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Eunice Sitter has distinction: oldest alum at reunion

August 8, 2011
By Terri Kelly Barta

Eunice (Anderson) Sitter, Fargo, Rugby High School Class of 1939, was the oldest alum attending the All-School Reunion the first weekend in July.

She started high school at the age of 12, but didn't feel she ever really fit in.

"I was the only Norwegian Lutheran blonde among the Catholic Germans from Russia," she said with a laugh.

When she started at Rugby High School, she boarded with her dad, Emil Anderson's elderly aunt and uncle, August and Bertina Anderson. She remembers the winter of 1935/1936 as a bad one.

"I didn't get home until March 15 that year," said Sitter reminiscing. "I was so homesick, I was sick. "

She remembers that there were 34 in her graduating class at RHS and the high school was located north of Ely Elementary School at that time. She started at Gunderson School in first grade. Then went to Sand School and from fourth through eighth grade attended Florian Axtman School in the Brazil School District.

Sitter credits her mother, Jennie Anderson, who was a teacher, as the reason she was ahead of her class. She went to college at Minot State University when she was just 16 and started teaching at age 17. While at MSU, she worked for her room and board at a home near the college.

Sitter started her teaching career at Sand School, one of the first schools she had attended as a student.

" I had four students that first year," said Sitter. "The next year another school closed and I got those students, too."

Sitter has gone to school a good part of her life, as she added to her education as she went along. In 1943 she graduated with a standard degree in education. It was around the time that there was a new school of study called behavioral studies with a more open classroom. She took continuing education as most teachers are required to do throughout her career. In 1970 she earned a masters degree. For her thesis she and Adah Burvill co-wrote "Buffalo Bones on the Prairie", a history of Towner. Her thesis is part of the collection at the ND Historical Society, Bismarck. Copies of the history are at NDSU, UND, and the Heart of America Library in Rugby.

She married Frank Sitter, Jr., and the couple had three children together and later divorced. Sitter continued to teach while raising the children. She had three daughters, Sharon (Joe) Sitter Schlue, Fountain Hills, Arizona; Sandi (John) Adams, Fargo and Charlene "Char" Sitter and her husband, Gary Parker. Sitter has four grandchildren.

Eventually, she moved to Fargo but was overqualified to get a teaching job there at first. She was friends with the principal at Lewis and Clark Elementary in Fargo who wanted her to come and teach there. However, once again, she was told she was overqualified. She worked as an aid at one of the schools to get her foot in the door. Later, the Vanguard School, which housed students with disabilities, had an opening and she went there. That school closed in 1974. Sitter went back to school on a stipend and took classes in learning disabilities. She taught her last year at Mapleton School and retired in 1988.

She is a member of a Red Hat group, Sons of Norway, two retired teachers organizations and the Fine Arts Club in Fargo. She is a very close friend of Elaine Nelson, Rugby. Nelson is moving right across the street from Sitter in Fargo so they will get to spend more time with each other.

Sitter hosted the Class of 1939 for their 60th Class Reunion in Fargo in 1999 at her home. She said fourteen members of the class and spouses came. They had a nice dinner at the Waterford and took a bus tour of Fargo.

(The Tribune reported earlier on Inez Thorstenson, Class of 1929, and Bernice Hildenzager, Class of 1929, who live in Rugby, but were not registered for the reunion.)



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