Remembering & Honoring

… our Teachers + Administrators


Ben Franklin Junior High Teachers (1963-1966)

  • Ed Gorrilla | July 7, 2016 – Phys Ed

Edward F. Gorrilla was born August 3, 1924, to Edward and Susan (Jarabko) Gorrilla, in Ironwood, MI, where he was raised. Ed played football at Montana State University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in education. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 1952.

Ed served three years in the US Army, including 18 months of duty in Europe during WWII. He married Florence Fischer on July 31, 1960, in Moorhead, MN, and they had one child, Heidi. They made their home in north Fargo, ND.

Ed loved working with youth and sharing his love of sports with them. Ed was very involved in youth sports in Fargo, Moorhead, and Glyndon (MN). He was a Physical Education teacher in Fargo schools for thirty-five years. He coached baseball, football, basketball, and track and field. Ed was a member of the NDSU statistical crew for football and basketball. In addition, Ed coached American Legion baseball in Fargo and Glyndon, coached Babe Ruth and served as the Minnesota Babe Ruth District Director for many years

Florence preceded him in death on May 16, 2015. For the last year and a half, Ed had been living at Guardian Angels Care Center in Elk River, MN. He died Thursday, July 7, 2016, at Fairview Northland Medical Center, Princeton, MN, at ninety-one years of age.

Ed is survived by his daughter, Heidi (Tom) Warnke, Big Lake MN; grandchildren, Stephen and Kristyn Warnke, Nicole and Fred Binczik, and Kristine Warnke; great-grandchildren, Nakyah, Elise and Tonette Warnke, and Abby Binczik; sister, Dorothy Baima; sister-in-law, Charlotte Fischer; brother-in-law, Donald Fischer; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Visitation will be Thursday, July 14, 2016, from 5 – 7 PM, with a prayer service at 7 PM, in Korsmo Funeral Chapel, Moorhead. The funeral mass will be Friday, July 15, 2016, at 11 AM, in Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Fargo. Burial will be in Riverside Cemetery, Glyndon.

Credit: Korsmo Funeral Service

  • Marjorie “Midge” Nienas | 1922-2016 – Business/Typing

Marjorie Louise (Midge) Nienas died on September 2, 2016 at the age of 94 at Hatton Prairie Village, Hatton, North Dakota.

Midge was born near Thompson, North Dakota on July 31, 1922. She was the middle child of six siblings born to Blanche and Arnold Nienas at the farmhouse of her paternal grandparents, also known as Sunnyside Farm. She grew up in the 30’s, during the depression, and attended country school in Grand Forks County for eight years. In order to complete high school, she went to live with relatives at Farmington, Minnesota and cared for three small children. Midge graduated from high school in 1941.

She started working at 3M Company in St. Paul as a typist. Later, she became a stenographer and worked in the Building and Grounds Department of the University of Minnesota. In 1947, she accepted an assignment with the U.S. Department of the Air Force in Germany for two years. She continued working for the government for one and a half years in Japan.

In 1952, Midge enrolled at the University of North Dakota, receiving her degree in Business in 1956. She wanted to begin teaching in business, but jobs were scarce in the 50’s. Her college advisor recommended a job at Wausau, Wisconsin. She taught at Wausau for three years, at which time she completed her Masters at Northwestern University. At the urging of her sister, Crystal, she returned to North Dakota and accepted a job in Fargo at Central High School. She continued teaching in Fargo for years at Ben Franklin Junior High.

She belonged to Alpha Delta Kappa and was a long time member of Fargo First United Methodist Church. She was a member of United Methodist Women and Fargo Retired Teachers Association. She was also a member of the national, state and local teachers’ associations.

She volunteered at Meritcare Hospital for eleven years, where she was active in the Reach to Recovery program.

Her hobbies and favorite projects were gardening, travel, cooking, painting, bicycling, and growing roses. She loved being an Auntie and “Grandma Midge.” Her favorite places in the whole world were Sunnyside Farm and the Oregon Coast.

Marjorie is preceded in death by her parents; sisters, Crystal Nienas, Rosalia Olson; brothers, Warren Nienas and Harold Nienas; and her niece, Deborah McGuire. She is survived by her brother, Ralph (Verle) Nienas, and her nieces and nephews, David (Claudia) Nienas, Cynthia Tredwell, Roxanne (Danial) Fabian, Steven (Angela) Olson, Mark (Gianna) Nienas, Jonathan (Cheryl) Nienas, Barbara Varela, Kimberly (Douglas) Suse, Nancy Morgan, Michael (Tamara) Nienas; sisters-in-law, Mardell Nienas and Verle Nienas and several great nieces and nephews.

The memorial service will be 2:00 PM Thursday, September 15, at First United Methodist Church, Fargo. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service at the church. Burial will be 2:00 PM Friday, September 16, at Holmes United Methodist Cemetery, Holmes, ND.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to First United Methodist Church Memorial Fund, 906 1st Ave S., Fargo, ND 58103, or the Cass County Area Retired Teachers Scholarship Fund c/o Beverly Quamme, Scholarship Chair, 3125 7th St. N., Fargo, ND 58102.

Credit: Grand Forks Herald

  • Marley Swanson | 1918-2015 – Phys Ed

Marley V. Swanson, 97 of Fargo, died Monday, October 5, 2015, at Sheyenne Crossings in West Fargo.

Marley Swanson was born September 20, 1918, in Valley City, ND to parents Victor and Etta Swanson. He grew up in Valley City, where he also graduated from high school.
Mr. Swanson had a great love for learning and taught school in Sanborn, ND and Egeland, ND, and later went on to teach in Fargo at Roosevelt Junior High from 1946-1951 and Ben Franklin Junior High School from 1952-1984. He married Barbara Erstad on June 25, 1942, in Columbia, South Carolina and they raised three sons together.

Marley served in the Army Air Corps during WWII as a B-25 Mitchell pilot with the 83rd squadron. He completed 55 missions, including those in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and the Sicily and Naples – Foggia campaigns. Marley served during the Korean War and also in the North Dakota Air National Guard for over 20 years. He was an original member of the Gilbert C. Grafton American Legion Post 2 Band in 1945. In 1997, he was instrumental in incorporating the band. He also achieved nonprofit status and changed the name to the Red River Valley Veteran’s Concert Band.

He is survived by his two sons, Ken (Betty) Swanson of West Fargo, ND, and Ron (Barb) Swanson of Detroit Lakes, MN, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Marley was preceded in death by his parents, Victor and Etta; wife, Barbara; son, Richard, and one sister.

Marley’s family would like to thank the staff at Sheyenne Crossings for the special care they gave Marley while he was a resident there.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the North Dakota Veteran’s Cemetery – 1825 46th Street, Mandan, ND 58554.

Visitation will take place from 6-8pm on Thursday, October 8, 2015, at Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home in Fargo. A graveside service with military honors will be held at the North Dakota Veteran’s Cemetery in Mandan, ND on Friday, October 9th at noon.

Credit: Find a Grave

Fargo North High Teachers + Administrators (1966-1969)

  • Gary Hummel | 1938-1969 — History/Golf Coach

  • Bea Ihlenfeld | 1912-2017 — Dean of Girls


After a long and productive life, Bernice (Bea) Winifred Ihlenfeld passed away on October 26, 2017, at her residence.

She was born November 18, 1912, to the late Reverend Clarence and Kate Hightower in Lancaster, Illinois. Bea grew up in Mt. Morris, Illinois where she developed her lifelong love of sports, especially tennis and swimming. During her years at Carthage College, she won two Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference women’s singles tennis championships and also met her husband, The Reverend Fred W. Ihlenfeld. They moved to Fargo in 1939.

After her husband’s death, Mrs. Ihlenfeld began her career as a Physical Education teacher at Fargo Central High School in 1949. She earned her master’s degree from North Dakota State University and became the first female guidance counselor in the city school system. At the time of her retirement in 1974, she was an assistant principal at Fargo North High School. A very devoted supporter of the YMCA, Bea was awarded the Charles Bailey Volunteer of the Year and Senior of the Year. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Carthage College Athletic Hall of Fame and in the first group to be inducted into the Fargo North High School Hall of Fame.

Bea remained active playing tennis, golf and swimming for many years. She loved to hunt, fish and watch all sports, especially Bison football.

In addition to her husband, a daughter, Katherine Kimball, also preceded her in death. She is survived by daughter, Bernice (Bea) Ellis, of Johnson City, Tennessee; four grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; her “Y” family and the many wonderful caregivers at Touchmark where she resided for over seven years.

Her family is especially appreciative of the care given Bea by the staff of Devonshire, Pembrooke and Hospice of the Red River Valley.

The family of Bea Ihlenfeld will receive friends on Friday, November 10, at Saint John Lutheran Church from 1 until 3 p.m. immediately followed by a service in celebration of her life. The Rev. Dr. Erick Thompson will be officiating. A gathering for the staff and friends at Touchmark to honor Bea’s memory will take place Thursday, November 9, at 2 p.m. in the foyer.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties Endowment Fund, Inc., 400 1st Avenue South, Fargo, North Dakota 58103 or the YWCA Cass Clay Endowment Agency, 3100 12th Avenue North, Fargo, North Dakota, 58102.

To send flowers or a memorial gift to the family of Bernice Winifred Ihlenfeld please visit our Sympathy Store.

Credit: Hanson-Runsvold

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FORUM ARTICLE | September 24, 2012

[FARGO] – About three times a week, sometimes before the sun even rises, 99-year-old Bea Ihlenfeld gets out of bed and puts on her swimsuit. She makes her way slowly down the hallway to the pool area of the retirement community she calls home. By 6:45, when many of us are just getting that first cup of coffee, she’s already swimming laps – a morning ritual that first took root when Woodrow Wilson was President.

“I remember as a very little girl, my dad, who was a real exercise guru, would make my brothers and I jump in cold water first thing every morning. He thought it would be good for our health,” she says. Whether it was or not, something clicked with Bea. For the next 90 years, Bea would devote her life to wellness – being healthy, fit, and involved – and encouraging and mentoring others to do the same. Her upbeat attitude and self-motivation is an inspiration to everyone she meets.

Bea has always seen herself as a tomboy. She grew up in Southern Illinois, the middle child and only daughter of a Lutheran minister father she called “my pal.” “Dad was a good guy. He gave us a lot of freedom. He encouraged me in every way he could,” she says.

She says her mother might have been a little more frustrated. “Mother could never tame me to work in the kitchen,” she says. Instead, young Bea was outside playing any sport she could. She loved swimming in the nearby Wabash River or in the Rock River in Dixon, Ill., where a handsome young lifeguard named Ronald Reagan was attracting attention. “All the girls fell for him. So the beach was always crowded!” she laughs.

When she wasn’t swimming, she was playing tennis, even volunteering to become the caretaker of the clay courts in town in exchange for playing time. And it paid off. By the time she enrolled at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., she was an elite player, becoming the school’s first female letter winner after winning the state championship three years in a row.

It was while at Carthage that she would meet the man she would marry. It happened right away. “My father had just dropped me off, when I noticed some students playing a pickup game of softball. I asked the catcher if I could play and he sent me over to play second base. Well, almost right away I caught a ball and threw the gal out. That caught his attention! That catcher was the guy,” she says. “The guy” was Fred Ihlenfeld, who was training to be a minister just like Bea’s father.

After marrying, the Ihlenfelds lived in Winona, Minn., then moved to Fargo in 1942 when Fred was called to serve at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in north Fargo. The couple had two daughters, Bea and Kathy.

In addition to being wife and mom, Bea took a job teaching physical education at Fargo Central High. She also coached tennis in the summertime. Both jobs she adored. She says she always felt lucky that she was able to do what she loved – teaching students to be active just like she’d always been.

“There’s nothing more satisfying than when you work hard at and become better at something,” she says. “I always told my students it’s OK if you don’t excel at this, just try to get better. I wanted them to get interested in something and follow through.”

Her devotion to her job, along with good friends and family, helped her get through the loss of her husband after just 13 years of marriage. Fred died at the age of 42 from an enlarged heart, the result of a childhood bout with rheumatic fever. Bea knew when they were dating that it might lead to his early death, but that didn’t sway her from marrying him. “We love who we love,” she said.

After Fred’s death, Bea continued working and raising her daughters. Her career path eventually led her to a job as a school counselor at Central High and later an administrator at North High in Fargo. By 1973, Bea decided to retire. She never married again, but says she had some wonderful male friends who would take her hunting, something she had loved to do with Fred and the girls when they were little. She says with pride that she shot her last pheasant at the age of 80.

“I just love the outdoors! I always have,” she says. And then there was swimming. That wasn’t going anywhere. She swam at the YMCA pool two or three times a week well into her 80s and 90s. She moved about two years ago to Touchmark at Harwood Groves, a retirement community in South Fargo. She started using the pool right away, and Touchmark Health and Fitness Director Mark Minette noticed how remarkable she was.

Even at the age of 99 the perpetual teacher can’t help but take students under her wing. “There was a woman who was about 80 who had never learned how to swim, so Bea got in the water with her and showed her what to do. She’s just wonderful – someone to look up to,” says Ellen Tillman a health and fitness center employee.

While Bea enjoys helping people she says it’s also about just being around them. She says that is the key to staying young. “There’s no excuse to sit around and feel sorry for yourself. All you have to do is look around at the people who have it tougher than you. You can’t hole up. You have to get out there and meet your fellow citizens. Don’t wait for others to come to you. Get involved!”

And she’s living her own advice. In addition to participating in activities at Touchmark, she still meets once a week for a hamburger and fries at the Hi Ho restaurant with her friend of 73 years, Lois Mayer of Fargo. “She’s just such a wonderful person! We’ve shared so many things, sad and happy. She’s a loyal friend,” says Mayer.

Bea turned 100 in November. These days, as she looks at you with her bright blue eyes and even brighter smile, she’ll offer advice such as: “enjoy life,” “get an education” and even “get a swimsuit and get to the pool!” But true to the coach she once was, and obviously deep down still is, she can’t help but turn into a motivator.

“Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something as you get older. You can do it! I do.”

Credit: Forum article by Tracy Briggs.

  • Jerry Sheldon | 1934-2015 – Football Coach/Biology

Jerry L. Sheldon, 80, Fargo, ND, died Saturday, April 25, 2015, at his home in North Fargo.

Jerry was born August 9, 1934, in Fargo, ND. He attended school at Wheatland where he graduated from high school in 1952. Jerry married the love of his life, Patricia Mae Senn, on December 26, 1954, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota. Jerry served in the Army for 2 years. Upon leaving the US Army, Jerry attended and graduated from Mayville State University in 1957 with a degree in Natural Science and Physical Education. Jerry was a teacher and coach in Karlstad, Minnesota and Ellendale, North Dakota from 1957-1960. In 1962 he received his master’s degree from the University of South Dakota in Zoology and Botany. In 1962 Jerry taught Biology and coached football and basketball at Fargo Central High School. In 1964, Jerry assumed the role as the first football coach and taught Biology at the newly opened Fargo North High School and remained in that capacity until 1973. In 1973 he continued to teach Biology for North, and also coached football at Moorhead State University until 1975. It was at this time Jerry decided to leave the classroom he loved and accept the position as the Assistant Principal/Athletic Director at Fargo North. From 1979 to 1984 Jerry was the Principal at Agassiz Junior High School in South Fargo. In 1985 Jerry accepted the role as the Director for Athletics for the Fargo Public Schools and remained in that position until his retirement in 1991.

In Jerry’s 35 years in education, he has had a positive impact on the lives of students, staff and our community as a whole. Few people have had the opportunity to view education from as many interesting vantage points as he has. As a teacher/coach, principal, athletic coordinator, Chairman of the United Way Campaign, past President of the Fargo Association of Teacher Education, Chairman of the Faith Methodist Building Committee, member of the North Dakota State University Teacher Education Institute, member of Reed Township Board (5 years), member of National Association of Secondary Principals Committee of Larger Secondary Schools, YMCA Building Fund Committee, member of Friends of Prairie Public Television, member of Faith Methodist Church in North Fargo. Some of his past and present organizations include National Association of Secondary School Principals, North Dakota Education Association, Fargo Education Association, Association of Teacher Educators, Minnesota Coaches Association, North Dakota Coaches Association, National Coaches Association and Association of Biology Teachers. In 2000 Jerry was proudly inducted into the Fargo North High School Hall of Fame. In 1952 Jerry received recognition as being All Cass County in 5 sports and Ball Room Dancing.

Jerry was a loving and caring father and grandfather to his family. He is survived by his loving wife, Pat; son, Scott (Michelle), Yuma, AZ, Debra (Tom) Hoesley, Fargo, ND, Kathy (Steve) Nelson, Champlin, MN, Jerry (Sally), San Diego, CA; 8 grandchildren, Kyla Sheldon, Kansas City, KS, Brock Sheldon, Lawrence, KS, Carl Hoesley, Fargo, ND, Tommy Hoesley, Fargo, ND, Mitchel Nelson, Golden Valley, MN, Cole Nelson, Grand Forks, ND, Christopher, San Diego, CA, Lily, San Diego, CA and Nolan, San Diego, CA.

Visitation will be 5:00 to 7:00 pm Friday, May 1 with a prayer service at 7:00 pm at Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home, 215 S. 7th Street, Fargo, ND 58103. The funeral will be Saturday, May 2, 2015, at 10:30 am in Faith United Methodist Church, 909 19th Ave N, Fargo, ND 58102.

Credit: Emporia Gazette

  • Norm Pryzbilla | 1931-2017 – Carpentry

Norman Przybilla passed away at Essentia Hospital on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.

He was born in Buckman, MN to Nicholas Benigna (Langer) Przybilla on June 8, 1931. After his father’s death, the family moved to Little Falls, MN where he received his education. After graduating from high school, he spent a year in Alaska. On returning, he attended MSUM in Moorhead; football and baseball were his sports.

During his stint in the Army at Fort Bliss, TX, he and Margaret (Bette) Bemis were married July 2, 1955. Upon his discharge in November 1956, they traveled back to Minnesota with their baby son David. Norm was hired as a teacher in the Fargo Public School system in 1957 and they lived in Fargo for the rest of his teaching career with another son Michael and daughter Lisa. He taught carpentry and building trades at Fargo North High School for 36 years. He was honored to be elected to the North High Hall of Fame in 2012. He retired in 1993. Building houses and all kinds of woodworking were his major interests. He also enjoyed hunting turkeys, pheasants, and ducks in the fall, and fishing trips in the summer.

He is preceded in death by his parents, brothers, Urban and Claude and sisters, Dorothy, Evelyn, and Naomi. A brother Arthur and a sister Mary Lahr survive. He is survived by his wife Margaret, sons, David and Michael, daughter, Lisa, granddaughter, Erin (Alan) Moody, great-grandsons, Justice, Gunnar and Xander Moody of Fort Campbell, KY.

Visitation will be from 5-7 PM Friday, March 31, 2017, Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center.

A funeral Mass will be at 11:00 AM Saturday, April 1, 2017, at Nativity Catholic Church with visitation one hour before the funeral. He will be cremated. No flowers, please.

Arrangements entrusted to the care of Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center.

Credit: The Forum