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Sister Rebecca Metzger, of Grand Forks, remembered for leadership skills, talents in decorating

Educated in the field of occupational therapy at UND, Metzger served as activities director for seven years and administrator for St. Anne’s for 44 years.

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GRAND FORKS – In a career spanning more than 50 years, Sister Rebecca Metzger was a key figure in the mission of St. Anne’s Living Center, a facility with a rich history of housing and caring for people in need in the area.

Metzger, a member of the Order of St. Francis, died on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, at home. Her death came after a 10-year battle with cancer. She was 78.

She was “very involved in the process” of relocating the former St. Anne’s Guest Home from Lewis Boulevard to its current site, said Sr. Christina Neumann, communications coordinator at St. Anne’s. The fire department had deemed the facility’s former location, on Lewis Boulevard, uninhabitable because it did not meet fire code, Neumann said.

The current site of St. Anne’s Living Center, 17th Street and Fifth Avenue North, opened in June 1981.

Educated in the field of occupational therapy at UND, Metzger served as activities director for seven years and administrator for St. Anne’s for 44 years. Until the last weeks of her life she was still handling administrative responsibilities, according to an obituary.

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Sr. Elaine Roggenbuck, business officer for St. Anne’s Living Center, has worked with Metzger since 1972, except for 1987-92, when Metzger served as administrator at Towner County Memorial Hospital in Cando, North Dakota.

“We worked together like a pair of gloves,” Roggenbuck recalled, noting that one of Metzger's greatest strengths was the ability to work with people “and not get all flustered. She would work peacefully with situations and with people and challenges.”

Because the two were only four years apart, they shared many interests, especially in music, spiritual programs and movies, Roggenbuck said.

They also enjoyed vacationing together at Little Cormorant Lake where Metzger “loved to grill – even carrots and potatoes,” she added. “We didn’t drive any motor boats though.”

Both sisters enjoyed embroidery, Roggenbuck said, noting that Metzger would stamp or trace designs on dish towels for her and other sisters to embroider. “That was a real gift she had.”

Neumann also has fond memories of Metzger, whom she’s known for 16 years. She’ll remember Metzger for her leadership skills, she said. “She was good at business administration.”

“She always put everyone else first, before herself,” said Neumann.

Neumann helped Metzger with many projects, including bookkeeping for the HUD program, especially in the past 10 years as the administrator dealt with fatiguing chemotherapy.

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Lori Kiefat, dietary supervisor at St. Anne’s Living Center, worked with Metzger for about 37 years. Metzger hired her in August 1981, not long after Kiefat's graduation from Central High School.

Kiefat has fond memories of the sister whom she described as “a very giving person.”

Metzger “was always a person that would help anybody in need,” she said. “She helped a lot of people who were in need. That was her way. When people needed something, she was always there for them.”

Kiefat, who oversees a dietary staff of about seven, remembers Metzger as “an awesome boss, an awesome administrator,” she said. “She was very upfront with us. She told us the way it was supposed to be, the way she wanted it to be. She taught us well; I learned a lot from her.”

Metzger was also admired for her talent in decorating the facility, which provides housing and basic care for about 50 residents.

“She always loved decorating at St. Anne’s. That’s one of the things that I’ll miss,” Kiefat said.

She was intent on things being done properly, Kiefat added. “She would make sure everybody was happy.

“She was a wonderful lady to know.”

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Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at pknudson@gfherald.com or (701) 780-1107.
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