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“This is our goal and purpose…” The story of the Tello family | Bismarck State College

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“This is our goal and purpose…” The story of the Tello family

Published: Aug 02 2019
The story of the Tello family – Francisco and Bertha and their ten children – is an All-American story. There’s a first generation father, a mother raised on a farm in the Midwest, musical children, a focus on education, a dozen people sharing two bathrooms, and success through hard work. It’s also a love story with “Mama” and “Papa” Tello at the heart of it.
Bertha and Francisco met as students at Central College in Pella, Iowa, in 1943. She was a music major from southern Minnesota. He came from Panama on a scholarship. She tutored him in English. They fell in love and married, eventually bringing their growing family to Bismarck when Francisco, a bacteriologist, became the head of the laboratory at St. Alexius Hospital.
In a tribute book written after Bertha’s death in 2008, Francisco writes of a visit home and his ailing father’s request that he bring his family to Panama and take over the family ranch. After much thought, Francisco and Bertha declined. Francisco remembered telling his father that the couple had a different dream for their children.
“We want to raise them and educate them in the United States. We want to help them receive a good education in whatever field they want to study. We want them to become professionals and be good and respected citizens to serve the community where we live. This is our goal and purpose in life for our family.”

Nine of the 10 Tellos graduated from Bismarck High School, and all 10 attended what was then Bismarck Junior College (BJC) in pursuit of the “good education” desired by their parents. Most went on to earn additional degrees.

Continue reading this story written for the Summer 2019 issue of BSC Magazine.