« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Joseph A. Turman II, Published September 24 2010

Forum emphasis was an injustice

The Forum’s focus on negative events in recent years led to a short-sighted article (Sept. 14) reporting the unfortunate passing of Mike Unhjem, “Former BCBS head Mike Unhjem found dead at home.”

The Forum committed a severe injustice to his legacy. Unhjem was a great man whose legacy reaches far beyond the negative items that The Forum chose to highlight in that article.

My story is similar to many of the individuals Unhjem mentored over the years. Unhjem helped me with my first internship in Washington, D.C. In writing that letter of recommendation, he made a junior at the University of North Dakota with mediocre grades sound like the most qualified candidate North Dakota had to offer.

That was not the last time I received counsel from Unhjem. Throughout the years, he was always there to provide advice and direction. His acts of kindness and encouragement will remain with me for the rest of my life.

Unhjem would not take credit for his assistance. He always insisted that his help had nothing to do with my achievement, when I knew very well that I could not have done it without him. As my sister characterized perfectly when she told me of his passing, “Mike was always our biggest cheerleader.”

The truth is that Unhjem had a profound impact on many individuals, our community and everyone he knew. He forever influenced my life, and I know that others feel the same way. That impact will forever be his legacy.

However, for Fargo’s news outlets to discover Unhjem’s legacy, one would have to research beyond Facebook.