Ohmer and College

Macalester Old MainAfter Gen graduated from Blue Earth High School, she headed up to St. Paul and Macalester College. At Christmas break during Gen's first year there (in about 1937-38), she was hanging around campus alone when everybody else had gone home. Gen says she just couldn't think of any reason to go back to Blue Earth. She can't recall if anybody from Blue Earth sought her out and invited her to come home. A counselor noticed Gen and took her in for the holidays.

Gen had no notion about what to study beyond the required freshman courses. She didn't know if she was particularly good at anything or what she wanted to do with her life. She had no plan for her future and even today isn't sure why she went to college. The Macalester counselor eventually recommended that Gen go into nursing and that's what Gen did.

Gen after nurses' trainingShe completed her work at Macalester and went on to the University of Minnesota. Gen tells of working a surgical rotation one New Year's Eve. The patient was a woman who had been drinking and dancing. The woman had been drinking so much that she didn't realize her ankle was broken and continued to dance on it until her foot was partially amputated. It was this experience and others from a long career in health care that led Gen to observe, "There's no end to the trouble people can get themselves into."

Ohmer maintained that he paid for Gen's education, but Gen maintains he didn't. She says she put herself through college on a work-study program and by using money she inherited from her mother. Nevertheless, Ohmer refused to support any of his other daughters in a quest for higher education, saying "I paid for Gen to go to college and look where it got her."