A Prep School Education Leads to a Life of Serving God by Serving Others
Ted Fust ’80
Ted Fust’s mother ran the school lunch program at his Catholic elementary and middle school, St. Anne’s in Minneapolis, so the commitment to Catholic education ran deep in the Fust home. As his middle school years drew to a close, Ted was prepared to attend Totino-Grace High School in Fridley until his 8th grade math teacher, Steve Markoe* ’62, a Prep School alumnus, suggested he take a look at Saint John’s Prep. So, in the spring of 1976, Ted took a tour of the Prep School where he was joined by Steve and fellow alumnus Joel Strangis ’66, who was serving as Director of Development at the Prep School.
Ted recalls, “I absolutely loved it. We had the whole place to ourselves as Prep students were on Spring Break. It was amazing. I made a promise with my mom that day, that if I attended, I would stick it out for at least a year. As they say, the rest is history.”
While not always easy, it was one of the best decisions Ted ever made. “I hate to admit it, but I was terribly homesick. It probably took me almost six months to settle in and find a core group of friends. As spring rolled around, my outlook changed and there would be no turning back.”
As Ted reflects on his Prep School experience, he smiles proudly when talking about his days at Prep and the lessons he learned. “I was just a scrawny, average 13-year-old kid from Minneapolis when I arrived in the fall of 1976. Prep really taught me about self-discipline. I learned that when it came down to it, I was in charge of my own success. That realization impacted every aspect of my life at Prep from the athletic teams I participated on to the classroom. I was only as good as I allowed myself to become.”
That hard work and perseverance allowed Ted to successfully complete his studies at Prep and enroll at Macalester College, earning degrees in German and Economics. Early in his career, an opportunity arose for Ted to put both his German and Economics degree to work for a multi-national corporation who had a contract with the U.S. Air Force in Germany. Shortly before he was to leave, Ted contracted an illness, which ended that dream and kept him stateside. However, the story has a happy ending. After several career moves, Ted met his wife Connie and they settled into their careers in the Twin Cities area where they raised their two children.
For the last thirty-one years, Ted has gained the respect of his colleagues and climbed the ladder at Twin City Garage Door where he currently serves as Vice-President of Safety and Risk. “Prep truly prepared me for the jobs I have had and the one I hold today. Prep taught me the importance of getting along with others. While not nearly diverse then as Prep is today, I had exposure to people of different faiths, races, religions, and financial backgrounds. You cannot survive in the world today, in work or in life, if you cannot find ways to get along and respect the experiences and realities of others. In the end, we are all human beings. I made it my mission to know everyone by name in the school. I am proud to say that when I graduated in 1980, I knew the first and last names of all the students. Showing respect for everyone is really important.”
That commitment to respecting and honoring others is core to Ted’s existence. Building relationships and serving God by serving others is what makes Ted a truly remarkable example of what it means to live a life of purpose, service and achievement, which we hope all Preps will aspire. In addition to his years of managing and playing on numerous community baseball teams, Ted and his wife Connie established a block club in their Plymouth, MN neighborhood and for twenty-five years have hosted National Night Out events. But it doesn’t stop there. Ted was a member of the Hamel Lions, served as a chaperone on senior high mission trips to Jamaica and Alaska where Ted put his handyman skills to work building living accommodations for those in need.
As COVID-19 hit this spring and the need for food nearly tripled at their parish’s sister parish in Minneapolis, Ted became involved and assisted in the efforts by delivering nearly a ton of food every week for six weeks to the Phillips neighborhood. A seed was planted at Prep as to why it’s important to serve others. “When I was a student at Prep, one of the monks would take a number of us over to the Cambridge State Hospital to work with some of the patients. It helped me understand and appreciate that the underprivileged are people who need and deserve our care and attention.”
Ted is quick to point out that Saint John’s Prep’s strong reputation is something everyone can be proud of. “Prep isn’t without its blemishes. However, in the end, Preps are known to be good, honest, caring, hard-working people. I am proud to be a Prep. I was an average student who prospered. I learned that the world could be mine if I was willing to strive for it.” While Prep has changed since the late 70’s, Ted is quick to point out that parents continue to send their children to Prep for some of the same reasons parents did when he was a student. “Prep is a safe place where kids can develop a sense of self-identity and be proud of who they are. Every kid deserves a chance, and I want to do what I can to give all kids a chance. I enjoy finding ways to use my time, talents, and treasure to give back to a place that gave me so much. I hope my presence in the building is a reminder to the students that it is important to participate in the life of the school after they graduate. While writing a check always helps, giving of your time is just as important. I hope I can help plant that seed. I want to do what I can to see the Prep School tradition lives on for generations to come.”
Ted Fust epitomizes what it means to live a life of purpose, service, and achievement. You make us proud to call you a Prep.
In celebration of their 40th class reunion, Ted and fellow classmates, Paul Jungquist and Mary Jo Leighton led an effort to raise money to construct new locker rooms for Prep School student athletes. In addition to soliciting gifts from classmates and offering a gift himself, Ted committed hours of his time to assist with design and construction of the new locker rooms.
*Steve passed away in February of 2014 at the age of 70. We continue to keep Steve and all Prep School alumni who have passed away in our prayers.