Monday, August 01, 2016

Tough news

Two deaths on Saturday have been hard to swallow in the news room.

First, on Saturday afternoon I heard of the passing of Pat Anderson of Hoffman. Pat, age 45, was killed in a Gator/automobile accident shortly before 8 p.m. Saturday night on Highway 55 between Kensington and Hoffman. The accident was covered in an online story at the Echo Press newspaper website.

Pat Anderson was the Activities/Athletic director at West Central Area schools in Barrett and also their high school Dean of Students. He was a long-time member of the staff at WCA and a native of Hoffman. His wife, Jacki, is a Lamberton native. The Andersons have three children: Ben (WCA Class of 2016), Ross (a junior next year) and Brooke (an eighth grader next year). Ben and Ross were both key players on WCA's baseball team, who the Jaguars lost to in the Section 6A baseball playoffs on June 9. It seems like just yesterday I was standing next to Pat at Chizek Field in Morris this past June, chatting about the section baseball schedule and seeing how proud he was of his Knights baseball team.

Ross, Jacki, Brooke, Pat and Ben Anderson. AMY WINTER PHOTOGRAPHY, November 2015

"A great man with a huge heart who lived life the right way."
It goes without saying that the Hoffman and WCA communities are reeling with disbelief at the loss of Pat Anderson, who they affectionately called "PA" in random conversation. He was a farmer, a school staff member at WCA, a coach, husband, father and was terrific at everything I just listed. I got to know him well during my days as the Hoffman Tribune and Herman-Hoffman Tribune editor from 2008-2011. He was very easy to work with and very proud of the students and staff at WCA. Beyond that he was classy in everything he did and made sure kids he worked with carried themselves in the same manner. One of his bigger tasks at WCA was being the head coach of the Knights girls' basketball program for seven seasons this century before retiring from that position at the conclusion of the 2009-2010 season and being named Activities/Athletic director. His 2007-2008 team was a section finalist, with eventual state champion Albany ending their season. Pat assumed head coaching duties from Harold Nelson, who was the first head coach of the WCA Knights after the school was founded in 1993. Both had multiple 20+ win seasons and many deep playoff runs. In Pat's last four years as head coach, the WCA Knights won 18 or more games and won 21 games in back-to-back seasons.

I can already see a fair number of Facebook posts relating to Pat's coaching days. One that stood was from a dairy farm girl who later became a candidate for Princess Kay of the Milky Way. She was a point guard, and she remembers the time he told her during a game, "Stop playing scared." He clearly challenged students and student-athletes to become better at everything they did. I'd say just about every employee in a small school "gives a damn" about the kids and the school's success. Pat certainly gave a damn and brought out the best in the students he worked with every day at WCA schools.

"PA was...the heart and soul of WCA, its biggest cheerleader and greatest fan."

Since 2011, I've kept in touch with him and was always able to easily get scores or other sports-related information from him through e-mail and text messages. His reach was far and wide. I've already seen tributes to him not only from his WCA family, but also on Facebook pages at other schools including Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley and Minnewaska Area. I truly have no idea how WCA will replace him. He was one of a kind.

"It just ain't right!"

I vividly recall a Friday night last fall in Belgrade, standing on the high school track between the football field and the stadium bleachers, with Pat, Jacki and a few other WCA fans talking about the win their WCA/Ashby Knights just earned over our Jaguars. I rated it as a mild upset, as WCA/A entered the game 1-3 overall with two huge shut out losses on their record and a 41-6 loss in the season opener. They had defeated a struggling K-M-S team the week before by a 19-0 score. B-B-E lost 14-7 to WCA/A that night, and I remember Pat's excitement and optimism for the upcoming games against Parkers Prairie and Kimball Area. He believed they could win those games and be in the hunt for a home playoff game. As it played out, WCA/A was in the midst of a four-game winning streak but ended up losing a tough battle to sixth-ranked (Class 1A) Upsala/Swanville in the season finale 31-18. They lost 16-6 in the Class 2A, Section VI playoffs at Staples-Motley to finish 4-5 overall after an 0-3 start.

Already the WCA and Hoffman communities are rallying around the Anderson family and WCA students. Today (Monday) the high school gym in Barrett will be open from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. with support available to those who need it.

Here's a nice gathering of tributes (mostly social media) to PA:

**Update on Monday is the link to see Pat Anderon's obituary and funeral information:

...then to the news of the passing of Brooten's Pauline Segaar. Pauline was diagnosed with Thymoma cancer in 2006 and has courageously battled it ever since before passing away on Saturday surrounded by family at the Ecumen Bethany Community in Alexandria. She coached the B-B-E speech team in the 2000s and left her mark on countless students over the years at B-B-E. It was during those years when B-B-E became a small-school speech "powerhouse" and started hauling in regular season and playoff hardware on a regular basis. During high school Pauline lived on a farm near Sedan with eight younger siblings and her parents, Yvo and Gertrude Jenniges. Pauline graduated from Brooten High School in 1972 and worked in the Brooten area for most of her adult life. Her husband is Stanley Segaar, a Brooten-area farmer. They have three children, all B-B-E graduates: Nick, Matt and Raechel.

Many of you readers out there know her younger sister, Bonita, who B-B-E students in the 1990s remember as English teacher "Mrs. Otterness" - also a Brooten High School graduate (Class of 1985).

Please pray for both the Anderson and Jenniges/Segaar families. They are dealing with a lot of pain and grief right now. And please say a special prayer for the three teenage children of Pat and Jacki Anderson. The loss of Pat will leave a difficult mark on their lives that won't soon go away.

The third loss our area is dealing with is the untimely death of Loren Larson of Kerkhoven. Loren graduated from Brooten high school in 1979. He was a pilot and died in a plane crash last week in Wisconsin. I'll have a story on Loren in the August 4 issue of the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper.

That's all from the news room. It's been an eventful and also difficult weekend.

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