Hats Off to Dorothy Queck - A Hidden Treasure in Three Hills

Dorothy Queck

On June 11 this year, I met Dorothy Queck for the first time. I had seen her, a number of times, at the Health Club meetings and thought her to be a sturdy and healthy 80 years of age - But, last month I discovered she was 99 years old!

I also learned that she was an original founding member of the Health Food Store. It all began with a group of people who were interested in finding nutritious and healthful ways of maintaining or improving their well-being. This is something that Dorothy and her husband Glen had learned through difficult circumstances back in Iowa.

Glen had learned a lot about natural solutions from a natural stock feed and fertilizer salesman named Harlan Stubbs. He introduced Glen and Dorothy to the Good Health Food Store program, sending them to a large Health Convention in Waterloo, Iowa, U.S.A. to explore some natural nutritional options for the serious health challenges Glen had already faced (having had more than 1 heart attack in Iowa). This perspective had become a valued part of their lives prior to moving their family to Three Hills in 1964, where Glen began work at Prairie.

When the Quecks met a local couple, Delbert and Molly Davidson, who were embarking upon a similar health journey, it was only a matter of time before a group of people began meeting in February 1965. This group decided to organize a Good Health Club, patterned after the Iowa initiatives called Chapters.

Glen Queck was elected to be president; Delbert Davidson, vice president; and Martha Renwick was secretary. And so, Dorothy began many years of volunteer work for the vitality of the club. Despite significant early health challenges, her husband Glen lived into his 80s, while Delbert and Molly both lived to be 100+ years of age! So, when you consider Dorothy at 99, one has to be impressed with the testimony and value that excellent nutrition can provide!

As the group numbers increased, they met monthly in the Prairie grade school gym. They tried to have a guest speaker each time, presenting some aspect of health. If no speaker was available, the members would discuss some aspect of health or give testimonies of help they had received from various products. This format continues to happen at monthly meetings, now held at the CommUnity Drop-In Centre and is how I heard Dorothy’s story last month!

In 1967, there was a serious outbreak of mononucleosis in Three Hills and area. Several club members had read a book by Adelle Davis, Let’s Get Well, which included a helpful formula for this malady. The question was, “Where do we get these products?” And so began the foray into obtaining more and better products for health maintenance.

Mrs. Frances Giger volunteered to obtain some health catalogues. On certain days the members could come to her home to place their orders and pay her for their products. She would call them when the order arrived. Of course, over time the demand grew until the idea of opening a store became an unexpected reality.

One meeting was dismissed upon the questions, “What building in town could we buy to meet our need? How would we ever pay for it?”

Well, it ‘just so happened’ that there was a small building where Spirits, Hops & Grapes stands today, across the street from IGA. It was owned by an optometrist, Dr. Ed Paulson, who was moving to Edmonton and said the Good Health Club could buy the building for $12,000.

The question of how to pay for the building was answered at the next meeting when members committed to either lend funds (with or without interest) or just give money for the project. They raised $11,000 that night! Hoping to keep prices as low as possible to be accessible for all, the Club incorporated as a “not-for-profit” organization in June of 1979 and the first store began operation in 1980.

Dorothy joined with many visionary health advocates who volunteered their time in the daily operation of the store. It did not take long for this little store to become insufficient for the growing interest. The present site on Main Street was purchased from the former ‘Crafts in Flower Land Store’ in June 1999. The Club then opened its doors to everyone, in line with the original goals of the founding members.

Today, all are welcome to shop at the store! There is a store membership option for the annual fee of $10 which provides the benefit of a 10% discount. ‘Back in the day’ that discount was only given to volunteers. And now, if you attend four of ten monthly Health Club meetings and participate - there are still volunteer opportunities available - you can also became a voting member (with a further discount).

When we asked Dorothy to tell us her story, she always emphasized the role of others.

When we asked her to ride in the parade -- “Hats off to our Healthy Founder” -- she was very uncomfortable drawing any attention to herself, and was only willing to do so if it might attract a new wave of people who will benefit from the Health Food Store.

Getting in and out of a 1929 Model A Ford (Thank You Harold Craig!) was not an easy task at this stage of her life, but Dorothy was ‘all in’ (and safely out again) for the sake of us all!

Such humble, service-oriented volunteer spirit is alive and well in Three Hills as Dorothy models vibrant health in her 100th year!