Bob Lind column: Neighbors: It's tea time: Sisters still enjoy childhood pleasures in their 80s

They've changed a little over the years. The doll and the teddy bear aren't the same ones.

They've changed a little over the years. The doll and the teddy bear aren't the same ones. But some things remain the same for sisters Rachel Belter and Doris West.

They're still close, both geographically and emotionally.

They live in the same building -- the Park Avenue Apartments in Fargo -- and they still get together for tea, just as they did, play-time style, when they were growing up near Leonard, N.D.

They were the Dittmer girls then, when they were growing up with their sister, Grace, in the house their grandfather built in 1902.

North Dakota politics and the Dittmer/Belter names go hand-in-hand. The women's father, Carl Dittmer, was a state legislator for 10 years. Rachel's husband, Wesley P. Belter, also was a state legislator, and their son Wes R. Belter currently is in the Legislature.


Both Rachel and her husband were teachers in Cass and Richland counties. They began farming in the Davenport, N.D., area in 1942, then retired to Casselton, N.D., in 1979.

Doris was a nurse at St. John's Hospital in Fargo. She married Wayne West, owner of the West Funeral Home in Casselton. Their son, William, now operates the business in Casselton and West Fargo.

The old Dittmer farmstead near Leonard is still there, farmed by Rachel's sons Wes and Charles of Fargo.

Rachel and Doris, both widowed, have lived in the Park Avenue Apartments for five years. Both remain active in community, social and church activities.

Their age -- Rachel is 85, Doris 84 -- doesn't prevent them from getting together often for tea, and to look at Doris' dolls and teddy bears, something she's really into, Rachel says.

"Doris is very intelligent," Rachel says, "but I tell her it's because I taught her."

Rachel, when a child, loved to play "teacher." Her star pupil was Doris.

Clearly, Rachel gave her kid sister a great start in life.


If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or e-mail

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