Hunter Hall of Fame

Edgar George Felten

Born 1898
Died 1980

Edgar Felten was a beloved music teacher at Denfeld, and the man who wrote the school’s alma mater.

He was born in Sheboygan, Wis. At age 14, while attending Concordia Academy High School, he earned a scholarship to the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, where he gained a reputation as a piano player. He graduated from Concordia Academy when World War I was underway. He went to Lake Forest College, a student army training school, to prepare for officer’s school or the infantry, but the war ended and he returned to Sheboygan to work at Kohler plumbing and later Falls Motors as a mechanic.

Felten joined a four-piece orchestra and played dance music as the swing era was blossoming. He put his sister through college with his earnings and she suggested he go back to college. He attended Milwaukee State Teacher’s College and received a degree in vocal music because to be a teacher one had to be versed in instrumental and vocal music. He could play piano, clarinet, cello, violin and trumpet.

He met and married Myrtle Thompson and accepted an offer to teach in Duluth at Lincoln Junior High School. He stayed there from 1930 until 1941, when Denfeld’s music instructor George Parrish retired. He was teaching at Lincoln on Friday and Denfeld on Tuesday, which he said was one of the “happiest days of my life.”

He directed Denfeld’s a-cappella choir, musicals, the orchestra and often the band. His choirs were known for their precision and close harmonies. He was given the nickname “father” because he taught a group of girls in a cappella, orchestra and girl’s ensemble, and they claimed they saw him more than their own fathers and began calling him “Father Felten.” To make ends meet he scrubbed floors at the Board of Education and worked as a night watchman for the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway in the summers. He was also organist and choir director at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church.

He noted that Denfeld didn’t have a proper “alma mater” so he borrowed the tune from the popular radio program “Halls of Ivy” and wrote appropriate lyrics, which are still sung today as “Halls of Denfeld.”

His wife died of a chronic illness in 1967, shortly after his retirement. They had two sons, James Edgar, a Cornell Ph.D. who worked as an astrophysicist for NASA, and John Charles, who received a masters-of-education degree from Kent State and taught and coached at a Lutheran high school in Ohio.

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