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Ross Fenn Bio

The legacy of Ross Fenn, long-time South Dakota sportsman and tennis traditionalist, was very strong. After his tragic death from a plane crash in 1989, friends rallied support for the Ross Fenn Memorial Cup, given annually to the open singles champions of the SD Adult Open Tennis Championships.

The Fenn Cup was initiated in 1990, honoring Ross for his long service to area tennis. He remains the only South Dakotan to serve as president of the Northwestern Tennis Association (1965-66) and also served six years on its Board of Directors. He was a familiar sight in the umpire’s chair, attaining USTA certification. Though a competitive doubles player, he made his mark in seeing things done correctly – directing tournaments and providing leadership in the founding of Sioux Falls Youth for Tennis, Inc. in the early 60’s.

Excess funds given to start the Fenn Cup inspired area tennis leaders to start the SD Tennis Hall of Fame. "If Ross Fenn were alive today," said Terry Nielsen, Hall of Fame co-chair, "he’d have his sleeves rolled up with heavy involvement in the worthy project. Preserving history and memories was a huge part of this remarkable man’s life."

Born in Sioux Falls in 1927, Ross graduated from Washington High and Yale University. He and wife Mary Jane returned to Sioux Falls (raising children Douglas and Patty). He worked his early years as vice president of Fenn Brothers, Inc., and his later years as vice president of Norwest Capital Management and Trust Department.

He also served as president of Rotary Downtown Club (leading a Group Study Exchange team to Australia in 1981), Sioux Falls Zoological Society and SF Credit Union. An avid ham radio operator and collector of military aviation information and artifacts, Ross had friends worldwide and received the Polish Gold Merit Cross for co-authoring the book "Flight of Eagles."