After 50 years, the letters to Shirley stop

Around Grand Forks, N.D., Marilyn Hagerty’s sister, Shirley, was almost as famous as the Grand Forks Herald’s writer herself.

For 50 years, Hagerty has been writing her weekly letter to Shirley, sharing her letter as a column in the Herald in which Hagerty described the big doings in North Dakota.

When Shirley died last month, we learned a little more about Shirley.

She always loved the work she did as a secretary. Nowadays the work would more likely be that of an office manager. And she was an expert. Along with that, she turned into a very good, very avid golfer.

Shirley carried the Lutheran faith she learned as a child everywhere she went. She always would find a Lutheran Church, and Frank would join her in worship services on Sunday.

Frank went on ahead several years ago. Now Shirley is gone.

For many readers of the Herald, Shirley meant almost as much to them as Marilyn, judging by the response.

In her latest column/letter, Hagerty is writing to Sandy, a friend of Shirley’s.

Well, life is different now. They held memorial services for her at Santa Cruz Lutheran Church on Saturday. And there will be a plaque in Shirley’s memory at the church as well as in the veterans cemetery at Sturgis in the Black Hills of South Dakota. That way our nieces and nephews can pay their respects to Shirley in the place where all of the Hansen aunts and uncles are buried.

I will keep on writing letters. They are important, I think, especially for this quick-message world in which we now live. Notes and letters from so many readers have brightened my days. I realize Shirley will not be forgotten although she has gone on ahead.

Meanwhile, it seems as though winter is at an ebb here in Grand Forks. Tell the other winter visitors you see down there in Tucson it will be okay to come north. After all, the geese are doing it.

Because, as Marilyn Hagerty noted, life goes on.