N.D. Mother of Year Fills Life With Family, Health
"N.D. Mother of Year Fills Life With Family, Health Training." Forum, 10 April 1983, sec. 14A.
Bertha Kambeitz thinks she might have been
a nurse if her childhood ambition had come true.
But it didn't, at least not quite. Kambeitz had to quit school
after the eighth grade, despite a strong yearning for more education.
She worked at home for a while, married John Kambeitz and raised
a family. But Kambeitz also educated herself in many ways, and used
her knowledge and leadership to work on community projects and help
She's worked with first-aid, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation training
and pap smear clinics, sponsored foster children and seminary students
in foreign lands, and has cared for neighbors who needed help.
For these and other accomplishments, Kambeitz was named North Dakota's
Mother of the Year for 1983. A noon luncheon honoring her and other
prominent mothers from North Dakota will be held next Saturday at
Bismarck's Municipal Country Club, followed by a reception at the
Kambeitz will represent the state in national competition April
20-23 in New York.
Kambeitz was one of 10 children born to German-Russian homesteaders
on the prairie 11 miles south of Napoleon.
"We were brought up religiously, and there was discipline
and at the same time a lot of love," she says.
As a child, she helped milk cows, gather eggs, feed chickens and
pigs, carry coal and water, and do the wash.
During the dust bowl of the 1930s, there were no crops some years,
Kambeitz remembers. The family fed thistles to their cattle, which
didn't produce much milk on that type of diet.
"In those days it was eggs and cream that bought the groceries,"
Kambeitz says. But she adds, "As far as food, we always had
enough" because they had hogs and chickens to butcher.
Kambeitz accompanied her parents, Raphael and Mary Gross, to Napoleon
in 1940 when they retired from the farm. She did some baby-sitting,
and eventually married John in September 1941.
Within six months, he was drafted to serve in the war, but afterward
they resumed their life together in Napoleon. Their daughter, Mary
Jo, was born in 1946. Son John followed in 1948, and then Mark in
1953 and Joe in 1962.
The spacing between children almost made it like raising three
families, Kambeitz says.
Besides raising the children, the Kambeitzes also cared for her
parents. Her mother died in 1950, and her father died in 1964.
Kambeitz says the love and moral guidance her parents gave her
helped shape her philosophy as a mother.
Kambeitz says it's important for a mother to stay home with her
children at least until they reach school age.
"I, for one, could never have left my children with a baby-sitter"
for fear they wouldn't have gotten the best care, she adds. "I
wanted to hear the first time when they said 'mamma' or 'I love
you' or 'daddy'. I wanted to see the first tooth, or the first step
Although being a good mother is only part of what it takes to become
mother of the year, Kambeitz says her family has always come first
in her life.
"My family is my first priority, and through their willingness
and cooperation, I have been able to return something to our city,
or community," she says.
"And I don't think we should fail to mention God in all this,
because if it wasn't for Him, there would be no way that we could
have done what we did."
Kambeitz remains active in her community work, which includes having
taught CPR to more than 100 people in Logan County during six months
"Even now at my age I still think that I am too young to be
put on a shelf," she says. "I will continue as long as
my health permits, and then I'll just have to let somebody else
Reprinted with permission of The Forum.