MSU President's Newspaper Column

June 19, 2021 

Emotional highs and lows

Winnie Van Horn.pngFrom marrying my beautiful fiancé, Nina, to the passing of my mom, the past weeks have been a mix of emotional highs and lows. I am grateful for the outpouring of love and support that has come from the Mayville State family and the Mayville-Portland community. From the bottom of my heart, I say “thank you.”

Nina and I were married on Saturday, June 5 at my family farm. My mom passed away a few days prior. Though we had hoped to have Mom included in the marriage celebration and were sad that it didn’t work out that way, it was a celebration for Nina and I and an honoring of my mother.

My mom, Winifred (Winnie) Van Horn, passed away on June 2, 2021 at the age of 88. She was a wonderful and kind lady who everyone loved. If I had a dollar for every time I heard an adult talk about her beauty, I’d be wealthy. Winnie Van Horn was always humble. She was known far and wide for her elegance, class, and the stylish way she dressed. Her everyday attire was high heels, fashionable clothing from St. Louis, and pretty jewelry.

My mother started each day by laying out all my dad’s clothing. Then she went to work at their small business where she ran the office, kept the books, and managed the customers. When I was growing up, she’d bring me a sandwich each afternoon before my sports practices - cross country, basketball, football, baseball, track, or anything else. She wanted the meal to be warm when eaten.

She took me to countless doctor visits, and to promote culture, she insisted that I attend musical events and plays in St. Louis with her. She spent Saturdays watching me participate in athletic events all over the Midwestern region.

For almost 20 years Mom and Dad spent 40+ weekends each year with me at our farm. Mom built fences, threw hay (in designer clothes), played catch, rode three-wheelers, made breakfast, hunted with me, and generally participated in everything we did to care for the farm. I was fortunate to have spent so much time with her and Dad.

Mom and Dad were married for almost 70 years. They did little for themselves and much for their children and family. My grandmother lived to be one month short of 102 years old and Mom was with her daily. All this boils down to the same thing - service to others.

We’re never ready to say goodbye, but I’m going to try to remember all the wonderful things we did together and shared. Mom truly poured herself into my life and helped prepare me to be both successful and empathetic. I’m appreciative of everything she did to help me and so many others.  

Now as we grieve the loss of Mom, Nina and I look forward to sharing our lives together in happiness and love. My children couldn’t be happier to have Nina and her children as part of our family.

I see my mother's daily influence in my life priorities. We did not know of Mayville State before I got here, but her lessons she taught me about personal service. Just as faculty, staff, and administrators at Mayville State provide personal service to our residential and online students, my mother provided personal service to me and was an outstanding role model for it. The sacrifices she made make me Comet Proud of what she represented as a beautiful lady. Her extraordinary beauty was on the outside and also came from within. Thanks very much to all who have sent messages and kind wishes to me and my family.