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Bob Lind, Published May 19 2013

Lind: Dakota Business College taught many ND bankers

Stories about the old Dakota Business College in Fargo led Justin Swank, Fargo, to write about his father, James Swank.

Jim, Fargo, was a student at DBC, then became an instructor and principal there. He now is associate director of North Dakota State University’s agriculture budget office, a position he’s held for 43 years.

While he was at DBC, he had John Stewart as one of his students.

John, of Gardner, N.D., has been mentioned in recent columns about DBC. One of them included a sample of his penmanship.

“I like to think I taught John everything he knows,” Jim says, although he suggests there’s a chance that’s not totally true.

John, 68, who later taught at DBC, sends along some additional DBC background.

“F.L. Watkins Jr. (who went by ‘F.L.,’ and who was the son of the school’s founder), before he died, wanted to turn over the school to four of us to carry on the school, but some things didn’t fit,” John writes. “F.L. refused to sell the school because his and his father’s efforts were simply not for sale. As a result, the school ended up closing (in 1978).

“F.L. wanted to carry on the legacy of the school as it was built and refused to submit to the requirements of the federal government in order to obtain funding for students under, for example, the G.I. bill or other federal student programs.

“Federal requirements required a lot of theory and little practice using actual transactions. The school was built upon the use of utilization of actual transactions and good penmanship.

“Before F.L.’s death, DBC students were placed into most banks and many, many businesses in North Dakota.

“Mr. Watkins was a master penman,” John says, “and he taught me well. I fear good penmanship will soon die, as there is little money in teaching it and little interest in learning it.”

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com