Although she hasn’t walked through Minnesota State University Moorhead in recent years, Amie Dexter ’63 considers the university her home.
Dexter was 18 when she first stepped through the campus gates. An eager student who wanted to earn her teaching certificate, she didn’t have enough cash to pay for all of her expenses. She asked the dean of women if anybody was willing to hire a student to work in exchange for room and board.
This is how she met the Geib family – a family that she soon claimed as her own and a family whose history connected her deeply to MSUM. In that moment, Dexter learned tha family can be defined by more than biological and legal ties.
“(Harriet) Geib interviewed me. She told me she was going to offer the job to another girl but then she changed her mind,” says Dexter, now 88 and a resident in a long-term care facility. “I’m glad.”
For the next two-and-a-half years, Dexter helped Harriet Geib care for the household, which included Geib’s father, her husband and young son. They all lived on Moorhead’s Eighth Street in a large Victorian house originally owned by Harriet Geib’s grandfather, Frank Weld. Weld was president of MSUM from 1899-1919.
When she wasn’t studying, Dexter cleaned, cooked and ironed. At first she spent her non-working hours in her room. Soon, however, the young woman was invited to study downstairs and socialize with others in the house. “I was just being me,” Dexter says. “After a few months, I was sort of accepted into the family.”
Dexter was known for her practical jokes. One April Fool’s Day, she blew out the insides of the “hardboiled” eggs she served for breakfast.
She also struck a close relationship with the youngest Geib, Peter, who was 7 when they first met. She’d take him to movies and go skating with him and his friends. Known for her elaborate Christmas gingerbread houses, Dexter was quite the baker. One Halloween, she baked cowboy cookies for him to hand out to trick-or-treaters. Over time, they became so close they considered each other siblings.
“The connections continued even as she was doing her own thing and so was I,” says Geib, professor emeritus in the Paseka School of Business.
When an endowed scholarship was established in Geib’s honor, Dexter dedicated part of her estate to the fund. She’s never seen her surrogate brother teach, but she’s heard him lecture about China. She also knows that students were drawn to his classroom.
“He can relate to anybody,” she says. “If the president of the United States sat down, he’d chat with him. He’s always been like that.”
Contributing to the endowed scholarship was a natural expression of her affection for him and his family.
Dexter cherishes the close relationships she developed with the Geibs. To her, it felt like a second family. Her own biological family included only her mother and a half-sister who was 20 years older than her. Her father died when she was 10. An older half-brother died two years before that.
After she earned her teaching certificate, she taught in Roseau and her hometown of Lancaster, Minnesota. When she went back to school for a four-year elementary education degree, she and a teacher friend drove to MSUM once a week to take night classes.
Dexter eventually returned to Fargo-Moorhead and secured a job with Western States Life Insurance, where she worked for 31 years. She traveled extensively and volunteered with several community organizations, including the F-M Opera.
Her connections with the Geibs have remained close. In retirement, Dexter helped Peter and his wife, Susan, manage a bed and breakfast in Fargo. Since she has moved into long-term care, they stay in touch via frequent visits and phone calls.
“I often ask her advice on any variety of matters or issues,” Peter Geib says. “It’s a very good relationship. She’s my sister.”
Giving to an endowed scholarship is a great way to honor someone you care about and benefit a worthy cause. If you'd like more information on donating, please contact the MSUM Foundation at 218.477.2143 or visit the MSUM Foundation website.
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