Geraldine Fairfield - Boulger Funeral Home (2022)

Gerri Fairfield (Geraldine Faye Maasjo), a proud Norwegian, passed away on September 28th, 2022, at her home in Fargo, ND, surrounded by her daughters. She never passed up Norwegian food and loved to spend time with her friends and family.

Gerri was born on May 29th, 1945 (she never told anyone her age, so please forget you read that) at Mercy Hospital in Valley City, ND, and grew up on the family farm in Nome, ND, where she lived until she graduated high school in 1963.

She attended Valley City State University and graduated in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science in Education and an Elementary Education major with a minor in Social Science Education and Home Economics. She later attended Moorhead State University in 1986 and earned her K-12 Learning Disabled teaching license (SLD-LD), and in 1988 a K-12 Emotionally Disturbed teaching license (SLD-ED).

Gerri married Lynn Fairfield on December 22, 1968, in Fargo, ND. Two daughters were born into that union.

She taught at various schools in Minnesota and North Dakota until moving to Fargo and finding a full-time position. She taught at Luther Hall, Red River Victory Ranch, and McKinley Elementary in the Special Education areas of Learning Disabilities and Emotional Disabilities. She retired in 2008 from the Fargo Public School District. She felt so strongly for her students and wanted them to succeed beyond the boundaries of their current life situations. She maintained contact with some of them after they left her classroom. In looking at the correspondence she had with a handful of former students over the years, it was clear they appreciated her as much as she cared for them.

If you knew Gerri, you knew that she simply was who she was. She was a character that so many people enjoyed spending time with. She had a particular allegiance to the NDSU Bison football team. She was a season ticket holder and a diehard fan. She traveled to Frisco with her oldest grandson to watch her favorite team. The game was great. The bus was decidedly not. She loved sports. She didn’t care to watch TV, but if football or high school basketball was on, her TV was on, too.

If you fell on the ice, Gerri was going to laugh. It would have been a full-on, uncontrollable giggle that likely went on for far too long – so long, in fact, that she would have had tears streaming down her face, and you would have probably begun to feel bad. When she was done, she would have checked to make sure you were ok. But, make no mistake, she would have laughed first.

Gerri found some wonderful groups of people to spend time with over the years. The ladies in card club, Mahjong players, the marijuana legalization group, Obama and Bernie political canvassing parties, vegan groups (she wasn’t vegan but liked “natural” food), college friends, and the Presentation Sisters. She thought it was so great that she could be Lutheran and Catholic. Who would have predicted that one?

Gerri was known for leaving pins inside the multitudes of quilts and various items she had sewn over the years. It was inevitable that one of her daughters would find them. Sewing brought her great joy. She had a lot of fun making pajama pants for her entire family, booties for her teaching friends, quilts for anyone, stuffed animals, and the list goes on.

She enjoyed dressing up as Santa over the years and gifted many people things she thought they would like. She also gave people an array of “funny” gifts that may have bordered on inappropriate. But, they made her laugh, and she had so much fun giving and making people smile.

Gerri had a particular brand of politics and would talk to anyone about it, whether they were interested or not. If you disagreed with her, it is possible that she would have gotten up and walked away from you mid-conversation, unfriended you on Facebook, or both. She was passionate about going door-to-door and telling everyone about Bernie. She liked talking about him in the line at the grocery store, at family events, on the phone, at the bank… She and Bernie had a lot in common – the hair?

She enjoyed traveling to different countries and around the US. Visiting family, spending time with her grandsons, and seeing the sites was an annual event. She never got to Norway but was hoping to do that with her oldest grandson around the time Covid arrived. If you ever go, think of her and shout “Skål” in her memory. And eat lots of lefse, Kjøttkaker, Rømmegrøt, and Krumkake. She was a member of the Sons of Norway Kringen Lodge in Fargo for years and always looked forward to Pie Day.

Dancing and listening to music that could be heard from down the street with the windows wide open were frequent events. Gerri appreciated the crooning of Elvis, Bing Crosby, and Daniel O’Donnell. She was active and walked in her living room with YouTubers.

She had a soft spot in her heart for dogs. She would say “Oh for cute” in a certain tone and give them gentle pets. When she went for walks she would always stop and talk with the dogs through the fence.

She never passed up the opportunity to check out a garage sale. She had a very keen eye for antiques and other items of value and made sure the sellers didn’t know what she’d stumbled upon. She had a great poker face. She was known to bargain hard. Refinishing found furniture from the boulevard was a hobby, and she was quite skilled in that arena.

Gerri had fun in her garden. It was so exciting that she decided to make her entire backyard into a garden for a couple of years. The raspberries and tomatoes were particularly abundant. So were the weeds. She was far too busy with everything to pick the weeds. After a while, she began to spread her garden to the side of her house. If you visited, you know.

Taking care of her home was not a big priority because activities demanded far too much of her time. For a while, she was devoted to water aerobics and golf. And then golf became her motivating force for many years. She golfed daily and was very competitive.

And then came Pickleball. (Cue the angels singing.) She could not get enough of it. Gerri was very, very, very competitive in this sport. She played for hours each day with different groups of people. She may have been known for how competitive and unrelenting she came to be. She yelled at the newcomers at times because they did not meet her standards. Sometimes she wouldn’t eat or drink water until 2:00 pm or even 4:00 pm because Pickleball was the ultimate pursuit each day. Gerri even brought her paddles and a couple of balls with her when she traveled, regardless of court availability. She was never able to play at the new Pickleball court near her home. She would have loved it.

Gerri fought a consuming and destructive battle and beat Cushing’s Disease and everything that went along with it, even though she dealt with the effects of its aftermath throughout her entire life. And then came a facial skin cancer diagnosis that she beat, too.

When her former school in Nome, ND was purchased and renovated she was beyond proud. She told anyone who would listen all about how wonderful it was. She went there several times and took everyone she could to see it. She talked about going over and over again. She was able to visit again a little over a year ago. She found contentment just being there.

Gerri was passionate about helping others and would routinely bring needed items to local shelters and her church. She always picked the angels on the Christmas trees and donated toys to children in need.

Ice cream, popcorn, cookies from Gate City Bank, coffee, and Twizzlers were particularly delicious. Quite frankly, she loved sweets. Chocolate cake was a favorite, too. If there was a carton of ice cream in her freezer, it quickly became the next meal. When it was finished, she would call and say, “I’m never doing that again” or “Don’t buy me ice cream again” or “Why did you give me that?” And then she’d go buy some more, and the cycle continued.

Whenever one of her daughters would come over she would forgo any pleasantries and say, “Do you have any gum for me?” They’d reply with a hello, and Gerri would say, “Do you?” When it was time to get off the phone, or rather when she was done talking, regardless of what was being said on the other end, she’d simply hang up because she was done talking with you.

When she was getting ready to complain she would clear her throat multiple times before starting. Sometimes she would shift her eyes from side to side beforehand, too. If this is familiar to you, then you know what was to come.

The last years of Gerri’s life were overshadowed by Alzheimer’s-Related Dementia. She was a cantankerous, feisty patient that gave everyone a tough time. She loved to talk to her friends on the phone and spend time with them more than anything. Going out for coffee, pancakes, or ice cream were highlights. To those friends who came and listened, danced with her, sat with her, and were generally just there for her – thank you.

Gerri asked to stay in her home once it became apparent to her that she wasn’t going to get better, even though she sure tried. She was ever-grateful to be able to putter around her house and garage, go for walks around the block, and sit in her front yard waving at all passersby whether she knew them or not. By the way, the walker was never hers. She would want you to know that. It was her daughter’s, and she was just borrowing it.

When she finally left us, she may have been thinking, “To hell with that.” We heard that a lot when she was done with something.

The next time you encounter a friend or family member who is acting out of the ordinary, don’t discount them as crazy. They may have an endocrine disorder such as Cushing’s Disease.
If your loved one behaves erratically or becomes irresponsibly forgetful, treat them with dignity instead of calling them quirky or again – crazy. Gerri called one of her friends “Juice” for a couple of years. It wasn’t because she forgot their name. It was because she couldn’t remember it.

Be their advocate and push their doctors to do more and do better to get a proper diagnosis. They can’t help what’s happening to them, but you can help them by caring.

Gerri is survived by her two daughters Kristi Fairfield, Fargo, ND, and Kerri Fairfield Freeman, Fargo, ND, three grandsons whom she adored, Alex Fairfield-Johnson, and Bodhi and Kai Freeman; and brothers Dennis (Becky) Maasjo, Sun City West, Arizona, Darrell (Judy) Maasjo, Madison, MN, Dale (Becky) Maasjo, Nome, ND, along with numerous nieces and nephews, extended family and many friends.

Gerri is preceded in death by her parents Clifford and Martha Maasjo, and niece Darla Maasjo Rich.

A memorial service will be held at Hope Lutheran Church, North Campus, Fargo, on Saturday, October 15th at 10:00 am with lunch to follow. Visitation will be on the same day beginning at 9:00 am. All who knew Gerri are welcome to attend. Since Gerri appreciated bright clothing, athletic wear, and her essential Bison hoodies, please feel free to wear what you want or dress in your NDSU attire. And if you don’t feel like brushing your hair, that’s ok, too.

Burial will be held at St. Petri Lutheran Church, Nome, ND at a later date.

Arrangements were by Boulger Funeral Home, Fargo, ND. Memories and online condolences may be shared by visiting www.boulgerfuneralhome.com.

Should family and friends desire, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Nome Schoolhouse in memory of Gerri.

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