A half-century

92-year-old shows no signs of slowing down

bbashioum@demo-mo.comAugust 3, 2012 

Marie Mickelson, 92, doesn’t show signs of her volunteer work slowing down anytime soon.

The Harrisonville resident still lives on her own and takes care of a 10-room house, drives herself to card games, and manages 12 flower beds in the summertime heat. She has also never been a patient in the hospital that she has been a volunteer at for half of a century.

Mickelson was recently honored at the Cass Regional Medical Center for her 50 years of service and volunteer work.

To say Mickelson is a busy lady is an understatement. Throughout her lifetime, she has had a lot of careers.

Mickelson spent 22 years working for the president of Harrisonville’s Farm Bureau office, two years with the Extension office, and four years as the district director of the Federated Garden Club of Missouri.

And oh, she ran a green house for 33 years.

“I’ve been busy, haven’t I,” Mickelson said. “I just don’t mow the lawn because my knees won’t let me.”

Mickelson grew up northeast of Drexel and graduated high school in 1939. She married Frank Mickelson, a school teacher and later a state legislator, the summer after she completed school.

Frank Mickelson was a politician for 28 years before passing away 15 years ago.

The Michelson’s never had any children, but they also had a farm, and Mickelson helped with taking care of the livestock.

“Many of nights I spent all night out in the barn with the sheep by myself because he was gone working in Jefferson City as a legislator,” she said.

Mickelson was asked to start volunteering at what was then Harrisonville Memorial Hospital in 1962.

“I went into the old, old hospital, and Dr. Jones’ wife was sitting there at the desk and she called me over. I had gone in there to see someone, and she said, ‘Come over here.’ I went over, and she said, ‘How about you volunteer to work the hospital.’ I said, ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ I said that I lived on a farm and I’m pretty busy,” said Mickelson. “‘I don’t know.’ I said, ‘I’ll go upstairs and visit with who I was going to see, and think it over.’ So when I came back down, she said, ‘Well, is it a yes, because I sure hope so.’ So I tried it.”

The rest is history.

“We weren’t at that (hospital) very long before we moved to the new one on Mechanic Street, which I thought was pretty nice then,” Mickelson said.

When the hospital moved to Mechanic Street in 1963, and became Cass County Memorial Hospital, it began staying open late two hours in the evening, and needed more volunteer help.

In those days, she would volunteer several hours in the daytime, go home to do chores, fix a meal, and then return to volunteer from 7-9 p.m.

“I’d work in the afternoon, and then I would go home and do chores I had to do and get a sandwich, then I would come back and work two more hours,” Mickelson said.

Before the hospital moved to Rock Haven Road and became Cass Regional Medical Center, Mickelson sat right inside the front door of the hospital at a small table where she greeted visitors. She also worked on the hospital floor, taking documents from one place to another.

“I worked there for 10 years, and I thought, well, maybe I can make it 20, so I’ll work 10 more years,” she said. “Then it was, why not work until 25. So I did, and when I made 25, I thought, I’m going to 50. That’s what’s I did.”

Mickelson giggled at the thought of another 10 years without any hesitation.

“I’ve never been in this hospital (as a patient), and I don’t want to think about it,” she added.

She used to volunteer at the hospital daily, but now is only scheduled for three-and-a-half hours on afternoons on the second and fourth Fridays of the month.

Mickelson spends her time now helping in the hospital’s gift shop. She also is a volunteer cashier at the Harrisonville Community Center two or three times a week.

“I like to meet people, and you see a lot people out here,” she said of the hospital. “People who know me may wave or stop by and talk to me a little bit. It’s just real nice. It’s not real hard work for a 90-year-old woman that should be taking it easy.”

In her free time, she likes to spend time with her friends at the community center playing cards.

Cass Regional Medical Center currently has 111 volunteers.

“I think anyone who has extra hours on their hand should volunteer,” Mickelson said.

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