January 1, 1970 ~ November 29, 2009
Verna S. Newell, 89 of Fargo, died Sunday, November 29, 2009 at ManorCare Health Services in Fargo. Verna Sylvia Bekken was born on December 31, 1919 to Edward and Anna (Olson) Bekken in Fargo, ND. After graduating from high school, she attended Valley City State Teacher’s College. She was a natural performer with talent as a singer and pianist which led to her work in radio. She was on the local station in her hometown for a while before moving on to La Crosse, WI. She also did commercials for KFGO radio in Fargo. However, it was her participation in a Sweet Adeline’s group named “The Honey Bees” that performed on the WDAY-TV called “Party Line” that led to her becoming the co-host for over 22 years. It was a variety show in which Verna performed live, five days a week, until retiring on March 8, 1979 which coincided with the ending of the show. While she was still with WDAY, she was a Swiss Air Liaison and in retirement she continued to lead tour groups for SCR Coaches. On August 26, 1972, she married William “Bill” Erwin at First Lutheran Church, Fargo, ND. They made their home in Fargo, where Verna was an active part of several groups including the F-M Music Club, Women’s Symphony Association, League of Women Voters, and the Sons of Norway. She was a charter member of both the Sweet Adeline’s and Thursday Homemaker’s Club of Cass County. She remained active throughout her career in American Women in Radio and Television, Who’s Who of Foremost Women in Communications, and the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists. Music was always a big part of her life and she was blessed to have her vocation be her avocation as well. She is survived by her husband, Bill of Fargo; son, William “Bill” Edward (Jeanette) Newell of Escondido, CA; uncle, Ron (Pearl) Olson of Boise, ID; nieces, Delores Bowers of Oscoda, MI, Vera Belyea of Anaheim, CA, Esther Bowers of Laurel, MT, Myrtle Pfarr of Whitewood, SD and her good friend, Pat Wagner of Fargo. She was preceded in death by her parents; son, Robert “Bob” Dale Newell; siblings, Mina Chadduck, Agnes Wagner, Henry Olson and Orvin Olson. Memorial Service: Sunday, December 6 at 2:00 pm at Boulger Funeral Home, Fargo. Arrangements entrusted to Boulger Funeral Home, Fargo.