Jeanette Arlene Hagen (Helgaas) and her beloved husband, Monroe Lawrence Hagen passed away within four months of each other, Tuesday, November 29th, 2022 and Monday, March 13th, 2023, respectively. They were married for 66 years. Theirs was a love story.
Mom and Dad are already missed by so many friends and family who loved them dearly.
Mom was born in a farmhouse in Winger Township, Minnesota, to Mildred and Adolph Helgaas. She was later followed by siblings Maynard, Laverne, and Carol. Unfortunately, Adolf lost his health, and Jeanette’s mother was later re-married to Fred Bradley, a cattleman and farmer. The family moved to Fred’s farm which was located in the Beltrami area. Fred and Mildred had two children, Linda and Mary Kaye. Jeanette attended Sunday school and was confirmed at Varnes Lutheran Church. Like so many, there were hardships in her upbringing during the Great Depression, but she and her siblings were always surrounded by loving adults. Because of this love and support, Mom never showed a trace of bitterness in the many stories she shared over the years. She attended country school and then to Fertile High School where, when she was 16 she was elected to the cheerleading squad, moved off the farm and got her own apartment in town. It was then and there that she met Dad, the beginning of this love story. As mom said, “I always knew that he was the one I would marry.”
Dad was born in Fertile, Minnesota, to Lawrence and Bella Hagen. He was the youngest of five children, Lucille, John, Arnie and Alice. Dad said he was the first kid on his street to have electricity. His dad, L.B.Hagen was the owner of the Chevrolet dealership in Fertile during the time of transitioning from horse to automobile. It must have been a huge deal to drive out of there with a brand new Chevrolet! To this day our family sings “The Chevrolet Jingle Bells Song” every Christmas. Bella was a woman of faith and a busy mom, in that order; She prayed for all of us and made delicious homemade buns to boot! Dad played football, basketball and baseball in high school and Mom was his favorite cheerleader. Mom said, “To this day he is still known around Fertile as being one of the few natural athletes to come out of there.” When Dad wasn’t playing sports he was down at the Sandhill River with his friends Gene Beaulieu and Tuppi Burslie either hunting, trapping or making mischief. Dad told us a million stories about his childhood and most of them were about the days at the Sandhill River.
All totaled, Mom and Dad “dated” for seven years. Before they got married, Mom wanted to explore the world so she went to California with her best friend, Lazona (Anderson Ellegard) and worked in the offices at Douglas Aircraft for three years. She said, “It gave me a chance to spread my wings a little and I ended up having a great time and good experiences.” Mom had a huge interest in photography and thankfully we have an enormous amount of pictures taken from that time so we have proof that she and Lazona were fashion divas with a Hollywood flare. They both loved to shop on Rodeo Drive in LA! Meanwhile, Dad went into the service after breaking his leg playing football on a scholarship from the University of North Dakota. While in the service dad was stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi. He was singled out for his great athletic talents and ended up entertaining the troops doing choreographed acrobatics and musical numbers. He was glad to avoid combat throughout the Korean War but when he had done his time in the service he couldn’t wait to get back to Fertile, Minnesota to see the love of his life. According to mom, “by the time we got married, we were both ready for it.” She was 23 and Dad was 25. They got married September 2, 1956 and because it was the first wedding in the family it was pretty unforgettable. Mom wrote about the event, “It seems everyone around Beltrami and Fertile was there!”
Mom and Dad loved their hometown but believed that showing their children, Teresa, Mike and Susan, the wider world was really important. So, they took long family trips to the Rockies, ski trips with friends and family, winter trips to Florida, and shared endless stories (and slide shows) of their 1972 trip to the USSR and Europe when Monroe worked for Dahlgren’s in Crookston, MN. With Monroe by her side, Mom was up for any adventure! They traveled to Chile, China, Russia, Norway, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and almost every state in the US! Mom was amazed by her travels, Dad was amazed by our Mom.
Their retirement years were a joy! They had endless interests together and apart. Mom was known for her hip and classic clothing style. She always looked fashionable. The last outfit she wore was a pair of cropped, wide-legged blue jeans and a tie-dyed t-shirt which was a hit with the Nursing Home staff. Mom was also active in Meals on Wheels, she did quilting and coordinated the Concordia Ladies Aid Stand at the Polk County Fair for many years. She loved photography, refinishing furniture and decorating her house. She also loved vegetable gardening, skiing, fishing, canoeing, camping, and dancing with Monroe. She especially loved time with her beloved siblings and their spouses. Jeanette took such good care of her family and was adored by her grandkids, Jenessa, Daniel, Anna and Ellie and great-grandchildren, Ruby and William (Will). Dad loved whatever Jeanette did but added elk hunting, deer hunting, and driving up to Flin Flon, Manitoba to fish with his brother-in-laws. These were his trips away from Jeanette which always ended with him missing home and her voice.
After Mom died on November 29th dad made a conscious decision to find a reason to live. He started to paint watercolors again and became very excited about painting with Teresa when she visited from Minneapolis. Dad worked hard with his Physical Therapist to begin walking independently again, he looked forward to seeing his brother, John everyday and he started to enjoy activities that were organized by the Nursing Home staff. During his last week he visited with Mike, painted with Teresa, played cards with Susan, drove around Fertile with Lisa and Susan and gleefully talked about the 20-foot snow banks the previous day’s blizzard had left, watched endless episodes of Life Below Zero and talked about how much he loved and appreciated his family. Then, on Monday Dad fell asleep in his recliner and joined his bride, the love of his life, and so many dear, dear family and friends who he and Mom loved so much. We cannot imagine the reunion that awaited them both!
Blessed be the memory of our Mom and Dad, Jeanette and Monroe Hagen.
Jeanette and Monroe’s family would like to thank all the wonderful caregivers at Fair Meadow Assisted Living and Nursing Home, and Polk County Senior Services who cared so lovingly for our mom and dad.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, June 17, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at Concordia Lutheran Church followed by a lunch at Agassiz Dunes ELC (The Learning Center).