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A Time to Remember: Mary Flemmer Fischer

Serr, Bonnie. "A Time to Remember: Mary Flemmer Fischer." Northwest Blade, 8 September 2011, 12.


Mary Flemmer Fischer is a most remarkable woman. Her wit and memory can compare to none. She was born on January 24, 1911, in Gluckstahl, South Russia. At just two months old, she crossed the Atlantic with her family. They settled in Napoleon, North Dakota. She lived with her six sisters and four brothers on a farm four miles south of Napoleon. Mary recalls loving arithmetic and disliked civics in school. Andy I Over was her favorite game during recess time. She learned respect early in her life, especially for older people. When addressing older people in German, they needed to use the formal greeting of Ihr and not the familiar greeting of Du. At the age of 21, Mary took the train from home to Medra (a small town north of Greenway). She worked for the E.A. Straub family on their farm 17 miles southwest of Eureka. In October 3 1935, she was married to Edward Fischer. They lived with Edward’s parents, John and Caroline, and brothers Albert, Alvin and Alfred for eleven years. The first order of business was to earn money to purchase land. They bought their first 80 acres four miles north of Eureka in 1945 for $12.00 per acre. The land had been previously owned by a pastor, and he allowed them to pay as much as they could throughout the years until it was paid in full. They needed to find water on their newly acquired property. They hired a water witch from Leola that used a tree twig to find a vein of water. The first well was dug by one horse going around in circles. The second well was tapped to flowing water and it is still in operation to this day. They dug their own basement with the help of a rented scraper from the county. They moved a house from Greenway on to the newly dug basement. They hired Glaesman Moving Company for this job. A barn was moved from Hillsview. The years were followed by back breaking work. All the farm work was done by hand. This involved milking cows, pitching hay, picking rocks and other endless jobs. They literally built a farm from bare land and lived there for 69 years. In the early 1960’s, they moved the Greenway Congregational Church to their farm. This building since has been moved to the Kenny Kunz Ranch and is known as the Northern Kross Hunting Lodge. Mary and Edward built a kitchen in the front part of the church where the pulpit had stood. They purchased a hundred tables and chairs. They hosted countless anniversaries, family gatherings and church celebrations. Mary recalls serving 100 people with a strudel and Swiss steak meal.

Mary truly enjoyed singing, gardening and sewing, along with quilting, crocheting and embroidery. She was very involved with the hospital auxiliary and 7th Day Church of God Ladies Aide. In September of 2004, they sold the farm and moved into the assisted living facility in the Eureka Community Hospital. When asked what the key is to a successful marriage, "It’s an uphill battle. You have to take and have to give." Her key to happiness is to be always satisfied and put in a good days work. In a perfect world, Mary would have preferred to always live on the farm. She loved tending to her gardening and little chicks. She cried the day the milk cows were sold. She worked hard outside and in the house. She enjoyed it all. Edward passed away on March 2, 2007. Mary still resides and lives independently at the assisted living center. She leads morning exercises for the other residents. Everyone looks to Mary if they have a Biblical question or can’t remember someone’s birthday. Mary remembers it all. Due to her failing eyesight, she has committed everything to memory. She celebrated with two birthday parties when she turned 100 years old. We can all learn many invaluable lessons about life and living from Mary.

Story courtesy of the Northwest Blade, Eureka, SD.
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