in , , ,

YMCA’s 130+ Years Of Impact: Remember When

Photos by Hillary Ehlen and J. Alan Paul Photography

The YMCA has been making an impact in our community for more than 130 years. For February’s cover story, we met with individuals and families who’ve been a part of the organizations past and present to share stories and hear the reasons why they continue to support the Y.

The namesake of the Fercho YMCA, Cal Fercho, and the son of the namesake of the Schlossman YMCA, Brad Schlossman, share with us some of their favorite memories from their time at the Y throughout the years.

Dr. Cal Fercho

Retired from Fercho Cataract & Eye Clinic in 1992

namesake of the Fercho YMCA Dr. Cal Fercho

Sneaking in
“We couldn’t get into the Y at night and we liked to shoot baskets at night, so one of the things we used to do is we would go to the back of the Y, right next to the police station, go up the fire escape, up onto the roof, lift the cover off of the weight room and drop down. Then we’d play basketball for an hour or so and go out the front door.”

First large donation
“Back in about 1990 or so Rudy Harris, who was the secretary of the Y at the time, was at the office getting an eye exam and he said, ‘Cal, remember all those years you went to the Y and you never paid anything?’ I said, ‘That was nice of you, Rudy.’ Then he said, ‘Why don’t you do something nice for the Y?’

“At that time, I owned the Y on Broadway. We decided a good thing would be to give it to the Y, so I gave it to them with a parking lot and everything, all paid for. That sort of got them over the hump, they needed extra space for a while.”

“Ten years ago, Paul Finstad took me out for lunch and he said, ‘Cal, we’ve been thinking about naming the Y after you.’ I said, ‘Really? That’d be nice.’ And that was the end of the conversation. I figured they’d never actually do that. Then we had lunch again and he said, ‘Cal, we’re serious about that, and the board is for it.’ It happened and I’ve done a lot for the Y since then.”

Brad Schlossman

West Acres CEO

Brad Schlossman West Acres CEO

Earliest memories
“When the new Y was built, I spent a fair amount of time there — electric train races, which sound crazy. You’d bring your tracks, train and oval and you’d set it up, running them around this little circle. I can’t remember if all of my siblings grew up going to the Y, I would assume so, but I know my brother Bill did because he was so much better at the train races.”

Opening the Schlossman branch
“There was a need for expansion in the southwest part of Fargo. I wasn’t heavily involved in the details, but I was in the Building and Grounds Committee for a while and part of those discussions. The land was owned by a partnership that my father, Bill Schlossman, was involved in and it was all acquired in long-term thinking for West Acres. My father wouldn’t have been in the groundbreaking because he died in 1994. It would have been underway but it was my mother’s decision, with consultation with us kids, to support the Y at that point, knowing it’s what my father intended.”

Written by Kara Jeffers

Fargo Monthly Editor Kara Jeffers is from Garrison, North Dakota, a small town north of Bismarck, North Dakota, on Lake Sakakawea. She graduated from North Dakota State University in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in theatre arts. In addition to working at Spotlight Media, Jeffers also works at the Fargo-Moorhead Visitor’s Center, where she’s one of the first people (and, at times, the only person) visitors meet when they arrive in North Dakota—talk about pressure.

What do you think?

Sandy Franchuk and her family YMCA

YMCA’s 130+ Years Of Impact: Early Learning With The Franchuk Family

Haroon Al Hayder, Iraq

The World In Fargo-Moorhead: ‘We All Cry For Peace’