Barnesville, NDSU athlete’s final chapter was familiar character at his lakes area corner store

The “Frenchman’s Henchmen” were sorrowful with the news of the death of Pierre Louis duCharme November 1st surrounded by his family in Fargo.

The old coach’s “Henchmen” over the decades span three states; from the Dakota Badlands, to his hometown Barnvesville, to North Dakota State University, with intersections in the Pelican Rapids-Star Lake country. 

A notable athlete in his Barnesville and NDSU Bison days; he gathered another array of “Henchmen” at the family’s DuCharme’s Corner Store at the well-traveled junction leading to Star Lake. 

Pierre duCharme, right, who owned and operated duCharme’s Corner Store, right on Highway 108 and County 41—gateway to the Star Lake chain. The family will reportedly continue operating the iconic lakes business.

The final chapter of his life was as a proprietor of one of the few remaining lake area stops of its kind. 

Like those charming combination bait-shop-general-store-grocery-lunch-counter places of the past, the duCharme corner had a quirky layout, a funky lakes atmosphere; sort of in the middle of nowhere—but for thousands of Star Lake Chain folks and visitors—the middle of everywhere. 

For the past two decades, Frenchman Pierre’s new “Henchmen’’ gathered at the Corner for a loaf of bread, a can of Campbells, and the Tuesday night duCharme pizza parties. 

Out on the Corner patio, Star Lakers would gather for morning coffee to talk sports and tell lies about large fish. 

Behind the cramped cash register counter, an ice cream machine with the coach’s favorite: Raspberry Chocolate Crunch. 

On the other side of the counter, the Frenchman’s cluttered office. But three photographs on the wall couldn’t escape the eye. One, a better-looking Yogi Berra, in baseball catcher gear; another with pigskin football in his hand; and a third, in basketball shorts. 

“Once a Bison, always a Bison,” was a Pierre-ism. The NDSU 1964 roster listed the Frenchman as a six-foot-tall, 180-pound senior. Position: Quarterback.

Three-sport college athletes are unheard of now, but even then, in the early 1960s, somewhat uncommon. 

Pierre became known in the Tri-State area—and Pelican Rapids High School opponents—for his athletic exploits at Barnesville High School, and North Dakota State University. 

His dynamic coaching and teaching style is still remembered from Fargo, to Dickinson, North Dakota; Aberdeen, South Dakota; Mayville, North Dakota; Marshall, Minneota—plus a stint on the Perham high school gridiron in the 1990s. And finally, as the familiar owner of duCharme’s Corner Store, Star Lake.

duCharme was born July 7, 1943 to Louis N. duCharme and Monica McCarty duCharme, of Barnesville,

He is survived by his wife and soulmate, Mary Frank duCharme; his brother Ted (Ellen) duCharme, Barnesville, MN; his children Louis (Laura) duCharme of Lake Shatek, MN, Yvette (Dale) Lewis, Star Lake, MN, Paulette (Ian) Hansen, Cape Coral, FL, Andre (Leah) duCharme, Moorhead, MN, and Jean-Paul duCharme, Rochester, MN; 15 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. 

He met his wife in Perham, MN, while Mary was cheerleading and Pierre, playing on the basketball court. Being from rival schools didn’t make a difference to Pierre. They were inseparable from that moment on, having just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary September 15.

Pierre graduated from NDSU in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in teaching.

He started his coaching career at Fargo South. His first head coaching position was at Dickinson High School, where he is still remembered for his high energy, his creative coaching style, and his winning green beanie he wore. Leaving Dickinson, he studied at Northern State University and Aberdeen, South Dakota. Earning his Master’s, he took over as head coach at Aberdeen Central. 

After Aberdeen, Pierre moved his family to Mayville, ND, as head coach for the Mayville State men’s basketball team. 

His next move was to Marshall, leading the Southwest state basketball team as well as athletic director with many stories of his dynamic personality and his “Frenchmen’s Henchmen” followers. 

During all of his many moves, Pierre gained a group of followers that, along with his family, would come to watch him coaching, wondering what shenanigans he had up his sleeve for that particular game. Whether wearing a beanie, cowboy boots, or his “beret,” he was respected on the court by his players, friends, and foe.

duCharme’s Corner Store on Star Lake

Pierre and Mary spent most of their summers on Star Lake, and decided to retire to the place they both loved. Not known to sit still, duCharme’s Corner Store was purchased. 

“To say he was impactful in the lives of his “ice cream maidens” and grandchildren he tutored at the store would be an understatement,” stated the family in his obituary. “His genuine love for the lake, the people of the community, and his family showed through with the opening of the store in the spring, his “coffee crew” friends, loyal customers…He would give a nightly recap of who came into the store that day, how much the regular’s children grew over the summer, and who just stopped by to say “hi.” So many vacationers made duCharme’s an annual stop, and he appreciated the friendships.”

In lieu of flowers, a donation to the “Pierre duCharme Athletic and Education Scholarship” fund for a young student in the area is preferred.