Three heading into Pride in the Tiger Foundation Hall of Honor

MARSHALL — Three individuals have been selected for induction into the Pride in the Tiger Foundation Hall of Honor.

Every two years, individuals are selected in three categories: alumni, faculty/staff, and community.

This year’s honorees include Chad Wyffels, Poor Borch’s co-owner, Class of 1971, alumni; La Oeltjenbruns, longtime secretary within the Marshall Schools system, faculty/staff; and James Carr, owner of the Carr Company, community.

They will be honored at an April 13 banquet at Bello Cucina, located at 100 West College Drive. A social hour begins at 5:30 p.m., with the dinner and program at 6:30 p.m.

“We’re very pleased with the quality of inductees we have this year,” said Janel Wartner, executive director of the Pride in the Tiger Foundation. “Each individual represents the best of what makes Marshall Public Schools so special.”

Tickets for the banquet are $30, and can be obtained at the Pride in the Tiger office at the high school, or by calling 507-929-2669, or email PITF@marshall.k12.mn.us.

The Pride in the Tiger Foundation awards scholarship to graduating Marshall High School seniors, and financially supports educational initiatives within Marshall public and parochial schools.

Chad Wyffels, alumni

Chad Wyffels is a name long associated with the Marshall sporting goods store Poor Borch’s. He’s been with the store, after all, since 1975.

Wyffels is entering the Pride in the Tiger Hall of Honor as an alumni member. Over the years, he’s done his part to support Marshall High School as owner of Borch’s, as it’s known in Marshall.

He’s currently selling the store to Steve Sussner and Mike Dalager. Wyffels retains part ownership for several years, he said.

He attended Southwest State University and played football for four years. He went to work at Poor Borch’s — then located at 1204 East College Drive — in 1975, and purchased the business in 1988. It’s changed dramatically over the years.

“It started out as more Army surplus, western wear and hunting and fishing,” he said. “I remember a Nike salesman coming in and said I needed to carry the Nike Cortez shoe. It was white with a big red ‘swoosh,'” he recalled. “We sold out in a week, and kept reordering.”

Thus began a transition to more of a true sporting goods store. Hunting, fishing, athletic wear, fashion, screen printing, embroidery and uniforms make up the bulk of the inventory today.

“You have to change with the times,” he said. “It went from Army surplus to Columbia to North Face to Patagonia — from Nike to Adidas to Under Armour. There’s always different trends.”

Wyffels said he’s grateful to the region for remaining loyal to Borch’s, and the store has remained loyal to the region. Over the years Wyffels has supported all sorts of high school-related booster clubs and organizations.

He also sponsors a number of youth organizations affiliated with sports like basketball, baseball and hockey. The store is also a corporate sponsor at Southwest Minnesota State University.

He built the current store site at 1309 East College Drive in 1997, and expanded in 2005.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been so long,” said Wyffels. “Marshall and the region have been good to Borch’s, they have supported us well.”

He credits his employees over the years for helping make Borch’s the success it is today.

“We’ve had some employees with us as long as 30 years,” he said.

He’s all too familiar with how the Internet has changed the buying habits in America, and is appreciative of how his customers have remained loyal to Borch’s.

“People like to try on the pair of shoes, that article of clothing,” he said.

He’s flown under the radar as a benefactor of the high school for years. He does not seek the limelight.

Wyffels has four children: Ben, Jenny, Leah and Jon. Chad and his wife Sandy live in Marshall.

“I’m deeply appreciative of this honor,” he said of his induction. “It’s nice the Foundation thought of me.”

La Oeltjenbruns, faculty/staff

Longtime Marshall Public Schools school secretary La Oeltjenbruns says it’s her contact with colleagues and students she misses the most since her retirement in 2013.

Oeltjenbruns worked as a secretary for former elementary school principal Bill Swope from 1989-1999 before, “in Bill’s words, Tom Tapper stole me to be the superintendent’s assistant.” She served in that capacity for 14 years, until her retirement.

“Marshall has always had excellent educators and it was a real honor to work with them, and become friends with them. I also miss the students. When I moved across the hall (into the district administration office at the Middle School) that’s what I really missed, the daily contact with students,” she said.

Oeltjenbruns went to grade school in Redwood Falls before her parents moved to Crystal. She was in the first class to graduate from what was then a new high school, Cooper.

She graduated from the University of Minnesota, majoring in home economics and minoring in music and business. She met her husband Dennis in the library at the U of M — “He carried my books home from the library” — and the two, after marrying, moved to Walnut Grove in 1970.

Dennis worked for Ralston Purina for years and they moved from Walnut Grove to Marshall in 1981. She volunteered in the Marshall Public School for several years, before Swope hired her to be his secretary at East Side Elementary.

She was an ex officio Pride in the Tiger Board member since its beginning, acting in that capacity during her employment with the school district, and, later, as a voting member upon her retirement.

“I was the unofficial keeper of the records, and developed the bylaws and the paperwork to make it a 501(c)(3) corporation. Even though Tom (Tapper) and Karen Wiener came up with the idea for the Pride in the Tiger Foundation, I feel it was my baby, as I had given so much work assisting in its formation,” she said.

She’s served as the president of the state Association of Educational Office Professionals, and as an area director for the national Association of Educational Office Professionals.

She took a watercolor class from GOLD College at SMSU, “and to my own amazement I do that 2 to 3 days a week,” she said of her retirement. She also enjoys traveling, knitting, reading, crossword puzzles and “first and foremost, being with my grands,” as she calls her grandchildren.

La and Dennis are the parents of three children: Adam, Joy Taylor and Seth. Dennis farms some family land with Adam, and La is the bookkeeper of that operation. They have “14 grandchildren — which includes 8 biological and 6 ‘bonus,'” as she describes special children in their family.

Oeltjenbruns has been a special face within the Marshall district for years, and she recalls a recent trip to Mexico, when a former East Side student came up to her and asked if she remembered her.

“She was one of my kids, from East Side. I had her as a first- and second-grader. It was nice to be remembered after so many years,” she said.

She’ll be remembered for years to come for all she has done for Marshall Public Schools, and the Pride in the Tiger Foundation.

James Carr, community member

James Carr, owner of the Carr Company, believes that young people will make a difference in the future. That’s why he is continuing a tradition of Carr family support of the Pride in the Tiger Foundation.

“Children and education are a big part of this community — it’s what makes the community,” said Carr.

That’s why the Carr Family Foundation doubled its scholarship support of the Pride in the Tiger Foundation. Eight graduating Marshall High School seniors will receive $2,500 Carr Family Foundation scholarships at the Pride in the Tiger Senior Banquet in May, and the scholarships will be renewable for the students’ sophomore year, as well.

“The Pride in the Tiger Foundation is one of the larger beneficiaries of the Carr Family Foundation,” said Carr.

He’s attended that annual scholarship awards banquet before.

“It’s nice to hear the speeches, hear what the students’ aspirations are, and know that the Pride can help the students with scholarship dollars. It’s satisfying knowing the (Carr Family Foundation) support goes toward a good cause,” he said.

That Foundation supports a number of groups and organizations in the area, including, among others, United Way, Hospice, Southwest Minnesota State University, area community colleges, the Marshall Community Foundation, Hope Harbor and the MHS speech team.

Carr is a 1981 Marshall High School alumnus and attended Minnesota State Mankato and Georgia Southern before graduating from the University of Nebraska-Omaha with a degree in construction management.

The Carr Company is a property management and development company which includes assisted living housing, memory care, residential and commercial units.

James has been associated with the Carr Company “since I was sweeping floors at the age of 10,” he said. His father, Bob, started the company, and Bob and James’ mother, Phyllis, are members of the Hall of Honor, also. James is the first second-generation member to be inducted into the PIT Hall of Honor.

James is married to wife Gail. He is a stepfather to Garrett, Kendra and Brianne. They have one grandchild, Easton.

James and the Carr family have supported the growth and prosperity of Marshall and the region for years, in ways that are visible, and not so visible.

His support of the Pride in the Tiger Foundation continues a proud family tradition.

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