Former student hand-delivers teacher's award

Wayne Motzko drove to Crosby to give Frank Perpich his award.

When his former biology teacher couldn't make the All-School Reunion to receive the 2019 Scholar of Excellence Award, Wayne Motzko, class of '78, drove to Crosby to hand-deliver it.

The teacher, Frank Perpich, was known for bringing the science of biology to life for his students and for his commitment to excellence. Motzko described him as “one of the finest teachers I've ever had.”

That was especially apparent to Motzko when he took a freshman biology class at the University of Minnesota. “Mr. Perpich had already taught us everything I had in that college class; it was a piece of cake.”

Always referring to his teacher as Mr. Perpich — “heaven forbid, I would never call him Frank” — Motzko took his teacher to lunch in his hometown of Crosby, making the drive up and back Oct. 28.

“We talked about kids and cellphones, and how things are different today,” said the Vadnais Heights resident. “Mr. Perpich was old-school. He always wore a suit and tie. The beauty of his class was he taught us life lessons and common sense before we ever opened a book. He was wise beyond his years.”

Today the former teacher, an 87-year-old bachelor, enjoys a laid-back life in Crosby, in the house he grew up in. His mind is still sharp but his body is frail, Motzko said. “He never had children, but he always looked out for us. Every Friday, he'd remind us 'to buckle up and stay within the ditches.' He is just a saint of a man and one of White Bear's legendary teachers.”

Debra Neutkens

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