'He was Fargo's Mr. Rogers': Jack Sand remembered for his duck, magic and work ethic
Jack Sand passed over the weekend at the age of 82, following a diagnosis of Alzheimer's. His family and friends say he wanted nothing more than to make people smile and laugh.
FARGO — A lot of stories have been floating around the floors of WDAY-TV this week, as colleagues remember one of our station's greats.
Maybe you were on his "Santa's Toyland" or "The Magic Shop" shows he hosted. Perhaps you were a fan of his sidekick Gwendolyn the Duck, who graded the weather from a magic card drawn from her beak.
Jack Sand came along shortly after WDAY started bringing TV to its longtime radio listeners. He worked as a copywriter and salesman, but soon he was doing the noonday and weekend weather.
As a professional magician, he incorporated the character, Gwendolyn the Duck, as his sidekick.
"(H)e thought, 'Oh, this would work great, we could grade the weather,'" remembered his wife Rochelle Sand. "And of course, people would would say, 'Where's Gwendolyn, where is she?'"
Rochelle Sand says her husband was an entertainer and it showed. He was a longtime host of WDAY's "Santa's Toyland" which brought thousands of kids to the WDAY studio at Christmas.
"Thanks for coming and thanks for watching from home. We are going to have a good time today, Santa Claus will be coming along pretty soon," Jack Sand told children on the show.
He also had his own magic show on WDAY called, "The Magic Shop."
"I've had people say before that, he was kind of like Fargo's Mr. Rogers, and I think that sums him up pretty well," said his daughter Melissa Fabian.
Long before computers and weather radar, Jack Sand and Dewey Bergquist used chalk to hand-draw the weather maps. They flipped the charts on an easel, live on the air.
"They had a chalkboard with a map of the United States, and they'd use chalk, and draw on isobars, high pressure and low pressure systems. And if they went through the forecast, you know, today, tonight, tomorrow — flip cards with a camera showing the flip card, and he would actually manually flip the card, today, tonight's weather, tomorrow's weather," said WDAY anchor Dana Mogck.
Mogck was working in the sports department in the 1980s and worked weekends with Jack.
"Jack sold advertising Monday through Friday. He worked on weekends. He had his magic (shows) on the side," Dana recalled. "Jack just worked and worked and worked, and loved people, and was just pleasant."
He would spend 37 years at WDAY Television, but after retirement, the Jack Sand magic continued. He would entertain thousands at Jasper's Theater in Park Rapids, Minnesota. Always the showman. Always smiling, hoping it was contagious.
"(T)o see the comments and how he was a part of people's lives was very touching," Fabian said.
"(W)hat a promoter," Rochelle Sand said. "Whatever he was involved in, he promoted 110%."
Jack Sand's funeral is set for Monday, Jan. 31 at Triumph Lutheran Brethren Church in Moorhead. Korsmo Funeral Services is handling arrangements.