When Wally Pearson passed away over the weekend, the Fergus Falls Otters lost not only one of their biggest fans and supporters, but a man whose contributions as a teacher and coach have left a lasting impact on many individuals and families through the years.
Wally began a 29 year career as a math teacher in Fergus Falls in 1966 and in 1975 was named Teacher of the Year. Pearson was an assistant coach in track for four years, football for 30 years and basketball for 25 years. He was also head basketball coach for the Otters for five years.
Pearson was also a founder of the Fergus Falls Backcourt Club in 1978 and the Otter Basketball Camp in 1968, directing the camp until 1986. The Backcourt Club continues to provide a strong, structured environment to teach kids the game of basketball.
Wally and his wife Patty were blessed with three children, Keith, Kristi and Kevin, who all reside in Fergus Falls. One of the many joys of Wally's life was watching his many grandchildren participate in sports activities. He rarely missed an event and was a constant presence at Otter basketball games over the years.
What I will always remember about Wally is his kind and gentle manner, and his passion for teaching and coaching kids and the satisfaction that came along with it. Wally Pearson was indeed a difference maker in the lives of many.
If you would like to share your memories of Wally, drop me an e-mail at [email protected] and I will add them to the comments below.
"I still remember my first 'camp' away from home when I was probably 12 or 13 and attended Otter Basketball camp, which at that time was on Eagle Lake I believe. I remember the first day in the lodge with Wally, Denny Anderson and Glen Mesker as they went through the 'rules' of being at camp. "Follow Thru" was the theme. 'If you see some paper or trash laying around the camp, Follow Thru, pick it up and put it in the garbage can. When you're finished with your breakfast or lunch, clean up your area and say Thank You to the cooks.' They made a big deal about it at the morning meetings if they saw some kid doing things the right way. It was as much about being a good person as it was about learning/playing the game." - Craig Samuelson
"Some of my favorite childhood basketball memories involve Wally Pearson. His outdoor summer basketball camps near Dent, MN, gave many of us the best weeks of our summers. Wally's camp was ahead of its time. Wally brought a group of us Fergus Falls elementary boys to the Wahpeton Lil' Guy Sixteen Team Tournament. I still have photos of that memorable weekend, when Wally coached us to four victories and the tournament championship. We looked pretty good wearing those orange colored Country Kitchen uniforms. Now, I find enjoyment with the fact that two of Wally's granddaughters, Lily and Paige, are high school teammates with my daughter, Ellie, and Wally's son, Kevin, is one of their coaches. Attending high school basketball games in Fergus Falls without Wally Pearson in the gymnasium will take some getting used to." - Scott Colbeck
"I have known Wally for about forty years and he was always a first class person. He would greet you with a smile and a hand shake, ask you how you were doing, and leave you with a good feeling for the rest of the day and beyond. Family love and loyalty has obviously been instilled in children and grandchildren by Wally and his wife and will be carried forward in coming generations. Wally will be missed terribly, but the memories will live on forever. RIP Wally, you were a fine role model." - Warren Nelson