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Jack Sand, former WDAY weatherman and beloved magician, dies at age 82

Known for Gwendolyn the weather duck, "Santa's Toyland" and Jasper's Jubilee Theater, Jack Sand wanted to bring joy and laughter to others, family and friends say.

Jack Sand card duck.jpg
Jack Sand performs at Jasper's Jubilee Theater with Gwendolyn the weather duck in Park Rapids, Minnesota.
Submitted Photo by Kathie Brekke
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MOORHEAD — Jack Sand’s purpose in life was to make people laugh and bring them joy, his family and friends said.

So it’s no wonder why he became so beloved as a magician, entertainer and television weatherman.

“He just loved putting smiles on everyone's face,” said Austen Schauer, a former local news anchor and current North Dakota lawmaker from West Fargo who worked alongside Sand at WDAY-TV.

Sand died Friday, Jan. 14, from Alzheimer’s disease at age 82.

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WDAY weatherman Jack Sand hosts "Tempo's Toyland," which was later called "Santa's Toyland," in this undated photo.
Photo courtesy of Melissa Fabian

Born in 1939 in Grand Forks, Sand started his career as an announcer for KFNW, a Christian radio station in Fargo before he joined WDAY in 1966 as a salesman.

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Sand was a writer, and managers saw potential in him, said his wife Rochelle Sand. WDAY asked him to become a weather reporter in 1967, and he accepted. Sand soon did the weather segments on weekends.

Schauer said broadcasters of the 1960s into the 1980s had huge personalities.

“They were almost bigger-than-life personalities, and Jack was a great entertainer,” Schauer said.

Jack Sand the magician
Jack Sand does one of his favorite tricks, "a rabbit pulling a man out of a hat."
Special to The Forum

And Sand wasn’t alone. He had a magical partner on WDAY: Gwendolyn the weather duck.

The white wooden duck would pull cards from a deck to “grade the weather” when Sand was on air. For example, a card that had the letter A meant it would be a Grade A Day, Schauer said.

“That was a huge part of Jack,” said Kathie Brekke, Jack Sand’s friend and the director for Jasper's Jubilee Theater in Park Rapids, Minnesota.

Sand also hosted a number of television shows, including “Santa’s Toyland.” Previously called “Tempo Toyland,” “Santa’s Toyland” ran from the late 1960s into the 1980s. Sand spoke with dozens of children, preparing them to meet Santa live on television.

One video showed the host spinning a photo of Santa until, with the help of special effects, it turned into a live shot of a child in the audience who would get a prize.

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"I never met Jack Sand, but I am utterly certain he was a nice person," wrote Chuck Klosterman, a celebrated author who grew up in Wyndmere, N.D., and watched "Santa's Toyland" as often as possible. "Whenever I try to imagine what Christmas used to be like, he is part of the memory."

Sand often performed magic tricks for children, including during his show called "The Magic Shop." He was also featured in commercials. His daughters, Melissa and Kimberly, sometimes would appear in the commercials and assist him with magic tricks.

Jack Sand retired as a weatherman in 2003, but he didn’t stop entertaining. He brought his magic to Jasper's Theater, which presents family friendly variety shows that include magic, comedy and music.

Brekke recalled Sand asking to be a part of the show in 2006. He hasn't been able to do shows the last couple of years, but when he was there he drew busloads of people, she said.

“He was there from the beginning, helping us to kind of figure out what we were going to be,” Brekke said. “He brought such class and dignity and incredible performance to our stage, and people loved him.”

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Jack Sand in his tuxedo would welcome audience members to the Jasper's Theater in Park Rapids, Minnesota.
Submitted Photo by Kathie Brekke

Standing in his tuxedo, Sand would welcome audience members to the theater, Brekke said. As a Christian man, he would incorporate Gospel stories into his magic acts, she said.

“If there was one thing he would want to be known for, it is that his faith mattered, and he lived out his faith with everybody he met,” she said.

Sand brought joy and laughter to the show, Brekke said. He loved to have fun, and he was always optimistic, she said. She called him as a mentor and a class act who was always kind and gracious.

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“He had a way of making everybody around him feel like they were so important and so valued and so loved,” Brekke said.

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Jack Sand performs for the Jasper's Theater in Park Rapids, Minnesota to a full house.
Submitted Photo by Kathie Brekke

Sand loved to talk about magic, with a purpose in life to make people laugh, said wife Rochelle. He was a special person to a lot of people, she added.

“The joy that he had was from his heart,” she said.

A funeral is planned for Jan. 31.

Related Topics: MOORHEAD
April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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