Saturday, February 02, 2008

In Dunn County, ND, deaths are at least three times more common than births. And it might be a lot more than that.

I attended my friend Dorothea Pelton's funeral this morning. Dot would've turned 100 next year. She was a rancher who, up until a couple years ago, lived with her dogs and horses in a remote cabin along the Little Missouri River in the badlands north of Killdeer. Many years ago, she and her husband, Les (d. 1993), became overnight millionaires when oil was discovered beneath their clay and buckbrush ranch. Instead of keeping the money, they donated much of it to the Dunn County Historical Society (DCHS) to build a state-of-the-art historical museum.

I owe plenty of thanks to Dot and Les for giving me the opportunity to curate the Dunn County Historical Museum from 2004-2007. Even though I was employed by and answered to DCHS, it was really Dorothea I served. Her generosity of spirit was a rare and inspiring thing.

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