Meet Vera of Good Shepherd
Vera was raised on a farm in St. Cloud where she was the oldest of six brothers and two sisters. She was born May 14, 1923, to Gordon & Cecelia Utz. Her father and mother worked the farm until her brothers could help out, then her father also transported livestock. Vera helped out by feeding the chickens and picking eggs. Since the time she was 10 years old, Vera cared for three of her brothers and remembers she wasn’t able to go to town much. When she needed shoes, her dad measured her feet on paper and would take the paper to the shoe store. One time he bought her a pair of saddle shoes on clearance that she had really wanted. When she tried them on, they were two different sizes and couldn’t be taken back. Her dad stuffed the larger shoe with catalog pages and she made due.
The elementary school Vera attended was called District 39 in Cable, MN. Later, she went to Tech Senior High School and worked for a family for room and board during her last two years of high school. She was sad to graduate because the little girl she lived with really liked her. The summer after high school Vera got a job as a maid at the Governor’s Mansion in St. Paul. She remembers that summer well.
In 1943, during World War II, Vera went to Kansas City to work as a real-life “Rosie the Riveter.” She worked on B-25’s riveting the end plates onto the planes. She beams when she talks about how many women there were working hard while the men were at war. She was proud to do her part since the majority of her family has served this country.
When the war ended, Vera’s future husband, Forrest, returned to Sauk Rapids from Germany where he was stationed. They met in May of 1946 while she was outside skipping rope with her cousins. The next day she was going to take the bus into town on an errand. Forrest asked if he could ride with her and they never left each other’s side. They were married June 29, 1946. They raised three children, Gordon, Herald, and Anna. Vera now has seven grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren and she is very proud of all of them.
Sadly, Forrest passed away in 1971. Vera went to work at the St. Cloud Poultry House. Later she worked at Fingerhut and was there for 22 years. Her job consisted of folding car seat covers and handling free gifts. Vera was not afraid to make things more efficient in her job and was very productive. When she started volunteering here at Good Shepherd 32 years ago, her former boss said, “Don’t let her do any work at Good Shepherd, you’ll have to pay her double!”
Vera has been to Hawaii, Alaska and Branson, MO, which she really enjoyed. She collects “Rosie the Riveter” memorabilia and Boston Terrier figurines since she’s had many of them as pets. She also had a wonderful calico cat named Tika. When it comes to food, Vera likes squash, parsnips, and Saur Kraut because she’s German! She enjoys reading and watching “Price is Right” and is a very good singer.
Good Shepherd became home for Vera in 1985 when she decided she wanted a simpler life. She stayed active by volunteering, walking to Coborn’s for coffee every morning and socializing with friends. She feels fortunate to be here and says, “The staff always knocks on my door to see how I’m doing.” We’re proud Vera calls Good Shepherd home.