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2008 Recipients



If Ken Disher's students were paying attention in his math classes over the past three decades, they should have no trouble counting the number of championship banners hanging at the campus swimming pool. Ken has been head coach of the Minot High School boys swimming and diving team for 28 years, guiding the Magicians to a staggering 18 state titles and eight runner-up finishes. Minot's boys have won 23 conference titles in Disher's tenure.

A 1970 graduate of Fargo South, Ken has been named North Dakota Coach of the Year 11 times. He was elected to the North Dakota High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 2002. "Mr. Disher's record of excellence is well known in the state of North Dakota and across the country," says Pat McNally, athletic director for Minot public schools. "His athletic accomplishments in the sport of swimming are as great as any coach, in any sport, that I am aware of in North Dakota."

Two groups have honored Ken with national coach of the year awards. He was so selected in 2002 by the National Federation of High School Coaches and in 2003 by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association. Terry Hjelmstad, retired athletic director of Minot Public Schools, says Ken is "the most professional coach" in the business. "He is organized and thorough with his management skills, but mainly he is fair, honest, and trustworthy with the student-athletes he supervises," Hjelmstad says. "He is an ideal role model for students."

Ken’s ability in the classroom is equally as impressive, McNally says. "He is sought out by students and fellow professionals for advice and direction," McNally says. "He has kept abreast of developing techniques and has applied those that improve the quality of his teaching. He is one of the first to arrive and one of the last to leave from his daily duties at Minot Public Schools."



It was only fitting that the late Neil Fredenburg spent part of his football career playing center. Friends say he was the center of many people's lives. Neil was an honor student in high school and standout in football, basketball, and track, yet it was the Division I football coaches who came calling when he graduated from Fargo South in 1989. He went to the University of Minnesota on a full scholarship.

While he was known for opening holes for his running backs and protecting his quarterbacks, Neil also showed his steady hand by snapping the ball 865 times without a fumble in his senior year with the Gophers. "In my opinion he was the greatest leader in my 32 years of coaching," says John Marsh, a teacher and coach at South. "He also challenged himself academically. He was loved by faculty, students and family."

Brad and Deona Grondahl, the parents of one of Neil's best friends, says Neil "was always happy, polite, respectful and simply a joy to have around our home."

Neil's positive influence continued after college when he joined a financial services company. One of his bosses, William F. Hoefer, says Neil had high integrity, exceptional work ethic, and a fabulous personality. "As I watched him grow his practice, I saw how people were so at ease with him and how he listened to their goals and dreams," Hoefer says. Neil married Jennifer Palmquist in September of 1995 and talked about her often. "Jennifer was the center of Neil's life. He was never afraid to let you know that," Hoefer says.

In October of 1998, while on a business trip to Tennessee, Neil underwent emergency surgery and died from complications of Crohn's disease. In the months following, a scholarship was established in Neil's name at Fargo South.



Tracy Briggs Jensen will be forever loved by veterans, their families, and others for her work in organizing trips to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. However, her career in media took flight long before that. The 1982 Fargo South graduate was a reporter, anchor, and producer for WDAY-TV news for nearly two decades. She won numerous awards and honors, including a national first place for hard news and continuing series in 1992.

Al Aamodt, former news director at WDAY-TV, says Tracy was flawless at every type of news story including floods, political campaigns, consumer affairs, and investigative and historical pieces. "Tracy has handled them all with exceptional professionalism and a very unique flair, one that makes her work stand out from the rest," Aamodt says.

Former Fargo Mayor Bruce Furness calls Tracy a tremendous asset to the community, citing her work with the United Way, March of Dimes, Rape and Abuse Crisis Center, and Multiple Sclerosis Society among others. As a professional, Furness says, she's second to none. "She has interviewed me on numerous occasions and has always been proficient, accurate, and responsible," Furness says. "I have concluded that she is a consummate professional who has a passion for what she is doing."

Tracy also earned a Master of Arts degree while still working full-time and raising a family. Briggs joined WDAY radio as a morning show host in 2005, where she has delighted listeners with her easygoing style and sense of humor. She also used her position as a radio personality, with the blessing of management, to organize and raise money for several honor flights to send veterans to Washington. For her efforts, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead named Tracy Person of the Year in 2007.



When Sherri Thomsen and her husband moved to Fargo more than five years ago, their search for a family physician ended with someone described to them as a "young, competent and compassionate doctor." That person is Dr. Lara Lunde, a family medicine physician at MeritCare Southpointe and the outpatient managing medical physician at the Eating Disorders Institute.

Besides providing excellent care to her family, Thomsen says Dr. Lunde has been available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When complications arose after the birth of the Thomsens' first child, Dr. Lunde arrived within hours of the delivery. "She truly went above and beyond in her care of us and our son Heath," Sherri Thomsen says. "Knowing we were new to the area and without family close by, she even made a few house calls after we brought Heath home."

Dr. Lunde graduated from Fargo South in 1992 after completing high school with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. She graduated summa cum laude from Drake University in 1996 and was honored with three scholarships while attending medical school at Oregon Health Sciences University. Dr. Lunde volunteered for more than a dozen groups and activities while completing her higher education and continues to be a leader in the community.

As a professional, she has been honored with the Physician's Recognition Award and has been granted membership to the North Dakota Academy of Family Physicians, the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, and the Academy of Eating Disorders. Dr. Jennifer Strong, a friend and colleague, says Dr. Lunde's accomplishments are too numerous to mention. "She is extremely hard working both in the office and in the community," Dr. Strong says. "She has a passion for teaching and educating others."