of what was supposed to be the St. Paul Winter Carnival Ice Palace, which was also going to be held in conjunction with the Superbowl. Although plans for that St. Paul festival have fallen apart, Stearns and the committee in Detroit Lakes are still working to provide an Ice Harvest Festival here.Those plans are still being finalized, but the event is expected to provide a fun shot of winter fun for those in and around Detroit Lakes this winter. “I love creative thinking and brainstorming, thinking of all the things that could be,” says Stearns. “That’s what’s so fun… bringing all these people together to think about things we can do for the community, to make it an even better place to live, and draw more visitors here each year.” Of course, Stearns is also a wife and mother of two (daughter Kate was born in February of 2003), who is a familiar face at Ben and Kate’s many extracurricular and community activities,

as well as her husband’s. “What we thought might be a twoyear stint here, ended up being a lifetime,” she says. “This community has really embraced us, and it’s been a fantastic place to raise our children. “I’m a lake person… to be able to give my children that experience of growing up by a lake has been wonderful.And they can be in so many different activities here. I love attending all my kids’ sporting events and cheering them on… I feel like living here has allowed me to be more involved in their lives than I would have been if we’d stayed in the Twin Cities.” And even though they have chosen to live in a small town, she doesn’t see that as a limitation when it comes to exploring the world of art, in all its forms. “There’s a lot of potential for Detroit Lakes, and the Holmes Theatre, in terms of arts and arts activities,” she said.“I would love to see an art gallery downtown, and more hands-on art classes for all ages, to build up some of the talent that’s already here.” Stearns says she believes everyone has creative potential, whether it’s in the arts, or mathematics, or architecture, or science, or business. “For people to be successful, it’s important for them to build on that creativity,” she added. “It’s particularly important for our children to have as many creative arts experience as possible, whether it’s drawing, painting, playing instruments, dancing, writing or other media. It will only help them in their future career paths. It helps them to think differently and be open to other ideas.” She added that the Holmes Theatre’s motto is,“Step inside and see the world,” but it’s been equally important to have so many artists performing there who were willing to step outside its walls and into the community, whether it’s performing at local schools, hospital cafeterias and nursing homes, or doing workshops at the community center, in the public library or at a dance studio. “When we first moved here, someone told me, ‘All roads lead to Detroit Lakes,’ and I laughed, but I’ve come to realize there’s some truth to it,” Stearns said.“And we get to live here!”

Heard on the street...

What’s the best piece of advice you ever got from another woman in your life?

DANIELLE CHRISTIANSON, Puyallup, Wash. "Forgive. That came from my sister, Sheryl. She just died Wednesday. She was a person of faith -- she believed forgiveness was the key to healthy relationships. We all need forgiveness."

PORSHA HERMANSON, Detroit Lakes, MN "Don't settle for less than you're worth. My friend in Arizona told me that."

CAROL JELINEK, St. Paul "To love yourself, to take care of yourself. Be good to yourself. A woman at the Bemidji (women's) shelter told me that a long time ago. I was homeless for 15 years, but I've had my own apartment for 10 years. I'm here visiting family ... I'm taking my grandkids fishing."

GABRIELLA HOLM, Detroit Lakes, MN "Just be you, and don't care about what anyone else thinks. My aunt gave that advice to me."

SHARON BERGE, Detroit Lakes, MN "Be yourself, and watch out for one another."

MONICA FORBES, Boise, Idaho "I've got a lot of good advice from a lot of good women, but my sister (Danielle Christianson) gave me a piece of advice that I wrote down and put on my fridge: 'Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. But above all else thou shalt not be a bystander.' It's from Holocaust writer Yehuda Bauer."

WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 17


60's

Patty LaBarre

A creative whirlwind who loves DL

A

STORY BY NATHAN BOWE

nyone who knows Patty LaBarre knows her enthusiasm and optimism are contagious. LaBarre, 63, and her husband, Dave, own ERA Northland Realty Co. in downtown Detroit Lakes, and it’s hard to find a more dedicated cheerleader for downtown beautification than Patty. The community has her to thank for the 55 giant flowerpots that brighten up downtown Detroit Lakes. “I love living in DL,” she said. “People want to live here, it’s so cool here – new restaurants, downtown street improvements… I’m so fired up for DL.” A self-described “Army brat,” she was born in Germany to an American father and German mother, and the young family moved back and forth several times between countries. “I lived there off and on, but I came back here for good in the sixth grade,” she said. Her “very handicapped” brother, Jim, needed the services available in Detroit Lakes. He now lives at Divine House. Her younger brother, Tim, also lives and works in the area. LaBarre graduated from Detroit Lakes High School and studied advertising at Moorhead State University in Moorhead. She worked at Country Furniture for 10 years, handling marketing and advertising for owner Denny Meyer.

PAGE 18 | WOMEN 3600

She also worked at Detroit Lakes Newspapers, first on the commercial printing side, then in newspaper advertising sales.“I’m creative, I loved the ad campaigns,” she said. “I had customers who let me go with it.” She left the newspaper to become activities director for a local nursing home, a position that she found, to her surprise, did not fit her at all. But it led to her current career as a realtor, first at Northland Realty, where she started in 2000 as a part-time office manager. “I’ve enjoyed this immensely,” she said. “I’ve met lots of people and got to be pretty good friends with them. It’s fun.” Like any other job, real estate can be stressful. “You’re not successful unless you’re there for people,” she said. “You have to drop everything, and work weekends and nights.” Business has been good the past two years, but the real estate market took a beating from 2008 to 2012, following the Great Recession. “Those were very difficult times,” she said. “There were a lot of foreclosures. If you’re a homeowner trying to compete with all these foreclosures, it’s hard.” But last year the market was excellent, and this year it’s been “phenomenal,” she said. “It’s still a sellers market, it’s expanding – I think Detroit Lakes is exploding (with new


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PAGE 20 | WOMEN 3600

buyers) myself. It seems like there are a lot more commuters.” Last year, LaBarre raised $25,000 for 30 large flowering pots for downtown. She raised much of that from downtown business owners and other community-minded people. That first year was a mixed success, with store owners responsible for tending to the plants and the city taking care of the watering duties. LaBarre ended up doing some of the watering and tending chores herself on steaming hot summer days. This year, she aims to raise a similar amount for about 25 more of the giant flower pots, but she turned the whole tending and watering process over to the plant professionals at Bergen’s Greenhouse. “They are in charge from the womb to the tomb,” she said.“They plant it, they grow it, they fertilize it, they water it. They have watering trucks that come down here – that’s why it looks so hot. I mean, it looks good.” She is renewing a plea for donations to help pay for the project,because if the donations come up short, she’s on the hook to pay the bill herself,“and I don’t want to get divorced,” she joked, adding “I can’t thank people enough for shoveling money under my door.” She’s optimistic that enough people will come through for her to make budget, and she’s already thinking about next year. The outdoor umbrellas outside La Barista and the festive lightbulbs on the trees downtown were paid for with money left over from the flower pot project last year, she said. “We’d like to do it (the giant flower pots) again next year,” she added. Although they now own the large pots, and 55 of them have been enough

to cover all of downtown, including the north side, LaBarre would like to add more artwork downtown. Northland ERA just bought a sunfish statue from the public art campaign of many years ago, and had artist Bracken O’Rourke repaint it golden-orange, with subtle ERA realty pins included. “I’d like to see more art all around,” she said.“People find it so interesting — people like street art, and we have got to commit to it.” She’s not afraid to take risks, and freely admits that some of her beautification projects have worked better than others. But the point is to be creative, have fun and keep the energy, passion and life happening downtown. LaBarre is now working with BTD on metal sailboat artwork that would act as centerpieces in the giant flower pots and add some height to the floral display, she said. The flower pot project consumes a lot of her spare time these days, but she is also active with the local Board of Realtors, and she remains a Rotary member. “I’m a bad Rotarian now,” she joked.“In the past I was much more active in Rotary, and I was very involved in Motion,” the annual fundraiser for the Historic Holmes Theatre. Patty and Dave LaBarre have two children, Monique, 30, who is married and living in New York, and Jack, 22, who now works at the family business. LaBarre remains one of the biggest boosters for Detroit Lakes. “I want DL to be the coolest, artsiest town from forever,” she says. “I don’t want to hear anyone mention any other town – DL is the greatest.”


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WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 21


Starting a new chapter

After 12 years of helping victims of crime and domestic abuse, Jan Logan to step down next month as Crisis Center director

T

hough Jan Logan and her husband Ralph have only been residents of the lakes area since 2004 — when they moved from the Twin Cities to their current home on Little McDonald Lake, near Perham — she has had an unfathomable impact on the lives of thousands of men, women and children in the community, as executive director of the Lakes Crisis & Resource Center in Detroit Lakes. “It’s been 12 years,” says Logan of her tenure with LCRC, where she started work on Sept. 26, 2005. And now, she feels it’s time to step down. “I will be retiring in November,” said Logan, who will turn 66 that same month. “I don’t feel done (with working), I just recognized that change can be good for any organization, and there’s a new generation that wants to lead the way.” Logan is nevertheless proud of her accomplishments since stepping into the director’s position at LCRC, taking PAGE 22 | WOMEN 3600

STORY BY VICKI GERDES

the reins from Vickie McCollum, who had succeeded the Center’s first fulltime director, Cyndi Anderson, in 2003. Logan says she decided to take the position at LCRC because of her passion for helping those who have been the victims of crime, and particularly, domestic abuse — a passion that continues unabated. “I’ve always wanted to help individuals with less… to give back and support those who were hurting,” she added. She feels a particular affinity for children who have been hurt and neglected. “I think children are the innocent victims of adult behavior,” Logan said. “They need a voice — and healthy, strong adults have to step up and be that voice.” Logan helped to build the children’s services program at LCRC to what it is today, encompassing support groups for at-risk kids in Becker County schools — for everything from healthy

relationships and anger management to “good touch, bad touch” and dating violence — to the relatively new Kinship mentoring program, which pairs kids between the ages of 5-16 with caring adult volunteers, who not only act as positive role models, but also provide a supportive, nurturing relationship and social interaction for the child. But the greatest accomplishment under her tenure was undoubtedly the construction and opening of not only a new office for LCRC, but its adjacent emergency safe shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. The shelter was named Mary’s Place in honor of Mary Newman, the benefactor who donated the $1.4 million necessary to spur completion of the $3.2 million, 17,250 square foot LCRC facility in 2011. Logan said plans for the facility first began to take shape in 2008, when Newman first approached her and


asked whether there was a domestic violence shelter available in the lakes area — the answer at that time was, of course,“no we did not.” So Newman asked to meet with her about the possibility of donating her home on South Shore Drive for that purpose. “I didn’t feel that setting was conducive to a domestic violence shelter, both because of safety concerns and respect for other neighbors,” Logan said, adding that it would have been “too visible” at that site. But Newman wasn’t deterred. She began asking Logan a lot of questions about the business side of LCRC operations. “I didn’t know it at the time, but she was interviewing me to see if I could do this (operate a domestic violence shelter),” said Logan. Fortunately, Logan did indeed have a solid background in business operations. After receiving her degree in business administration from Minnesota State University Moorhead, Jan and her husband, Ralph, moved to the Twin Cities, where he took a job working for Qwest and she became a full-time mother to their three children, Rollie, Matthew and Kelly. After about 15 years of doing that, Logan returned to the workforce full-time, helping to build a small business mentoring company in the Twin Cities. “We provided internal and external mentoring programs for Fortune 500 companies as well as an executive development program for high-potential women,” she said. “I worked there for about 10 years… we had offices in five other

cities, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Detroit and Atlanta. I traveled a lot.” In 2002, she left that position. Meanwhile, her husband retired early after a 28-year career at Qwest/ AT&T, and wanted to move back to northwest Minnesota, where they had both grown up. When he accepted a position as a consultant with Arvig Communications Systems, Inc. (now known simply as Arvig), the Logans moved to their current home on Little McDonald Lake in 2004, and she took the position with LCRC a year later. After answering all of Newman’s questions, “At the end of the day, she gave me a big hug and said, ‘I want to donate $1 million for you to build a shelter’,” Logan recalled. “I remember waking up that night and thinking it had all been a dream.” But it wasn’t: Logan and Newman would spend the next several months visiting other domestic violence shelters in the area and doing extensive research on what would be required. “After doing our research, I recommended to the board that we build a new facility, offering all of our services under one roof — including a new shelter,” she said. Shortly thereafter, local resident DelRae Chivers donated the site at 1339 Pelican Lane where the building now stands. Since the facility opened its doors in 2011, “we have served well over 1,200 women and children who have resided at our shelter,” Logan said. “We can sleep up to 27 people — women and children — at a time, and we’ve been almost filled to capacity since we opened. “We operated for a year and a half without any state

funding for Mary’s Place,” she continued. “We raised enough money, through private grants and tremendous community support, to be able to open and operate without that state funding.” That first year, they also added an on-site mental health program for the shelter residents. As evidence of LCRC’s continued success, Logan’s staff has grown from 11 people during her first year to a current crew of 29 — and that’s not even counting all of the many volunteers who have given of their time and talents. “The support of the board of directors, staff and volunteers have been tremendous in building the Lakes Crisis & Resource Center to what it is today, of which I’m very proud,” Logan added. So what’s next? Logan isn’t quite sure — at least

not yet. “I think it will be really difficult to leave,” she says. “Letting go is hard, but I have to do it.” Though it won’t be at LCRC — Logan says that when she retires, she’s going to step back completely and let others pick up where she left off — she does feel inspired to continue to work with those who are struggling with the consequences of abuse and neglect. “There’s a tremendous need in this community, and our county at large,” she added. “I feel the victims (of crime and abuse) need help, but so do the offenders… to commit these crimes, they are often someone that’s very wounded themselves.” In short, Logan added, “I don’t know quite what form it will take yet, but I’m eager to learn what the next chapter in my life will be.”

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WOMEN 360 | PAGE 23 0


70's Jeanette Jutz A woman of many hats. STORY BY VICKI GERDES

PAGE 24 | WOMEN 3600

E

xtension Service agent, professional seamstress, stay-athome mom, and gardener extraordinaire… Cormorant resident Jeanette Jutz has done a little bit of everything in her 75 years of life. And while she doesn’t regret for a moment the years she spent raising sons Phillip and David, and youngest daughter Rachel, she also acknowledges that when she and husband Paul got married in May 1968, it was pretty much expected that she would leave her job with the University of Minnesota Extension Service to start a family. “People felt a mother should stay at home and raise your kids,” she says. So even though they could probably have used the extra income from her continuing to work — and especially after Paul almost died from a ruptured colon and couldn’t work for a while — “we got through it,” Jeanette added. After the kids got older,“I had the desire to go out and work,” Jeanette said, so she applied for a job at Mrs.

Blow’s Sewing Service, a Fargo shop that sold fabrics and sewing supplies. “I had to bring the kids with me for the interview,” she recalled, noting that they were living in Moorhead at the time. Though the store’s owner wanted to hire her for the job, Jeanette had a change of heart. “I said, ‘I just can’t leave them (the kids)’... I turned them down.” A few years later, when she felt the kids could be left unsupervised for the short time between when they got home from school and she would be done with work for the day, Jeanette took a job with Camelot Cleaners in Moorhead, doing alterations. “I spent a couple of years working there,” she said. “Then some friends told me about an opening at Palace Clothiers in the Moorhead Center Mall.” She ended up doing alterations in the men’s department for the next 4½ years. “They were very nice to me, very


“Flowers are my love,” she says. “We did that for about seven years.” Their clientele included Country Greenery and Hornbacher’s in Fargo as well. “When we had some glads left we’d take them to the nursing homes and senior apartments in Detroit Lakes,” she said. “For the last couple of years we were doing it, we’d take the leftovers to hospice.” Jeanette said that Paul started taking some glads along to deliver with Meals on Wheels to area seniors. “When he saw their delight, he was hooked,” she added. “It was in his heart to do that.” During the time they worked in the flower business together, “Paul designed a plow to help with the preparation of the soil, and another for planting the glads,” she says. “We’d use machinery for spraying them with fungicide and insecticide, and another machine for harvesting (the bulbs).” At the peak of their business, “we had about 15,000 bulbs in, on about an acre of land,” she added. “But it got to be a little too much.” These days, she contents herself with delivering Meals on Wheels and visiting some of the residents at Sunnyside Care Center just outside Lake Park.“Paul and I do that together (visiting Sunnyside),” she said. “We’re members at Agape Ministries (the church located just a short distance from their home), and we have a friend who goes to our church that lives just a mile away… when her husband was in the hospital, we helped her with harvesting her vegetables and found a home for them.” They have another friend

from Fergus Falls who lost her husband that they make a point of visiting and taking out to do things together. “She came and stayed with us for a couple of days this summer,” said Jeanette. “It’s hard to be alone… we’re trying to put a little family into her life.” She also helps to lead a Bone Builders class at the Lake Park City Center twice a week. The exercise class is specifically designed for seniors, to help strengthen their lower body, increase flexibility and improve balance, with the end goal of helping to prevent falls. “In 2009, falls were the third leading cause of death among seniors in Minnesota,” Jeanette says. She, along with the late Bette Haring, helped to start up the class back in May 2009, and they’ve been go-

ing strong ever since, ranging anywhere from 7 to 15 people per class. “I’m the head of the group now,” she says,“but there are about five of us who take turns leading the class. “That’s been my main thing for the last eight years. We meet two times a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, from 10:15-11:15, though we used to meet a little later.” Through all the years, Jeanette says that her husband Paul has been her most constant companion and helper.The couple will celebrate 50 years of marriage next May. “When you’re first married, 50 years looks like a long way off,” she said with a smile. “If it weren’t for him I couldn’t have done any of this. He’s a great supporter.”

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good people,” she said, and she was very happy there — until the store closed. “I did alterations out of my home for about 2-3 years,” Jeanette added.”We were building this house (in Cormorant), working on it slowly.” The family continued to persevere after Paul was laid off from his job as a welder with O’Day Tank & Steel in Fargo. “When they laid him off as a welder, we moved out here to this house full-time,” said Jeanette, adding, “We lived off the land, and our garden, for awhile.” She had also inherited a small parcel of land from her parents that they rented out to a local farmer for added income. Eventually, Paul was hired back, and ended up staying with the company for 28 years. After Palace Clothiers closed its doors, Jeanette went without a full-time job for about six years, though she occasionally worked as a substitute cook dat the school in Audubon. “I enjoyed that,” she says. “While I was subbing at the school there, my son saw an ad from Norby’s (Department Store) in Detroit Lakes,” she said.“They were looking for an alterations person, so I applied, and they hired me.” She would spend the next seven years there, until deciding to retire. “They were good guys to work for,” Jeanette said of Norby’s management. “I’ve had some good employers along the way.” Since retirement, she and Paul have done just about everything together, from a trip to Canada to find some of her long-lost relatives, to raising gladiolus flowers and selling them at local farmer’s markets and area florists.

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80's

D

onna Zimmerman grew up knowing the importance of hard work, having been born “right in the deep depression” on April 30, 1932. She remembers watching (and helping) her mother work hard, crossing PAGE 26 | WOMEN 3600

Donna Zimmerman

Always going, always changing, always giving back. STORY BY KAYSEY PRICE

the Red River twice a day to serve food to the thrashers and getting paid 50 cents and a few hot meals for it. “It wasn’t the money,” said Zimmerman years later.“It was that they fed us.” Zimmerman learned to trade work

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dining room and with the nurses. After a few short years, in 1950, she married a man named Ralph Zimmerman. The two worked on a farm, continuing the tradition of working hard and trading goods and services. “You just worked back-and-forth and helped each other,” said Zimmerman, remembering having good relationships with her neighbors. In addition to working on the farm (which kept the two busy enough), Zimmerman also worked in a photography shop for a few years, then moved on to work at the Mahnomen County Veteran’s Office for nine years, and the Shooting Star gift shop for 14 years. But their biggest project (besides raising their four kids) was driving a school bus, which Ralph did for 33 years with Zimmerman, who the kids dubbed “Granny” back then, chaperoning some of the extracurricular trips. With all of that on her plate, she kept busy yet, volunteering with the women at her church, organizing funerals and weddings at the Catholic church

in Mahnomen. Zimmerman was also in charge of the flowers and decorating the church for a number of years, particularly during Christmas time. “I did flowers for 10 years, and I’d either grow ‘em, beg ‘em, or steal ‘em,” she said with a laugh. The work wasn’t without a little fun, though. Zimmerman and her husband also put on hayrides at their farm for the church youth group, and their own kids grew up knowing the importance of working hard and being generous, just like Zimmerman did. “That was my main life,” said Zimmerman referring to raising her children with her husband and making sure they had a good education. “We were a good team.” When Ralph passed away in 2007, Zimmerman moved away from Mahnomen to Detroit Lakes, finding a spot in the Marigold apartments. But all that change didn’t dampen her volunteer spirit. “I don’t mind change. Change is

good,” she said, adding that she picked up and started sponsoring residents’ birthdays each month. If no one had a birthday, she’d make up a reason to celebrate, starting a back-to-school program, where the residents would pick a class they wanted to be in and do activities like they were back in school. In addition to her in-home activities, Zimmerman also joined the Becker County Meals on Wheels board and became a board member at Mahube. She joined Christian Women and Catholic Daughters, and even hosted bingo at Emmanuel every Tuesday. It’s no wonder she was named Becker County Outstanding Senior in 2013. Now, Zimmerman is living in the Lamplighter apartments, and she’s still stirring things up and keeping them interesting by hosting a Bone Builders and Tai Chi class. It’s what she knows, what keeps her happy. “When you give, you get back—and it might take weeks, and it might take months, but it always comes back to you,” she said with a knowing smile.

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Lisa L. Piche,

REALTOR, Broker, ABR, Notary Public

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate | All Seasons Detroit Lakes Branch • 495 Hwy 10 East, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501 Direct 218.841.9242 • E-Mail: llpiche@yahoo.com

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LISA JASKEN PETERSON

PAULA OKESON

(218) 841-8211 lisa@jackchiversrealty.com

(218) 234-9726 paula@jackchiversrealty.com

Lisa is a top producing sales agent, earning the LCAR 2015 Realtor of the Year award. She is from the Detroit Lakes area and has spent 20 years designing, building and selling homes.

Paula grew up in Detroit Lakes and has extensive knowledge of the local area and communities. She loves the beauty of the area and shares her passion of the lakes with all clients she serves.

JENNIFER MAXWELL

TERRI USHER

(218) 849-5144 jennifer@jackchiversrealty.com

(218) 849-2242 terri@jackchiversrealty.com

More than 10 years of experience in real estate, Jennifer has worked with a variety of properties and clients. She is an Accredited Buyer’s Representative and is of great value to all buyers and sellers.

Terri is a local expert in and around Otter Tail and Becker Counties. Her 20+ years of experience in banking and 10+ years in real estate sales, make her an asset to all clients.

MARLYS AILIE

JACK CHIVERS REALTY DETROIT LAKES, LLC

Sales Agent

Sales Agent, ABR

Sales Agent

(218) 234-7613 marlys@jackchiversrealty.com Marlys is a Detroit Lakes native and has a comprehensive background in lending and appraisal, making her an expert advisor in real estate sales. She is dedicated to fulfilling all client’s needs.

Sales Agent

Sales Agent

1110 Highway 59 South Detroit Lakes, MN 56501

Office (218) 847-3112 Fax (218) 847-5242 info@jackchiversrealty.com www.jackchiversrealty.com

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WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 29


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WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 31


90's Rita Frenzel

When her nation called, she answered– Rita Frenzel served as a WWII nurse in France, Germany

R

ita Frenzel has done a lot of living in her 95 years. She served overseas in the Army Nurse Corps during World War II, and returned home to work as a nurse and teacher, marry and raise five children. Active, alert and interested in the world around her, she is self-deprecating and quick to laugh at a joke. She has lived at The Madison in Detroit Lakes for the past 11 years. From the time she was a little girl, Rita always wanted to be nurse. Not that there were a lot of options back then. “There weren’t too many things girls could do when I was growing up … nursing or teaching,” she said. Rita grew up the oldest of 12 children, “so there were many opportunities” to practice her budding nursing skills, she PAGE 32 | WOMEN 3600

STORY BY NATHAN BOWE

joked. They lived between Fargo and Grand Forks, not too far from the Red River. “My parents were farmers but lived in a little town called Caledonia until I finished high school,” she said. She had seven brothers, and all but one served in the military, though not necessarily during World War II. One of her brothers died while fighting the Japanese in the Battle of Guadalcanal. After high school, Frenzel went to College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, near St. Cloud. She went to school for three years and graduated in 1944. While in college, she joined the Cadet Nurse Corps, the nation’s first integrated, uniformed U.S. service corps — which helped meet an urgent need for nurses during World War II. At that time many nurses were called overseas to military service, and other

women went to work in the defense industry, while understaffed civilian hospitals in the United States were struggling with a severe worker shortage. By 1945, when the war ended, Cadet Nurses were providing 80 percent of the nursing care in U.S. hospitals. Frenzel graduated from college in 1944 and joined the Army Nurse Corps. She served in the United States for several months before going overseas. “When I first got in, I worked at O’Reilly General Army Hospital (in Springfield, Mo.), it was a big plastic surgery center,” she said. “It was a very hard place to work.” The center handled a steady stream of badly disfigured men, mostly airmen, who needed plastic surgery on their faces, ears, noses and other parts of their bodies, she said. In all, plastic surgeons performed operations on nearly

4,600 patients there. O’Reilly had a reputation for superior service, but Frenzel wasn’t there long enough to see the end results of the surgery, because it took months for the bandages to come off. And before that, she and several nurse friends were sent to Texas for basic Army nurse training – hiking, camping, how to use gas masks and that kind of thing. “I was so fortunate,“ she said. “My roommates and I went into the service together, and we were able to stay together the whole time, even when we shipped overseas.” They all served in an evacuation hospital in France and Germany. Frenzel was one of about 59,000 American nurses who served in the Army Nurse Corps during World War II, working closer to the front lines than nurses ever had before. Within the “chain of evacuation” established by the Army Medical Department during the war, nurses served under fire in field hospitals and evacuation hospitals, on hospital trains and hospital ships, and as flight nurses on medical transport planes. They were very good at what they did: Overall, fewer than 4 percent of the American soldiers who received medical care in the field or underwent evacuation died from wounds or disease. “We would set up our own little hospital,” Frenzel said, in an empty school or other building and fill it with army cots and portable medical equipment. “We did general duty, whatever needed to be done,” she said. “The war was winding down, there were a lot of injured men heading home.” The nurses lived in barracks under fairly primitive conditions. Her time in France and Germany “was very educational,” she said.“We learned how other people lived and the different cultures. Germany, in particular was very bombed out, it was not very pleasant, but it is a beautiful country.” On leave, she and her friends visited Paris and the French Riviera. She remembers the gorgeous stained glass windows in the churches. Rita has never gone back to Europe, although she has traveled a lot throughout the United States. After the war, she and her roommates

were shipped home. She continued to work as a nurse when she got back to Minnesota. In 1946, she went to the Twin Cities to help fight a polio epidemic that was so bad the Minnesota State Fair was canceled that year.“There was not enough space in the hospitals,” she said. “We learned the Kenny Method for treating polio.” Up until 1940 in the United States, the orthodox method for treating polio was to splint and immobilise the patient, sometimes for months. Australian bush nurse Sister Elizabeth Kenny pioneered a better way to treat polio, using trial and error, since she did not know the accepted treatment of the time. She found that her young patients found blessed relief, and even sleep, when she applied hot, moist packs during the acute, painful phase of the illness, followed in the recovery phase by passive movements and active muscle rehabilitation. Frenzel stayed close friends with her wartime roommates, and after she returned from the Twin Cities, Rita ended up marrying one of their brothers. She and George Frenzel were married Dec. 30, 1946, at St. Rosa of Lima Catholic Church in Hillsboro, N.D. “My home parish,” she said fondly, adding with a laugh, “On the coldest day of the year, I think. “We wanted to get married and we had a very simple wedding. I was 26, he was a couple years older. His father was superintendent of the water and light department in Detroit Lakes. He worked in the signal corps for 3½ years in the service – he was in Iran.” They were very poor when they got married, she said, and moved West, where she worked for three years as nurse in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The last year Rita worked as a nurse was at the same school her husband was attending – Farragut College and Technical Institute, which was similar

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to Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis. “We had a lot of GIs, just back from the war,” she said. “I worked with a lot of pregnant women there. I would ride with them in the ambulance to the hospital. We had some close calls, but we got them there.” The couple later moved to the Twin Cities. “Minneapolis paid a lot more than Detroit Lakes,” she said simply. “And you could join a union, which was very beneficial.” She worked as a nurse and teacher and raised five children (Mark, Leslie, Georgia, David and Rita) there, and also at their summer cabin on Lake Six in Otter Tail County. All married and several live in the area. She has nine grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. They all loved Lake Six.“One summer we spent an entire month just traveling back and forth to Lake Six. My husband was an ardent hunter and fisherman,” she said. “At first, we had a 100-yearold cabin with an outdoor toilet and no electricity.” Later they upgraded to a cabin several lots down. The family went to Lake Six as often as they could, until George retired and they moved there full time. Before George died in 2004, Rita promised him she would stay another year on Lake Six, which she did. She’s been at the Madison since then. It’s an assisted living building that is part of the Ecumen complex. “This building was brand new,” she said.“I didn’t move in until fall, because I wanted another summer at the lake.” For 24 years she was a member of Sacred Heart Church in Frazee; now she attends mass in Detroit Lakes, helped by family members who live in the area. “I met so many people here,” she said. “The sad part is you get to know them, and they move on. But I’m happy here … all those years have gone quite quickly.”

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

- Jane Goodall

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WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 33


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WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 33


4,600 patients there. O’Reilly had a reputation for superior service, but Frenzel wasn’t there long enough to see the end results of the surgery, because it took months for the bandages to come off. And before that, she and several nurse friends were sent to Texas for basic Army nurse training – hiking, camping, how to use gas masks and that kind of thing. “I was so fortunate,“ she said. “My roommates and I went into the service together, and we were able to stay together the whole time, even when we shipped overseas.” They all served in an evacuation hospital in France and Germany. Frenzel was one of about 59,000 American nurses who served in the Army Nurse Corps during World War II, working closer to the front lines than nurses ever had before. Within the “chain of evacuation” established by the Army Medical Department during the war, nurses served under fire in field hospitals and evacuation hospitals, on hospital trains and hospital ships, and as flight nurses on medical transport planes. They were very good at what they did: Overall, fewer than 4 percent of the American soldiers who received medical care in the field or underwent evacuation died from wounds or disease. “We would set up our own little hospital,” Frenzel said, in an empty school or other building and fill it with army cots and portable medical equipment. “We did general duty, whatever needed to be done,” she said. “The war was winding down, there were a lot of injured men heading home.” The nurses lived in barracks under fairly primitive conditions. Her time in France and Germany “was very educational,” she said.“We learned how other people lived and the different cultures. Germany, in particular was very bombed out, it was not very pleasant, but it is a beautiful country.” On leave, she and her friends visited Paris and the French Riviera. She remembers the gorgeous stained glass windows in the churches. Rita has never gone back to Europe, although she has traveled a lot throughout the United States. After the war, she and her roommates PAGE 34 | WOMEN 3600

were shipped home. She continued to work as a nurse when she got back to Minnesota. In 1946, she went to the Twin Cities to help fight a polio epidemic that was so bad the Minnesota State Fair was canceled that year.“There was not enough space in the hospitals,” she said. “We learned the Kenny Method for treating polio.” Up until 1940 in the United States, the orthodox method for treating polio was to splint and immobilise the patient, sometimes for months. Australian bush nurse Sister Elizabeth Kenny pioneered a better way to treat polio, using trial and error, since she did not know the accepted treatment of the time. She found that her young patients found blessed relief, and even sleep, when she applied hot, moist packs during the acute, painful phase of the illness, followed in the recovery phase by passive movements and active muscle rehabilitation. Frenzel stayed close friends with her wartime roommates, and after she returned from the Twin Cities, Rita ended up marrying one of their brothers. She and George Frenzel were married Dec. 30, 1946, at St. Rosa of Lima Catholic Church in Hillsboro, N.D. “My home parish,” she said fondly, adding with a laugh, “On the coldest day of the year, I think. “We wanted to get married and we had a very simple wedding. I was 26, he was a couple years older. His father was superintendent of the water and light department in Detroit Lakes. He worked in the signal corps for 3½ years in the service – he was in Iran.” They were very poor when they got married, she said, and moved West, where she worked for three years as nurse in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The last year Rita worked as a nurse was at the same school her husband was attending – Farragut College and Technical Institute, which was similar

{

to Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis. “We had a lot of GIs, just back from the war,” she said. “I worked with a lot of pregnant women there. I would ride with them in the ambulance to the hospital. We had some close calls, but we got them there.” The couple later moved to the Twin Cities. “Minneapolis paid a lot more than Detroit Lakes,” she said simply. “And you could join a union, which was very beneficial.” She worked as a nurse and teacher and raised five children (Mark, Leslie, Georgia, David and Rita) there, and also at their summer cabin on Lake Six in Otter Tail County. All married and several live in the area. She has nine grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. They all loved Lake Six.“One summer we spent an entire month just traveling back and forth to Lake Six. My husband was an ardent hunter and fisherman,” she said. “At first, we had a 100-yearold cabin with an outdoor toilet and no electricity.” Later they upgraded to a cabin several lots down. The family went to Lake Six as often as they could, until George retired and they moved there full time. Before George died in 2004, Rita promised him she would stay another year on Lake Six, which she did. She’s been at the Madison since then. It’s an assisted living building that is part of the Ecumen complex. “This building was brand new,” she said.“I didn’t move in until fall, because I wanted another summer at the lake.” For 24 years she was a member of Sacred Heart Church in Frazee; now she attends mass in Detroit Lakes, helped by family members who live in the area. “I met so many people here,” she said. “The sad part is you get to know them, and they move on. But I’m happy here … all those years have gone quite quickly.”

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

- Jane Goodall

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WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 35


100's Tillie Dybing

Bloom where you are planted Tillie Dybing, 104, enjoys life wherever she’s living

T

illie Dybing is happy with her home at Ecumen-Detroit Lakes’ Emmanuel Nursing Home. “I like it here,” says Dybing, who turned 104 on Aug. 28. Before moving to Detroit Lakes about seven years ago, Dybing lived in North Dakota, spending much of her adult life in Minot. But she grew up far from the city lights: Tillie was born in a sod house in Manfred, N.D., where she lived until she was 7 and her family moved to a farm near Harvey. She went to small school through third grade, and still remembers the injustice and boredom of PAGE 36 | WOMEN 3600

STORY BY NATHAN BOWE and VICKI GERDES

being forced to repeat the third grade when her family moved to Harvey. Her country school had provided a good education, and she remembers learning a lot by listening to lessons being given to the older students. For many years, Dybing was an only child (her parents lost three children in infancy) before her brother came along, when Tillie was 16. He died about 12 years ago. The severe drought that turned parts of North Dakota into a dust bowl in the 1930s hammered her parents’ farm, so they moved into Harvey, where she graduated from high school

a few years later, in 1932. She had been planning to become a nurse, but the college she wanted to attend wasn’t taking any new students that fall, so she put it off for a year. “And then, I got married,” she said. She and her husband George were married Nov. 29, 1934 in Harvey, and lived there until moving to Minot in 1941. Because her husband’s construction job in Minot was seasonal, she got a job at Bowles Juniors, a children’s clothing store; at Buttrey’s clothing store; and then at Bader’s Department Store, where she worked for 27 years.


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WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 37


“I was in ready-to-wear,” and sold dresses, car coats and other such merchandise, she said. For the most part, she enjoyed the job, and has this advice for young people:“If you like your job, keep working. There will be ups and downs, ups and downs, but take the good times with the bad. You won’t regret it.” Along the way, Tillie and George raised two children – son Myron (who lives in Detroit Lakes with his wife, Pam) and daughter Sue, who lives in Minneapolis. She has a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In Minot, she was also very active in her church, teaching Sunday school and singing in the choir, and she also volunteered quite a lot at Trinity Hospital, working in the gift shop, assisting with crafts,“wherever I was needed,”Tillie said. Her husband also had some land outside Harvey, where she and the kids would spend every August helping to bring in the harvest. “There was no electricity, no running water,” she said. They used kerosene lamps for lighting and used the well to cool items. “We never had a refrigerator or deep freeze – if we wanted Jello we had to put it in the well to harden.” “I drove the combine,” she said. “It wasn’t like like tractors are now. It was open. “When you went to supper, you didn’t know if you had white teeth or black teeth (from soil and crop dust),” Tillie said with a laugh. “It was quite the life, but the kids and I enjoyed it.” Of course, that might have had

something to do with the fact that it was temporary, she said with a smile. In the old days on the farm, storebought pain relievers were hard to come by. “If you had a headache, you had to rub Watkins liniment on your head and tie a ribbon around it,” she said. She learned to drive a Model A car when she was 14 or 15. “It had three pedals, high, low or backing up --- no stick shift,” she said. “If it didn’t start, you had to jack up the rear wheels and crank the front.” In those days, people made the best of the challenging Minnesota winters, she said. “It was cold, but we didn’t mind,” she said. “We had sleighs. We’d hitch up the horses, go to the neighbors, and play whist.” When she was a child, her monthly allowance was 25 cents – which may not seem like much, but she could buy a sucker for a penny and a candy bar for 2 cents, Tillie said. The cost of a movie ticket jumped from 7 cents in 1923 to 25 cents in 1924. She’d have to ask her dad for extra money to see a matinee on the weekends after that. As a child, she used to hate having to milk the family’s seven dairy cows.

{

“The tails would swish in your face,” she said. “You had to keep your nails short, because if they pinched, she’d kick.” While living in Minot, Tillie and her husband had to deal with flooding five times. “One year, we had 13 inches of water on the main floor,” she said. In 2011, a widowed Tillie finally decided she’d had enough. “I thought, ‘It’s time to get out of here,’” she said. “My kids said I should move here (to Detroit Lakes).” Tillie’s children helped her make the move. That’s when she moved in with her son and daughter-in-law in Detroit Lakes, and shortly thereafter, to Union Central, and later to Ecumen. She said she enjoys the people at Ecumen and the meals are tasty. “The food is really good (here)… I’ve put on some weight,” she added. She reads the Detroit Lakes, Minot and Fargo newspapers regularly, and is in excellent health – she does not need any prescription medications and only takes vitamins. “The doctor said ‘Tillie, you’re going to live another 100 years,’” she said with a laugh.

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WOMEN 360 | PAGE 39 0


PAGE 40 | WOMEN 3600

Profile for Detroit Lakes Newspapers

Women 360  

2017 Edition Highlighting the outstanding women in our community.

Women 360  

2017 Edition Highlighting the outstanding women in our community.

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