Marilyn Hagerty takes a break

Our Monday was going just fine until this tweet from the Grand Forks Herald:

She’s been a columnist for more than 50 years, but her family says a “hip ailment” is going to keep her out of the paper for a bit.

Hagerty, who is 89, writes five columns a week for the paper, many of them marvelous letters to her sister, many others are her Eat Beat food column, made famous by a review of an Olive Garden a few years ago.

Around the time, the Pinke Post blog listed the five life lessons from Marilyn, including her specialty: Be authentic.

That confidence I admired from as a young fan of Marilyn’s? It was real. At age 85, she found stardom from simply sharing the way she has for 50 years, by authentically writing. I have seen enough life to usually know a fake or read a fake. Some seek fame. Some seek fortune. Some would rather bring you down than see you built up and find success. But some people are real and you can sense that from them. That’s Marilyn. She’s real. She didn’t change or sway in all the years I read her columns. And she didn’t change when the media came knocking at her door.

“After 65 years of writing and editing for newspapers in both of the Dakotas, she didn’t need to worry about leaving a mark on the world. She had already done that,” her son, James, a Wall St. Journal columnist, wrote about his mom’s fame.

She’s more at home writing about people. One of her best stories, in my view, was a 1974 profile of a bachelor farmer, Magnus Skytland, who lived quite happily without electricity. He read by the light of a kerosene lamp and sometimes serenaded himself on his violin. He showed my mom his favorite horse, Sally, named after a former girlfriend. “I’ve had three horses named Sally,” he said.

Get well soon, Marilyn Hagerty!