Gloria Enger Obituary

AQHA Director Emeritus Gloria Enger was a founder of the Minnesota Quarter Horse Association.

Gloria Enger (Courtesy of the Enger Family)

From left: Gloria Enger, grandson Tony Enger and daughter Anne Anderman (Photo courtesy of Enger Family)

AQHA Director Emeritus Gloria Enger, 87, died February 3, 2019, at her home on the Quarter Horse farm, near St. Cloud, Minnesota, where she had resided since the mid-1940s.

Gloria would want it stated simply. No flourish. She wouldn’t want adjectives to soften the words.

Born September 22, 1931, to John and Alma (Ruhle) Schleper in St. Cloud, grew up there and later moved to the family farm in the 1940s. She attended St. Cloud Cathedral High School, graduated from St. Benedict’s College. On November 27, 1954, she was united in marriage to Wallace E. Enger, at St. John Cantius Catholic Church in St. Cloud. She was a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in St. Joseph, Minnesota. She was a founding member in 1953 of what is now the Minnesota Quarter Horse Association, for which she served as its secretary, treasurer, state show secretary and finally as its executive secretary. She was an AQHA judge, an AQHA director and became a director emeritus.

To the hundreds who knew Gloria, they know there is more to say, more to the story.

They would want Gloria to be recognized for her absolute dedication to an organization that not only recognized the incredible Quarter Horse, but also was made up of people who shared the same passion.

Gloria’s life, particularly her predilection for the Quarter Horse, defined in so many ways who she was. Furiously honest, always genuine and always non-judgmental, Gloria impacted the lives of many. Often, she may not have even been aware of her influence, and just how much she meant to others.

When a registry started for the Quarter Horse in 1940, Gloria could see a bright future for this breed and the national association formed to oversee that registry. As Quarter Horses gained popularity in the region, enthusiasts thought they should formalize their interest into an association. In 1953, the Upper Midwest Quarter Horse Association was formed, made up of members from Minnesota and surrounding states, and Gloria served as its first secretary. In the center of it all were several individuals, but none who turned it into their life’s work like Gloria.

Since that year, Gloria had been in the steering house of what is now the Minnesota Quarter Horse Association. Even after her retirement at the end of 2014, she attended all board meetings and functions. Her sound advice, wisdom and institutional knowledge were always being called upon. If asked, many would say, “Gloria is MQHA.”

To recognize Gloria’s years as secretary and point tabulator only scratches the surface of her contributions to MQHA. Some of the enduring benefits for members that she started would include recognizing horses and riders with year-end awards as a way to keep members interested in showing their horses; she thought that some kind of newsletter was needed, so she became its first editor and mimeographed copies; she recognized the intense interest in breeding Quarter Horses and thought a futurity could feed that interest; and she thought the association should sponsor a yearly show that grew into the one of the largest shows in the country at its peak. 

In a Quarter Horse Journal article, upon Gloria’s retirement as MQHA’s executive secretary, then AQHA Executive Vice President Don Treadway is quoted saying, “Gloria is one of our anchors in the Quarter Horse industry.” He continued, “I’ve known her for 40 years, and knew of her before I came to AQHA. She is synonymous with MQHA.”

The farm where Gloria lived out her life was the farm of her youth, her married life, and it became the farm for several of her children and grandchildren. It was purchased by her father in the 1940s as a place to raise not only a family, but also to support his keen interest in raising Quarter Horses.

 

While Gloria played many pivotal roles in the formation MQHA, it was truly the horse itself that captured Gloria’s imagination. She said in 2014, “I was always horse nuts,” describing her early years when saddle clubs, drill teams and riding her horse in parades occupied her free time. In 1952, on a trip to Texas, her father prompted her to pick out a filly at Wilson’s Flying W ranch. She chose Wilson’s Little Fanny. The mare became a joint project with her dad to start and train. Gloria would never brag, but loved good competition. She made the mare an AQHA 

Champion. Probably Gloria’s favorite mare, was Lil Dobber, whom she also made an AQHA Champion.

Gloria met Wally, not surprisingly, at a horse show. He called her the next day. They married in 1954. Together they began raising and selling Quarter Horses, standing several stallions including Teddy Rio by Pretty Buck, Fancy Scooter, Sparky Scoot; Chances Are and Skip Sure.

At the same time, they were starting a family, with daughter Susan born in 1956, Anne a couple years later, and Joyce in 1966. In the background were the horses, which offered the family the chance to pursue a common interest. Daughter Anne Anderman earned great success in the show ring, and today is an AQHA Professional Horseman. Anne’s children, Tony and Emily, continue to show Quarter Horses.

In 1972, Gloria became an AQHA judge. Her husband was already a judge, and they became one of the first husband-and-wife judging couples in the country. She went on to hold judge’s cards with the American Paint Horse Association and the Palomino Horse Breeders Association. She became an AQHA director in 1990, later elevated to director emeritus. As a director, Treadway said, “She’s not afraid to stand up for what she thinks is right. She’s interested that the right thing is done for the horse and the rider. She doesn’t yield to pressure.” He also noted that she was very sharing, got help or got the right people to help, and knew how to delegate.

MQHA members would concur with Treadway. Close friend and fellow national director Mary Ebnet said, “She was an avid horseman, she was also an avid reader. She was fiercely loyal to her beliefs and faith. They do not make them like Gloria Enger any more. She will be missed by all.” Ebnet once described Gloria as “… the poster child for living the passion of the American Quarter Horse.”

In 2002, Gloria was MQHA’s first inductee into its Hall of Fame.

For many who knew Gloria, they often say she was their mentor. For years, Gloria spearheaded MQHA’s Scholarship program. She believed in the next generation, and she felt horses taught young people how to be responsible, and how to work hard for a goal.

Others, such as friends Dr. Roland (Butch) Wohlin, also an AQHA director emeritus, and Judy Wohlin, his wife, describe her genuine interest in seeing them succeed with their Quarter Horses. They were “always able to call her any time of day or night and get a correct answer about any MQHA function or anything involving AQHA.” Butch says fondly, “She presented me as an AQHA director and made a speech that would make my mother proud. She was such a mentor to us, and all MQHA members, including my time as MQHA and AQHA director. The amount of time she contributed to MQHA, with little payment, cannot be measured. She always had time to visit and would ask about family and horses. She embodied the history of MQHA and Quarter Horses in Minnesota.”

Fellow AQHA Director and AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lainie DeBoer said, “I have never met a person that was so fiercely loyal to the integrity of the American Quarter Horse. Gloria was a force in our Minnesota Quarter Horse community. She expected the best from everyone, whether you were on the board or volunteering at a show. I will never forget when I came up for the national director position … she introduced me to the committee and everything she said was so genuine and from the heart. By the time I got to the podium, I was a bit of a mess emotionally, because I finally felt like I earned her respect, and that was a big deal.”

 

For more than 30 years, Gloria wrote a monthly column for MQHA’s newsletter. As a college English major, she appreciated well-crafted writing. Her column was widely read, and enjoyed an eager audience, anxious for that month’s news. Her columns were generous in recognizing people’s accomplishments, and she celebrated or grieved with members over weddings, births and deaths.

In November, Gloria watched live coverage of the 2018 World Show from her kitchen table, surrounded by young Quarter Horse enthusiasts who kept horses at her farm. Donning her grandson’s 2017 World Show Championship jacket, Gloria was thrilled to watch her grandson, Tony, win his second consecutive world championship in showmanship.

In an interview in 2014, Gloria was asked to offer some advice for the future of the Quarter Horse industry. “We can’t ever forget the little people. We must make room for them in the association … because the sport of riding a good horse should be attainable by everybody.”

The people will not soon forget Gloria.

Gloria is survived by her children, Susan (Bill Siler) Enger of Memphis, Tennessee; Anne Anderman of St. Cloud, Joyce Enger, of St. Cloud; grandchildren, Tony Anderman of St. Cloud and Emily (Jesse) Greenlee of Sartell; one great-granddaughter on the way and nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.

She is preceded in death by her parents; husband Wallace on June 3, 2005; and two brothers.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, February 8, at the Sacred Heart Chapel, St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota. Burial will be in Assumption Cemetery in St. Cloud.