March was National Women’s History Month – an especially appropriate time to honor our outgoing historical society president, Marge Hallquist.
Marge’s name is synonymous with that of our Polk County Historical Society. I know, because I’ve known her for a long time. Marge took her responsibilities seriously for the eight years she served as president.
She is a historian who really believes that it is important to study history lest we repeat our past mistakes. Marge was born and raised right in this county, not far from the north end of Lake Wapogasset. She crossed the Balsam Branch daily in the summer when taking the families’s cows across the river. It’s no wonder she was interested in history, her dad was active in community affairs: the township, the school, the church, the cooperative movement, the politics at county, state and national level. Marge’s mother taught at Sucker Lake School with wide-ranging interests in flowers, poetry and history. What better training for a budding historian!
As soon as high school was finished, Marge went to St. Paul and attended Macalester College. Dr. Wallace, a former president of Macalester, and Dr. Mitchell, the college chaplain, both were summer neighbors in the Wapogasset area. Macalester was an eye opener; it had many fine professors but the one with the most lasting impact was Hubert H. Humphrey, who taught political science. Marge continues to be active in the many DFL units to which she belonged – as chair of her political ward and delegate to various conventions.
The rest of Marge’s life is history: teaching one-half year at Northome, MN (not too far from International Falls), four years at Kenyon, MN, and subsequent years until retirement at St. Louis Park, MN. She completed her master’s degree in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. She took many trips to Europe, the Middle East and Asia, some with friends and some with her mother.
During her life she always kept close contact with her native area, building a house on Lake Wapogasset in the 1959-1964 period, and finally retiring here in 1984. The house is a place where she displays her collections, cares for her mother and entertains the guests. A guest is served on the dining room table with china teacups. A table prayer is said and usually a traditional sweet is served. Marge and her mother, Mildred have served many holiday meals to their large extended family.
Always an active volunteer, Marge served not only at the Polk County Museum, but also the American Cancer Society, the Lutheran Brotherhood, the Amery Garden Club and the Literacy Council. Her heart is in what she does and what she does in mainly right here in her home territory!
Submitted by JoAnn Hallquist