by Otto Ringle

This has been a tough week! One of the worst things about your later years of life, is you lose all your good old friends, and this past week we lost two of them! Actually we lost Pam last winter, but we just celebrated her life last Saturday.

Wasn’t it great — Vera lived to be 100 years old before we celebrated her very long and productive life with a parade last month and her celebration of life last Tuesday. Together they epitomize the old and the new.

Both of the royal, regal and ritzy ladies in the pictures are good examples of prolific and productive lives. Pam, with the age-old qualifications of unflinching determination, resoluteness and calculation, and Vera, with the brand-new, fresh, contemporary qualifications that are always necessary and required for a very long, successful life

Because Vera and I were such good friends, and the fact that she was such an interesting character, I have featured Vera a couple of times in this column, so I won’t add to the wonderful times we had together — first our cruise on the very rough waters of the Mediterranean Sea and later at many social gatherings with her special friend, Bob Stonebraker, and especially the very enjoyable times at the bridge tables.

I would, however, like to mention a couple of things about Vera I had never written about before but was reminded of when I attended her celebration last Tuesday.

Both Pam and Vera were teachers. Vera received her teaching degree from Ida Grove Teachers College in Iowa, when she was only 16 years old! However, it was not long before a tall, handsome lad by the name of Lee Stewart swept her off her feet, took her away from her desk and chalkboard in Ida Grove, and together they worked a little farm outside of town for 22 years.

As many Iowans have done, Lee and Vera moved to Leech Lake in 1961, when they purchased Dick’s Launch Service down on the City Dock. There were always little tears in Vera’s eyes when she reminised and reminded us of their six beautiful, classic, wooden-hulled, 1948, Chris-Craft launches that took their summer visitors out on her loveable Leech Lake for a day of fishing.

“I just loved the sound of that six-cylinder, inboard engine,” she would say. She and Lee always hired very professional guides, such as Al Maas, who was an honorary pallbearer at her funeral. The other honorary pallbearers were her Red Hatters, who she also dearly loved.

Pam had a very long and productive life also, even though she only lived 68 years — a long way from Vera’s century mark! Joyce and I were very good friends of Pam’s mom and dad — Kathy and Stan Worth. So, we remember very well the day Pam was born in 1951, and we celebrated with them after Pam’s graduation from Walker High School in 1968.

We celebrated with the Worth family again after Pam graduated from the University of Minnesota, and with mixed emotions we were happy for her English teaching job in Grygla, but sad to see her leave Walker. With all the talent Pam Worth had, we knew it would not be long before she would head for the big time!

And that she did, when she accepted the position as event manager for the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville! One year, Pam’s mom, Kathy, Joyce and I went out of our way to Fountain Hills, Ariz., when we stopped in Nashville to visit Pam. The four of us had a ball when Pam took us to the recording studio in the Opry House to record, “You Are My Sunshine” in barbershop harmony!

I sang tenor with the three gals. Pam, the only one with talent, sang baritone, with her mom singing bass, and Joyce on the lead.

Believe it or not, the manager of the recording studio thought we sounded pretty good and asked if we wanted to print the sound-track! What a day of celebration it was when Pam decided to come back home, accepting the position as event coordintor for Northern Lights, Palace and White Oak casinos. Her love for her family, friends and Leech Lake was just too strong to keep her away any longer, and it was not long before she became very active in her Hope Lutheran Church, singing with the Chancel Choir and playing in the Bell Choir.

In addition to her church, her family and friends, her love for our beautiful Leech Lake and especially her dogs was unparalleled! It has been an honor to walk life’s pathway with the two of you — Pam Worth and Vera Stewart.

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