For a teacher, there’s no higher praise than kudos from students. And Evelyn “Evie” Vietz got plenty of them after teaching math for 34 years in the Fridley School District.
Vietz, of Columbia Heights, died Aug. 18 at age 79.
She was born in Carrington, N.D., about 140 miles northwest of Fargo, and graduated from the University of North Dakota, majoring in mathematics and minoring in Norwegian. Vietz later got a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota.
She worked in Dayton, Ohio, as a programmer during the early years of the computer industry, said Mike Vietz, her oldest son, and then returned to North Dakota in the early 1960s for her first teaching job in Tioga, a small town in the northwestern part of the state.
On a trip back to Carrington, she met Richard Vietz while bowling one night. They would marry in 1964 and eventually settle in the Twin Cities.
In 1967, she started teaching math in Fridley, first to middle schoolers and then at Fridley High School. She taught computer programming at Fridley for a while, too, Mike Vietz said.
“She just liked numbers. She understood math and could present it to kids in a way they could understand it,” he said.
An online memorial for her is chock-full of compliments from former students, from mathophiles to mathophobes. Words like “spunky” and “humor” crop up more than once to describe her teaching style.
“She is the one who helped me learn to love math,” wrote Nicole Castonguay. “To this day, I enjoy doing algebra, and when I was a teacher, I wanted to be like her for my students.”
“She was one of the reasons I majored in math, and now I am a computer consultant,” wrote Greg Kremer.
And this from Stephen Apolloni, expressing sentiments of the math-averse masses: “You made the one subject I absolutely hated worth learning.”
Hazel Linton, a social studies teacher at Fridley High, said Vietz had “taught just about every kind of math that’s taught, from seventh-grade fractions to pre-calculus. She had excellent rapport with the kids.”
But she wasn’t keen on students using calculators: “You should learn your multiplication tables” was her credo, Linton said.
Linton met Vietz in the mid-1970s and they became good friends, often playing bridge and bingo together. “She loved to play bingo,” Linton said. “We’d play at the drop of a hat.”
Mike Vietz said his mother also liked going to casinos and loved traveling. She and her husband, a newspaper mailroom worker, visited a long list of countries, from Austria to Egypt to Russia.
Vietz is survived by her husband and sons Mike and Rick. Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Columbia Heights, with visitation one hour before.