The Bismarck High School Class of 1981 quarterly update

The purpose of this newsletter is to provide a positive, safe and supportive environment for all classmates in which we can share our personal lives. The staff reserves the right to publish only information that we feel is within the supportive spirit of this newsletter. Information which we feel is intended to be negative, class polarizing, mean-spirited will not be published at this site. That is not the avenue we want to take with this newsletter. The staff.


Volume 69, Oct. 2008


Hi everyone, well, we are doing great!  My recovery from septic shock and then major surgery is going well!  After a five-month absence, I have finally returned to the gym and today I walked 3 miles!!   I still have a long ways to go until I am where I was, but I will get there.  Thank you so much for your prayers and your kind words; you are a wonderful group of classmates!


Our newsletter is wonderful this month, we heard from many.  Our hurricane classmates check in, Eric Fernandez has a great story to share, and many others opened their lives to all of you!  We thank you for the news!  I love that you all continue to share your lives with all of us!


Happy fall, happy winter, see ya in January!



Lauri, Dan and Wendy




“Well as many of you know, hurricane Ike happened in southeast Texas effecting some of your classmates, Victor Pfund, Mark Walker, Sue
(Wheeler) Trim, Keith Remmick, Michelle Gross and of course me (Dan Raszler) not to mention the millions of people in this region of the country.  Many people lost their homes due to flooding or tornadoes spawned off of the hurricane winds.  Some lost as little as the food in their refrigerators.  Often after the hurricane is over, after about a week or more, electricity comes back on and life goes on as usual with a few minor inconveniences
like stores that have not reopened because of damage or your favorite place to eat may never reopen because the cost of repairs not covered by
insurance are to great putting an end to the dreams of the business owner/operator trying to make a living. 

Bridge City, Texas with a population of over 5,000 was entirely flooded with the exception of four homes.  Those homeowners feel like they won the lottery just having their home spared of damage.  This wasn't just a little water but on average most homes and businesses averaged four feet of water in them.  As of Sept, 23rd, no one lives in Bridge City.  There is temporary housing set up for the residents but it's still not home.   Electric poles lean over from the 100 plus mph wind.  Many electric poles made of metal were curled over as though they were melted. 

So this day as you go home to a loving spouse, enjoy a home cooked meal and have movie night with your family or friends, go to work with a job that will be there tomorrow and the next day and the next, give thanks to God for everything you have because you never know when you will lose it all if ever.  The future is unknown but there is one thing that you can always have, a relationship with God. “   Dan Raszler

In another e-mail I asked Dan how he was doing and he sent this update….

“Keith was on the clean side of the hurricane so he probably only had nice surfing waves if he likes to surf.  Michelle was far enough from
hurricane Ike that the most she probably got was some wind.  Mark and Victor probably lost their electricity and had the inconvenience of
having to leave.  All I lost was the content in my fridge.  The best part is FEMA covered a lot of stuff that you would normally think wouldn't be like I was in the hospital in Masonville, Tx. (in the Dallas area-he had an infection) and they took care of that bill and then they also took care of my medication after I got out.  I was very impressed.  Nearly all vegetation here has turned brown because of the salt water that the hurricane brought in.  It looks like we have not had rain for 6 months.  The salt water distresses the vegetation.  When you have flooding like we did then the water takes a long time to drain off.  When salt hits vegetation, it draws the plants moisture out.” 
Dan Raszler

Hi Lauri, Thanks for checking on us.  We were spared from everything.  No wind, no rain.  Corpus Christi shut down all schools and some businesses for a couple of days anticipating land fall from Ike, but we were the lucky ones.  I really don't know how much longer we can continue dodging these storms, but two got awfully close for comfort this year.  Lets hope that’s all for now.”   Keith Remmick

This was the worst I've been through. We are way in land so we got mostly wind and water damage--had power back in 4 days, we were very lucky. I heard the Woodlands were hit pretty badly, which is where I think Mark lives. I believe Sue lives real close to the coast has anybody heard from her? “   Victor Pfund

Yes we are ok....I am sick and tired of hurricanes. Hopefully this is it for a couple of yrs. We didn’t have near the damage in Ike that we did 3 yrs ago for Rita. We had about 60,000 damage for Rita and just a few minor things this time. These things have tornado spin offs and they are wicked. I will send you some pics of the damage. The surge was around 17 ft and a lot of people lost everything, as they didn’t have flood or not enough. You can go on KFDM.com and follow all the news. They have pics and interviews, along with area news. Thanks for asking~~”  Sue (Wheeler) Trim

No problem. We were out of power and water for 4 days and the kid's school was closed for 8 days. We didn't have any big trees come down but people all around us did!”  Michelle (Gross)


Tom Gerhart is still in India, and if you watch the national news then you know life is turbulent in that part of the world. 
He sent me this thought recently, it will make you think the next time you talk a walk in your neighborhood.   Can’t imagine…

”I am thinking about the eeriness of hearing what sounded like thunder on our customary evening walk 13 Sep.
As it turns out it was bombs blowing people up.  The bombs sent 20 poor souls to meet their maker & left scores injured.” 



The following is from Sara Jensen-Fritz.  She promises to share more info. as it comes available. 


“I have written a children's book (along with two of my colleagues) that will be published in late November/ December.
My colleagues and I have formed a company that will be producing innovative products for children that focus on positive solution-oriented topics/approaches.  This first book is directed at children who have loved ones deployed in the military.  If any classmates want more info, they can email me at csfritz@arvig.net.  Laurie, I will get more information out to you when our press release kit and website are ready to go.  Thank you for sharing.   Our mission is to help children everywhere create great things, celebrate life and be happy!”

 Joren Johnson, Kelly Falconer Johnson’s 24 year old son, was named the Missoula (MT) Varsity
High School
 hockey head coach for the 2008-2009 season.   



In The News

The following is from Eric Fernandez

“I have two nieces who are inflicted with SMA, spinal muscular atrophy, which is a terminal disease and has them wheelchair bound.  Their parents (my brother and sister in law) bought their home before they had children, which was a bi-level and impossible to get the heavy self powered wheel chairs in or around the house; due to the stairs, etc.

Well after years of our family and community trying to raise funds to help the family build or buy a ranch style house so the girls could get around the house, Extreme home makeovers, Ty Pennington showed up at their front door with the bull horn yelling good morning Akers family.

So the good news I wanted to share with the class was this Sunday, Oct 5th, watch ABC's Extreme Home Makeover.  See my family and see my nieces be given freedom to live in their home and change lives around them.”     Eric Fernandez


The following was submitted by Kelly (Falconer) Johnson.  This story is an update on her brother, who has been missing for over 27 years.  She wanted to share it with all of you. 

Mother at peace with son's disappearance 27 years ago

Bismarck Tribune

When the photograph of the young Marine emerges during an old, videotaped television story, the proud look of a mother crosses Dorothy Falconer's face.

"That's my son," she says, smiling and pointing at the television.

Falconer looks near tears at several points in the story, but she puts the smile back on her face each time.

"That's kind of a tear-jerker," she says.

This week marked the 27th anniversary of the disappearance of her son, Bruce, and his friend, Tim Jewell. Jewell's body was found in 1992 by a hunter, but Bruce has never been found. His disappearance is the only open missing person case in the Burleigh County Sheriff's Department.

In February of 1981, Bruce Falconer was a newly promoted sergeant in the Marines, which he joined at age 16 with his mother's approval. He was home in Bismarck on leave before being transferred to Yuma, Ariz. He spent his time on leave catching up with old friends, including Jewell, his friend since grade school.

According to Tribune files, Falconer and Jewell went to a few bars on the night of Feb. 20, 1981, then went in Falconer's Blazer to the "Desert" south of Bismarck along the Missouri River after the bars closed.

Dorothy Falconer was in California that weekend, attending her daughter's wedding. When she returned home, on either Sunday or Monday, her younger daughter told her Bruce had not come home since Friday night. A few days later, Dorothy Falconer's brother found Bruce's Blazer "mired in mud," stuck at the Desert. Nearby was a campfire and cigarette butts.

Burleigh County Sheriff Pat Heinert was an investigator with the department then, less than a year into detective work. He worked to organize searches with the case agent, Jerry Theisen, bringing in three-wheelers, horse posses and other volunteers to search. Psychics put in their two cents. They found no sign of the two men.

"We worked it real hard — put a lot of hours in, and rightfully so," Heinert said.

During the first, intense period of searching, Dorothy Falconer worried and wept.

"I just cried and walked the floors," she said. "I didn't sleep; I didn't eat."

But in time, she decided she couldn't spend her life grieving. She didn't want her other three children or her grandchildren to see her as a bitter and grief-filled woman.

"One day, I just decided, this isn't right," she said.

Bruce's birthday, July 16, and the month of February were hard on Dorothy Falconer for a few years, but time has made them easier to handle.

"My family and I don't dwell on the disappearance," she said. "We remember Bruce's life, his personality, his accomplishments."

Rumors about the disappearances, such as one about Bruce going "AWOL" from the Marines, were hard on her, as were people calling her with their theories about what happened.

"He was making a career of (the military)," she said. "That's how I knew he didn't go AWOL."

She also knew from early on her son was likely dead — she didn't believe he would have left behind his Blazer or paychecks, nor would he have gone away without talking to her. The Marines declared him dead five years after his disappearance.

"I kind of thought so right away," she said.

In December 1992, a hunter found a skeleton at the Desert. There was a good possibility that the remains belonged to either Bruce Falconer or Jewell, but the sheriff's department wanted to make sure, Heinert said.

"We didn't want to give either family any false hopes," he said.

Determining whose remains they were was trickier than it would be today, because DNA testing was not common. A new dentist in town had some forensic training, and he determined that the remains were those of Jewell.

Heinert said he knew the announcement would be helpful to one family and hard on another.

"That was terribly hard," Dorothy Falconer agreed.

After consulting with other coroners and medical examiners, the coroner determined Jewell's likely cause of death was exposure, Heinert said.

Dorothy Falconer sobbed at Jewell's funeral, her grief coming either from her son not being found or the finalization of knowing her son's fate was likely the same.

Not finding her son's body has not increased her grief, which she said is "probably no more than anyone who has lost a loved one."

She still thinks of her son every day. Her grandsons remind her of him, and his medals are still in her home. Sometimes conversations will remind her of stories of him.

"Anyone who knew Bruce knew he had a great personality. He had such charisma," she said. "He was so dedicated. I know that's why he was such a good Marine. He could be such a fighter."

She credits the Burleigh County Sheriff's Department for keeping her in the loop over the years and working hard to find her son. The sheriff at the time of the disappearance, Bob Harvey, had been her classmate, and Theisen's mother baby-sat Dorothy Falconer's children.

Heinert inherited the case from Theisen when the latter left the department. Over the years, the case has been passed to other investigators, the case file never far from a detective's desk. It's been years since the department received tips on the case, but investigators checked out even the most unlikely possibilities.

"We've never closed the case, and we never will," Heinert said.

(Reach reporter Jenny Michael at 250-8225 or jenny.michael@bismarcktribune.com.)


Our Sympathies to all of you…

Our sympathies to Keith Mantz and his family.  His mother, Videll passed on Sept. 6th in Wishek.  .

Our sympathies to the entire Tammy Pettis Sine, and her family.  Her mother-in-law, Francis Sine, passed away on 9/16/08.