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Marilyn Hagerty: A homey place in Grand Forks

Along with her Bible, La Verle "Lovey" Brehm has a dictionary. She uses it almost every day at Tufte Manor, 3300 Cherry St., when she plays Scrabble.

She's 96, and this is her second stay at Tufte. I met her recently while visiting Valley Memorial Homes around Grand Forks.

"I like it here," she told me. She goes to the sing-a-longs. She harmonizes when they sing "In the Garden."

She has a walker to keep herself steady as she moves around Tufte Manor. She mingles with other residents in the large, homey commons area. She enjoys her meals in the dining room.

She loves liver and onions. And she likes her bacon nice and crisp.

One of her friends at Tufte is Anita "Nita" Vernon, 79, who moved in on the first December. That was after she quit driving.

"And now," Anita says, "I call it my home."

She's a movie watcher. And she takes in "Wheel of Fortune" with others out in the lounge. She plays cards in the activity room. Still, she enjoys the comfort of her own room.

"This," she says, "is a very homey place."

Susan Hanson, who is the coordinator for activities at Tufte, says her job is her pride and her passion. With volunteers, she helps residents who want to take a bus to do shopping. Sometimes they take in musicals at the high schools.

This time of year, the residents look forward to the annual visit and entertainment by high school students who have been in musicals. They have a way of bonding with them.

Tufte Manor is linked to Cherrywood Village where there are 29 apartments.

Tufte is part of Valley Memorial Homes of Grand Forks that serve more than 520 people. The other campuses are Valley Memorial adjacent to Altru Hospital and 4000 Valley Square at 24th Ave. S. and Columbia Road.

Valley Memorial Homes date back to 1924. The first was established on Almonte Avenue in Grand Forks. It was destroyed in the flood of 1997. But the care was reinstated and moves on with Garth Rydland as CEO.

Spring benefit

The week at hand has snow melting, birds singing and people helping people. There's a benefit from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the TownHouse Thursday for LeRoy Kurtyka. He's battling pancreatic cancer.