Everett Follette

“The Marvelous Math Man”
Words and music by Marianne Fridell
with Mrs. Gillespie’s 5th Grade Class
©2008 Marianne Fridell




      Everett Follette

Some things I’ve cherished my whole life long since I was a child.
Reading’s guided my path; I’ve loved science and math.
Just as much as throwing a baseball, basketball or football.

When you go to a country school, everyday is a field trip.
Keep your eyes open; take a look at the woods.
They’re like a science book, a real-live science book

I sold eggs for my folks, three hundred-sixty a day.
A dozen for a nickel, my savings were a trickle.
But I earned my first bike. I earned my first wheels.

A big truck garden out at Vale, growing tomatoes and veggies.
After planting, don’t debate it. If we grew it, well, we ate it.
But rutabagas, you can’t make me. I’d rather go hungry.

Dad said it didn’t matter what I became so long as I was honest
From black to speckled feathers to a dairy farm together
Now helping people learn and understand, that’s what I like the best.

My passion is to help you understand. That’s a teacher’s promise
How can you make a difference?
Find your own passions. Then you’ll find your own promise.

The best fly fishing on Spearfish Creek is right in my backyard.
Up in the canyon, lucky to catch one.
Getting the limit isn’t hard in my backyard

A pop-up camper across Canada all the way to the Pacific.
Digging for clams; in the camper we were crammed.
The best times together, our family together.

Blue sky above, 6 inches of snow.
We’re out cross-country skiing
Up on Big Hill, it’s so still.
Except when we’re talking, Joann and I talking.
And skiing and talking and skiing
(whisper) talking & skiing & talking & skiing

Wanted to see another place in this wonderful world
An Iceland vacation for science education
You know I fill the bill. I fill the bill.

I shouldn’t have gone beyond high school.
Then I knew everything.
The farther I go the less I know
the world just keeps on stretchin, just keeps on stretchin’


“Let’s think about this problem” “What are you doing here?”
“Show me the work.”
You can do the math. “Can you figure it out now?”
“Well”…Just think about it.
There’s always a way. Just think about it.
There’s always a way. Just think about it.
There’s always a way.
Just think about it.

Everett Leroy Follette was born in Belle Fourche on September 25, 1933. His parents were Everett Harold and Margaret. He is the oldest of 4 children. His favorite toy as a young child was a brown teddy bear that his mom made for him. He carried it everywhere even after the eyes fell off.

In 1st and 2nd grade he went to school in Lead, and then attended a country school near Sturgis. His favorite teacher was in 8th grade because he made math understandable. Math has always been his favorite subject. When he finished his work, he would look at the older kids’ problems on the board and try to solve them before they did.

His family owned a farm and Everett did his share of chores. He always enjoyed reading and his favorite author was Mark Twain. Everett’s mom made his bib overalls. She also made stuffed animals that the kids helped stuff using an old mattress. Everett’s main toy then was a baseball and bat.

Everett went to high school in Sturgis. He participated in the KOTA Quiz Kids and was in a play, Our Town, in high school, where he wasn’t happy about playing the part of the town drunk. He graduated in 1951 and won the Homestake Scholarship to attend Black Hills Teachers College.

Everett also went to Iowa State Teachers College and the University of Colorado. He has a bachelors and masters degree in physical science and a PHD in Science Education. He taught in Custer, Sturgis, and Black Hills State. All together, Dr. Follette taught math and science for 38 years.

Everett always enjoyed school and was a lifeguard, played baseball, basketball, and football for BH. He also played the piano, trumpet, and sang in the choir. In order to study with all the dormitory noise, Everett would listen to music, mostly classical and big band. When he graduated, he bought his first car, a 1955 Chevy Del Ray, black & white.

In 1956 while in Missouri in the Army, Everett married a Spearfish girl named Joanne. They have four children; Everett, Sheila, Debbie, and Brian. Three of his children have science degrees, like their father. He feels this is his biggest accomplishment and is also proud of his 9 grandchildren.

Mr. Follette always enjoyed helping his children and now his grandchildren and us with school-related activities. He is in our classroom every single day to help with math.

He has one of the greenest thumbs in Spearfish, gaining his love of gardening from his dad. Everett grows ginormous Walla Walla Onions and says, “There’s something special about putting something in the ground and watching it grow.”

In 1990, Dr. Follette went to Iceland on the Fulbright Fellowship, teaching a semester of science methods there. He returned a year later and hopes to make it to Iceland again.

Mr. Follette’s message for our future is to look for things you really like to do and you will succeed. Just think about it…there’s always a way!

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