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Helmut Schmidt, Published May 12 2012

'It's wonderful to be remembered': Scholarship a tribute to former Fargo educator Bob Hamblet

FARGO – Bob Hamblet made a huge difference in Lanny Martin’s life in 1963.

Now, Martin plans to make a huge difference in the lives of this generation’s students – funding a scholarship in Hamblet’s name.

Hamblet, an 86-year-old Fargo School District retiree, was a high school counselor in Grand Island, Neb., in 1963.

He convinced Martin to take a shot at going to Northwestern University near Chicago.

Martin got in. And it gave him the tools to become a leader in American business, he said.

Martin said he decided to pay homage to his former counselor by funding a scholarship for Grand Island students in Hamblet’s name, “so Bob Hamblet’s spirit can continue on for generations.”

Hamblet, sitting in his north Broadway apartment in Fargo, calls the honor humbling after a lifetime as an educator.

“He telephoned here … out of the clear blue sky,” Hamblet said of Martin, who he hadn’t heard from in nearly 50 years.

“Naturally, I’m just overwhelmed,” said Hamblet, who flew to Nebraska for graduation festivities this weekend.

The Bob Hamblet Scholarship is managed by the Grand Island Education Foundation.

Traci Skalberg, the foundation’s director, said the scholarship is designed to steer one top student from each graduating class to Northwestern. It pays up to $55,000 a year for tuition, books, room and board for each of the four years needed to obtain an undergraduate degree. If a student receives other scholarships, the amount of the Hamblet scholarship is trimmed by that amount, she said.

If the scholarship winner is not accepted by Northwestern, the student can use it at any other university, Skalberg said. She said Martin committed to fund the scholarships for students from at least five graduating classes.

This year is already proving to be an exception, with two scholarship winners. Neither student got into Northwestern, and because the schools they’re attending are cheaper, Skalberg said Martin agreed to fund both of their educations.

Landis “Lanny” Martin founded Platte River Ventures in 2005. He is a managing director of the Denver private equity firm, which has more than

$300 million in capital.

Martin first came to know Hamblet as a physical education instructor. Then Hamblet became a counselor, with the duty of guiding Grand Island’s Class of 1964, which included Martin.

Martin said he was pulled out of his English class by Hamblet to talk with the director of admissions from Northwestern.

Martin ended up getting a scholarship that paid for most of the cost of getting his undergraduate degree. He later got a law degree from Northwestern, and has been on its board of trustees for 10 years.

Over the years, Martin has served as CEO, president or chairman of the board of directors of several large firms.

“It all started with Bob Hamblet,” Martin said.

Martin calls the scholarships “payback for the fortunate life I’ve had.”

In 1964, Hamblet attended the University of North Dakota for a counseling institute. He was later hired by the Fargo School District, eventually becoming director of guidance and counseling.

He later became principal at Jefferson Elementary School, retiring in 1986.

Hamblet said you don’t expect to be contacted by students after so many years, and in such an overwhelming way.

“It’s wonderful to be remembered,” Hamblet said.


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Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583