In Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel, "Love in the Time of Cholera," Florentino Ariza waits fifty-one years, nine months, and four days to profess his "vow of eternal fidelity and everlasting love" to his beloved Fermina Daza.
Everlasting adoration is often the material for writers and poets, but for Bea Agard from Larimore, North Dakota, receiving the gift of lifelong fidelity was real.
Bea Agard was a writer, and she published two books of poetry ... "Lark Over the Thunder" and "Beauty and the Beast." No doubt she relished the poetic ideals of love and devotion, however, in practice, Bea faced the art of love coolly and discerningly.
Upon graduating high school in 1903, Bea left Larimore to attend the University of North Dakota. There, she met Ira Frendberg and Maxwell Anderson and became good friends with both young men. After college, Maxwell Anderson became a Pulitzer winning playwright, while Ira would devote most of his life to adoring Bea.
In 1910, just after finishing college, Ira was getting ready to leave for graduate school at Columbia University. He then asked Bea to marry him ... for the first time. He would go on to ask a dozen more times over the next sixty years. Bea first refused in 1910 and in 1911, but in 1912 she accepted. However, at that time, she could not go to New York with Ira because she needed to care for her parents in Larimore. Ira proposed again in 1913, but by then Bea no longer wanted to marry him.
Bea moved to California in 1916, and Ira came to visit her in that year, as well as in 1925 and 1930, proposing each time. By 1930 Ira was a wealthy, successful businessman in New York, yet he still loved his college sweetheart.
Bea and Ira remained good friends throughout their lives, and even at the age of 89, Ira proposed again. To which Bea replied, in a poem, which she later published:
Still you're a grand old boy!
But to marry you is a no-no
I would rather face a cyclone-all alone!
In my youth I might have dared it
But at 86 it's a no-go
A bee can't cope with a tornado!
On this day in 1977 the Larimore Leader printed an article about Bea Agard's poetry and her friend Ira Frendberg, stating, "For those who love, time is not."
Written by Maria Witham
Larimore Leader, February 24, 1977