Cover photo for Gertrude Schwalbe's Obituary
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1924 Gertrude 2017

Gertrude Schwalbe

December 27, 1924 — June 2, 2017

Gertrude Schwalbe, 92, Mandan, formerly of Center, died peacefully on June 2, 2017 at Sanford Health, Bismarck.

A funeral service will be held at 10:00 am on Thursday, June 8, 2017, at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Center, with Rev. Dennis Ristvedt officiating.

Visitation will be held from 1 to 3 pm on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at Buehler-Larson Funeral Home, Mandan, and will continue from 6 to 8 pm at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Center. Visitation will continue on Thursday, one hour prior to the service at the church. Burial will be at St. Paul Lutheran Cemetery.

Gertrude Mathilda Ella Hagerott was born on December 27, 1924 to Otto and Minnie (Engler) Hagerott in Morton County. She grew up on the family farm near Crown Butte, northwest of Mandan. Her love of horses prepared her at age 11 to rake hay with a team of horses and a dump rake on the three Hagerott farms for 25 days during the drought of 1936. She attended grade school at Crown Butte School #2 and then attended Mandan High School, which required her to board with other students in private homes. After high school, she attended Bismarck Junior College (when it was located on the top floor of the Bismarck High School) for Secretarial Studies. She graduated in 1944 with her Associate Degree and earned an emergency teaching certificate, due to the teacher shortage at the time. She then returned home to the farm and taught from 1944-1950 at the same country school she attended as a child. During the winters, she cross-country skied to the schoolhouse to light the stove before classes began. She followed the lives of her pupils into adulthood and was very proud of their achievements.

She married Walter Schwalbe on June 28, 1951 after their courtship, where he rode nine miles on horseback to visit her. They began their married life on the Schwalbe homestead in Oliver County in a granary-turned-farmhouse without running water. For five decades, they raised registered Angus cattle along with wheat and other grains. After Walter passed away in 2000, she lived independently on the family farm, now operated by her son, Alan, and his wife, Sheila. There, Gertrude continued to cultivate a very large garden and numerous flower beds and tree groves until she was 90. Each spring, she visited every greenhouse in the Bismarck area to browse the latest plant selections.

Gertrude was the family historian and maintained an extensive collection of photo albums which chronicled the adventures of the family and friends. She was very civic minded - collecting for cancer drives, helping with elections, and assisting the judging of entries at the county fair. She often donated her excess garden produce to charities. She was an active member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, where she taught Sunday school and served on the Evangelism Committee. She traversed the area to visit shut-ins when she herself was in her eighties. She was also a cancer survivor, living seventeen years beyond colon cancer.

Gertrude loved music and enjoyed playing the piano. She gave her children and granddaughters their first piano lessons. She made her public debut performing a duet in church with her granddaughter, Megan. Before they began, she turned to Megan and exclaimed, "If I keel over, you keep playing!"

Gertrude was a life-long learner, always seeking ways to improve her gardening, baking, and sewing skills. When she relocated to assisted living, she often reminisced about the enjoyment of "putting her hands in the dirt". After moving to a nursing home not long before her passing, she wished for a room large enough to house her piano.

She is survived by two children, Alan (Sheila) Schwalbe, Center and Susan (Thomas) Bohn, Redmond, WA; two granddaughters: Errin (Travis) Evink, West Fargo and Megan Schwalbe, Fargo; numerous relatives in the Hagerott-Mantz and Schwalbe families in both the USA and Germany; as well as a legacy of large evergreen and oak trees on the family farm.

She is preceded in death by her husband, Walter; her brother, Nels; and sister-in-law, Darlene.

The family wishes that donations be directed to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Center.

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