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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Oats LeGrand - A Legend Passes Away

By Craig Olson

Odis “Oats” LeGrand is dead.  The man who delighted radio listeners with over 4,000 broadcasts of local sporting events throughout the Lakes Area for over 45 years passed away at noon on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 in Valley City, North Dakota.  His distinctive voice and unique style on the radio became legendary, so much so that Sports Illustrated recognized him as the “Voice of Small Town America” in 1985.

 

LeGrand received many honors over the years.  Among them, induction into the Minnesota Coaches Hall of Fame (1974), Fergus Falls Chamber of Commerce Sports Hall of Fame (1986, charter member) and the District 544 Hall of Fame (2003, distinguished service category).  He was twice named Minnesota Sportscaster of the Year.

 

LeGrand was hired in 1951 as an elementary physical education instructor and later taught at the junior high school.  He was also a coach at Fergus Falls High School and Fergus Falls Community College.  Oats coached the 1960 VFW baseball team to a state championship and once coached the Fergus Falls High School wrestling team to an undefeated season.

 

He served as Fergus Falls Recreation Director during the summers and was instrumental in organizing several tournaments including the Governor’s Track Meet.

 

Oats would have turned 96 years old on Sunday, September 2.  He is survived by his wife Eunice and their son Steve, two granddaughters and several great grandchildren.

 

Steve has informed us that funeral services will be held on Saturday at the First Church of the Nazarene, 913 Riverview Drive in Valley City, North Dakota.  The time of the service is 11:00am.  Interment will be in the Nidaros Luthern Church Cemetary in Vining at four o'clock Saturday afternoon.  People who wish to send a card to Eunice and Steve can do so by sending it to Steve LeGrand, 1224 Central Avenue North, Valley City, North Dakota, 58072.

 

I had the privilege of working alongside Oats, learning from him, enjoying his company and observing the joy his work gave him.  He had a passion for what he did whether it was teaching, coaching or broadcasting.  He was also my uncle and was very instrumental in my coming to Fergus Falls.  When my wife and I returned to Minnesota after spending six years out of state we went on a job search.  One of my first stops was to see Uncle Oats and Aunt Eunice on East Battle Lake.  Since Oats was in the business I thought he might have some information on what jobs were out there.  He said, “Fergus Falls”.  It was 1981 and Oats was about to turn 65 and retire from the daily duties he had on the radio.  He still wanted to do games and did so for another 17 years, but his retirement created an opportunity.  So, on his advice, I went and paid a visit to Bud Nornes who was the Operations Manager of KBRF at the time.  Thankfully, Bud hired me.  Thanks, Oats for encouraging me to investigate Fergus Falls as a possible place of employment.  Thanks for your support in my career and for all the great things you did for kids through your many different roles in this community and the surrounding area.  You were truly a one of a kind.

 

For some great information on Oats LeGrand visit these articles online.

 

http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2003/01/31_rehab_oats/

 

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1120127/index.htm

 

http://www.craigolsonsports.com/newsarticle.php?yid=0405&nid=5914&print=yes

 

Google Oats LeGrand for more.

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