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Ken Dragseth

Ken Dragseth

Vietnam Veteran and School Superintendent

Born: Madison, SD, United States
Heritage: European American

Follow your dreams. What do you want to do tomorrow? What do you want to do today? What are your dreams? If you don’t live your drams, you don’t live your life. Life is not a spectator sport. You want to be in the field playing! I applaud you for getting involved.

Ken Dragseth

Vietnam Veteran and School Superintendent

My name is Ken Dragseth. I was born September 10th, 1945, on a dairy farm near Madison, South Dakota. Along with three brothers and one sister, twenty cousins lived within nine miles of our house. I graduated with twenty kids that had stayed together from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Sports made the school days go by quicker.

I played a lot of baseball. Pitching for two Little League teams in one summer ruined my arm; however, both of my teams made it to the championship. After much thought, I chose to pitch for the underdogs.

My brothers were also good at sports. However, my brother Gary suffered from polio. He spent eleven years in and out of the hospital. When Gary finally came home with a cast, kids made fun of him. Through this experience, I learned that kids can be cruel. My brother never would have survived without someone to help him.

My mother was a school teacher before I was born. Dad was a free spirit. Senators Humphrey and McGovern came to my house to talk politics. I thought this was a normal experience that all kids had.

My parents were unable to give any money for my college. Gary’s operations nearly wiped them out. I was a good student, so I was able to receive some scholarships. However, I still had to work four jobs to pay the bills.

At my meat packing plant job, I learned not to waste. We used everything on a pig right down to the pituitary gland. Through this work experience I also realized that getting a good education was very important. I did not want to spend the rest of my life working at the plant splitting swine skulls in half.

When I graduated from college, I was offered a job teaching math at South View Middle School in Edina. While teaching there, I received a call from someone about my brother, David. He had been diagnosed with cancer. I went to see my brother David, not thinking this would be my last visit with him. Through my brother’s life and death, I learned about the impact a person can have on many other people’s lives. My brother was a teacher.

I was drafted during the Vietnam War. For two years I served as a supply officer for the Navy. When I came back from serving our country, a teacher asked me how my summer was. This reminded me that treating others with respect and making them feel like you actually care about them is important.

Now at the age of 60, I am finishing my career in education as the superintendent of Edina’s public schools. I plan to spend more time with my wife, children and grandchildren.

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Honoring Ken Dragseth

Follow Your Dreams

Follow your dreams
One thing I did as a kid
Follow your dreams
Don’t let them slip away
Follow your dreams
Think about tomorrow
Follow your dreams
Get out in the field and play!

We haven’t got time to lose
We haven’t got time to lose
The time is now!

My name is Ken Dragseth
I grew up on the farm
We all had work to do
Day and night out in
the barn
Picking eggs
Milking cows
Slopping pigs
Plowing ground
For fun I played baseball
Pitched for the hometown team
Plus for a bigger town
Part of the American League
Had to chose
Between the two
And when I did
The big town did lose!

My brother got polio
When he was only two
For the price of medical care
We could not afford to lose
Full body cast
Kids would laugh
When they did
I watched his back
Every Saturday we would drive
To Minneapolis to see him
I would go along
They would not let me in
Looking through
His window
For ten years
In the hospital
After I got my degree
Drafted to Vietnam
With others like me
Two years come and gone
When I came back
Someone asked,
“How was your summer,
Ken Dragseth?”
Choose your path in life
You may lose, you may win
Always do your best
The glory is yours in the end
Share your dreams
For all to see
Let them shine
On you and me

Words by LARRY LONG with Mr. Nathan Monseth’s
5th Grade Class of Countryside Elementary School
(Edina, Minnesota)

© Larry Long 2006 / BMI