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Older sisters help Harwood resident celebrate 90th birthday

Florence Myers (left), and her two sisters, Rose Thompson (center), and Gladys Gehrke, painted the town red as they helped Florence celebrate her 90th birthday. Submitted photo

When Florence Myers was honored on her 90th birthday at an open house at the American Legion in Harwood, N.D. on July 26, her two older sisters were there to help her celebrate. Rose Thompson, who is 91, flew in from California with her niece earlier in the week, and Gladys, who is now 96, came from Fargo, so they could spend time with their "little sister."

"I felt like a queen for the day," Florence said after the party. "I was well remembered. I have the whole table full of flowers," she added.

One of ten children of Julius and Rose Dura, Florence was born on July 28, 1919, and grew up on a farm near Loma, N.D., not far from Langdon. In the early 1940s, after the children had all grown up, Julius and Rose moved to Harwood. By that time, Florence and her sister, Rose, were living in the state of Washington, close to their older sister, Clara. All together, there were Clara, Arthur, Emma, William, Amelia, Gladys, Lena, Rose, Florence, and Leo. Being the "baby sister" had its advantages and its downfalls. "Rosie and me milked cows and took care of a lot of the outdoor chores because the older boys had already gone. In those days, we didn't have TV or radio or running water or electricity, so we worked hard," Florence remembers. Her mother raised chicken, ducks, and geese. They churned butter and made cottage cheese to sell around town. She remembers her mother washing clothes by hand and sometimes using a washboard.

Florence met Leonard Myer while living in Tecoma, Wash. They got married and raised two sons, Leonard Jr. and Keith, eventually moving to Harwood to be close to family. Her husband passed away several years ago, but both sons live in Grand Forks, and come home often to spend time with Florence and help maintain her home. Florence has three grandchildren.

According to Wanda Wilcox, West Fargo City Auditor, who is Florence's niece, Florence still does a little baking and canning. In fact, when Wanda gave her aunt a ride home recently, Florence gave her three jars of homemade jelly in payment.

"She's never driven, but there's always someone in Harwood who'll take her where she wants to go. Everyone treats her like she was their grandma," Wanda said.

Florence has been asked to serve as grand marshal during Harwood's community days in September. She's pretty proud of that, and appreciates all of her friends in Harwood.

"I wouldn't be living here in the house if it wasn't for all the nice people in Harwood looking out for me," Florence said.