Warren Quarnstrom was last link to SMSU’s founding group
As Marshall bids goodbye to Warren Quarnstrom this week it should be remembered that he was the last surviving member of the group which brought about the creation of a state college (and later university) in Southwest Minnesota. Beginning in 1956, this group of activists plotted strategy during coffee sessions at the New Atlantic Hotel. Their efforts led to legislative approval of a new state campus in 1963. Legend holds that Senator Majority Leader John Zwach from Redwood County then had to badger Governor Karl Rolvaag into signing the bill despite his misgivings.
Eighteen months later a site selection committee recommended Marshall over four other communities. The stakes were high, and feelings were hard, but the choice was approved by the Board of Trustees and then-SMSC opened its doors to receive students in September 1967.
Three of those pioneers lived to see SMSU’s golden anniversary year: Businessman Dick Jorgensen, banker John Suedbeck, and attorney Warren Quarnstrom. With Warren’s passing a few days ago, the last link to that founding group is gone.
Marshall and Lyon County residents should reflect on the commitment and enterprise these leaders displayed in the middle of the last century, and consider what new visions can be pursued for our community in the decades to come.