The passing of “Jeopardy” game show host Alex Trebek on Nov. 8, 2020, was like losing a member of one’s own family.

He was always gracious to guest participants on the popular game show, while displaying a sense of humor at the right times. Final episodes, taped prior to his death, ran through the week of Jan. 4.

Broad and general knowledge was the name of the game for participants on “Jeopardy.” Trebek, as host for the popular TV program, spent hours becoming acquainted with the subject matter that would be part of the weekly programs.

He warmly interacted with participants who talked about their personal lives, often pointing out humorous happenings to the delight of the studio guests and TV viewers.

The game show host never chided anyone for giving a wrong answer.

Trebek was a longtime philanthropist. As an example, at the start of the COVID-19 shutdown in March 2020, he donated $100,000 to Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission homeless shelter in Los Angeles.

He was a big donor to World Vision whose activities have included emergency relief around the world, education, health care, economic development and promotion of justice.

Trebek also contributed large sums of money to help the visually impaired through the American Foundation for the Blind. The organization gave him special awards of thanks on six different occasions.

In 2016, Trebek, the 36-year host of “Jeopardy” and a native of Canada, donated thousands of dollars to the University of Ottawa to fund the Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue. The objective was, and still is, to expose students to a wide range of diverse views through speeches, public panels, events and lectures.

Each final round of “Jeopardy” required three participants to write down their responses.

This past fall, a student participant from Brown University, knowing Trebek was battling pancreatic cancer, wrote down, “We love you Alex.” This student conveyed not only his love for the game show host but also the love of millions of Trebek’s followers.

“That’s very kind of you, thank you,” Trebek responded before getting emotional.

Said “Jeopardy” greatest all-time player Ken Jennings after Trebek’s passing, “Alex wasn’t just the best ever at what he did. He was also a kind and deeply decent man.”


Basketball comeback was classic in 2016

Five years ago, the Fergus Falls Otter boys basketball team took second place in the Class 3A State Boys’ Basketball Tournament. This was the best finish in the 100-plus years of the Fergus Falls boys’ varsity basketball program.

Taking home the second-place trophy was sweet, 100 years after Fergus Falls played in its very first state basketball tournament in 1916.

Just getting to state in 2016 was in doubt in the section finals in Moorhead. Fergus Falls was down by 10 points to Alexandria with 3:41 left in regulation. The Cardinals led 56-46.

Fergus Falls then outscored Alexandria 17-4 the rest of the game to win 63-60. Otter sophomore guard Nathan Rund scored 13 of our final 17 points.

Other team members included, under the leadership of head coach Matt Johnson, Isaiah Lemke, Harrison Christensen, Matthew Monke, Jake Western, Elijah Colbeck, Matthew Johnson, Ty Pearson, Spencer Breen, Austin Stanislawski, Joel King, Donovan Wood, Reece Kramer, Michael Bertram, Eric Marvel, Andrew Christenson, Gabe Enderle and Mason Davis.

“Wow,” said many Otter basketball alums when hearing about the great Otter comeback in the section finals. And the best was yet to come, taking second at state in 2016. This win surpassed the 1957 Otter boys who took third at state.


Some people look to the race in 2024

A few FFHS alums, when contacted about the presidential race three years and 10 months from now, see a scenario where two women could compete. That would be Republican Nikki Haley running against Democrat Kamala Harris.

And don’t count out current Vice President Mike Pence. It’s fun to conjecture.


Tom Hintgen is a longtime Daily Journal columnist. His column appears in the Weekend Edition.

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