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Pat Rosenbrock, Bemidji State University professor emeritus, stands beside her portrait for the BSU and Northwest Minnesota Women's Hall of Fame. She and the late Dolores Clack were inducted at a ceremony Saturday. Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron

Northwest Minnesota Women's Hall of Fame: Bemidji, Park Rapids women inducted

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Patricia Rosenbrock and the late Dolores P. Clack were inducted into the Northwest Minnesota Women's Hall of Fame during a ceremony Saturday in the Bemidji State University Beaux Arts Ballroom.

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Christina Kippenhan, BSU professor of physical education, health and sport, nominated Rosenbrock and cited the emeritus professor as a woman who pioneered women's athletics and inspired her and her generation.

"Pat, you're my hero," Kippenhan said in her introduction. "I think you're our hero."

Clack, who died 10 years ago, was introduced by her sons, Justin and Jim, and Diane Dennis, who started work at 19 for Clack and is now a manager and part owner of the Park Rapids real estate business Clack started in 1983.

Mary Hrenchir, the keynote speaker for the event, is a BSU associate professor of history. She reflected the 2009 Northwest Minnesota Hall of Fame and BSU and Northwest Minnesota Foundation Women's Fund theme: Women in Conservation - Taking the Lead to Save Our Plant.

Hrenchir focused on accomplishments of women during the Great Depression and the tradition of women conserving family, community, citizenship and morals throughout generations.

The Hall of Fame ceremony serves as the official kickoff to the BSU women's studies program month-long series of events to celebrate March as Women's History Month.

In her acceptance speech, Rosenbrock, who helped inaugurate the Northwest Minnesota Women's Hall of Fame in 1998, said her mother, Jane Rosenbrock, was her inspiration.

She said her mother wanted to go to college, but was a child of the Great Depression whose parents lost everything. As a fallback, Jane went to beauty school and opened her own salon in 1937 when she was 19. Rosenbrock said her mother wasn't a feminist, but always a social activist who reached out to others. She offered the example of her mother going to prisons to do women's hair on Sundays, her only day off.

Rosenbrock segued to her love of sports when she was a child growing up in rural Nevada. She said she played baseball with the boys and was welcomed by them. But she said when she showed up with her male teammates during Little League organization, the coach told her she couldn't play because she was a girl.

"I ran home crying," Rosenbrock recalled.

She said her mother explained to her that there were some things girls just couldn't take part in, and "You'll just have to get used to it.

"I never did," Rosenbrock said, to prolonged audience applause.

Rosenbrock arrived in Bemidji as a professor and coach at BSU in 1969 when women's athletics were just beginning.

"Talk about opportunity - talk about timing," she said.

Over the ensuing four decades, she became an advocate for women and one of the most recognized figures in women's athletics in the region.

An eventual member of the university's Athletic Hall of Fame, Rosenbrock coached a number of sports at BSU working with women. Of the 30 female athletes in BSU's Athletic Hall of Fame, 11 played for Rosenbrock.

In 1987, she was named director of the women's studies program at Bemidji State, and was instrumental in the university's establishment of a minor in women's studies in 1990. She also played a key role in the creation of "Dust and Fire," a writing anthology for women published annually by the university. The 2006 edition was dedicated to her for her guidance, support and faith in women through her decades of service to the university and the region.

She taught physical education and women's studies classes at BSU until her retirement in 2006. She was also a strong advocate for the university's compliance with the federal Title IX guidelines.

Rosenbrock said the actions of the foremothers should inspire everyone.

"When you honor me, you honor all the women on whose shoulders I stand," she said.

Clack was born in 1932 and moved to Erskine, Minn., when she was 9.

Her eldest son, Jim Clack, said there weren't enough boys in the 1940s in Erskine to make a high school basketball team, so his mother played on the boys' team. A scout for the professional All-American Red Heads women's barnstorming basketball team saw her play and recruited her, he said.

After leaving the team, she moved to California and attended Sacramento City College. She attended classes while working full time, putting herself through college and two years of law school while working at a grocery store.

In 1977, after becoming a single parent with five children, she returned to Minnesota and started a career in real estate. She opened her own brokerage, Dolores P. Clack Real Estate, in 1983 in Park Rapids, and it grew to be the top office in the Midwest region for four of the six years before her death in 1999.

Dennis said she can't imagine where her life would have taken her if she had not met Clack.

"She knew that honesty and integrity are the key to running a successful business," Dennis said. "She led by example."

Dennis said she still thinks "What would Dolores do?" when she has to solve a perplexing problem.

Clack's business continues today in the same location, with many of the same employees who had worked for her for years.

Clack was affiliated with numerous organizations throughout her life, including the National Federation of Independent Business, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Park Rapids Business and Professional Women and Park Rapids Chamber of Commerce. She also served a term as president of the Detroit Lakes/Park Rapids Board of Realtors and was a licensed real estate appraiser for residential and commercial properties. During her time in California, she owned a business and operated a farm.

Clack was known for her philanthropy in the community, helping many people become more successful in business, while caring for her family, including raising two grandchildren in the last years of her life.

For more information or to receive a complete schedule of Women's History Month events, contact Louis Jackson with the BSU social work program at 755-2803 or via email at ljackson@bemidjistate.edu. Information is also available on the Northwest Minnesota Foundation's Web site at http://www.nwmf.org.

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