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Lind: Dad Watkins left his mark on Fargo

His name was F. Leland Watkins, but he was known simply as "F.L." Or to some students, "Dad." F.L. founded the Dakota Business College in Fargo in 1890. Later his son, F. Leland Watkins Jr., headed it. Ken Cruff of Valley City, N.D., was a member...

F. Leland Watkins
F. Leland Watkins was known as "F.L." or "Dad" to his students. Forum file photo

His name was F. Leland Watkins, but he was known simply as "F.L." Or to some students, "Dad."

F.L. founded the Dakota Business College in Fargo in 1890. Later his son, F. Leland Watkins Jr., headed it.

Ken Cruff of Valley City, N.D., was a member of the Masonic youth group Order of DeMolay in Fargo in the late 1940s.

"F.L. was the man we called 'Dad Watkins,' " Ken writes, and he came to some of the DeMolay meetings.

One thing he recalls about F.L. was that he had "the most wonderful handwriting. I have seen one other like that; I believe it was that of Lauris Norstad."

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Norstad, a native of Minneapolis, was supreme NATO commander in the 1950s-early 1960s.

Cecelia (Hanson) Larson of Abercrombie, N.D., writes of 1941-1942 when she attended Dakota Business College.

"F.L. taught shorthand courses each morning at 7," Cecelia writes. "Our assignment was to transcribe The Forum's editorial from English into shorthand.

"F.L.'s motto was to teach us to 'get up early.'

"When I completed my course in business, Mr. Watkins sent me to work at the office of James M. Witherow, an attorney in Moorhead. I was his secretary for three years."

Then she married and moved to North Dakota, where she's lived for 65 years.

F.L. died in 1958, his son in 1985. The college closed in 1978. But it sent 25,000 students into the business world during its 88 years.

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 e-mail blind@forumcomm.com

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