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Merlin J. Ricklefs
Rochester, Minnesota
mjricklefs@aol.com
Rolfe High School class of 1954

Nothing like trying to squeeze something in at the last minute. Helen G. approached me in April to contribute to the "Alumni Thoughts." Even though her note has remained on the top of my desk since then, I have obviously not followed through with action. 

It seems that when folks reminisce about high school days it almost always stimulates some memories about Miss Marcum and her dedication to our learning. Although knowledge of the subject matter may be vague, I am sure her lessons provided a foundation that has served many of us well. I know for me, the drills in Latin provided a certain learning discipline that got me through a self-study routine to pass a German language requirement for graduate school when there was no time to schedule a class. More recently as I travel and work in many countries around the world that same foundation seems to provide the instinct to guide a taxi driver in most any language back to my hotel - and that is important! Although I do not remember very much about the subjects we discussed in literature class I do remember the lessons in discipline and respect. I still recall, as I am sure many others do also, how to "stand"' and "pass." And I will probably always remember that those windows in her classroom were "her windows'" - to be opened only after appropriate request and approval.

To some it may seem strange, but my favorite subjects were math, and at the top of the list was geometry. I guess some of this preference has influenced other decisions in my life since Karen, my wife of nearly 42 interesting years, is a math major and former math teacher. Our daughter Linda, a math and art major, is a computer network systems analyst; our son Lowell is an electrical engineer recently promoted to be the youngest vice president of Rockwell Automation; and our youngest daughter Kristin is an elementary and math teacher in Bar Harbor, Maine. From this lineage there are five beautiful and talented grandchildren (four grandsons and one granddaughter - who proclaims not to be the Princess in the family but is the King!).

The most practical knowledge for what I do today probably came from FFA (Future Farmers of America). In FFA judging, I learned about working as a team. I also learned that "better" and "best" don't really mean anything until you can explain what they mean. I learned about all I still know about the conduct of a formal meeting and about things like the science of nutrition (now important to help read the labels and try to stay a little fit and trim).

I think I have about used my allotment of words and should close. For the past few years I have been teaching as a university visiting professor and management consultant on international business across the U.S. and in other places in the world. Karen works with me, and we returned last week from Asia where we had a series of speaking and business engagements. We started working in Thailand in 1995 with Thai Airways, taught at Chulalongkorn University in 1998, and are making plans to return to the university again this September with possible stops in China, Singapore and Malaysia. For us at least, it keeps life interesting.

I look forward to seeing many of you in Rolfe on Saturday.

Best regards and all best wishes.

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