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Friends move along, but their memories live on

July 10, 2011
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

Just so you know, birds can't fly 60 mph, and I've got a starling imprint on my front bumper to prove it.

I'd never seen any bird get out of the way of a car by flying straight in the same direction the car was moving until the night I drove out to Vincent for the Fireman's Ball. Thump. That's all I'm going to say about the late starling.

Going out to the Fireman's Ball was a bit like hitting the all-school reunion in Eagle Grove the weekend before. Only I could recognize most of the people in Vincent as being people from Vincent. I didn't know more than 20 people at the all-school reunion.

It doesn't matter, though, who I did or did not know, I had a good enough time at both to make the trips worthwhile.

It's the feeling of connection that does it. Connecting with old friends - moved on, maybe, but still there in our memories.

That's true for Virginia Pliner, of rural Fort Dodge. She sent me a photo recently of a friend of hers from Grapeland, Texas, a woman who turned 100 years old on June 7. The friend was born and raised in Fort Dodge.

Virginia said she wasn't sure if this would be of any interest to me since her friend no longer lives in town, but it does. It does because it means something to her and because it proves my point of that feeling of connection. She wrote:

"My friend is Estella Grooters Brown and she has quite a life story. As I said, she was born in Fort Dodge and became a nurse after graduation and at the time of WWII, she went to Congo, Africa, as a missionary nurse to those with leprosy. Upon her retirement, she came back to the states and married a retired missionary widower. She knew him and his former wife in Africa.

"Estella and her husband, Tom, presided at a church camp in rural Grapeland in which Estella started and was in charge of the camp's infirmary. They were married for two years before he passed away. She moved into Grapeland upon her retirement from the camp and has remained very active.

"She is an accomplished musician, still plays for church and recently played for a wedding. She is very active in Christian women's groups, politically and still writes a weekly column on her little, old manual typewriter for The Grapeland Messenger.

"She is able to remain in her own home with assistance and Meals on Wheels. She keeps up on politics and religion and is so amazing and sharp. Her knees are giving her some problems and her hearing is going, but she has an attachment on her phone that she can hear with. Since she is more confined to her home, she has made her ministry a ministry of prayer and spends two hours each morning praying for those she loves and often will pray again in the afternoons after her lunch and rest."

Virginia said she has Estella's phone number if anyone is interested in contacting her. You can reach Virginia by email at She's in the book.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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