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MARILYN HAGERTY: Deaconess nurses share bond of caring

Days of the white uniform and a perky white starched cap are gone.

But they are not forgotten by people who were patients in days gone by — or by women who graduated from the Deaconess School of Nursing here in Grand Forks.

That school had its first graduating class in 1907. It closed in 1960.

Forty-nine of the Deaconess nurses gathered at the Ramada this week for what many thought was one last reunion. But there were a few who insisted they should meet again.

ElDonna Lund of Enderlin, N.D., from the class of 1960, said, “We didn’t want this to end.” And Delaine Russum of Grafton said being in the last graduating class was pretty special. “We’ll meet one more year.”

The nurses of yesteryears give respect and credit to technology of the times. At the same time, they think the focus away from the patient is sad.

Their theme was, “Sympathy binds us.” They miss the days of the kind, loving nurse who gave total patient hands-on care.

Many of the Deaconess-trained nurses worked in the United Hospital and the present Altru Hospital. Helping to organize the annual gatherings are Donnabelle Weston and Berniece Holm of Grand Forks, both of the class of 1954.

Junk, degrees, moms

The weekend arrives with junk almost cleared from the berms and the annual Springfest coming up on Saturday. … While 64 medical students will be receiving their Doctor of Medicine degrees in commencement ceremonies in the Chester Fritz Auditorium. … And everyone is thinking of their own moms on Mother’s Day coming up Sunday.

Ask Marilyn

Q. Where do the new Doctors of Medicine go from here?

A. All over. They have been accepted to residencies all over the nation. And they run from three to seven years. Jill Olson is among those staying close to home. She will do a family medicine residency at Altru Health System.

Q. Who are Shawn Aker and Brian Morrison?

A. They are the jolly, cheery chefs at Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks. They are all ready for summer vacation beginning next Thursday. In the meantime, they turn out great food choices and serve them up with a smile.

Q. There’s a license plate that says FROGMOM. What does that mean?

A. The license plate belongs to Ann Vossekuil on the business staff at the Ramada. It is in memory of Vossekuil’s daughter, Taylor, who died in 2007 of leukemia. She loved the saying FROG (Forever Rely on God). Questions about the plate give Vossekuil a chance to save those words and remember Taylor.

Dennis and Anne

Cheerful persons of the week: Dennis Elbert and Anne Temte.

Reach Marilyn Hagerty at or by telephone at (701) 772-1055.