Archived Story

Former students remember FF business teacher [UPDATED]

Published 10:55am Wednesday, February 27, 2013 Updated 10:59am Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Grace Halcrow didn’t just teach her students about bookkeeping. She included her passion and made it fun.

“She got people interested in the numbers,” said Stuart Klovstad, a former student of Halcrow’s at Fergus Falls High School who graduated in 1976. “She came to class every day with spirit and passion. As a student, sometimes you don’t realize how tough that is. She brought it every day.”

Halcrow, a longtime bookkeeping teacher at Fergus Falls High School, died Sunday at Broen Home in Fergus Falls. She was 95.

Her influence on her students stuck around even after her retirement. Take Klovstad for example. He had Halcrow for two years of bookkeeping. He’s now spent the past 33 years with Otter Tail Power as the manager of financial reporting.

“Grace encouraged me, like several others, to go into accounting,” said Klovstad, who added that she was equal to any teacher he had in college. “I think a lot of people went into accounting because of her.”

Debbie Wilke, VP of accounting tax and reporting at Otter Tail Power, is one of those people. Wilke said she had considered teaching as a career, but it was Halcrow’s encouragement during those two years of bookkeeping classes that gave her the accounting bug.

“She changed my direction into a career that I really didn’t know that much about,” Wilke said. “There was something about her. Somehow she was able to recognize in me that this was an area that I’d have an interest in.”

Originally, Wilke took the class just to learn more about what it was, and as it turned out, she seemed like a natural, she said. Halcrow also helped to instill a good work ethic in Wilke by telling her to do a good job, do it right and work hard.

Wilke hopes Halcrow will be remembered “as somebody who really cared for her students,” and a strong supporter of the school and community.

Joyce Roehl, another student of Halcrow’s who graduated in 1951, also used her bookkeeping skills after high school, to keep the books for her farming.

“Bookkeeping is a class that could be kind of dull,” Roehl said. “But she made it interesting. She made you want to do your work.”

Roehl also traveled with Halcrow back in 1990 during a group trip to Australia and New Zealand. Roehl recalled the great memory Halcrow had during the travels, “and she had a great sense of humor, too.”

Sonny Mjelde and his wife Gene were also on that trip, a six-week journey. He remembered that Halcrow had a fascination for Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia; they spent two days around it in the desert. Halcrow also always included a recipe with the Christmas cards she sent out, he said.

“She had a lot of personality and she made a lot of friends through her life,” Mjelde said.

As for Klovstad, he kept in touch with Halcrow for a number of years, especially right after college. Ironically, he was thinking of Halcrow the day she died.

“On Sunday, I was thinking, ‘I haven’t heard from Grace for a long time,’” Klovstad said. “It was sort of eerie.”

Klovstad hopes the community realizes that Halcrow made a difference during her time on Earth.

“She had such a positive influence on so many students,” Klovstad said. “I never heard any unkind words about her.

“I hope God gives her an appropriate spot in heaven.”

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