1/10/2014 (1938)


   Happy  Birthday  Diane  Berg  Rheault ( DHS ’79):  Fargo,  ND Berg, Diane 1938
Happy birthday Dwight Coleman: Dunseith, ND
     Happy  Birthday  Larry  Liere  (DHS ’54):  Devils  Lake,  ND
Liere, Larry 1938
Reply from Dawn Gregory Allard (’74):  Bottineau, ND
Hi Gary hope you are all well and enjoying the warm weather.It finally warmed up today 20 above feels great. I just had to respond to Trish Larson’s story about the party she had. It definetly was Larry Allard my one and only. We still laugh about that. He always was and still is a nice guy. This last September we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary with our 4 children and 9 grandchildren. It has been quite a ride and wouldn’t change a thing. We are blessed to have great family and friends. I enjoy all the stories about old times and people,especially Don Johnson, he is one of the people I most respected in life, he sure got his calling in life right with teaching as he had such a positive effect on so many people.Happy New Year, Dawn Allard “74”
Hello Dawn,
Great hearing from you.  I don’t believe I have you on my distribution? I have about 750 total on my daily distribution with 7 different distribution lists. I checked them all and I did not see you on any of them. I have now added you though. I will also add you to the 74 class list too.
Larry, as you know, was in my freshman class before he and Carol got redistricted to Bottineau along with a few others. I have not seen Larry since and that was in 1962.
I think I lost you in the crowd at Laurel’s funeral too. There were lots of folks there and at the house too following his funeral. So so sad that he left us so early. I knew he wasn’t well, but was surprised when Terry Olson told me at the Bakery that he had passed away. I saw Carol Allard several times when she was there too.
40 years, that is a long time. We celebrated our 35th last month. If you are the class of 74, you are about nine years my junior. That means you are about 57. Larry robbed the cradle. 
Dawn, I will always remember you working at the Bowling Alley. You were a good waitress and my folks, especially my dad, thought the world of you. You knew well his food  likes and dislikes too.
Concerning memories of Don JOHNSON
From Debbie Gunville Champagne:  Belcourt, ND

Something I remember about Don Johnson as a teacher is, without displaying
anger or pressure, he had a way of demanding you have, not only respect
for him, but for yourself.  I was only in his beginning band class, but
remember him as having a very “positive force” about him. A teacher who
was a very good example for the students
Richard Family Pictures
Reply from Roberta (Gary ’63) Houle:  Champlin, MN
Hi Gary and Dunseith bloggers–
I wanted to thank you, Gary, for posting the pictures shown in blogs #1929 and 1930.  Also appreciate the feedback from Lorraine Richard Nelson of the Joe Richard family and Colette Hosmer of the Fred Richard family.  I am glad to meet you.  Have either of  you seen these pictures before?  Also Lorraine, are you the one listed as Lorraine Vandal on the RICHARD chart?  If not, where do you fit in?
All the best to Colette as you do the history for your Mom.

What a wonderful summary of RICHARD family sent by Dave Schimetz.  Anyone else with pictures or memories of the RICHARD family–I’d love to hear from you.  Everyone please show the RICHARD photos to others so we can get them identified.  Carmen, I enjoyed hearing about Floyd from your recent posting and please wish him a happy birthday.

Hope to hear from others soon.  Roberta (Gary ’63) Houle

Abe Nelson’s and the Parrill’s
Reply from LeaRae Parrill Espe (’67):  Bottineau, ND
Hello, Edna Mae.  My mom (Mildred) and Marie Parrill are both doing pretty well.  The two youngest of the John Nelson family are 88 and 89 1/2 and are the only two left.  They can tell many fond stories of other Nelson family.  Lauretta and Evelyn , mom and Marie all roomed together in HS at Mrs. Bedard’s.  Uncle Carl would bring them in on Sunday afternoon with the horses and sleigh.  A few times he gave a ride to Iris Senechal Knoke Wolfert (SP).  He would take her around the block a time or two before heading home.  LeRoi Stadium was also living there or maybe just visiting -just a little fellow at the time.  They cooked in their room, some type of hot plate in suppose.  No indoor plumbing even in town then. It was definitely a step up from the Riverside Hotel which was bed bug infested.  I don’t think Lauretta and Evelyn stayed at the Riverside.
Mom always appreciated Carlyle hitching up the horses when she would come home from college or from teaching a year or two after high school. Rides could be caught up the Willow Lake Road to Abe Nelson’s and then Carlyle would give her a ride the rest of the way to the log cabin. He claims now that it was wonderful to get out of milking so he was more than happy to do it.
When Marie and Thurman’s daughter Janet was born, they were living on “Abe’s”. This was the spring of 1950.  Mom took over teaching Beaver Dam for a few months at that time.  I was just a baby and I think Marie took care of both Janet and I that spring.
We finally broke the extreme cold and today may get up in the 20s.It’s sunny and not much wind so we now think we are in the banana belt.
LeaRae Espe
Face book capture from Mark Schimetz

Francis Atcheson and Mary Gottbreht were my dads sisters Francis lived in Minot for decades before moving to Bottineau during her last years. Mary lived next door to Mom and Dad in Dunseith in that big white house that was brought into town in the late 50’s or early sixties from the Gottbreht farmstead or where Teddy, Tim, Troy and Ann grew up. Later on Jim put a house out there. You can sure see whom Kathy looks like and also her daughter looks like similar to Aunt Mary. She was a kind and nice person. Mary’s kids were Jim, Jean, Maryann/Brennan, Francie/Dutra or Frankie as we would and still do call her that.

Schimetz 1938

Posted by Neola Kofoid Garbe:  Bottineau & Minot, ND
Metigoshe 1938
Blog posted on February 3, 2008


Posted on 


With all the tributes you folks have provided with memories of Don Johnson, I’ve decided to dedicate today’s mailing to Don and his family.  The first 3 messages, ahead of the article, I’ve gotten today.  The messages following the article have been published before.  I wanted to combine all the messages into one for this distribution.  I went back through and tried to capture all the memories you folks have provided of Don.  Please let me know if I’ve missed any.

I will include future comments that you guys provide, with memories of Don, in the daily messages.  I will also add them to this message for redistribution in the future.

Gary Stokes



From Paulette LaCroix Chisholm (68): paulet


These daily comments, stories and memories are a much better read than the Turtle Mt. Star in my humble opinion.  I see I missed the “Daddy” song.

A little story about Don Johnson.  In high school I played clarinet beside Gwen Grimme on the same old honking clarinet my two older sisters played going back at least a decade.  Years of abuse had practically disintegrated the case so my mom taped it from head to foot with some gawd awful putrid smelling tape.  When Mr. Johnson opened the door to the little room of stored instruments and was hit by the stench, he came to the conclusion that one or more students had not cleaned some filthy reed or mouthpiece in ages.  He was quite “put out” with this disgusting find and lectured us on proper hygiene so “it” would never happen again.  I knew it was my fault since I couldn’t put the clarinet even close to my lips without a gag.  Now, I was sure everyone “knew” my mouthpiece was the “filthy unhygienic culprit.”  Too embarrassed and red faced to fess up during the lecture, I waited in painful guilt and anxious expectation until after class.  To my relief, he threw his head back in laughter and told me in a playful way to “get it out of there.”

I remember his eye opening introductions to different styles of music and his tying the message of “Romeo and Juliet” with the more modern “West Side Story.”  He gave many of us the recognition and appreciation our parents didn’t or couldn’t and we “felt” his pride in our accomplishments.  If you wanted to participate, he provided every effort to support you.  I will always remember his kindness when gently telling those, who had less than perfect pitch, to keep their voices low so they could still participate in the choir.   His contribution to our community over the years was huge, heartfelt and lasting.

Paulette LaCroix Chisholm (68)



From Brenda Hoffman (68):

Thank you Gary. I love the “community” of our emails. I could send this info directly to Dick Johnson but wanted yet more accolades for Don Johnson. Don was wonderful about exposing all of us to a variety of music (first heard and fell in love with Westside Story via Don in a music class), but also made absolutely sure that any cultural event near Dunseith was available to any of us who were interested. I so remember taking the bus to A Mid Summers Night Dream and laughing hysterically — and being amazed that it was written by Shakespeare. Or the concerts in Bottineau. Or the circus in Minot. And I loved how anyone could join the choir…even me. I knew my voice wasn’t the greatest (I think that’s an overstatement!) so would pretty much just voice the words when we were practicing. Toni and Paulette told me that they couldn’t hear me so I should sing louder..which I did for one song. I was a freshman in High School so of course, was intimidated by older classmates in the choir…Don stopped our practice after that one song and just said, “Brenda, could you keep it down.” He also sang at my wedding to Terry Hegney in 1969 (Terry died in 1981)..Of course, tunes from Westside Story!

I also want to note that I worked with Dick’s grandmother Cynthia during my high school stint at the San Haven dining room. I loved her. She was so kind and gentle. I’m not sure if even Dick knows this but when I was in the hospital for TB between the ages of two and three, I swallowed a nickle that someone had given me (people used to give kids coins as treats in those days). My mom was also in the hospital at the same time. Dr. Loeb (who was a prisoner of war before becoming the director of the San…he was an absolutely wonderful Dr. by the way and we were so lucky he decided to stay in ND after the war) couldn’t remove the nickel so Dad (who was working at the San in the kitchens at the time) warmed up the car, asked Cynthia to accompany him, borrowed clothes from Jay Vanorny and we were on our way to Minot. Can you imagine every one’s terror that I wouldn’t make the long drive? At any rate, the eye, ear, nose specialist in Minot removed the coin and all was well. Thank you Dick for a loving and warm family who impacted my life in so many ways.
Brenda Hoffman (class of 68)



From Dave Slyter (70):

Hi Dick:

Just a quick comment about your dad.  Just like a super star, or actor, or singer or writer or  composer your dad left a legacy in so many hearts, not only in the Dunseith area, but to North Dakota and Canada.   He was a man that had a lot of influence on a lot of peoples life’s.  He will always be in my life.   He was the best teacher I had ever had. �

Just one more little story about your folks together.  When we lived on  the farm up in the hills my mom Margaret Hiatt would make the best cinnamon rolls in the hills of the turtle mountains.  When she would get into the mood of making them there would be this strange thing that would always happen during that same day of the baking.  Your mom with your dad or your mom with her mom or your mom with your dads mom would always drive up and visit.   We always asked mom when she was baking if she thought Don and Bernice would show up.   Sometimes we know more than said it, and they were driving up the hill to our house.  It was funny and also always enjoyable as they would sit and talk about so many things and memories of  the old Benny Johnson farm.  Always look forward to their visits.   And they loved the cinnamon rolls.   We always told mom that Bernice could smell those cinnamon rolls a mile away.  ha �

Take care
Dave Slyter :



Prairie Past and Mountain Memories (1982 centennial book) Page 213

Dick Johnson’s (68) reply to the memories of his dad, Don Johnson: 
Gary and DHS FriendsI do truly appreciate all the good memories folks have about my
dad, Don Johnson. He had an ability to understand the needs of
those around him and then find a way to make their lives a
little better. The one thing that I believe he passed on to
most of the kids was that everyone is of similar value
regardless of his background or wealth or name! This I believe
is what allowed him to achieve things like Governor’s Choir
with something like sixty kids singing that well. The other
atribute that he had was to never give up no matter what the
odds were. This determination could be seen by his students and
I believe it also drove them to achieve. Thanks to all those of
you who have told your stories of your memories of my dad, it
means a lot!Dick Johnson

Margaret Metcalfe’s (65) memories of Don Johnson:
GarySeveral people have written about memories of Don Johnson so I thought I
would add yet another:I was a Daddy’s girl.  Wherever my Dad went, I was riding on his shoulders
or hanging on to his hand.  I remember my parents wondering how I was
going to handle starting school.  However, my  first grade teacher in
Hilltop school was Don Johnson and I thought he was the best teacher
ever..  I don’t know if this was his first teaching job, but he and
Bernice were so young and Dickie was only 2 or 3 years old.  One day
Bernice came to pick him up from school and I thought she was such a
beautiful lady.  Don fixed the swing in the school yard and I was the
first to get to swing on it.  I backed up as far as I could and then sat
down to swing forward, just then Dickie ran in front of me and I crashed
into him knocking him down.  I felt so bad,  he got up Don dusted himself
off and he had a gash on his head…..but his glasses didn’t break.   He
was such a little cutie.

The years went by and Don taught my husband Chuck in 8th grade in Rolette.
Then he came back to Dunseith and I remember the chorus and how we
harmonized and had concerts….so fun.  I took Music Appreciation from him
and like so many others learned to appreciate so many different composers
and their music.  Whenever I hear Classical music, I think of him.  He
brought the Grand Canyon suite to school and we listed to the LP’s on the
stage in the new school.  I thought it was the most beautiful music I had
ever heard.  After that I started really listening and appreciating the
music in movies.  He was my teacher in first grade and my senior years and
I have such fond memories of one terrific teacher and a wonderful, caring
person.   We were so honored when he sang at our wedding!  He was a

Margaret Leonard

Memories from Bill Hosmer (48): 
    Gary and all the rest.    Just read the neat 180 degree turn by the
band described by Dick Johnson.  It made me believe that Don Johnson
gave more positive stuff to more people than anyone I know.  The last
time I saw him was when he was leading the band down Dunseith’s main
street at one of my visits home during Dunseith Days.  His grin and
wink, when he recognized me, stays with me these many years later.
Don Lamoureux’s (75) Memories of Mr. Johnson:  
I also have great memories of being in Mr. Jonson’s band.  I started out playing clarinet, which didn’t seem too cool for me, I hadn’t heard of Benny Goodman.  I later switched to the string bass, when that spot opened up, and was even happier when the school bought an electric bass guitar, so now I could play and be heard.

He also helped me out of a pickle during deer season one year.  I was in big rush after school to get to a hunting spot, driving my dad’s 4 wheel drive jeep pickup, and was tearing up the hill past Sime’s to get to a spot before dark. I mean to get to a spot where I could hunt until dark.  I rounded a curve to discover that an oncoming school bus and I were going to be occupying the same space shortly.  I swerved to get out of the way, missed the bus, but put the truck into a spin, I did a 360 and then went backwards off the road and down the ditch.�

I know I was closer to some other folks, but didn’t feel like confessing my crappy driving to anyone else, so I walked down to Mr. Johnson’s.  He fired up a tractor and we went back to pull it out.  The ditch was pretty steep, and the only thing that kept it from going farther down the ditch was the tree I managed to wedge the truck up against.  I think Mr. Johnson had to go back home to get a chainsaw. It’s not real clear to me, because I was pretty much dreading having to go back home and face the music there, so to speak.  Mr. Johnson tied the truck off to the tractor, buzzed the tree down, yanked the truck out, and sent me on my way.  Mr. Johnson must have called ahead to smooth out the waters, because it really wasn’t that bad when I got home.  Probably Dad could see nothing was going to make me feel worse than I already did. There still was the inevitable lecture of course, but then he told me of a time as a kid he was driving one of the brand new cars from the garage, and wrecked that.

I can also recall spending many fall days looking for grouse and pass-shooting ducks at Mr. Johnson’s.
Don Lamoureux (75)
Memories from Ele Dietrich (69): 
After reading Deb M. memories of the Governor’s Choir in 1969, I felt that I just have to add this tickle of memory:  Mr. Johnson (who would ever have called him anything else) probably had the highest impact of any teacher in Dunseith when I was in school.  Through him we all learned to appreciate music.  We also learned to give from our hearts when we sang and I think that has stayed with all of us to this very day.  I personally can not thank him enough for that gift.  I will always remember though that he absolutely dispised Buck Owens and the nasal tone of his music.  Remember “let the sound come from the mouth not the nose”…those words will be with me always. He introduced me to so many kinds of music, music that I had never heard before and still love to this day.  Thank you Mr. Johnson.
Ele (Dietrich) Slyter    ’69 rules !!!

Memories from Deb Morinville (70):
David Slyter jogged memories from our Governor Choir days.   I learned how to play “Whist” because we had down time sometimes.  I also remember Governor Guy coming to Dunseith for a banquet. The town really spiffed up and it never looked so good!  I also remember many long hours on busses and getting up at 5 AM to travel to many different places to sing.
Like in the legislative chambers at the Capitol in Bismarck

Yeah we had the blue blazers and the girls wore white skirts and the boys black pants.  We stopped in Harvey one time to eat and filled the restaurant.  On cue from Mr. Johnson we all stood up and sang our “Grace”  It was very impressive.  We were scattered all over but still managed four part harmony.   I never realized important reading music would be.  Now I singon a worship team and the ability to read music helps me to learn it quickly.  Mr. Johnson had a huge impact  on my

life in the way he taught me to appreciate so many different kinds of music.  He never really liked country music though! What a legacy he left.  It was such a great joy and privilege it was to sing with some of those former members at the Sunday service last summer at the reunion. Gary Fulsbakke directed us and we dedicated the songs to Mr. Johnson.
Keep the memories coming everyone!
Deb Morinville Marmon 70
Memories from Dave Slyter (70): 
How many remember the good ole band and choir days  of good ole DHS.   Of course who could forget the best music director of all of DHS’s history,  Don Johnson.   He done so many things for so many students.   One of the most memorable was when Dunseith received the Governors Choir award.  I think I remember then the choir had over 60 members in it.  The high school band always had big numbers in it.   He ran a very high standard music department.�

Alan Poitra,  I remember those funny looking hats also but they were always locked up in the little practice room and we were all hoping that no one would mention to Mr. Johnson that we should wear them while we march.  ha    I always remember the home coming parades in Dunseith and also the day that we would travel to Minot for the Minot State College home coming parade.  It was a long march, (especially when I had to carry that big ole bass drum) but was the best of times.   Always went downtown Minot and hung out at all the stores.  Always went to the five and dime store.  �

When we were in the music program in the late 60′s and into 1970(by the way that is the best year ever) we had the really nice blue blazer that we wore for high school concerts.   I think we wore them for marching also.  I also remember going to Devils Lake for the high school music contest or festivals.    Dunseith always came home with high marks.

I think that was the best part of jr. high and high school was being in the famous Don Johnson music program.  Well that and passing my grade each year.  ha�

One more memory I have to mention about the DHS music department.  It has to do with years after I graduated but was a memory I will never forget.   I was once a custodian at DHS after the good ole years of San Haven employment.  My daughter Stacey was in high school band then and was under the direction of one of Don Johnson’s former students and everybody knows her,  Cheryl Haagenson.   She too did a great job  in the music department.  During the year that Stacey I think was a Junior in high school they decided they wanted to take in a contest down in Orlando Florida.  So the money raising was put into place and the plans and dates of the trip were decided.  I was fortunate enough to be a chaperone of this big event and what a memory it was.  It will be with me for a very long time.  The kids were so well behaved and they should have been so proud as they brought home this big huge trophy that I hope still is in the show case at the school.  “Way to go Cheryl”   You have done the school proud.�