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Doug and Sally Larsen with UND men's basketball player Patrick Mitchell.
Picture of generosity, former basketball player gives back
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Updated: Sunday 09/01/2010 10:55:09 (ET)
by Josh Morton, UND Alumni Association
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He's been around the world and has the pictures to prove it. Doug Larsen's eye for photography is impressive and you only have to go as far as his basement to see pictures of some of the most beautiful places he's been, but still one of his favorites? Any sporting event involving the University of North Dakota. 

"We get to any game we can," said Larsen an hour before teeing off in a Sioux-Per Swing golf tournament this summer. 

Going to events like the Sioux-Per Swing gives the 78 year old a chance to reflect on his time as a student-athlete at UND. 

"The years I spent at UND playing basketball and golf (1951, '52) were just plain wonderful and I met wonderful people. Coming from a small town (Casselton, N.D.), UND exposed me to a lot of new things. It helped prepare me for my career, not just in the classroom, but other things that have been important the rest of my life."

A life that included over 50 years as owner of Ben Franklin stores in the region.  Larsen says he's been "blessed" with the chance to give back to UND. He and his wife Sally established an endowment that benefits both the College of Business and Public Administration and UND athletics. They've been Fighting Sioux Club members since day one and a few years ago they also made a five year commitment to fund a men's basketball Impact Scholarship. In September they got to meet Patrick Mitchell, the recipient of the Larsen's Impact Scholarship at the UND Athletics Donor Social.

"That was really neat and it's the first time we've given to an organization and had contact with the person receiving the scholarship," Larsen said. "It's really special to be able to sit next to a recipient and hear his story how he got to UND and he's able to live his dream because of a scholarship." 

"Doug and Sally set a wonderful example, not just for former student-athletes but for all alumni, " said UND Athletics Director Brian Faison. "Scholarships are our biggest need and the Larsen's support us 3 different ways: endowment, Fighting Sioux Club, and Impact Scholarships. It doesn't get any better than that."

Talk about making an impact. No doubt Larsen shared his story about the basketball facilities in the 1950s and moving from the old armory to the "new fieldhouse" which is now called Hyslop Sports Center.

"It was absolutely like going to Madison Square Garden for us," Larsen said. "We thought it was an unbelievable facility."

The Larsens now sit comfortably at the Alerus Center, the Betty, and the Ralph for Sioux home games and as Fargo Sioux fans look forward to next year's basketball game versus North Dakota State. 

As for his ability as a photographer, Doug served as a photo officer in the Air Force after leaving UND. He's now the picture of generosity giving back to his alma mater every chance he gets.

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