Longtime correspondent remembered
Ruth (Jacobs) Holdren, 97, was born and raised in the Montrose community, graduated from Montrose High School with the Class of 1937, married and raised her family in the Montrose community. Not only was she a resident of the community, but Ruth played an important part in keeping the Montrose community connected with the outside world and the outside world connected with Montrose. March 12, 1970, Ruth wrote her first Montrose Community News for the local newspaper, which at that time was owned by the Boyd family.
In her first column, the last entry read: "If anyone has notices, announcements or news of interest for the paper, would you please call 378-3666 (Mankato) or 794-2340 (Formoso). Several people at a distance have said they miss Mrs. Cecil Gardner's items and we will try to write some of the items of interest and will appreciate your help.
Cecil wrote the Montrose items from 1963 until her last column appeared on Jan. 8, 1970.
"When the Boyds called me, I was hesitant at first, and then after thinking about it for a while I decided to do it. Up to that time I had never worked outside of our home but this was something I did," said Ruth. "I talked to Cecil and she said she would help me get started. My telephone was a Mankato number and most everyone who reported for the Montrose News had Formoso numbers. Some of the time I went to Cecil's home in Montrose and used her telephone."
Ruth read a lot and said she never felt like she had to do the news, she wanted to, and she liked to write. She attended Montrose Community Club that was held in the church parish hall every two weeks and got a lot of news from there. She attended functions at the schools like the plays, programs, ball games, music concerts and had that news to report, and enjoyed talking to different people in the community about the company they had or just visiting.
"The hardest thing was that I hate to be nosey and there were times when I felt people thought I was, but I wasn't. I enjoyed writing the news, talking with all the people," said Ruth.
She took pride in reporting the news right, so consequently she does not remember getting much guff. And there were those that she contacted that didn't want to visit or report a thing, and that was alright with Ruth.
Everything that was reported to the paper to be published was hand written. Ruth began her collecting of the news over the weekend and finished it on Monday. Everything had to be delivered to the office in Mankato by Tuesday.
"As soon as I got the news all written up, I drove it to Mankato," said Ruth.
While working for the Boyds, Ruth's pay was receiving a copy of the weekly paper free of charge. Later, when the paper changed hands, she received the paper and was paid for her column.
"I don't remember what my wages were. It didn't really matter to me. I just enjoyed doing it," said Ruth.
She kept a scrapbook of all her weekly columns, but since the moves following her retirement, she doesn't know where it is now.
"My eyes were deteriorating and I couldn't drive anymore so it was time to quit," said Ruth.
Ruth's last column appeared June 27, 1996, in the Jewell County Post. The following week, July 4 edition, a thank-you ran with Ruth's picture in it. The caption read, "Thank you for being a faithful correspondent. Your column will be missed."
Ruth's days as a correspondent may be over, but she takes her place high on the podium with others who have cared enough and took the time each and every week to report their area local news. Some of those, from 1976, are: Mrs. Harold Knarr, Paradise; Mrs. Fern Griffitts, Randall; Mrs. Vic Tullar, Southwest News; Mrs. Lena Blacker, Here and There; Frosty, Whitemound; Mrs. Wilbur Obert, Odessa Dentonia; Mrs. E.E. Ranson, Limestone; Georgene Bossen, Village News; Mrs. LoVona Bartley, Ionia; Ella Summers, Valley View; Mrs. Harry Sutliff, County Road; Forrest Howard, Burr Oak; Mrs. Louie Hasemeyer Jr., Olive Hill; Mrs. Clarence Jensby, Webber-Lovewell; Waunita Weir, Formoso. From 1996: Janice Henningsen, Ionia; Joann Diamond, Lovewell-Webber; Ruth Glover, Northbranch; Therese Frost, Esbon; Elaine Clark, Formoso.
May 2009, Ruth and husband, Edwin, moved to the retirement facility at Hilltop Lodge in Beloit. The joy of reading has been taken from her, she can't watch TV, but she continues to crochet mostly by feel and boasts that she has two more Afghans to make for grandsons. Her children, Walt Holdren, who lives just one-half mile from the family homestead, Mary Folsom, Maize, Betty Meis, Hays, and Jan Wilcox, Beloit, visit Ruth as often as they can. Jan is the activity director at Hilltop Lodge so Ruth is blessed usually daily with visits from her. She also has a granddaughter, her husband and two grandchildren who live in Beloit, and a daughter-in-law who works in Beloit, so family is close.
"I enjoyed it, knowing the people in the Montrose area, the school happenings, weddings, births of babies, reporting this. It was fun," said Ruth.
We at the Jewell County Record and News are fortunate to have the following correspondents who bring to this newspaper their weekly columns. Most of the material reaches us via email:
Erma Dillon began writing the Northbranch News on Jan. 29, 2004.
Richard Verhage, Dispatch News, started in 1992 and wrote for awhile, then his wife, Edna, took over. Now Richard is writing the column again.
Fawna Barrett writes Randall News, and also the "Panorama" column. Fawna started writing "Panorama" for the Jewell County Republican in 1978, and later worked for the Jewell County Post, retiring March 28, 1997. She continues to be Randall News correspondent and a regular contributor of "Panorama."
Gloria Schlaefli writes the Ionia News as well as her personal column, "Country Roads." Gloria worked as the office manager for the Jewell County Record and News starting in the mid 90s. After her retirement in late 2010, she continues to write both the Ionia News and Country Roads.
Glenna Fogo, as far as we can tell, started writing the Esbon News column in 2009.
Roberta Holdren, Jewell News, started writing in 1993.
Glennys Barnes, Burr Oak News, began writing Aug. 4, 2005.
Elaine Thomas, Mankato News, began writing Feb. 9, 2012.
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