Rotary clubs and Dr. David Fihn are tightly linked.

He’s also linked with a fraternity you’ve probably never heard of.

Dave, 87, of Detroit Lakes, Minn., died last May, leaving behind his wife Shirley, two children, Mark, who lives in Texas, and Lisa, who lives in Montana, and six grandchildren.

Dave was a retired dentist. And he was a Rotarian.

But before that, he was Boy Scout, achieving the Eagle Scout rank.

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It was thanks to the Scouts that he met Shirley. She, from the University of Michigan, was camp nurse at a camp Dave was at.

David Fihn. Special to The Forum
David Fihn. Special to The Forum

A Minnesota grad

Dave was born and raised in Halstad, Minn. He moved with his dad, who was a dentist, and his mom to Braham, Minn., when he was 13, and he graduated from high school there.

He went to college at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, from which he graduated in 1957.

He was in the ROTC. He wanted to fly a plane in it but was turned down because of having poor eyesight. But in later years he owned and flew his own airplane.

He joined the Army, for which he was a dentist in Munich, Germany.

And he was a longtime Rotarian who accomplished a lot.

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Serving the world

He once was a Rotary club district governor.

But it was through his dentistry that he served the world.

He was on many Rotary-sponsored trips to other countries to give free dental care to people; Rotary paid the expenses other than for Dave’s flight tickets, which he covered.

Among the countries in which he served were Hong Kong, Jamaica, Guatemala and Thailand.

He figured that on the four trips he made to Jamaica alone, he did 10,000 tooth extractions.

At home, he was known too as a staunch conservationist, planting thousands of trees on his tree farm near Vergas, Minn.

His ‘frat’

When Dave was a student at Minnesota, he lived in a house owned and operated by the Lutheran Student Association, where it held its meetings and rented rooms to male students.

That house was in a row of houses housing fraternal organizations.

Well, Dave and his LSA buddies didn’t care to join an existing frat. But they decided they’d create their own.

And so it was that a make-believe and strictly-for-fun fraternity, with a fraternal Greek-sounding name like the other fraternities, came into being.

Its name: Alfalfa Snalfa.

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