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 The Gang That Doesn't Forget

Members of 1st Street Gang: Bob Hofstrom, Dave Williams, Tom Naughtin, Nancy Kiryluik, Bill Sorteberg, Jane Demarais, Tom Demarais, Tom Larson, and Merv Kiryluik.
First Street Gang
Honors its Unique Legacy with a Scholarship

When the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) held its Grand Opening on September 19, 2008, a former student organization found a way to remember its members.

The new LSBE building on the UMD campus is a state-of-the-art facility, three stories high, and linked to the campus with interior walkways. Many alumni, businesses, and community leaders have chosen to invest in the Labovitz School of Business and Economics through named giving opportunities. In exchange, they gain visibility in a premier business school through classrooms and other spaces that bear their name. More importantly, they have the privilege of knowing their gift has paved the way for coming generations of business leaders.

The 1st St. Gang (FSG) was delighted to learn the combined contributions of many members gave them naming rights to a seminar room in the new location—the very first room you see on entering the building. At the LSBE opening ceremonies and throughout the following day, the 1st St. Gang was recognized as a long-standing, respected group of UMD alumni.

A sign spells out the name above the entrance. It announces the 1st St. Gang seminar room, which is a tribute to those who shared the cost and to the Gang as a whole.

Inside, an authentic 1st St. Gang jersey hangs in the FSG seminar room. The jersey has significance because gear from the 1st St. Gang was a big deal. For instance, instead of a separate 1st St. girls’ organization, on the model of separate fraternities and sororities, the Gang embraced women as equal partners. Right away (as opposed to having to go through ‘pledge week’) girls got to wear the jerseys and the jackets. Jerseys were cool, and had the member’s name across the shoulder, just like the frat gear. The famous 1st St. Gang jacket was blue and white, and was embroidered with the Gang logo on the front.

The FSG seminar room in the new Labovitz School of Business and Economics building An authentic 1st St. Gang jersey hangs in a framed display.
Forty years ago the 1st St. Gang grew to become the largest school-recognized social organization on the UMD campus. It dominated intramural sports, held the best and largest parties, and attracted an incredible array of talented and friendly people. The Gang became a legend in its own right.

The original 1st St. Gang was a group of 18 UMD students who began as an informal sports organization. The name originated from the address of the house in which the founders lived, located directly up from the Pickwick, at 502 East 1st Street. As alumnus Bob Hofstrom '73 tells it, the Gang was started as a "rap against the frats." At that time, fraternities dominated intramural sports, and if you wanted to play intramural sports you had to join a fraternity. The 1st St. Gang was formed to challenge this situation. Over the years, the Gang grew from a group described as "enough guys to play football" to include well over 200 participants. The founding members, Tom Larson and Bob Hofstrom, graduated in the early 1970s, and the 1st St. Gang continued off and on for over 35 years. Children of some original members of the group have attended UMD and revived the Gang, although it never achieved the size and status it had when it started.

When Gang member Geoff Spencer was killed in an automobile accident in the fall of 2001, many members were devastated. The death of one of their own put urgency into following up the dream of a 1st St. Gang Scholarship. The scholarship exists as an endowed fund, which awards an annual scholarship of $1,000. Now Gang members promote it and contribute each year to the Geoff Spencer scholarship.

In 2009, its 40th anniversary year, the Gang is sending out an appeal for help to make the 1st St. Gang Geoff Spencer Commemorative Scholarship one of the largest scholarship funds in the School. The 1st St. Gang is currently planning to increase the fund to $100,000 and hopes to achieve an increased level of visibility to keep the Gang a “top-of-the-mind” presence for members and supporters.

Student recipients of the 1st St. Gang’s Geoff Spencer Commemorative Scholarship include:
* 2003 – Blake Onnka (Management Information Sciences)
* 2004 – Rebecca Carlson Bell (Finance and Organization Management) Danube, MN
* 2005 – Katie Goldberg (Marketing) Stewartville, MN
* 2006 – Jacob Holzem (Accounting) Elk River, MN
* 2007– Bryan Cotch (Finance) Eagan, MN
* 2008– Leo Ohmann (Marketing) Ham Lake, MN

Note: Checks should be made payable to the University
Foundation and referenced with Fund #6522
Attn: Lawrence P. Johnson
219B LSBE, 1318 Kirby Drive
Duluth, MN 55812

1st St. Gang Newsletter January 2009

Written by Bob Hofstrom of the 1st St. Gang and Jean Jacobson from the LSBE

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830

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