Jack Albinson '50
“I may be one of the only surviving classmates of the class of 1950—that generation has mainly passed.“ Jack was born in 1932 and he is now 87 years old. The average man who entered the workforce in the early 1900’s lived to be 52 years old. His Minnehaha Academy and Wheaton College friends are mostly gone.
Jack attended Minnehaha his freshman through senior years on the heels of the Great Depression. He was not there during the Great Depression, but his folks had been involved with MA during the Great Depression as supporters. Times were so hard that some teachers had taken IOU’s in place of salaries. Professor Robert Pearson, the choir director, was in great demand, but he stayed with MA even though he had many other opportunities. “He made MA a musical landmark at that point in time,” Albinson says. All of the teachers during that time sacrificed a great deal to stay at the school. They earned extra income from working off season, like managing summer Bible Camps. One out of 4-5 people were unemployed, and the giving picture was dismal. “Helping Hands” was a movement out of First Covenant Church started by A.L. Skoog (the great Covenant leader and music director) that challenged the congregation to collectively give $10/year to Minnehaha--which was a sacrifice for a lot of people.
Jack’s family went to First Covenant Church, and he was raised there. At the time, it was a “wing of MA” with Dr. Paul Reese, Senior Pastor. Dr. Reese was in great demand on the national scene as a Conference speaker, a recognized author on New Testament themes and a key member of the Academy Board of Trustees. The Albinsons lived in the Phillips neighborhood in South Minneapolis, which was blocks from the center of crime in Minneapolis —AND the entire 5-state area. Jack had some problems getting into trouble. His mom was ”awfully glad” when they were able to afford to send him to MA.
Trouble and Grace
Unfortunately, trouble followed him to Minnehaha. “How this school ever allowed me to attend for more than a handful of days has mystified me for close to seven decades”, Albinson says. Jack taunted Harry Opel because of something Harry had said during Chapel service. He was so insulting with his remarks that he and Harry had a “knock down drag out” outside Harry’s office. Jack told his Latin teacher who he felt embarrassed him in front of his classmates, “I will kill you.” He is amazed that the school stuck with him, and doesn’t believe he would have lasted today. Jack says, “I remember it as clearly as I am talking to you right now. My poor little Irish mother was constantly called out to the school because it was just one thing after another.”
Everything changed his Junior year during the school’s special fall meetings. They were wrapping up their week of meetings, and the final speaker was the President of the Academy, Pastor Anderson. Jack had “‘not been listening all week really” but when it came time for a decision, something happened inside him. “I was taken wonderfully in hand by the Holy Spirit and it was a miracle; my life was totally changed. I had an encounter with Jesus and a personal experience of real salvation.” His friend John Hallsten walked through this transformation with him and helped him by “getting this thing settled,” praying with and talking to him about what was happening.
Everyone noticed a change in him. As a believer, his relationships with the teachers completely changed. Harry Opel and he became good friends. After graduation and many years down the road, Harry would call and ask Jack to pick him up to attend a great program together at the Academy. He had lost his sight and his wife had passed away. Jack did this often. The Latin teacher he threatened to kill? “We got to be wonderful friends. She did a prearrangement with me for her funeral and burial. I was to come early, have lunch, and sit in the place that had been hers as a child.”
Jack went from MA to Wheaton College, then to the University of Minnesota for an associate degree in Mortuary Science. His ticket to Wheaton was to play football. MA gave him strong fundamentals to do just that. He then went into the service --in a hurry--because it was war time. He was in the service from ‘56-’66. (Active service and time in reserves) After serving in the military, he moved home and became involved with the work of the Albin Chapel.
Jack’s family has a rich legacy at Minnehaha Academy. His aunt and uncle went to MA around 1919. His brother (Ralph ‘46) and his son and daughter (Paul ‘80 and Julia ‘82) are all graduates. He’s watched Julia’s three children (Jacob ’08, Sarah ’10, Anna ’13) all graduate, and this year, Paul’s son Hezekiah will graduate. (Paul also has another son at MA, Caleb ’21). All-together, he’s had 100 years and four generations of family at MA. His son-in-law, Scott Scholl, is a current math teacher and coach.
Today, Jack is living in Florida. He attributes his long life and health to swimming laps daily and keeping his mind active by writing books. He has written seven books, with two books in the works now. His most successful books have been on auto racing themes. These combined with film making, radio work (Light in the Night-KTIS), banquet speaking, track-side and television commentary have allowed him to share God’s word with countless people.
To the Students
Jack’s advice to current students? “Get with the teachers and coaches--they care for you and they can be life changing. Treasure every one of them. You won’t have this for the rest of your life, but you have a chance now with these incredible people.”