By Deborah Banish
A large crowd of family and friends gathered in the Rutland Town Hall on the afternoon of Saturday, March 7, to participate in a celebration of life honoring the late Jerry Sapa of this community. Jerry passed away at Sanford Hospital in Fargo on Wednesday, February 26 after a brief but spirited battle with an aggressive cancer. Jerry was the youngest of the six children of the late Joe and Helen (Silseth) Sapa, who had made their home in Rutland from the 1930’s until the late 1950’s. Jerry was born in 1956, when the family resided here, and moved to Fargo with his parents and sisters shortly thereafter. The Sapas always considered Rutland to be their hometown, though, and Jerry frequently accompanied his parents on visits with his maternal grandparents, Arthur & Nellie Silseth, on their farm south of Rutland. Jerry’s great-grandfather, Ole Silseth, had been one of Sargent County’s early pioneers, having homesteaded near Silver Lake in Rutland Township back in 1882. After he had graduated from Shanley High School in 1974, Jerry took up the trade of carpentry and earned a reputation as a master of his craft as well as for the precision of his work. A little over 20 years ago, Jerry moved from Fargo to Rutland to practice his profession and to pursue some of his favorite activities, hunting whitetail deer, upland game and waterfowl. Jerry made many friends in this area, and always maintained contact with the friends he had made as a youth growing up in Fargo. Those new friends and old friends were often his hunting companions around Rutland, and also established a connection to the Rutland community. On Saturday afternoon many of them got up to speak about Jerry’s character, skill and good humor, and about the good times they had enjoyed in his company. Those attending the program enjoyed a supper featuring Rutland Scalloped Potatoes at its conclusion. During his years in Rutland, Jerry became the community’s “Mr. Fix-It,” working on many projects, large & small, including projects in and on the Town Hall in which the celebration of his life was held. He was generous with his time and his talents. (Back in 1947, Jerry’s Dad, Joe Sapa, was one of the volunteers who donated their time and talent to build the Rutland Town Hall that Jerry worked to maintain and improve.) He is survived by two sisters: Margaret Ann Hartze of Fargo; and, Jeannie Seifert of Fargo; by his 2 beloved dogs; by numerous nieces and nephews; and, by a multitude of friends. He will be missed by all who knew him.
The Rutland Community Club held the annual Fun Night on Sunday, March 15, with a good crowd of Rutland residents attending. Katie McLaen and Morgan Peterson organized the evening of games for the kids and bingo for the adults. The Hall was full of energy and activity for two hours concluding with the drawing for over 70 prizes for the youth. Individuals helped with the clean-up and it did not take long to take down all the decorations and seating which had taken hours to prepare.
Sargent Central High School, along with all K-12 schools in the State, took off the week of March 16-20 as announced by the Governor. Sargent Central students were already scheduled to have March 19-20 off for spring break. Students could get necessary items from their lockers at school on the morning of Wednesday, March 18. Information on when and how classes will resume is anticipated on Friday. The students may be home longer making it difficult for working parents who still need to work during this time.
The gathering of Rutland residents will soon be confined to ten or less as recommended by the ND Department of Health amid the spread of COVID-19. People have been urged to participate in “social distancing” to help stop the spread. Basically, avoid social gatherings of 10 or more and try to be in excess of 6 feet of others. Use caution when getting groceries or shopping. Now is the time to hunker down with a good book, go for a drive, watch movies, take a walk, start that indoor spring cleaning or take an online class.
Information will be posted on the City of Rutland website and Facebook page as needed on events and activities in Rutland so be sure to check regularly. Events are being postponed or cancelled so be sure to call before planning to attend. That’s it from Rutland for this week. Stay warm and stay healthy!