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Marilyn Hagerty: 'The little old lady on Cottonwood Street'

Between interviews Hagerty takes time to catch up on email. Herald photo by Eric Hylden.

Twenty years after she "retired," Marilyn Hagerty is still working.

The 85-year-old's writing days for a daily newspaper started when she was in high school, working for the Pierre (S.D.) Capital-Journal, "and I never looked back."

She arrived in Grand Forks in 1957 when her husband, Jack Hagerty, became the Herald editor. Marilyn started working in the Herald newsroom several years later, as a features writer for the newspaper's Farm & Home weekly tab. Over the years, she has held a variety of assignments, from covering the school board to associate editor/features.

At age 65, she retired, but it didn't last long. She soon was lured back to work part-time hours, but with a full-time load, including her current five columns per week.

She has been writing weekly Eatbeat restaurant reviews since 1976, meaning she has written about 1,900 reviews. But none of them created the stir of her recent Eatbeat review about the opening of the Olive Garden. As of Monday, the story had received almost 700,000 story views online.

The media attention because of that online traffic has her baffled.

"It's like I'm dreaming," she said. "One of these days, I'll go back to being the little old lady on Cottonwood Street."

Asked if she plan to retire, she said: "Yes, when I get old."

What the Eatbeat writer eats

• Favorite vegetable: Asparagus

• Favorite fruit: Orange

• Favorite entrée: Bronze Boot's 4-ounce steak

• Favorite dessert: Anything chocolate

• Favorite fast food: Wendy's salads

• Favorite restaurant: Sanders

• Favorite offbeat food: Red beets

• Favorite meal ever: Salmon at Bay House, Naples, Fla.

Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send email to