Business Owner Works to Complete Degree after More Than 50 Years

Business Owner Works to Complete Degree after More Than 50 Years

After more than 50 years of leaving college without a bachelor’s degree, Rock Springs resident and local business owner Daryl Fellbaum is just one course away from receiving his diploma.

At 73 years old, Daryl decided it was time to return to North Dakota State University, in Fargo, N.D., and obtain that bachelor’s degree. However, he didn’t return to college in the traditional sense. Daryl said it’s always been something weighing on his mind and something he’s wanted to finish and thanks to NSDU’s move to online classes and their Degree Completion Program, it’s becoming a reality.

After graduating from high school, Daryl attended NDSU from 1967 to 1971 in pursuit of history, education, and geography majors. According to Daryl, he had more than than enough credits at 283 to graduate, however he was working 60 hours a week and unable to complete the student/teaching requirement hours needed to graduate.

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At that time, Daryl was working for and ran King Leo’s drive in and was making a lot of money so he decided to leave NDSU without the degree.

“I just finally quit and kept running the restaurant,” he said.

Over the years, Daryl has worked for and owned many restaurants. When he was working as the district manager for Country Kitchen while in North Dakota, he was asked to move to Rock Springs to act as the district manager for that region and purchase the Country Kitchen restaurant. He bought a house, the restaurant, and the family moved to Rock Springs.

“It’s the best thing to ever happen to me honestly,” Daryl said.

While he had different business ventures, he most known for owning Bombers and Marty’s before he thought he was going to retire after he sold it. However, retirement just didn’t work for Daryl.

“I didn’t really take me long to realize I don’t really have any hobbies. I don’t hunt or fish. I don’t golf. I just got the itch to do something new,” he said.

Daryl was looking at possibly buying a little diner to run. However, someone suggested instead of a diner he buy the old Coyote Creek building and open up a restaurant there. Now, Daryl owns the Boars Tusk Steakhouse.

Even though Daryl opened another restaurant it is only open in the evenings, which provided Daryl with more free time and he saw that as an opportunity to obtain his degree.

I wanted to finish what I started. It might have been a long time ago, but I always wanted to go back and finish.

~ Daryl Fellbaum

When he found out he could finish his degree online and he only had to complete four classes, he could see his goal was within reach. Instead of walking across the NDSU campus during snow storms, he was taking classes online in the comfort of his own home. But the online aspect did have its challenges.

“At first it was a struggle because I wasn’t familiar with blackboard and things,” he said.

Blackboard is an online learning tool that can replace or supplement traditional face-to-face classes. Luckily, the first class he took, environmental science, was so interesting that he didn’t mind reading the book online instead of having a physical copy. Instead of being in front of the professor, he would be listening to their seminars on the computer.

Another adjustment was test taking. Daryl said when he took a test online it was timed, so in most cases he only had an hour to complete the test. “Once you start, you have to get it done. You can’t change your mind and do other things,” he said.

So far, Daryl has taken Environmental Science, English, and Logic. His last and final class he will take in the fall will be in Health.

“I’m proud to say I’ve got an A in every one of them,” Daryl said. “When you’re only taking one course, it’s a lot easier to focus on it.”

Daryl just doesn’t want to pass that health class, but he is setting his sights on getting another A and then obtaining his diploma. He said a lot of people often ask him why he is pursing the degree after all this time when he’s a successful businessman. His response is it’s just something he feels he needs to finish.

“I’m going to walk across the stage when I get my diploma,” Daryl said. “I know that sounds foolish, but it’s really a goal of mine.”

Daryl is already looking forward to the graduation ceremony that will take place in December of 2023. He said he has family in Fargo and they are looking forward to the celebrating the special day with him.