Bessie Margret (Robbins) Godkin




Life and Work

Among Bessie's early memories in the Red River Valley at Drayton, North Dakota was that of milking cows, plowing land and hauling hay. One of her fondest memories was quilting with her mother. Bessie was the oldest of five children and moved to Calgary once she completed public school to train as a nurse at the Calgary General Hospital.

In 1926 she graduated and worked as a ward nurse until she married Earl Godkin in July. They farmed in the Milo district until 1937 when they moved to a farm in the Butte district near Caroline. By 1938, she had three boys and one baby girl.

It was in the Butte area with its poor roads and lack of close medical facilities that Bessie raised her family and used her nursing skills to help others. She ran immunization clinics out of her home and was the unofficial medical adviser and midwife of the district. She would trample through snowdrifts and cross floods to reach those needing nursing care. Bessie spent so much time away that one of her younger sons was overheard wishing that his mother were not a nurse.

Bessie turned her energy and organizational skills towards other types of community work once roadways and healthcare conditions were improved. She was active in the Red Cross, Clearcreek Sewing Club, and the Junior Beef Club (a 4-H club) for many years. She was elected to the Rocky Mountain Hospital Board where she served for 22 years before resigning in 1969. Around 1953 she started the Butte Fair and kept actively involved even after the fair was moved to Caroline. She won numerous community involvement awards and loved it when people told her that she made a great difference in their lives.