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Bob Lind, Published September 29 2013

Neighbors: Reader sheds light on Fargo legislator

Here’s a little-known fact concerning the name of one of North Dakota’s well-known legislators of some years ago.

It comes about because Rita Halland, of West Fargo, read Lloyd Omdahl’s Forum column about former legislators who he termed “real problem-solvers.”

One of them was Donald C. Holand, who Rita knew well; so well, she has information about him that wasn’t even listed in his obituary.

What was known about Don is that he was born in 1913 in McKinley, Minn., moved to Grand Forks with his family when he was a teenager, graduated from Grand Forks Central High School and the University of North Dakota, was principal and then superintendent of schools at Drayton, N.D., then school superindent in Lancaster, Minn., went back to UND in 1940 to study law, was in the military, went to law school in Washington, D.C., and served on the staff of North Dakota U.S. Sen. Milton Young.

Don married Lenore Jensen, of Grand Forks, in 1947. In 1948, they moved to Lisbon, N.D., where he practiced law for 21 years and was Ransom County state’s attorney.

Don, a Republican, was elected in 1955 to the North Dakota Senate, where he represented Ransom County for 16 years, then moved to Fargo and again was elected to the North Dakota Senate, serving until 1975.

In the Senate, Don was majority floor leader and chairman of the education committee and the Legislative Council.

He and Lenore had two sons and two grandsons. Lenore died in 1990, Don in 2003.

Now to Rita, who writes that her father-in-law had Don do his income taxes when Don lived in Lisbon. When Don moved to Fargo, he was the attorney for Rita and her husband “and,” she says, “he became our friend. He was such a nice man.”

One day Rita asked him what his middle initial “C” stood for.

“He said ‘Christian,’ but there is a story behind my first name,” she says.

“I was named ‘Daniel Christian’ by my parents,” he told her. “But I never liked that name, so when I was in college and of age, I had it changed to ‘Donald.’

“Now I wish I had never done that,” he told Rita, “because there are so many ‘Donalds’ and not many ‘Daniels.’ ”

So that’s why an influential legislator goes down in North Dakota history as Donald C. Holand instead of Daniel C. Holand.

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