For decades in Redwood Falls sixth-grade students learned the basics of mathematics from teacher Matthew “Gene” Verdoes.

“He only taught sixth grade,” said Marlys Verdoes, his wife.

Verdoes, who passed away in May 2014, is being recognized for the years he spent in the local school district as an educator May 2 during the Evening of the Stars. That night he will be inducted into the Redwood Area Schools Hall of Fame in the faculty/staff category.

“He would be shocked,” said Marlys, when asked how she thought Gene would react to finding out he was being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Verdoes was born July 23, 1937 in Slayton. He graduated from Edgerton High School and then moved to California where he stayed for a number of years. 

Verdoes served his country in the United States Army, and when his years of service came to an end, Verdoes opted to move back to Minnesota living in Edgerton and working at a lumber yard. There he met his future wife, Marlys.

Gene opted to pursue a different career and earned his teaching degree from the River Falls campus of the University of Wisconsin in 1969.

About a decade later he also earned a masters degree from Mankato State University in 1978.

After earning his degree Verdoes and his family came to Redwood Falls where he began working at Reede Gray Elementary School. He was the first male teacher to serve at the local elementary school, and he spent his entire teaching career in Redwood Falls.

During the 1990s and until his retirement in 1998 Verdoes moved to Redwood Valley Middle School where he continued to work with sixth-grade students.

“His mom was a teacher,” said Marlys, adding Gene loved kids and he thoroughly enjoyed his time working in education.

Verdoes appreciated the opportunity to interact with other teachers, served his colleagues as a member of the negotiations team and even after his retirement would get together with fellow educators over a cup of coffee.

After stepping down from his full-time role, Verdoes still remained involved as a substitute teacher.

Marlys said Gene spent some years working as a football coach for the district, and for many years he worked at high-school basketball games sitting at mid-court running the scoreboard. Verdoes was honored for his years involved in athletics with a distinguished service award from the Minnesota State High School League.

Gene was an easy going, friendly kind of person, said Marlys.

All three of the Verdoes children, Beth, Lisa and Steve attended the school where their dad taught and learned the value of education.

Other students over the years can also say they were positively impacted by the man who not only taught a subject he enjoyed but showed those who walked into his classroom he truly cared.