‘Nurse Marj’ to retire after 68 years in nursing

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal
"Nurse Marj" Marjorie Anderson

“It’s been an interesting ride, that’s for sure”, quips Marjorie Anderson, North Dakota’s oldest working nurse. Eighty-nine year old Anderson is planning to retire – again. Her first retirement was back in 1989, but it was short lived.

Marjorie Miller grew up in Willow City, ND, with her parents, four sisters and a brother. Two aunts that she especially admired were nurses, so Marjorie always knew that she would be a nurse, too. Marj started school at age five and graduated high school at 17 years old, too young to begin nurses training, so she entered a pre-nursing program in Minot, ND, for one quarter. To earn some money, she and another girl started their days at 5:30 a.m., washing kettles and setting breakfast tables for the V-5 Cadets on campus.

When she turned eighteen, Marj enrolled in the Trinity School of Nursing in Minot and completed her training in 1946. In 1944, Marj was also accepted into the Cadet Nurse Corps, which was established by the US government and managed by the Public Health Service to help alleviate the nurse shortage during World War II. As a Cadet Nurse, Marj received training and a small stipend that covered her tuition. Had the war continued, she would have served wherever the government directed, but when the war ended and Marj had finished her training, she and two friends ventured off to Woodland, CA, where she worked in a residential county hospital.

After a year, they returned to North Dakota where Marj married Richard Anderson and they made their home on a farm near Churchs Ferry. Marj took six years off of work when their children, Barbara and Richard, Jr., were born. Once the children were in school, Marj began her 36 year stretch at Mercy Hospital in Devils Lake. She started by working nights on the surgical floor making $1.25 an hour. “I thought that was good”, Marj chuckles. “I was happy as a lark.”

For three years, she used her vacation time to work at Indian Health Services in Fort Totten, which she especially enjoyed.

At the point she retired for the first time, Marjorie Anderson was Vice President of Patient Care (Director of Nursing) at Mercy Hospital.

But Marj’s career was far from over. In 1992, she was hired at the North Dakota School for the Deaf to fill in a six week maternity leave; those six weeks turned into 22 years as a temporary/casual nurse. “That was the best move I ever made”, she adds about her time at NDSD.

Through the years, Marj has also substituted at New Outlooks and Lake Region Special Education, and conducted admits for the Heartland Care Center.

Marjorie Anderson will turn 90 years old in February and shows no signs of slowing down. She enjoys gardening, needlework, quilting and adds, “I dust now and then.” Marj is very active in her church, meeting regularly with friends to make quilts which are donated to service organizations and people in need.

Nurse Marj has touched the lives of countless people. Ever gracious, she credits others for her 68 year tenure. “I could never have worked if I hadn’t had such good people to work with.”

The North Dakota School for the Deaf will host a Public Retirement Open House for Marjorie Anderson on Friday,  from 1:30-3:30 p.m., with a program starting at 1:45 p.m.