David Nycklemoe, Fergus Falls High School Class of 1956, graduated from St. Olaf College in 1960 and the University of Minnesota Law School in 1963. He returned to practice law in Fergus Falls with his brother, Paul, resurrecting their father’s law firm. He also served as Fergus Falls city attorney for 37 years. Tudy (Cora Sue Heinl) Nycklemoe, Fergus Falls High School Class of 1957, attended Macalester College and the Minnesota School of Business, then worked at the University of Minnesota as an executive secretary. Following her return to Fergus Falls, she stayed at home to raise their three children. Both have been active community volunteers, involved in Ducks Unlimited, Rotary, Pioneer Home Foundation, Hospice, A Center for the Arts, YMCA, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lutheran Social Services, Dollars for Scholars, and the 544 Education Foundation.
Jim Henkes, Class of 1950, began his varsity football career as a 9th grader, playing quarterback, running back, and punter for the Otters. He played college football at Bemidji State University, leading the Beavers to the conference championship as a freshman. In 1954 he was offered a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, but his football career was ended by a head injury during the first week of training camp. Henkes taught and coached in North Dakota and Battle Lake before becoming football coach in Wheaton. In 1964 Wheaton won the conference championship, and Henkes was named Minnesota Football Coach of the Year. During his career, he was named Minnesota Athletic Director of the Year and inducted into the BSU Athletic and Minnesota Coaches halls of fame. Henkes retired from coaching in 1974 and as Wheaton’s athletic director in 1979.
Keith Schmidt began painting at age 10, when he’d ride his bike on Saturdays from his family’s farm to the nearby farm of local artist Olga Kjell and pay $1 per lesson. As a student at Fergus Falls High School, his art teacher and mentor was Joe Formic, who encouraged him to enter art shows and competitions in the area. Schmidt made frames in a basement woodshop and was selling his work and winning awards as a teenager. Following graduation from Fergus Falls High School in 1974, he earned a degree in landscape architecture from the University of Minnesota. He worked in Texas in the advertising art, computer graphics, and architectural illustration business until 1999, when he returned to the family farm where his art career began. Schmidt operates a Web-based business as an architectural illustrator for clients nationwide.
Following graduation from Fergus Falls High School in 1980, Jeff Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in pharmacology from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Johnson entered a Ph.D. program in environmental toxicology at the University of Wisconsin, receiving his doctorate in 1992. His postdoctoral fellowship was in molecular neuroscience/pharmacology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He taught at the University of Kansas Medical Center before returning in 1999 to the University of Wisconsin, where he was promoted to professor in 2007. Since returning to Wisconsin, he has become a leader in research related to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). His work has allowed him to be active in many support groups for neurodegenerative diseases and he has been a science mentor for high school and middle school students.
Frances Haller worked for 44 years as administrative assistant to School District 544 superintendents, earning a reputation as the person to go to when something needed to get done. During those 44 years, she never missed a day of work. Haller graduated from Fergus Falls High School in 1937 and completed courses of study at numerous post-secondary schools. She was an involved community member and earned numerous civic awards, including Business and Professional Woman of the Year in 1984, American Cancer Society State Award in 1984, and Pillar Award for service to the Fergus Falls Community College Foundation in 1988. She was a charter member of both the college foundation and the 544 Education Foundation, and a college scholarship is given in her name each year. Haller retired from the school district in 1981 and she died in 2006.