The Rooster Crows – June 25, 2021

By Bill Anderson

The Summer Solstice arrived at about 10:30 p.m. on Fathers’ Day, Sunday, June 20, starting off the official 2021 summer season with the coolest temperatures in a month. The day had begun with a much needed rain, the initial blast at about 2:30 in the morning being reinforced with a couple of showers during the day. Norbert Kulzer reported .75 of an inch in his rain gauge, while his next door neighbor, Roger Pearson, reported that his gauge held .6 of an inch when the rain ended. Jesse Brakke’s electronic rain gauge at his farmstead between Rutland & Cayuga recorded .65 of an inch from the event. The rain was timely and most definitely welcome. The only thing it could have used to make it better was another inch or two of water.

Speaking of water, those who have been practicing the piscatorial arts on local waters have been having scant, but occasional, luck since the ice melted. A pair of anglers from this community, however, Roger Pearson and Lary Arneson, have been taking their boat to South Dakota in recent weeks, and have returned home with several limits of walleyes and even a few northern pike. Roger said that the number of boats on the lake they have been fishing have increased dramatically in the past week, indicating that the word has leaked out despite the traditional Fisherman’s Code of Silence. Roger can’t ethically disclose the location of this fishing hot spot, but admits that it would be a Bitter Lake, indeed, that did not offer up a limit of walleyes to a worthy fisherman once in a while.

Last week it was reported here that longtime Rutland resident Gretchen Vann had departed this life, suddenly and unexpectedly, on Saturday, June 12. Additional information is now available on the Price Funeral Chapel internet web site. Gretchen had passed away at Sanford Hospital in Fargo on Saturday, June 12, 2021, after suffering a heart attack on Friday evening while at the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Margie & Zach Johnson, in Gwinner. She had attained the age of 67 years, 4 months and 5 days at the time of her death. Gretchen Wolterdina Vanderwolf was born on February 7, 1954, in Boskoop, The Netherlands, to Hein and Antonia “Toni” (DeHus) Vanderwolf. In 1956 the family, which then included Hein, Toni, Gretchen’s older brother Klaas, Gretchen, and, Toni’s mother, Klaas’ & Gretchen’s grandmother, Wolterdina DeHus, immigrated to America. They first made their home on the farm of Gretchen’s great-uncle & aunt, Harry & Lydia Hoffman, near Rutland, in Ransom Township. The Vanderwolfs were hard working and ambitious. Hein worked for several local farmers and eventually obtained a job on the Great Northern Railway’s steel gang, then rebuilding the track from Aberdeen to Breckenridge. Hein was readily identifiable, as he was the only member of the steel gang wearing the traditional Dutch wooden shoes. After 2 years in Rutland, opportunity called the Vanderwolf family to move to Beaverton OR, near Portland, but they always remembered Rutland as the community that gave them their start in America. They had made a number of good friends here, among them Arnold & Bee Banish and Jack & Karen Saunders, and most summers they spent their vacation in Rutland. Gretchen recalled that the Vanderwolf family did not go to Disneyland, Six Flags Over Texas or other vacation hot spots. They went to Rutland instead! Gretchen grew up in Beaverton and graduated from high school there in 1972. She always had a good relationship with her cousin, Kathy Brakke, in Rutland, and she came to stay with Kathy and her family after her graduation. She went to work at the Bobcat, then Melroe, Company in Gwinner. She met and married Kenwood Peterson of Milnor, and they made their home on the Peterson farm near Milnor. They had a daughter, Antonia. Gretchen and Kenwood later parted, and she moved back to Oregon where she went to work for the Stevens Company, owner of Leupold optics and Stevens gunsights. She met and married John Stevens, and they made their home on Sauvie’s Island, along the Willamette River, near Portland. They had a daughter, Margie. Gretchen was later briefly married to James Vann of Portland. In 2005, Gretchen, her parents, brother, and sister & brother-in-law, Debbie & Noel Liermark, moved back to North Dakota to be closer to her two daughters, both of whom resided in Sargent County. She had a dream of giving something back to the community that had given her family its start in America a half century earlier. She acquired the property on the corner of First & Gay Streets, took down the existing structures and, in 2007, opened The Rutland General Store which had groceries, hardware, fabric, and many other items in stock. The store also had cooking facilities and gourmet meals were prepared there. In 2009, the Rutland Café, which was next door to the General Store, was acquired, renovated and added to the General Store’s capabilities. Gretchen operated the business until the end of 2015 when she closed both the General Store and the Cafe. She subsequently worked at the North Dakota Veterans Home in Lisbon and at Four Seasons Villa in Forman where her outgoing personality and upbeat sense of humor made her popular with the residents. Gretchen is survived by her 2 daughters: Antonia Hajek of rural Havana; and, Margie Johnson of Gwinner; by 6 grandchildren: Nicolas Peterson; Josephine Hajek; Jayden Hajek; TJ Johnson; Easton Johnson; and, Cyprian Johnson; by a brother, Klaas Vanderwolf of Forman; by a sister, Deborah “Debbie” Liermark of Rutland; by numerous cousins in America and in The Netherlands; and, by many friends. She was preceded in death by her parents. Visitation was at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, June 21, at Nordland Lutheran Church in Rutland, followed by a prayer Service at 7:00 p.m. The funeral for Gretchen Vann was at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, at Nordland Lutheran Church in Rutland with the Rev. Julie Johnson officiating. A Noon lunch was served by the Nordland Lutheran Church Ladies at the Rutland Town Hall following the service. Interment was in the Rutland Cemetery, near the graves of her parents and grandmother. Terry Price of the Price Funeral chapel of Forman and Britton was in charge of arrangements. In her Last Will And Testament, Gretchen instructed her daughters, “I want to be remembered in death as I was in life, bold, brash and daring. (and possibly broke!)” The Rutland community extends condolences and sympathy to the family and friends of Gretchen Van, a woman who dared mighty things, and who never allowed adversity to hold her back.

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