On the verge of a 100th birthday, Pine River lost a bastion of knowledge and support with the death of Marjorie (Mody) Gardiner on Oct. 13.

Gardiner is remembered for her devotion to the city.

"She loved everything about Pine River," said Colleen Moser. "She always gave her time and resources."

Her involvement earned her the distinction of winning a Distinguished Service Award from the Pine River Chamber of Commerce. For many years, Gardiner was a valued volunteer with the Pine River Chamber of Commerce Information Center and there was hardly a person in town with more information than her, at her age.


"Paul was already married to a Marge, and she was this little, petite thing. Mody was tall and good looking and everything, but she said, 'There is no way I was going to be called big Marge.' So that's how she got the nickname Mody."

— Colleen Moser.


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"She was full of stories about the history of Pine River and its people," Moser said. "She was a true treasure."

To Moser, Gardiner was a tie back to her parents' generation.

"She and my mother were very close friends," Moser said. "I've known her since I was a baby and she always said she helped raise me. When my mother died she became like a second mother until the end. She was always fun to stop and visit with."

This wasn't a unique occurrence for Gardiner.

"She was a friend of my dad's when he first moved here from South Dakota in the mid '30s," Jackie Wetrosky said. "They were the young people in the area at the time. They went to all the local hangouts. I have known her all my life and went to the same church. ... I lost my dad early and it was a way of connecting with a lot of stuff he did when he was young around here."


"I lost my dad early and it was a way of connecting with a lot of stuff he did when he was young around here."

— Jackie Wetrosky.


Gardiner was noted in a Heritage Group North event as the "other mother" for many individuals.

She was also noted for her quick wit. Her nickname "Mody" was likely born of that same wit.

"She married Kenny Gardiner," Moser said. "And Kenny was Paul Gardiner's brother. Paul was already married to a Marge, and she was this little, petite thing. Mody was tall and good looking and everything, but she said, 'There is no way I was going to be called big Marge.' So that's how she got the nickname Mody."

She was also a stout supporter of the Pine Ridge Cemetery, a family endeavor. Gardiner did her best to support the cemetery along with her older sister, Gertrude "Sis" Risnes, and before them their grandmother, Nora Kline.

"She had lots and lots of relatives in the cemetery and that was very important to her to decorate all the graves," Moser said.

Her loss represents the loss of history and a great source of local support.

"She lived life to the fullest," Wetrosky said. "That's Mody."

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com.