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A 'quality life' remembered: Friends pay tribute to Rachel Scott

In her last contribution to the Bemidji Pioneer PrimeTime Aug. 11, Rachel Scott wrote a farewell introduction to her book review.

"This draws to a close one of our most enjoyed projects in many years, ever since the first review appeared in January 2005 in what was then the Senior Scene. We thank the Pioneer for making this possible. A good many of you have spoken to us of your enjoyment in reading one or another of our reviews, and that has added much to our enjoyment in writing them as well."

Scott's health had been deteriorating, and she was preparing for her demise, including wearing a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) bracelet.

Scott died Friday at age 83. Her funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at Bemidji United Methodist Church.

"What a loss," said Lynn Fossen, director of nursing at Havenwood Care Center, where Scott spent her final decline.

Fossen said Scott died as she would have wished and was in charge of her life until the end.

"The thing I said to her at her bedside the day she died was I would aspire to be as much the leader and the woman that she was," Fossen said. "I told her I'd see her on the other side and I loved her dearly."

Fossen said she knows Scott heard and understood because the dying woman responded by opening her eyes and trying to speak

In 1990, Scott retired from geriatric nursing and as a member of the nursing faculty of the College of Nursing, University of North Dakota. She and her husband, Walt, retired from the ministry in Grand Forks, N.D., and chose Bemidji for their retirement home. Friends and admirers said Scott has touched many people in the area since then.

"She was always very caring and thoughtful," said Kari Knudson. Knudson, volunteer director at North Country Regional Hospital, worked with Scott as a hospital volunteer, as well as when Knudson was in youth ministry at Bemidji United Methodist Church, where Scott was a member.

"She became very close to my children," Knudson said. "She was always very interested in their lives and wrote to them. She would let them push her in her wheelchair because we would pick them up for church."

Knudson said Scott made connections easily as a hospital volunteer and used her life and professional experiences to help people. Scott graduated from the University of Michigan School of Nursing in 1949 and earned both a master's degree in counseling from the University of North Dakota in 1978 and a master's in nursing from the University of Minnesota in 1982.

"She was a real example for living a quality life," Knudson said. "Her physical problems didn't impede anything she wanted to do."

David Knecht, also a retired minister and clergy colleague of the Scotts' husband-and-wife ministry team, noted her writing ability.

"Rachel was one of the most creative persons I have known, especially her way of expressing herself in writing, how she touched us and so many other people," he said.

He said Scott was always sensitive to ecumenical and peace and justice issues and could express her views with sensitivity.

Knecht said although he knows Scott died as she would have wished, her death "leaves a hole in our lives."

Memorials the family requests in lieu of flowers for the funeral reflect Scott's many interests. Memorials may be given to the Alzheimer's Association, North Country Hospice-Bemidji, Bemidji United Methodist Church and peace and justice organizations.

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