OBITUARIES - Teachers


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DONOVON C. NELSON

Fargo In-Forum
February 20, 2011

Donovon C. Nelson
Donovon Nelson passed away peacefully on Saturday, February 19 at the age of 88 at home with his wife by his side and under the care of Hospice of the Red River Valley.
The son of Nelmer and Hilda (Danielson) Nelson, Donovon was born on December 5, 1922 in Moorhead. He graduated from Moorhead High School in 1940 and Moorhead State Teachers College. He taught and coached in Thief River Falls, MN and Pine River, MN before joining the Fargo Public Schools in 1948. Donovon taught math and coached at Horace Mann, then after receiving his masters degree from the University of Idaho was assistant principal and guidance counselor at Ben Franklin Junior High. In 1965 he was named principal at Clara Barton Elementary and in 1967 also assumed the duties of principal at Lincoln Elementary. One of his favorite activities was opening the gym at Clara Barton on Saturday mornings during the school year for neighborhood boys. Former teachers have fond memories of the yearly Christmas parties he and Mary hosted in their homes. This tradition continued for many years, even after his retirement in 1985.
Following his retirement he was elected to the Fargo School Board and served three terms, the last year as President. He was a University Supervisor of Student Teaching for Valley City State University, Mary University-Bismarck and Minot State University, and served as a college supervisor for Student Teaching at Concordia College. He also served as the interim principal for Grace Lutheran School.
One of his favorite retirement 'jobs' was reading to first grade classes in Fargo and West Fargo. At one time he read to 9 different classrooms every week. Donovon was passionate about his former students, and loved having them come up to share memories with him during his later years.
He married Betty Kercher in 1947, and together they had three children. In 1976 he married Mary Herrick Schultz.
He always said he was privileged to be able to raise two families. He loved attending children and grandchildren?s sporting events.
He was very proud of Mary's writing talent, providing both inspiration and encouragement when she decided to publish her writings and recipes.
He enjoyed traveling with Mary, and spent many winters in Palm Springs, CA. Summers were spent in the Detroit Lakes area where he loved to sail. An avid golfer, Donovon played every weekend for over 18 years with the same group in Detroit Lakes.
Donovon was also active in the community. For many summers he was the Director of Teacher Aide Workshops for the United Tribes of North Dakota. He was a member of the North Dakota School Board Association, National Elementary Principals Association, North Dakota Elementary Association, and Phi Delta Kappa. He was a lifetime member of the National Education Association. He served on the North Dakota state NCATE team which evaluated State Colleges and Universities.
Locally he served on the Fargo Dollars for Scholars Board, Dakota Medical Foundation Advisory Board, Moorhead State University Foundation Board and Alumni Board, President of YMCA of Cass and Clay, and United Way division leader. He was named the Lake Agassiz Kiwanis Educator of the Year in 1971.
Donovon is survived by his wife, Mary; his sister, Mae Bolger; brother-in-law, Don Juberg; two sons: Brock (Martha) Nelson, Jeff (Debbie) Nelson; one daughter: Jill Wippern; stepson: Ron Schultz; and stepdaughters: Mary (Russ) Kuzel, Kathy (Matt) Magness, and Karen Dalton.
He is also survived by seventeen grandchildren: Thor (Gretchen), Haakon (Marit), Kolbjorn (Nissa), Berit, Leigh, Laruen and Gordon Nelson; Joscelyn Wippern; Brandee (Kraig) Finwall, Erin (Jason) Lyons, Christian (Erin) Sorensen, Alex Kuzel, Danielle, Michelle and Eric Schultz, Jack Magness and Ellie Dalton; and eight great-grandchildren. Donovon will also be missed by Muffin, his faithful companion.
He is preceded in death by his parents and four sisters, Neoma Plath, Adriene Harris, Elaine Juberg and Muriel Roberts.
You are invited to visit with the family at 5 p.m. and share memories of Donovon in the chapel at First Lutheran Church on Friday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.
A celebration of Donovon's life will be held at First Lutheran Church in Fargo on Saturday, February 26, 2011, 1:00 PM at First Lutheran Church, Fargo, ND.
A private burial service will be held at Riverside Cemetery at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Hospice of the Red River Valley, Fargo Public School Foundation or Moorhead State University Foundation.

See Picture of Donovon and The 1955 Benjamin Franklin Basketball Champs.



COLLEEN MARY NILAN

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
October 18, 2015

Nilan, Colleen Mary
July 10, 1934 - October 11, 2015.
Colleen was born in Red Wing, MN and died in Sartell, MN. She spent her early years in St. Paul and moved with family to St. Cloud, MN in 1943. In 1946, at age 12, she was stricken severely with polio, along with her 10 year old brother Marty, who died. Determination, personal courage, and independence, enabled her recovery, and were carried on throughout her life. She graduated from Cathedral High School, attended the College of St. Benedict, and graduated from St. Cloud State Teachers College. At the University of Wisconsin, she completed a M.A. in Speech and Theater, followed by the completion of Ph.D. course work at the University of Minnesota. She taught English, directed plays, and coached speech in Fargo, Richfield, St. Cloud, and Sartell. She acted at Theater in the Round, Chimera, and the Edyth Bush Theaters. Based in New York and San Francisco as a Pan American stewardess, she loved flying to six continents. Travel, theater, history, literature, family, & holidays delighted her. Preceded in death by parents Martin Glynn Nilan and Myrna Lehnen Nilan and brothers Marty, Ed, and Mike. Colleen is survived by sisters, Mary K. Uldrich, Myrna Nilan Klobuchar, brother-in-law Rich Klobuchar, sister-in-law Sharon McNamara Nilan, nieces, nephews, and cousins. Special thanks to her lifelong friends, Pat, Barbara, & Joan. Private memorial. "May the road rise to meet you / And the wind be forever at your back."



ARTHUR ROBERT (BOB) PEDERSON

Fargo InForum
February 2015

Bob Pederson, died on Thursday, February 5, 2015 at Sanford Health.
Arthur Robert Pederson was born May 14, 1925 to Clarence and Helen (Olson) Pederson at Glenwood, MN, where he was raised and graduated from high school.
After graduation, he enlisted and served in the Combat Infantry Company, 339th Infantry, 85th Division. He received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and three major battle stars in the Italian Campaign.
Bob graduated from Luther College in Decorah, IA and on June 11, 1949, he married Dorothy Ann Hanson at Starbuck, MN. He taught in Northwood, ND and at that time received his Masters Degree from UND. He moved to Fargo and taught at Agassiz Junior High School, Central and at North (teaching chemistry). He retired in 1990 after teaching for 41 years.
During his career, he won many outstanding teacher awards, among them, the Fargo Teacher of the Year, Fargo Schools “Recognition of Excellence Award”, Outstanding Physical Science Teacher of ND, James Bryant Conant Award by Red River Valley section of the American Chemical Society, State semifinalist for Presidential Excellence Award in Science Teaching, ND Heritage Award and was inducted into the North High School Hall of Fame.
Bob also ran the clock for the boys’ basketball and football and girls’ basketball games, besides attending music concerts, swim meets and other co-curricular activities. He cared for his students and since retiring, always asked parents about their children.
Bob was a charter member of Hope Lutheran, was on the church council and the building committee, taught confirmation and ushered for many years. He was a member of The American Legion and Disabled American Veterans.
Bob is survived by his wife, Dorothy; son, Michael (Mary) Pederson and daughter, Marianne Gagelin, Fargo; grandsons, Matthew (Jennifer) Pederson, Moorhead, Mark Pederson, Fargo, Caleb Pederson, Denver, CO and Jordan Gagelin, Fargo; great-granddaughters, Caroline, Brooklyn, and Isabelle Pederson, Moorhead; brothers, Jerome (JoAnn) and Donald (Joan) Pederson, Edina, MN.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents and mother, Alice (Barlow) Pederson.



MARY PFEFFER

Mary Clare Pfeffer, long-time resident of Fargo, ND, and teacher of home economics at Fargo Central High School, died on Monday, December 8, 2003, at the age of 88.

Born June 1, 1915, she was the eldest of the three daughters of John and Mary Pfeffer who settled in Fargo in 1910. Ms. Pfeffer was a graduate of Sacred Heart Academy in 1933 (now Shanley High School) and the College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, MN. She obtained a master's degree at the University of Colorado in Boulder specializing in home economics. She developed a career in secondary education which she combined with her love of travel, enabling her to live and work in various communities, among them Albuquerque, Grants, and Santa Fe, NM, Covington, KY, Hartford, CT, as well as in Canada.

Joining the faculty of Fargo Central High School in 1943, Ms. Pfeffer's first salary was $1,434. She remained with that school for more than 20 years. During her tenure, she participated in a teacher exchange program with a school in Ilkley, Yorkshire, England, for one year.

Ms. Pfeffer spent several years caring for her elderly father. After his death in 1961 and her retirement from teaching in 1973, she resumed her personal interests, particularly her love of music, having been a student of both the piano and violin. Expanding her interest in classical opera, Ms. Pfeffer would travel to New York and other cities to attend performances of the New York Metropolitan Opera.

Ms. Pfeffer loved to correspond with the many friends she made during her travels, keeping lifelong contacts which she greatly valued. Her Fargo friends remember her as a lively conversationalist, frequent entertainer, and loyal member of St. Mary's Parish where she spent much of her time in her later years. She was a devout Catholic, attending daily Mass and communion throughout her life. Community organizations she belonged to were Fargo Elks Club, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, and the League of Mary.

Ms. Pfeffer was preceded in death by her sister, Eloise C. (William) Clower.
(Boulger Funeral Home, Fargo)


PHILIP ROGNLIE

InForum - Unknown Date

Philip Rognlie was born May 20, 1918 in Esmond, ND to Paul and Julianne (Jensen) Rognlie. Phil grew up on the North Dakota prairie during the Great Depression, and as a baby, he survived the great flu epidemic of 1918. He graduated high school at Esmond. He received his Bachelor's degree from Mayville State College, a Master's Degree from NDSU, and advanced doctoral studies at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
Philip taught in Dazey, ND and also served as the School Principle [sic] before moving to Fargo where he taught for many years at Central High School. While teaching at Central High, he was named "Fargo Teacher of the Year". Philip served as the North Dakota Director of the National Education Association as well as Administrator for the Veterans and Youth Education programs at NDSU. Philip was a Fulbright Scholar. Philip was a great historian. He had a wonderful sense of humor, an incredible memory, and was a captivating storyteller. He loved to travel, and read poetry and history.
Philip was in the Army during World War II and was part of the second wave of the Normandy invasion. During the war he was stationed in France, Belgium, and Germany.
Philip was a member of the Elks Club, Sons of Norway, Kiwanis, and numerous other professional organizations. He was a Sunday school teacher at First Lutheran Church for many years.
Philip married Margit Haslemo on February 21, 1973.
Philip died on May 12, 2015 at Sanford Health in Fargo, ND. He is survived by his wife, Margit, Fargo, ND; sons, Collin (Ayesha) Rognlie, Seattle WA; Paul Rognlie, Santa Fe, NM; Kevin (Jane) Rognlie, Portland, OR; four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
Thanks to Sharon Foster Anderson



THEODORE VAVRINA

Grand Forks Herald
9 May 1986

Theodore "Ted" Vavrina
TABOR, Minn. - Theodore J. "Ted" Vavrina, 81, formerly of Tabor, died Monday, May 5, 1986, in a Fargo hospital.
Services will be at 2 p.m. today in First Presbyterian Church, Fargo. A second service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday in Mendenhall Presbyterian Church, East Grand Forks. Burial will be at Memorial Park Cemetery, Grand Forks. Arrangements are with Boulger Funeral Home, Fargo.
Theodore Vavrina was born March 26, 1905, in Tabor, the son of John and Blanche Vavrina. He graduated from UND in 1930 and earned a Master of Arts degree in 1945. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1932, attended the University of Paris, was an exchange high school teacher in London, studied at Columbia and New York University and in Boulder, Colo. He taught French and European history in Fargo for 35 years until he retired in 1970. He married Kathryn Ensch of Manvel, N.D., in 1935.
Survivors are his wife; brothers, Robert and William, both of East Grand Forks, and sisters, Olga Soltis, East Grand Forks, and Eileen and Ellen, both of Minneapolis.

Thanks to Terry Tvedten Wharton