After 42 years of serving and beautifying the area community, Granite Floral and Greenhouse owners, Marv and Diane Patten retired this week.
“We’re ok to be done,” said Diane. “But it’s a funny feeling.”
At the age of 71 and 75, respectively, Diane and Marv, have earned well the right to enjoy the days ahead in a more relaxing fashion than their lives’ vocation has demanded.
For over four decades, Marv and Diane have chosen to serve the community, working weekends, holidays and the time in between, never knowing when their services would be needed for a funeral or some other surprise, deeply personal and important occasion––the fact the couples’ business line was the same as their home phone says it all.
“We were kind of always at the beck and call of the community, but that’s what we chose,” said Diane. “Our lives have been a little different than everybody else’s I think.”
The Pattens have run the greenhouse for 42 years, but their entry into the floral business began five years prior as a hobby, growing gladiolus on an acre of property.
“A lot of people knew us for our gladiolus,” said Marv.
“We hauled them around to different floral shops and would take them to church for decoration,” added Diane. “Eventually, someone asked us after church if we’d be willing to do a wedding. And after we did that, we were kind of encouraged by people who said: why don’t you put an ad in the paper saying you can do weddings, funerals and other events.”
Living outside of Granite Falls at the time, the two would come to town periodically to drop off or pick up flowers at the Granite Falls Greenhouse, then owned by Emil Rathmeyer. On this particular occasion they were looking to obtain some mums but came away with the business when Rathmeyer inquired if they were interested in taking it over.
From there the pair worked for 15 years before electing to purchase the present Granite Floral space, formerly a restaurant, the Nook and Cranny, despite it not being the best time financially speaking.
“I didn’t see it as a good move because of the cost,” recalled Diane. “But Marv thought it was important to be downtown because he said we need to have more visibility. Marv is a wiser businessman than I am.”
The move would prove to be fortuitous in large part because of the community support.
“People were buying more flowers than normal because they wanted to see us succeed,” Diane said. “For them to be loyal to us––we’re just little people––so it made us feel good to receive such loyalty.”
Page 2 of 3 - Taking the good, weathering the bad
But it wasn’t without its struggles.
There were up and down years, the day after day grind and a flood that set their retirement back a decade. On top of that was trying to weather all the difficulties amidst the closeness inherent in marriage, but with a strong faith and an abundance of patience the two always managed. Today, they can proudly say they’ve been married 50 years.
“I just think it was something that was supposed to be,” she said of the flood setbacks. “It taught us to really appreciate what we have and that we could still survive even with the flood waters coming through. We’ve had what we had at the time we needed it, and when we no longer needed to be in one situation, God would make it so we could move onto the next.”
In such times of trouble, she often kept a passage from Romans 8:28 in mind to get her through: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Easing the strain was the separation of duties, Marv managing the greenhouse, and Diane taking care of customers, arrangements and the downtown storefront.
It was a challenge,” Diane admitted. “The only thing that would have led to a divorce is if I were still filling out written invoices.”
“I couldn’t read her handwriting and she couldn’t sell,” recalled Marv. “Finally our son came out and said, we got to get you a computer ... And that saved our marriage. The computer saved our marriage.”
Friday marked the last day for the couple and on Monday they handed the keys of the business over to Brenda and Perry Peterson and their progeny, Amanda Hettver and David Willander, of Majsdac Hill Greenhouse, Landscaping and Floral.
The family has eight years of experience in the floral business, and for the Pattens to know that their legacy is going to be continued by able hands is making the transition easier. The Majsdac name will officially be retired, and the Peterson family will continue doing business under Granite Floral and Greenhouse name.
“It’s kind of like sending your child off. You hope they’ll go the right direction and serve the community as we did,” said Diane. “We believe they will. They’re already part of the community and are a known quantity here.”
Earlier this year, the Pattens completed a buyout of their home in conjunction with the DNR and City of Granite Falls, and while the site will continue to house greenhouses, the residence, which remains in the flood plain, will be demolished.
Page 3 of 3 - Together the Pattens have four kids, and 15 grandchildren, all of whom have been anxiously waiting to have their parents and grandparents to themselves.
“We were lucky enough to have 15 grandkids,” said Diane. “So we’ve had a lot of people waiting in the wings for us to be done working.”
In order to be closer to the lot, the pair has moved to a new home in Clara City. There, the Pattens are quickly integrating into the community, and already have been asked to become members of the Lions.
As for their beloved flowers, Marv and Diane still possess a healthy green thumb. And they plan to continue nurturing plants from seed to bloom, albeit on a much smaller scale, for the people and institutions they hold dearest, most notably their church and family.