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Witt, 90, stays young by staying on the job

Chris Olson / The Sun Agnes Witt, seated, greets Judy Metzger during a 90th birthday celebration for Witt Monday in Meidinger Square. Witt works at Meidinger Square.

Agnes Witt turned 90 Monday, celebrating with cake and ice cream with friends and people she sees on a regular basis — at her job.

That’s right, her job. Witt works for Kent and Jeff Undem of Valley City, owners of Meidinger Square, managing the billing for the square’s commercial renters.

“I started working for Mr. (Roland ‘R.E.’) Meidinger in 1961,” Witt said. She started as a secretary for Meidinger in his insurance business, but was soon selling different types of farm insurance.

“I sold hail and crop insurance,” she said. “I managed the farm department at one point.”

Prior to working for Meidinger, Witt worked at the Stutsman County Courthouse in the Register of Deeds Office starting in 1950. In 1959 she went to work in the dean’s office at what was then Jamestown College, before starting work for Meidinger in 1961.

Witt said she worked for Meidinger until he died. He had offices in different locations around downtown Jamestown, before arriving at what became Meidinger Square. Witt said the building was a Ford garage before Meidinger renovated it in 1980.

In all her different jobs Witt said she generally did office tasks, everything from answering phones and taking dictation to making sure the books balanced.

Meidinger died in 2006, and the building was given to Jamestown College. Witt went back to working for the college, managing the building

She was there when Kent Undem and Jeff Undem purchased the building in 2007. Jeff Undem said Witt is a wonderful person and a great asset.

 “She is efficient. She knows all the tenants and has a great relationship with all the tenants,” he said.

Undem said he and his cousin Kent had no qualms about keeping Witt on as the building’s manager.

Witt said she keeps working in part because of the people she works with.

“I stay young because I stay around young people,” Witt said.

Witt said she has no plans to retire anytime soon.

“I’ve slowed down some, but I plan on working as long as I can,” she said.

Witt’s birthday celebration Monday was organized by people who work in the different businesses located in Meidinger Square.

When she’s not working Witt said she likes to go out for coffee with her friends at Hardee’s.

Witt said she has lived by herself since her husband, Irving, died in 1965. She has relatives in Montana who run a bed and breakfast she can visit. Witt used to take the bus, but the last time she inquired about a ticket, she was told there would be an 11-hour layover in Glendive, Mont. She didn’t go.

“That is a long time in a small place. It’s not like in Butte (Mont.), it’s a bigger city,” she said.

Witt said she likes working as it keeps her busy and she gets to meet people. She does have a piece of advice for anyone who plans on working for a long time.

“You have to like what you do and like the people who work around you,” she said.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454