2019 Mrs. Oktoberfest Darryle Clott

A leading Holocaust educator 2019 Mrs. Oktoberfest is Darryle Clott

After La Crosse Holocaust educator Darryle Clott persuaded Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel to visit La Crosse, she adopted his 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not stand idly by.”

Clott hasn’t stopped sharing Holocaust stories since that 2006 visit. And she won’t be standing idly by in her new role as the 2019 Mrs. Oktoberfest.

Clott spent most of her career as an English teacher and forensics coach in La Crescent, Minnesota, from 1978-2004. In the ’90s, she planned a short unit on the Holocaust. Later, she stretched the unit and became the founder of the school’s diversity day. Eventually, she traveled to the Teacher’s Institute on Holocaust and Jewish Resistance in Poland and Israel where she talked with survivors and visited concentration camps.

A decade later, Clott had become a U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellow — and one of the country’s leading educators about the Holocaust. She was chosen to represent the nation’s Holocaust educators in a U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum video, and represented the national Holocaust educators at the museum’s decade anniversary.

Since retiring from secondary education in 2004, Clott has extended her classroom to many communities throughout the Coulee Region. She began teaching “History of the Holocaust” at Viterbo University in 2003. She has coordinated Viterbo’s annual Holocaust Educators’ Workshop since 2007, and is an associate of the Ethics in Leadership Institute at the university.

“Holocaust survivors are passing away and I want my students and the community to have the opportunity to see survivors and hear their stories firsthand,” Clott says. “I believe that to meet Holocaust survivors is to touch history.”

Clott has been instrumental in helping to bring more than 20 notable survivors to La Crosse, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, Presidential Medal of Honor winner Gerda Weissmann Klein and Otto Frank’s step-daughter, Eva Schloss.

“Darryle is committed to making sure younger generations never forget the atrocities of the Holocaust,” says Sister Mary Ann Gschwind, who nominated her for Mrs. O.

Clott is humbled and honored to be selected. “Receiving this honor is one of the most humbling experiences of my life and I feel blessed beyond measure,” she says. “When I received news that I had been chosen to become Mrs. Oktoberfest, I read the list of previous Mrs. O’s, and I was in total awe to be joining the ranks of such extraordinary women when I am so ordinary.”

Clott has selected a theme of “Teachers Inspire” for her year as Mrs. Oktoberfest. “I always say I have the best job on the face of the earth,” she says. “I am a teacher.”

The new Mrs. Oktoberfest says a person doesn’t have to be special to succeed. “I strongly believe that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things if only they have passion and a dream and are willing to work hard to make their dream come true,” she notes.

Clott calls herself a dreamer. She says her thrust in Holocaust education has been, “Dream Big.”

“My journey has been filled with many remarkable people, incredible opportunities and the chance to make a difference” says Clott. “When I first began, I felt like I started by making a tiny snowball and the snowball kept getting bigger and bigger and soon I had made a gigantic snowman, and who knows where it will end? When I entered the field of Holocaust education, I felt like I was looking up at giants. Now I feel I am walking beside them.”

The Darryle Clott file

  • Native of Amery, Wisconsin; currently lives in La Crosse.
  • Holocaust educator; U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellow.
  • Dedicated lifetime teacher, learner, and advocate for peace, justice and acceptance of people’s differences.
  • Selected to represent Holocaust educators at the decade anniversary of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  • Brought more than 20 Holocaust survivors to La Crosse for presentations. Founder of the Midwest Holocaust Education Consortium.
  • English teacher at La Crosse Longfellow Middle School, 1966-72; English teacher and forensics coach at La Crescent High School,1978-2004; instructor at Viterbo University, 2003-15.
  • Among her awards: recipient of the 2008 Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumni Award from UWL; 2011 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, presented to American citizens of diverse origins for their outstanding contributions to their communities, the nation and world; 2014 Patriotic Civilian Service Award from Fort McCoy; 2017 Pope John XXIII Award for Distinguished Service from Viterbo University; 2018 Iverson-Freking Ecumenical Award from Bethany-St. Joseph Corp.
  • Member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in La Crosse.
  • Earned two degrees from UWL: bachelor’s in English and history, 1966; master’s in history, 1971.
  • Married to Marv Clott since 1996; mother of Hans and Aimee; grandmother of Claire and Pierce.

Quotable: “When I entered the field of Holocaust education, I felt like I was looking up at giants. Now I feel I am walking beside them.” — 2019 Mrs. Oktoberfest Darryle Clott

Former Mrs. Oktoberfests

YearMrs. OktoberfestMr. O
2018Mary MickelsonRandy
2017Lynn GundlachDan
2016Sue WeidemannMike
2015Peggy HerlitzkaDoug
2014Sue DillenbeckJim (Dilly)
2013Kenna ChristiansRoger
2012Julie BartelsTerry
2011Florence AlieschMike
2010Karla StanekJohn
2009Barbara LarsenTerry*
2008Robyn TankeMike
2007Sue SchultzMarc
2006Earlamae DahlbyJim
2005Rosemarie LinkCharles
2004Sharon ImesRoger
2003Jane SteingraeberPaul
2002Rita SanchezJim*
2001Joanne LitzowDavid
2000Jean Marck*Bob*
1999Eleanor St. JohnPerry*
1998Mary Patros*
1997Birgitta Linnert*Peter
1996Sandra McCormickDick
1995Patricia BogeJerome
1994Joyce WicheltRay*
1993Dorothy Boschert*Hugh
1992Jan MooreDuane
1991Kathy VehrenkampDave
1990Marita SmithGeorge
1989Jean Gitz Bassett
1988Judy BouffleurDave
1987Geri Houlihan*Don
1986Carol TabelDuane*
1985Kay TaylorRollo*
1984Olive Lawson*Eric
1983Jeanne ConnellyMark
1982Sandy KapellasTom
1981Ellen HeineckeJim
1980Alma Burns Zahn*
1979Ruth RebhanCully*
1978Marge Tierney*Bill
1977Bea Zielke*Pat*
1976Evelyn PertzschDavid*
1975Leona Amundson*Richard
1974Ione JohnsonBob*
1973Jean WesterfieldNorman*
1972Irene Lynch*Edward
1971Betty StollWally
1970Carol Bluske*Wayne
1969Leisel Peterslie*Oscar
1968Joyce LindsethLarry*
* Fondly Remembered

Who will represent La Crosse as Mrs. Oktoberfest?

Nominations for Mrs. Oktoberfest 2020 are now closed!

The requirements for a nominee should be a person who:

  • Actively involved in the La Crosse Community
  • Married
  • At least 50 years old
  • Living within 20 miles of La Crosse
  • Able to devote her time to numerous Oktoberfest activities throughout the upcoming year
  • A La Crosse and Oktoberfest enthusiast
  • Aware that you are nominating them to be Mrs. Oktoberfest

The deadline for nominations was Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. Nominees shall remain active in the candidate pool for three years, starting with the year of the original nomination. If you have questions about the nominating process, please contact Mrs. Oktoberfest 2017 Lynn Gundlach

Click here to nominate someone as Mrs. Oktoberfest