Great people have vision beyond themselves.
Four of those type people were recognized for their greatness May 2 in Redwood Falls when they were inducted into the Redwood Area Schools Hall of Fame.
Whether they served as teachers, members of the community or represent those who are alumni of the local school district, Gene Verdoes, Jim Tersteeg, Muriel Moon and Merlin Scharfe, have made a difference in the lives of others, and each of them was honored for that impact.
John Moon, son of Muriel Moon, said his mother taught for close to 40 years. Her legacy lives on in the family, he said, as others have carried the education torch – now for the third generation.
Students who recall Moon as an educator talked about her kindness and patience, and the fact that she instilled a love for reading in them that continues. John Moon added his mother had a love for animals, and many of Muriel’s former students who visit her will recall her pet robin.
Marlys Verdoes humbly accepted the recognition on behalf of her husband, Gene, calling him an advocate for students and fellow educators alike. Verdoes added he was also a cutting edge teacher in many ways. He was the first male teacher hired at the local elementary school in 1969.
In those early days, Marlys said the teachers lounge only had a women’s bathroom, but Gene went in one day and put masking tape over the “WO,” said Marlys, adding that tape didn’t say up for very long.
Students recalled Gene Verdoes as an educator who showed concern for his students and a dedication to making sure each of them understood what he was teaching. Yet, they also recognized he ran a very structured and strict classroom, emphasizing “quiet” as very important. Those who didn’t quite grasp that concept were encouraged to get the dictionary in his room and look up the word and then write the definition 10 times.
Terri Scharfe-Pretino and Christin Greenwood, daughters of Merlin Scharfe, were on hand to represent their dad who was unable to attend the ceremony. Merlin Scharfe always loved Redwood Falls, and to this day has a fondness for the impact it had on his life. He was so excited to hear that he had been selected for induction into the hall of fame, said Scharfe-Pretino. The announcement also led to a reconnection for Scharfe, as three of his classmates who were on the football team with him called to congratulate him.
Scharfe started his education in country school and finished that time with the rank of fourth in his class – out of four students. When he furthered his education in Redwood Falls and fell behind the other students, good teachers helped him catch up with his classmates.
Scharfe-Pretino said her dad appreciated all of the opportunities he had as a student to be involved in activities from football and basketball to band and theater. Each helped to make him the person he is today.
Jim Tersteeg, a Redwood Falls High School graduate never left town. He took over the family grocery store business, and over the 50 years he has been part of that business more than 1,500 students have been able to develop skills as an employee of Tersteeg’s.
“Students have been a major part of our business,” said Tersteeg, adding he was glad to get the chance to have them work for him and to accommodate their busy lives as students and athletes.
Tersteeg said many students have asked him over the years why he requires them to wear a shirt and tie when they are working. He said not only is it simply because those are his rules, but it instills a sense of professionalism in them. Tersteeg said he feels fortunate to have lived in Redwood Falls, adding he appreciates the chances he has to volunteer and serve. He also encouraged others to do so, too.
“Redwood Falls will always be my home,” Tersteeg said.
The Redwood Area Education Foundation and Orrin S. Estebo Chapter of Dollars for Scholars also recognized those who have invested in the local school district.
The Redwood Area Education Foundation honored Kohls-Weelborg Ford and the Ford Motor Company, First United Methodist Church and the Orrin S. Estebo Foundation for its commitment to enhancing education for students.
The Dollars for Scholars honorees, who have invested in the future of local students through their gifts to provide scholarships, were Jan Phillips, the Marilyn Smith family and Ruby’s Pantry in Redwood Falls.
The annual Evening of the Stars is about celebrating the past, present and future of the Redwood Area School District and the excellence so many have demonstrated in helping to make greatness an everyday part of what happens inside the walls of the school.