St. Mary's School

St. Mary's school, a fine brick building, was built in 1915 for $24,378.92. It was opened for classes in September, 1915. The present convent was purchased May 6, 1915 for $47,500 from A.J. Larson of Monona County. Four Sisters from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania were the first teachers. At the time the school was opened only 10 grades were taught. The junior and senior grades of high school were added in 1917. Boarders were also kept until 1923. In 1937 eight Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, replaced the Sisters of Mercy. The year 1929 brought Father H.A. Janse to Larchwood as the new pastor. He remained until 1949. During his administration the church was redecorated. He used many and varied projects to supplement the parish income during the hard times of the 30's. Father Janse was succeeded in 1949 by Father Charles Kneip. One of his first tasks was to have the school painted and remodeled at the total cost of $9,000.

During Father Kneip's time, St. Mary's school was exceptionally successful in baseball and basketball. On August 1, 1956 Father Kneip was transferred to Manson. He was followed by Father C.A. Knobbe. Two years later Father LeRoy Frank became the pastor. St. Mary's school had its first full time priest-superintendent in 1962 when Father Dale Koster received the appointment along with the parish of Alvord. In 1963 Father Cooper was appointed pastor when Father Frank went to Sac City. Father Dale Koster was made superintendent at St. Edmond in Fort Dodge in 1965, and was succeeded by Father Charles Bormann.

Father Cooper accepted the bids for the new grade school on March 2, 1965. The contract for $130,000 was approved and construction began. The classrooms were occupied on December 2. Formal dedication took place May 22, 1966. August 29, 1966 Father Robert Fangman took over as Pastor and Superintendent of St. Mary's. Two years later, due to the shortage of teaching sisters, St. Mary's High school closed its doors for the last time. Four hundred twelve students graduated from the high school since its beginning.

February 20, 1970 Sistor Leonard Schaffer, principal of the grade school, died as a result of an automobile accident. That spring the seventh and eighth grades were dropped, again as a result of sister shortage. September, 1971 saw 115 students enter St. Mary's in grades one through six. Father Fangmen took over as principal.

Over the years, besides the sisters and priests who have taught the students of St. Mary's, we have had dedicated lay persons doing God's work in our school. We may not have them all, but we do know of these: Sue Bauerman, Bernice Lindle, Helen Kelly, Iona Williams, Edna Roemen, William Wuebeker, Evelyn Cullinan, Gertrude Berlin, Tom Tuttle, Ann Krell, Vera Bruggeman, Mary Ann Gomer. These people have sacrificed earning more money they could have received in a public school, to help the church carry out Christ's command, "Teach all nations".

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