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Two long-time workers to retire from Good Sam in Blackduck

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After 30 plus years, Kandee Gripp and Marian Bomgren are about to spend their last few months at the Good Samaritan Society of Blackduck.

Gripp has worked in the facility since before it became a Good Samaritan in 1975. She worked as a certified nursing assistant from 1973 to 1975.

“I don’t know when all that happened,” she joked about her nearly 40 years spent working in the same facility.

Gripp works as the Activity and Volunteer Coordinator, creating one-on-one time with residents and a number of different group activities for them, as well.

“Our main goal is to keep residents at their highest level of functioning in mind, body and spirit,” Gripp said. “The people I work with have been angels and I’ve met so many wonderful people.”

She said that the industry has reached a whole different era compared to when she began in the 1970s and Bomgren can agree.

Bomgren has been in Blackduck for the past 12 years. She transferred after 23 years from a Good Samaritan in the Twin Cities when her husband changed professions.

Through their years of working in nursing homes, the pair agreed that more privacy for the residents has been the most significant change.

“Well, we had 70 residents when I started and they all had double rooms,” Gripp said. “Now they’re all private so we’ve downsized.”

Bomgren works as the Director of Social Service and Health Information Management. She is a licensed practical nurse and said that she could only find work in a nursing home and originally didn’t think she would like that.

“I said I would give myself two years and it’s 34 years later,” Bomgren laughed.

Bomgren and Gripp both hope to travel after they officially retire in July. Bomgren plans to visit her son in Charleston, S.C. and rent a beach house for a week with her family.

“That’s one of my biggest desires is to spend more time with them,” Bomgren said.

Besides traveling, Gripp also plans to spend more time gardening.

Along with Bomgren, her dog Elmo will retire after nine years spent at the Good Samaritan.

Elmo is a 10-year-old wheaten terrier and boxer mix. When he was a pup, Bomgren begged her boss to let him come to work with her when her husband was on vacation and said he wouldn’t leave her office.

“Well he didn’t want to stay in my office,” Bomgren said. “He wanted to be out with the people.”

And that is exactly where he has been.

“The residents love him,” Bomgren said. “He has his special people and if we’re on vacation they wonder where Elmo is, they don’t worry about me.”

Bomgren said that she has talked about bringing him to visit two or three times a week once she retires.

Gripp and Bomgren both hope their replacements will have the residents’ best interests in mind.

“You will meet every kind of person there is,” Bomgren said of her position. “Everybody has a story and sometimes the stories are pretty sad.”

The pair will officially retire in July.

“I never thought I’d see this day until about a year ago,” Bomgren laughed. “I wasn’t ready, I figured I’d be bored.”

Jillian Gandsey

Jillian Gandsey is the Multimedia Editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is an Iron Range native and a 2013 graduate of Bemidji State University. Follow Jillian on Twitter and Instagram @jilliangandsey. Contact her at 218-333-9786, 218-996-1216 or at 

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