Koerselman recognized as LCS Distinguished Alumni
Editor's Note: This is the second of two stories about Distinguished Alumni Awards presented by the Le Mars Community School District Alumni Association.
LE MARS -- Glada (Reichert) Koerselman, of Le Mars, a 1947 graduate of Le Mars High School, is one of two people honored with the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award.
The award was presented at last week's Le Mars Community Schools Foundation Banquet by Le Mars Community School District Alumni Association board member Julie Beitelspacher.
"I was totally surprised about the award," Koerselman said.
She was nominated by Bill and Janice Renken.
Koerselman has a journalistic career that has spanned more than 60 years.
Her senior year she was the editor-in-chief of The Mill, the monthly school newsletter, and art editor of the Bark, the school yearbook, according to a press release.
She was employed at the Le Mars Daily Sentinel from 1950 to 1986, where she served as editor for most of those years.
She used her column, Glad About, to spread glad tidings of the hometown she loved, through good times and bad, according to the press release.
For the last 25 years, she has served as publisher and editor of The Messenger, a weekly newsletter carrying Plymouth County courthouse news.
She has also been a correspondent for the Sioux City Journal.
She and her husband, the late Dick Koerselman, wrote and published a pictorial book, "The Round Barn," about the moving of the Round Barn to the Plymouth County fairgrounds.
As she looks back over her journalism career, Koerselman said she became interested in the newspaper business as a third grader because of a friend's father, Jerry Simon.
He worked at The Le Mars Globe Post, a competitor of the then Le Mars Semi-Weekly Sentinel.
Later she and Nancy Starzl, the daughter of the Globe Post owner Roman Starzl, became friends.
"We spent a lot of time at the Globe Post office," Koerselman recalled.
Koerselman took a journalism class as a junior in high school.
She attended four quarters of classes at Iowa State University, in Ames, before money ran out and she came back home.
Koerselman needed a job and the Sentinel owner, Chan Pitts, needed someone to help with the bookwork.
She also handled subscriptions and took news items from individuals.
"That started my writing career," Koerselman said.
She didn't go back to college.
By the time the newspaper went daily, she was named news editor.
She served as editor for 28 years.
After leaving the Daily Sentinel, she purchased the newsletter Off the Record, which covered Plymouth County courthouse business, and renamed it The Messenger.
"This is my 25th year of publishing that newsletter," Koerselman said.
Koerselman said she was always interested in the community.
Koerselman also briefly owned parts of the school building she graduated from.
It was at a public meeting where the Le Mars City Council and Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce members were discussing the portions of the Old Central High School building, that Koerselman made a decision.
"They wanted to tear the 1952 section (north end) down, turn the former roller rink building into a daycare and use the cleared area for a playground," Koerselman remembers.
A realtor said if anybody had a dollar, they'd sell that section of the building.
Koerselman said she pulled out a dollar bill and waved it at the meeting. She became the owner of the 1905 and 1952 sections of the former school building.
The Plymouth County Historical Museum was already housed in the 1928 section (south end).
Koerselman said she had six months to do something with the building.
She fought water leaks from the roof drains which had frozen and put on a new roof.
Six months later, the museum board met and agreed to take over ownership from Koerselman.
The building, she said, had sentimental value to her.
"There were three other buildings in town which meant a great deal to me that were demolished," Koerselman said. "With the school building, I had a say so in it."
The decision to spend that dollar, Koerselman said, "came out of the blue."
She's happy she did it, as the museum has grown in the years since the purchase.
Koerselman said last week's banquet was impressive, with its recognition of students, teachers and employees and showcase of student talent.
Koerselman joins Dr. Paul Summerside as a 2014 Distinguished Alumni, and Norman Barker, who received the very first Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013.
"The award means a lot," Koerselman said.
The alumni association was established in 1993, with a mission to establish a database of graduates of Le Mars Community Schools and to award scholarships to graduating seniors of LCHS through the proceeds of membership dollars and memorials.
Last year, the association decided to award a Distinguished Alumni Award in cooperation with the LCSD Foundation to recognize an alumni for outstanding contributions to their communities, Beitelspacher explained.
"This year, there were many wonderful nominations, and the decision was so difficult, that we have chosen to name two honorees this year," Beitelspacher said at the banquet.