Marge Fee has seen it all in Harwood
When it comes to the little community of Harwood nobody is more in touch with daily happenings than Marge Fee.
Many would call her the resident expert, a description befitting someone who has lived there the greatest share of her life and been involved with every gamut of activity, from city government, to church leadership, to social affairs.
Ironically, Marge has her husband, Paul, to thank for her small town connection. Originally from Harwood, he met Marge at the old St. Johns Hospital in Fargo, where she had graduated from nursing school and was caring for one of Pauls friends that he was visiting.
They ultimately married in 1952. Paul was sent off in the military to Korea and Marge continued her nursing career, involved in coronary care and private duty nursing. During this time, Marge was a roving nurse based out of Lisbon Memorial Hospital, being shipped out to wherever needed, which also included time in Maddock, N. D.
Then, Marge said, a wonderful job came upon me when I became the West Fargo School District nurse. It was one of the most wonderful jobs a person could have. I soon discovered there was not a bad kid in this world all of them were super, some just required a little more nurturing.
And nurture she did for 17 years, serving all the schools in the West Fargo District. They called me Sarge, I guess because Im kind of an aggressive person, she laughed.
Marge thoroughly enjoyed working with the kids and took great satisfaction in helping some of them through difficult times. Nursing is one of the best things that ever happened to me. The School District position was one of the most interesting and fulfilling jobs I ever had. Part of my job was checking on kids absences every three days. If they didnt return, I made house calls to get them back.
All the while Marge was school nurse, she also did double duty as Harwood City Auditor, with the office based out of her house. Marge was one of the leading figures in spearheading incorporation efforts for the city in 1977. I was fed up with no garbage collection, street maintenance or sewer and water service. It was just ridiculous the way things were going. This was not the way to live in a city. So we got a committee going and we struggled but we eventually got all the amenities. After the incorporation, the city needed a full-time auditor, so Marge was appointed. Later, she also served on the City Council for a number of years.
Marge remembers those days vividly. The incorporation was so exciting. It was great to watch Harwood develop into a wonderful place to live. The people out here are fantastic, she continued. Just seeing it grow and making it a better place to be is what gave me satisfaction. We have such a great community. Everybody that lives here loves Harwood.
Marge said that although the incorporation was a good thing, there have also been little glitches in the road, with the most pronounced the flooding the city has endured. We faced terrible times in fighting the floods, but we managed to make it survive.
Through the years, the population has since gone from 378 to 700. She said at the present, growth in the city is a little stagnant and shes trying to find a way to kick-start it. Right now were kind of sitting still. I dont know whats going on, but Ive got a big nose and I would like to find out.
She also adds that through the years shes been privileged to meet and get to know a passel of wonderful people. Two of my favorite people that I looked up to were Florenz Bjornson (former West Fargo Mayor) and Jeanette Stanton (now deceased). These women were both in city and county government and so influential. I truly admire women who speak up for what they believe in.
I remember when Florenz and Jeff Volk, also a good friend, visited Harwood during the flood. Florenz walked into my office and was just sick because she thought the Sheyenne Diversion was responsible for our flooding. It was so touching how she truly cared.
Marge ultimately relinquished her auditor position in 1994. The computer was staring me in the face and I decided that it wasnt for me, so I stepped down.
But even though she has stepped down, it doesnt mean that Marge has slowed down. Theres no indication of that any time soon. Im still on roller skates all the time, she chuckled.
A personal pet project Marge is presently pushing for is affordable city living that would include a senior housing project. She has gone so far as to gather signatures on a petition and take it to the City Council, but with no apparent success to this point. Nonetheless, shes determined not to give up. I still go to council meetings, thats what its here for, Marge said assertively. Everybody wants me to run for mayor. Ive been asked to run many times, but the mayor doesnt have a vote unless theres a tie, so I feel I can be more useful in other areas.
Today many of those other areas are not involved with city issues. She still teaches Sunday School; writes for the Harwood Highlites, the monthly community newspaper; is a member of the Zion Lutheran Church Board, where she serves as librarian; is president of the Cass County Seniors organization; and serves as precinct committee person for the Democratic Party in Harwood.
She beams when she mentions the $6,000 raised a couple of weeks ago for the new kitchen and community room additions at Zion Lutheran. She is also quick to admit that serving as church librarian is one of her many passions. I just love it. Another area near and dear to her is her work with United Churches for the Homeless.
She is equally as passionate about her role with the Senior clubs, where she oversees activity including leading educational sessions, conducting blood pressure screenings, and challenging their minds by sharing her love of crossword puzzle books, which she purchases by the case and distributes caringly to everyone interested.
Right now the hot topic is identity theft, she said. We get together once a month for programs and iron out any differences we have. They are all so great to work with.
With everything that she has going on in life, Marge also finds time for the two most important areas her hobbies, which include crocheting and reading; and first and foremost, quality family time.
Im a crochet addict and I love to read. I like to do a lot of tablecloths, doilies, and I make a lot of afghans. I give most of these away to friends and all the babies in town get afghans.
As for family, Marge said hers is indeed one of the greatest, and she has fond memories of raising her five children in the family home that Pauls father built in the 50s for his son and new daughter-in-law. Three years ago Marge and Paul moved into a larger home on an adjacent lot, all on one level, allowing them greater ease in movement.
I have a wonderful husband and kids. Pauls always been my chauffeur and allowed me to do my own thing while being supportive. He retired from NSP in 1991 and is presently plagued by a few medical maladies, including congestive heart failure and the loss of a kidney due to cancer. He is doing quite well, Marge said, who herself suffers from diabetes, but doesnt allow it to get in the way. Im a tough old nurse, so I keep my eye on Paul very closely, she added.
The Fee offspring remain extremely close and stop by whenever they can. The day of our interview, son Parker of West Fargo, dropped by for a visit and coffee. The main thing in this day and age is to keep your family together, so we all spend as much time together as we can, Marge said.
Marge loves to cook and has served as head chef preparing meals for 52 Easters and as many Christmases for extended family and friends; and today, it has become a regular ritual for the family to gather once a month at the Fee home for potluck, games and an overall great time. Besides Parker, family includes Paul Jr. and his wife, Sandy, West Fargo; Dwight and wife, Pam, West Fargo; Tammy, Fargo; and Kaylin (Mrs. Mike) Daniels, Rochester, Minn. There are also four grandchildren, Andy and Mike (Paul and Sandys children) and Helen and Samantha (Kaylin and Mikes children); and two great grandsons, Tony, Washburn, and Aden, Bismarck, Paul and Sandys grandchildren. Andy is the oldest grandson and lives right next door to his grandparents in the original Fee home.
Here Marge pauses a moment and reflects, saying she feels truly blessed by what life has had to offer. I have always been a yes person when it comes to pitching in wherever needed, and I really believe the world would be a much better place if there were more yes people.
She also is quick to say there will never be any time for boredom in her life. I dont have time to think about being bored. I have to get up and do something. What Ive learned is that life is such a good walk youve got to walk it, and Im just going to go like this until the end. Im a young 74, and Im not going to complain. God is good to me. He keeps telling me to get busy, get busy, and I always try to listen. Its been a good trip so far and Im still on it for as far as the ride takes me.