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Bob Lind, Published September 15 2013

Neighbors: College president accidentally sends boy envelope full of money

Believe it or not, college presidents do make mistakes.

At least this one did. But it wasn’t a big deal.

It concerns F. Leland Watkins, the head of the old Dakota Business College in Fargo, which has generated many letters to Neighbors from its students and faculty. It comes from Donn McLellan, Apple Valley, Minn., and formerly of Fargo.

Donn writes that around 1955, when he was 15, he joined DeMolay, the Masons’ organization for male youths.

He went to a meeting or two but decided DeMolay didn’t interest him. So he sent a letter of resignation to Watkins, whom Donn recalls was a DeMolay adult advisor.

A few days later Donn received a letter from Watkins, whom Donn thinks was intending to return all or part of his DeMolay fee.

But the envelope contained Watkins’ Northern States Power Co. electric bill along with some currency and coins.

“I returned the money to him,” Donn says, “then received a letter – an example of the beautiful penmanship taught at DBC – in which he effusively thanked me for my honesty.

“I didn’t save the letter, but in my mind I can still see the engraved DBC letterhead, which included an image of the L-shaped DBC building (without the building that in my youth was on the corner) and horse-drawn carriages on the street.

“I’m sure Mr. Watkins was far from the only person in that era stuffing bills and coins into an envelope to pay bills by mail,” Donn writes, “but I suspect that DBC may not have been teaching its students the latest and best practice for jobs in business, banking or other areas. My father was president of what then was the Merchants National Bank and Trust Co., now US Bank – so in our family, we believed in checks!”

Donn says Leland Watkins Jr. was a year ahead of him at Hawthorne Elementary School and at Fargo Central High School.

Delivering the paper

A column about paperboys brings a note from Mike Knudson, Mayville, N.D.

The column told of four boys who delivered The Forum in 1952: Vern Koppelman, Ray Bragg, Gary Jacobs and Paul “Bucky” Walker, all then of Wahpeton, N.D.

Mike writes he graduated from Wahpeton High School with all of them in 1961.

“I was a paperboy myself,” Mike says. “I carried the Wahpeton paper to 120 homes twice a week.

“Thursday’s paper was the largest; it had all the ads.”

But it made you strong, hauling them to subscribers, right, Mike?


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 email blind@forumcomm.com