1955 Colfax graduate leaves $21,000 to school district

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  Those who knew Alva Misselt Speros say they are not surprised she would leave money to the Colfax school district.

“It was a fun and shocking piece of mail,” said Bill Yingst, Colfax school superintendent, who reported on receiving a check for $21,189.58 from the estate of Alva Speros at the Colfax Board of Education’s December 19 meeting. 

The check came from the Speros Family Living Trust, he noted.

Other than the check, there was no information included about Alva Speros’s connection to the Colfax school district, Yingst said.

Yingst said he had picked up the telephone and started making calls.

He discovered that Mrs. Speros’s maiden name was Misselt, and from there, he and other school staff members were able to research the district’s records and found out that Alva had graduated from Colfax High School on May 20, 1955.

Alva died in December of 2014, and her husband, Angelo, died in December of 2013.

“There are no strings attached (to the money). It’s one of those surprises. You just never know,” Yingst said. 

Classmates

One of Alva Misselt’s Colfax High School classmates is Colfax resident Ingman Ralph.

Alva Misselt went to grade school at the Misselt School, which currently serves as the Otter Creek Town Hall. Alva lived next door to the school, and the school may have even been on a corner of the Misselt farm, he said.

The Misselt School/Otter Creek Town Hall is located on county Highway S, a couple of miles north of the intersection of S and county Highway N.

Orrinne Oakland Johnson, also a 1955 graduate of Colfax High School who lives in Menomonie, said Alva Misselt was a kind, considerate and pleasant person to be around.

“I always remember her as the kind of person that if anybody needed a friend, she was there. She was always very kind and thoughtful,” Johnson said, adding that Alva also was a good student. 

“We were good friends. We were in a lot of classes together. She was always looking out for others,” she said.

Ralph and Johnson both recalled that Alva Misselt had moved to Eau Claire after high school graduation.

According to her obituary, Alva was the daughter of Christian and Dagna (Holte) Misselt and she was baptized and confirmed at the Hay River Lutheran Church. During her grade school years, she attended the Little Otter Creek School, too, which was located on what is now 1030th Avenue. 

Alva’s obituary notes that she was active in the high school band and as a cheerleader during her years at Colfax High School.

Marlys Nygaard Snyder, a resident in the Town of Otter Creek, was another classmate of Alva’s.

Snyder grew up on a farm located along state Highway 170 about four miles east of Wheeler. 

“We chummed together. I’d stay at her house, and she would come and stay at my house,” Snyder said.

“She was a cheerleader when I was too,” she added.

“She was a very nice girl,” Snyder said. 

After Alva Misselt moved to Eau Claire following her graduation from high school, she worked in various retail and clinic jobs, including several years at Samualsons Department Store, and retired in 1992 after 22 years as a medical assistant with the Medical Eye Clinic of Eau Claire, according to her obituary.

Large family

Alva came from a family of ten siblings and was survived by many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, along with a brother, Gordon Misselt of Oregon.

In addition to being preceded in death by her husband, Angelo, she was preceded in death by sisters Inez (Peterson), Wanda (Ganther), Irma (Ottinger), Frances (Frandsen), Beverly (Kirchoff), Rhoda Pappas, and brothers Phillip and Clinton Misselt.

The obituaries for both Alva and “Angie” noted that they found special satisfaction in providing for abandoned and mistreated animals and enjoyed caring for their own special pets.

Alva’s husband, Angelo, was a lifelong resident of Eau Claire and worked in the family business, the Paradise Bar and Cafe in downtown Eau Claire until 1970. He began another career in the manufactured home industry, working for Steenburg Homes before opening his own business, Holiday Homes, on state Highway 53 in Hallie, which he operated until he retired in 1999.

Luncheons 

Colfax resident Joan Scharlau is another classmate of Alva Misselt’s.

Scharlau recalls that a group of graduates from the class of 1955 would get together in Eau Claire and have lunch and that Alva would sometimes join the group for their luncheons.

“A number of gals from our class would get together every few months,” she said.

Knowing how Alva felt about animals, Scharlau said she was a little surprised that Alva Misselt Speros had not left the money to a humane society, although upon further thought, said she was not really surprised that Alva would leave money to the school district.

When asked if the Colfax school district planned to put the money from Alva Speros into a scholarship fund, Yingst said it would be up to the school board to decide what to do. 

“In my opinion, (the money) should go toward something to benefit the students,” Yingst said.

The Colfax Board of Education unanimously accepted the donation of $21,189.58 from the estate of Alva Misselt Speros. 

Other business 

In other business, the Colfax Board of Education:

• Learned that the Colfax school district’s mill rate is the fifth lowest in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference at $8.87 per $1,000 of property value, which includes the referendum amount of $7.2 million approved by the voters in the November election. The Elk Mound school district’s mill rate is $8.57. Granstburg is $7.08. Birchwood is $6.19. Webster is $5.70. If the referendum had not been approved, the Colfax mill rate would have been $8.10, Yingst said. All together, 34 other school districts have a mill rate higher than the Colfax mill rate. Glenwood City is $10.04 per $1,000 of property value, and Boyceville is $11.03. The highest mill rate in the conference is $14.64 per $1,000 of property value in the Elmwood school district. 

• Learned that $7.2 million had been wired into the school district’s account on Friday, December 16, and that the money is available now to pay for anything related to the referendum resolution. The interest rate for the $7.2 million must be locked in on March 1 or later, Yingst said. 

• Learned that the open enrollment dates for parents to submit applications online or directly to the nonresident school district is from February 6 to April 28, 2017.

• Learned that the 2017 special education budget report lists total expenditures of $1.2 million, which represents nearly 15 percent of the school district’s annual budget.

• Accepted the resignation of Brianne Link as the Colfax High School play advisor. In her letter to Yingst, Link said she hoped to be able to return as the advisor for the high school play in subsequent years but that this year, with a newborn at home, she would not be able to direct the play. Link also noted that she is willing to help whoever fills in as play advisor this year.

• Learned that students at Colfax Elementary have read a little more than 49 million words so far this year in the Accelerated Reader program and that six students have read more than one million words. One student has read more than two million words.