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Ruth Steele of Minot enjoys reunions with school friends

Submitted Photo Ruth Steele and her friends, pictured, have known each other since elementary school. The group of women held a reunion last week in Minot. Pictured, not in order, are Steele, Linda Stratman, Silver Spring, Md.; Paula Dalle, Carrollton, Texas; Nancy Caldron, Kent, Wash.; Carole Lewis, Vancouver, B.C.; Nancy Susnis, Wheatfield, Ind.; Kathy Sandstrom, Iowa; Carol Lee Pendery, Aurora, Colo.; Gwenn Edman, Darien, Ill.; Margaret Hughes, Lakeway, Texas; and Debbie Madore, Bentonville, Ark.

Ruth Steele and some of her closest friends have known each other since they attended elementary school in a Chicago suburb.

Ever since about 2008, Steele and a group of the women she has known for nearly 70 years have held annual or bi-annual reunions in different spots around the country. Last week it was the turn of “Why Not Minot” to host the friends at the Dakotah Rose Bed and Breakfast.

Steele is the wife of Rev. Rick Steele, pastor at Minot’s United Church of Christ in Minot.

“Our best thing we like to do is talk,” said Steele, who has been battling cancer and just got a good report from her doctor.

This year’s visit was also a celebration of that wonderful news as well as their shared camaraderie.

The group also packed plenty of activities into their visit. They went to the rodeo, took a tour of the succulents on display at the International Peace Garden, attended a concert at Minot State and ate at several local restaurants.

Most of the women are the same age – around 74 – and they said they enjoy sharing their memories of their school years together. If they forget something, another member of the group will remember or they will laugh all over again at a story from childhood.

“We knew each other when we didn’t have our front teeth,” said member Nancy Caldron.

When they first started meeting, it took time for them to get to know each other again and feel comfortable. Now, after years of reunions, they feel that their relationships have grown deeper and they are also sweeter with each other.

If some members of the group are experiencing health problems or other difficulties, they can expect their friends to be “prayer warriors” and a powerful source of support.

Last year the group didn’t meet, in part because so many members of the group were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversaries or were in the process of moving.

But they are already thinking of where they will meet next year.

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