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Bob Lind, Published February 01 2011

Lind: North Dakota native had big responsibility

It would be some kind of responsibility, being responsible for the health of the president of the United States.

But last fall, that was the case for a native of Mayville, N.D.

Dr. John Lyng serves in the emergency room of Fairview Ridges Hospital, Burnsville, Minn., but he also has an affiliation with North Memorial Hospital, Robbinsdale, Minn., which provides emergency health care services for dignitaries visiting the Twin Cities.

In October, President Barack Obama was in Minneapolis for a pre-election political rally and was in a motorcade.

John was in a car a few vehicles behind Obama’s, serving with an ambulance crew whose duty was to care for Obama should he be injured in any way.

If a Secret Service agent had become ill or injured, someone else would have been responsible for providing care. But John and his crew were there solely for the president.

Fortunately, their services weren’t needed.

John, the son of Merwin and Myrna Lyng, Mayville, was featured in a Neighbors column earlier because of his efforts to aid a hospital on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.

Concerning his duties in connection with the presidential visit, John writes, “On TV, when you see the motorcade, you usually see the lead law enforcement vehicles and the president’s limo. What you don’t see is the long string of other law enforcement vehicles, special forces teams, EMS and press vehicles that follow.”

As to his own duties, John told his parents, “I suppose there aren’t too many docs who can say they would have been in charge of providing care to the president if he were injured.”

Probably not, John.

The Watkins family

Both Neighbors and Forum columnist Andrea Halgrimson have carried items about the Dakota Business College and the Watkins family behind it.

The founder was Felix Leland Watkins, who went by F. Leland. His son, Forrest Leland Watkins, who went by F. Leland Jr., followed his father in heading the school.

Now Neighbors hears from the third generation. Frank Leland Watkins, Fargo, is F. Leland Jr,’s son and a 1959 graduate of the college.

“None of us went by our first name,” he says, saying he goes by Lee.

O.W. “Bud” Kipp, Edgeley, N.D., writes that he attended Dakota when the senior F. Leland wasn’t quite as active at the school.

But Bud remembers him coming to the assembly room doorway and shouting out “Time!” Everyone knew that he meant that time was money, so this would “impress us not to waste time and get to work,” Bud says.

“They stressed penmanship and math, and we had penmanship and math drills each and every day,” Bud says.

“We also had an orchestra and played for dances at the school.

“From Dakota we went into the service, and upon our return, my brother and I joined our father in business, and Harold Fuhrman, our orchestra leader, wound up working for the Seattle Times.”

The college closed in 1978 after graduating 25,000 students in its 88 years of existence.


If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail blind@forumcomm.com