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Wall of Fame

Each year Northwood School inducts into the Northwood Wall of Fame alumni and community members who have made notable contributions in education, business, human services, government, athletics, military service, fine arts, or financial support. The inductees are chosen from nominations made to the school.

Here, exemplifying the Northwood spirit, are the inductees since the Wall of Fame was created in 1997, in the words of their plaques honoring them.

Tom Henson
Inducted in 2014

Tom Henson is a true Evergreen, attending Northwood School all twelve years and graduating in 1957. His children and grandchildren have continued the Northwood tradition. Tom is frequently at school events, faithfully supporting his family and the entire student body.

After graduation from Northwood, Tom served in the National Guard for eight years with one year of active duty. He began work for Link Brothers and became manager of Links IGA. In 1986 he and his wife, Linda, purchased the business which became Henson’s Country Foods.

Tom has been a generous supporter of school dinners, fundraisers and a variety of Northwood and community projects. He graciously welcomes student bake sales and cook-outs held in the store entrance. He even helps collect box-tops, UPC codes and magazines to aid the school in fund-raising efforts. Tom has lifted many spirits with his “yes” response to hundreds of requests for help.

Many Northwood students have been given employment, developed job skills, and found encouragement for life at Henson’s Country Foods because of the support Tom has provided them.

Tom’s commitment to building a strong community business, and his quiet acts of kindness and generosity have enriched this entire community. His faithful support of Northwood School makes Tom a bright star on the Northwood Hall of Fame.

Darrin Schmitz
Inducted in 2013

Darrin Schmitz grew up in Wascott, attended Gordon Elementary School and graduated from Northwood High School. Darrin participated in student council, was elected class President and served as captain of the basketball and baseball teams. He attended both the University of Minnesota-Duluth and University of Wisconsin-Superior earning a Bachelors of Science Degree in Political Science and a minor in History.

Darrin moved to Madison, WI after graduating from college to pursue a career in public service as well as campaigns and elections. He has successfully managed and advised gubernatorial, attorney general, Congressional, US Senate and legislative races, and in 2006 served as chief strategist to one of only two statewide Republican candidates in the United States to capture a Democrat seat.

Darrin started his political career on the staff of State Representative Eugene Hahn and rose to Hahn’s Chief of Staff and Campaign Manager. In 1996, Darrin joined Governor Tommy Thompson’s staff leading the governor’s Communications office as Press Secretary, Communications Director and Speechwriter. He also served as Governor Thompson’s Deputy Campaign Manager in 1998.

Darrin left Governor Thompson’s office in 2000 to join the presidential campaign of George W. Bush serving as Executive Director of the President’s Wisconsin campaign. Upon conclusion of the election he was appointed Executive Director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. During Darrin’s tenure, the Wisconsin GOP enjoyed its largest legislative majority in 50 years.

After a successful 4-year stint with the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Darrin founded Persuasion Partners, Inc., a political consulting firm with offices in Madison, WI, Nashville, TN, and Washington, DC. Persuasion Partners has provided successful consulting services and voter contacts strategies in more than a dozen states across the nation.

Darrin points to his time at Northwood for giving him the inspiration and education to pursue his dreams, “Northwood, and all the good people who make up the school community, were critical to me achieving my goals. I’m grateful for Northwood’s dedication to the success of all their students.”

There was no "Wall of Fame" induction in 2012

Eilizabeth "Betty" Nelson
Inducted in 2011

Elizabeth “Betty” Nelson grew up in Steven’s Point, Wisconsin, and graduated there from Maria High School. Betty’s tenure at Northwood ran from 1971-2008.    

During her time at Northwood she wore many hats. She began her career as a para-professional in Title1, working on reading interventions with elementary students. She graduated to working with high school students with behavioral disabilities, where some of her biggest challenges became her greatest rewards  Before retirement the library became her home.

Betty and her husband, Ed, have resided in Minong for 40 years. Their children, Chuck and Libby, are both Northwood graduates. She is the proud grandmother of Ethan, Emily, and Ella.

Her lasting legacy will not just be the many books she checked out, the lunch tickets she sold or the students she cajoled into learning. Her real legacy is her ability to see the worth in children and help them see it in themselves.   

Betty has experienced many hurdles in her life. She has faced each of them with strength, perseverance, and grace. She is a role model for all the lives she has touched.

John "Jack" E. Link
Inducted in 2010

Jack Link was born on February 22, 1946, in Spooner, Wisconsin, to Wilfred (Wolf) and Adaline Link. He grew up in Minong and graduated from Northwood High School in 1964.  He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie and a Sales Management degree from Minneapolis Business College. Jack is married to Mary Jo and they have two sons, Jay and Troy.

Jack started working at the early age of 12 with his father in the family business, Link Brothers, which sold cars, mobile homes, RVs, clothing, furniture, building materials, plumbing supplies, cattle and boats and is fondly referred to by Jack as the “Wal-Mart of the North.” In 1986, Jack started the meat snack business becoming internationally known as Jack Link’s Beef Jerky. The company’s main goal was to provide premium quality, flavorful meat snacks to an American public hungry for healthy, tasty and convenient snacks. 

Jack’s philosophy is “Ordinary People Accomplishing Extraordinary Things.”  This has led to a lifelong commitment to the local community which has included serving on the board of directors of Spooner Hospital and actively supporting Minong Summer Days and Calvary Lutheran Church.  Through his company, Jack began hosting an annual golf tournament in 2003 for the benefit of the Northwood Education Foundation.  To date, over $500,000 has been raised and donated to help create academic, athletic and cultural opportunities for area students.  Jack’s commitment of both time and money, to area schools, his employees, and the communities in which Jack Link’s Beef Jerky operates, represents only a sample of Jack’s character, dedication and loyalty to bettering the lives of those he touches.


Tom Hagen
Inducted in 2009
Tom Hagen grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and graduated from Cameron High School. He earned his B.S. degree in secondary education from UW Eau Claire. Tom Hagen's tenure at Northwood ran from 1979-2003. During that time he served as a social studies instructor and varsity boys basketball coach.

Tom, his wife, Claudia, and two daughters, Becky and Sheri, moved to Minong in 1979. One of the first things he remembered noticing was that there was only one basketball hoop in the entire town. Tom certainly changed that and was a dedicated coach for Northwood basketball. In the 1981-82 school year he coached the boys basketball team to the first-ever conference championship for Northwood.

Tom was a passionate historian. He made history come alive through fascinating stories about people and events. He developed the social studies curriculum and began the first Advanced Placement course offered at Northwood. One student noted, "Mr. Hagen had the innate ability to make learning fun."

His daughters, both Northwood graduates, fondly remember their dad telling them and the other students to stick up for the underdog and believe that kids from a small town can make a difference.

Throughout Tom's career in education he was highly respected as a teacher and a coach. Many of his former students related that he was tough, set high standards and truly believed in their potential to succeed. His passion for teaching has inspired a whole new generation of Northwood students to become teachers.


Max Ericson
Inducted in 2008
Max Ericson Sr. graduated from Northwood School in 1966. Thirty-three of his family members have attended Northwood School, including nine siblings and all of his children and grandchildren.

Max has been a Northwood School Board member for 22 years and President for 14 years.  He has been on the Board of Directors for the Northwood Education Foundation for three years.  Over the years he has donated countless hours, equipment and funds to school projects. 

Max was a founding member of the Minong Area Youth Organization and was president and vice president for several years.  He has also donated time and work over the years to the Minong Area youth ball fields.  He coached Little League for 12 years and girls’ softball for 4 years.  He was also active in other various youth programs over the years.

Max and his wife, Sandy, own a successful logging business.  He was one of the first Certified Master Loggers in Wisconsin.  Max has been involved with several industry organizations and is currently president of The Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association.  He is very active in the “Log a Load for Kids” local charity benefit every year for the Children’s Miracle Network benefiting children’s hospitals in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Max was the Minong Town Chairman for four years and has been involved in the Minong Area Chamber of Commerce for years. 

Our school and our community are better places due to his selflessness, integrity and service.

Robert "Bob" Link
Inducted in 2008
Robert W. "Bob" Link was born and raised in Minong. He is a 1957 graduate of the Northwood School District. Bob participated in sports during high school, setting records on the basketball court. 

Bob and his wife, Janyce, raised five daughters, all of whom graduated from Northwood and have gone on to further their education. (Sadly, one daughter, Jody, is now deceased.)  All ten of Bob’s grandchildren are attending or have attended Northwood. The halls of Northwood have given this family a good start in their quest for education.

Bob has been in business in Minong for over 50 years.  First with his father and brother, later as CEO of Link Recreational and now as owner/operator of Big Bob’s Outlet. Throughout all these years he has employed many local citizens.

Many people and organizations have benefited from Bob’s generosity. He was instrumental in donating and getting donations for the ball fields of the school district and area youth. Bob was also involved in the development of the Northwood Education Foundation and one of its founding members. 

Throughout these many years Bob and Janyce have been faithful fans and attendees of all school activities and sporting events, not to mention, fundraisers  Unfortunately, these last few years, Bob’s health has kept him from being where his heart is ... with the youth of Northwood.

Bob Link has certainly left a permanent and positive mark on this community and school. He is highly respected by many and deserves our “Thanks." We definitely believe Robert W. Link is deserving of recognition on Northwoods “Wall of Fame”!



Doug Denninger

Inducted in 2007

Doug Denninger was born and raised in Minong and attended Northwood from first grade through high school graduation. He attended Superior State College and graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor's Degree in Art Education. He began his teaching career at Northwood School the following fall, and continued his service here for 33 years. Throughout his career at Northwood, he built a strong K-12 Art program. In 1972 he developed an aviation program which he taught for 30 years. His other responsibilities at Northwood included class advisor, School-to-Work Coordinator, and substitute Principal.

Doug is a proud family man. His two children and their spouses graduated from Northwood and all four of his grandchildren attend Northwood. He gives selflessly to his wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchild with his love, support and time.

Doug has served his community for many years in other areas as well. He has been a member of the Frog Creek Town Board since 1975, and served as Town Chairman since 1985. He is a member of the Minong Fire Department Committee and is also the Chairman of the Minong Area Disposal Committee.

Doug inspired his students to achieve whatever goals they set and was always there for them to assist in any way he could. He was known for motivating his students by treating each and every one with respect. It is said that you never left Mr. Denninger's class without a smile on your face. Doug continues his commitment to the Northwood District as a newly elected member of the Board of Education.

Jim Block

Inducted in 2006
There are few people who have devoted themselves to the Northwood School District as has Mr. Jim Block. He was born, raised, and educated in the Northwood District, graduating from high school in 1962. He entered college in the fall of 1962 and graduated from Superior State College in the spring of 1966 with a Bachelor's Degree in Education. Jim was hired to teach math and physical education at Northwood in the fall of 1966, where he continued to work for 34 years, retiring in 2000.

Jim's duties were many during his career at Northwood. He was a teacher and a supervising principal. He coached baseball, football and basketball. He was either a class advisor or student counsel advisor nearly every year of his tenure. His dedication to children did not stop at the school doors. For many years Jim coached Little League and Babe Ruth Baseball teams during the summer. In the 22 years that Jim coached baseball, he developed a program that has been a benchmark for all coaches.

In the 1997 yearbook, one of many yearbooks dedicated to him, the students wrote, "He is willing to help anyone at anytime with anything." A "teachable moment" for Jim was wherever he happened to be when a student needed help, in the classroom, on a windowsill in the hall, or on the back of a car in the parking lot. The student got his time and an explanation that made sense.

Jim was once asked his philosophy on teaching. His response was, "When people ask what you teach you don't tell them math or English or history, you tell them, 'I teach young people.'" To that we say, "Mr. Jim Block, a time well served and a job well done."

Bill Fuller
Inducted in 2006
Bill Fuller grew up in Superior, Wisconsin, where he attended both grade and high school. He went on to attend Superior State College. His college training was interrupted for two years as he served in the United States Army during World War II. After his tour of duty he returned to Superior State to earn his Bachelor of Science Degree in the spring of 1951. Bill's first teaching assignment was in Bennett, Wisconsin, where he taught four grades in a two-room school. After one year, Bill attended University of Minnesota-Duluth and earned a degree in business education.

Bill Fuller's tenure at Northwood ran from 1954-1960. During that time he served as a business education instructor, class advisor, newspaper advisor, and year book advisor. Bill has many fond memories of the dedicated students and staff at Northwood and regards his tenure there as some of the most memorable years of his teaching career.

In 1960 Bill earned a Master's Degree in Administration and Guidance. He served as supervising principal for three years in the St. Croix District before moving to Madison, where he was a middle school guidance counselor for 28 years. After retiring, Bill and his wife, Laura, returned "up north" where they now reside in their log home on the Middle River.

Lee Block
Inducted in 2005
Lee Block was raised in Minong and attended elementary and high school in the Northwood District. After college he returned to the area to raise his family and served in many roles in the Northwood community. He has served on the Northwood School Board and taught industrial arts and physical education. He was a coach, dean of students and retired from the district after five years as principal.

Despite his ever-changing role in the school, Lee's belief in the importance of quality education never wavered. His students and athletes benefited from both his knowledge and his enthusiasm for learning. His commitment to lifelong learning was reflected not only in his words but his willingness to continue his own education, attaining a master's degree at age 53.

One of Lee's proudest moments was the completion of the new school. He worked tirelessly during the building of the school and athletic fields, and it gave him great satisfaction to help plan such a wonderful facility for Northwood students. He considered it a great privilege to work for so many years in the Northwood School community and is honored to be included in the Wall of Fame.

Fred Hennessy
Inducted in 2005

Fred Hennessy, Master Teacher, a walking encyclopedia of scientific and outdoor information with the interest and ability to impart that knowledge to his students. Mr. Hennessy's classrooms were not just about memorizing scientific information or identifying and classifying plants and insects. His classrooms were hands-on learning encounters where his students not only learned the scientific necessities, but were also exposed to many related fields. Mr. Hennessy was a fine, fair and demanding teacher who expected, and usually received, only the best from his students.

In addition to his classroom work, Mr. Hennessy served for many years as the assistant girls softball coach, helping to turn that program into one of the elite programs in Northern Wisconsin. At other times, he helped coach girls high school basketball and 5th and 6th grade basketball. While he taught at the elementary school in Gordon, Mr. Hennessy wore many hats. At one time or another, he was a Scout leader, bus driver, principal, custodian and fishing tutor, as well as being very active in church and the community.

Poll Mr. Hennessy's former students and you will hear loudly and clearly that their most memorable educational experiences occurred in his classroom.

Michael H. Waggoner II
Inducted in 2004
Michael H. Waggoner was born and raised in the Town of Frog Creek where he began his education at the Whittier School in 1949. When that school was closed, he went to Northwood, graduating with the class of 1961.

In the early '70s, he was a founding member and first president of the Minong Area Youth Association, spending many hours coaching Little League and Babe Ruth baseball. He also helped to build and maintain the youth softball and baseball fields.

Mike was a member of the Northwood Board of Education from 1982 through 1992 and again in 1995-96. In between those terms he was chairman of the YES Committee, effectively promoting the construction of a new school at the present location.

He has served on the Frog Creek Town Board for 20 years, is beginning his second term on the Washburn County Board of Supervisors, and is currently serving on the Minong Area fire and ambulance board.

Mike worked in public service for Centurytel, retiring in 2000 after nearly 35 years of service.

Mike's father, Mike, his four children and now his grandchildren represent four generations of the Waggoner family to attend school in the Northwood District.

Don Richards
Inducted in 2003
Don Richards was born and raised in Minong, graduating from Northwood School in 1951. After working two years for college money, Don attended University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, graduating in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration. He spent his business career in the insurance field, developing one of the largest agencies in Wisconsin with offices in six communities and over 50 employees. Don left his insurance career in 1997 after selling his firm to the employees.

In 1971, as an additional interest, Don started a wild rice farm in Minnesota which has grown to include a sales and packaging company in Spooner. This company now markets wild rice products all over the United States. Don serves as president and CEO of Chieftain Wild Rice Company.

Since 1990, Don and Shirley Richards have provided a major scholarship in his father's name to a deserving Northwood student. Through the years, Don and Shirley have contributed resources to improve student life and school facilities. The Richards Auditorium is a reality, in part, because of their generosity to this district.

Don takes an honored place on the Wall of Fame as one from the second generation of a family devoted to strengthening Northwood School. As an alumnus of Northwood, Don embodies the finest qualities of character that we want our students to exhibit. He comes alongside to support our school and reaches out with quiet encouragement as together we work to create a better Northwood.

Adolph Sannwald
Inducted in 2003

Adolph Sannwald spent most of his life on a dairy farm homestead west of Minong. He became responsible for the safe transportation of children to school in this district for over 50 years. In the early years, about 1920-1930, Adolph used a horse and buggy or a covered bobsled to take children to the Cranberry Marsh School, Five Mile School, and the Hoover School. During the next decades he used his car for transporting students and finally purchased his first school bus about 1940. Often the roads he traveled were not graded and not always plowed. One severe winter he made his own snow plow for the horses to pull so that the children could get to school. At times, he would even take children on horseback to school when the snow was too deep.

Adolph gave up many of his Saturday mornings to transport children to special activities. On very cold mornings, he would often stop for town children who were not regular passengers. He greeted everyone with a warm smile and heated bus. Adolph served Northwood School quietly and responsibly. His kindness was a special morning greeting to each student in his care. For traveling that extra mile, for displaying great devotion to Northwood School, we are honored to have Adolph Sannwald a part of the Wall of Fame.

Ed Kofal
Inducted in 2002
Ed Kofal exemplifies all that is best about Northwood Education. Mrs. Brown, his third-grade teacher at the Gordon School, turned him on to education. Ed, in turn, spent most of his career at Northwood School igniting the fire of learning in others. After graduating from Northwood in 1961, Ed received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Education and eventually his master's degree in school counseling. He returned to Northwood School in 1968 to teach, coach, counsel, lead and inspire.

During his years at Northwood, Ed was a tireless advocate for kids. He wanted all students to realize the value of an education and to know the presence of caring adults in their lives. He worked to provide that extra measure of attention and support for students. He established the local scholarship program so that students would have the gift of community financial support as they left Northwood for future education.

All those who have had the priviledge of having Ed as a teacher, coach, counselor or friend know him as a gentlemen of integrity, kindness and laughter. He is someone who quietly changed the lives of many.

The Wall of Fame is one of many programs at Northwood developed by Ed Kofal. His idea was to highlight and honor those who gave themselves to build a better Northwood School. It is fitting that he now takes a special place among the honorees.

C. John Waggoner
Inducted in 2002

C. John Waggoner graduated from the Minong School in 1920 and years later served as a member and president of the School Board, working always to create a better school system and community. He and his wife, Alice, raised 15 children who all graduated from Northwood. The Waggoners also opened their home to many other area youth for a meal, a night, or an extended stay.

John was a great supporter of area youth activities and athletics. The first children's park with slides and swings was developed by John. John and Alice spent their lives responding to the needs of others with care and generosity.

John trained and found employment for many young men, first through the CCC program, and later throughout his career with the Minong Ranger Station, which was started in his home. John received the Governor's Service Award and other commendations from the Wisconsin Conservation Department for his tireless work in forest protection. John taught conservation by example, encouraging residents to make wise use of all natural resources and to appreciate the land and wildlife around them. John's life was one of service, reflecting a philosophy he had heard early in his career: "Remember, you are working for the people. They are not working for you." His talents, caring spirit, work and energy were gifts given freely to his community.

Darryl Shorty Coons
Inducted in 2001
Darryl Shorty Coons is a 1953 graduate of Northwood School, remembered as an honored athlete and active student. He attended college at Superior State and received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration in 1957. With this preparation, Shorty entered the business world as a financial analyst, real estate and natural resource developer with Lloyd Johnson, a Duluth attorney. Together they formed Johnson and Coons. He then became executive vice president of Superwood Corporation, which later merged with Georgia Pacific Corporation.

His community involvement has included serving on the board of the Duluth Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Miller Dwan Foundation Board, Alumni Board of University of Wisconsin-Superior, and the Mayors Committee for Economic Development. He has served as a deacon and elder of the Glen Avon Presbyterian Church. In 1994, the University of Wisconsin-Superior named Shorty its Outstanding Alumnus.

For years, Darryl Shorty Coons has been a strong supporter of Northwood School, lending financial assistance to students and activities and promoting excellence in our school. He is honored on the Wall of Fame because he represents the best of Northwood. His success in life is more than business success. He lives a life of integrity and kindness, generously giving of his resources and energies in service to others. He serves as a distinguished role model for the future generations of students who begin the Northwood journey.

Ellery Coons
Inducted in 2001

Ellery Coons attended Minong Grade School and High School, graduating in 1936. He worked in law enforcement for 36 years and served as deputy sheriff for area counties and also as the Minong village marshal. He retired at the age of 70. The Spooner Jaycees honored him as Officer of the Year in 1973 and the Wisconsin State Trooper Magazine highlighted Ellery's life and accomplishments in an article published in 1988.

While serving in law enforcement, Ellery was available to speak in schools, churches and community organizations about safety for youth. He helped to create an atmosphere of trust and cooperation with students, the entire community, and law enforcement. Throughout his career in law enforcement, he worked with a sense of caring, responsibility and pride.

Ellery Coons has dedicated his life to humbly helping others, asking nothing in return. He founded and contributes to the Northwood athletic scholarship in memory of his brother, Duner Coons. Ellery loves his school and community and has generously contributed his talents and time to strengthen community organizations. He has great interest in the history of the region. He collects and shares the stories of the past and passes on his knowledge so that the rich heritage of this area will not be forgotten. We honor him on this Wall of Fame for his years of sacrifice and dedicated service on behalf of Northwood School and this community.

Donald G. Kremer Sr.
Inducted in 2001

Donald G. Kremer Sr. was honored as the valedictorian of the first graduating class of Minong High School in 1917. After graduation, he served the Minong/Wascott area as a rural mail carrier for over 42 years, using a team of horses in the early years to cover his 30-mile rural route.

His life was one of service to others, and he spent it working to strengthen and enrich community organizations like the American Legion and Lions Club, county and village government boards, and the school district. Donald held the office of clerk of the Minong Board of Education for years. He worked diligently to consolidate the Minong District with the Wascott, Gordon and Frog Creek Districts to create the Northwood School District. He served on that newly formed Northwood District Board and worked tirelessly to provide the buildings, staff, and materials essential for a strong educational program.

Even his love of music was a way for him to enhance community life and bring joy to others as he played in his bands and taught his musical skill to others.

The life of this good man, his vision and love for Northwood School and his work on our behalf, is an invisible presence in this new building and woven into the fabric of our work together. We are grateful for the standard of excellence in life and service that he set for us.

Shirley Carroll Ernst
Inducted in 2000
Shirley Carroll Ernst wore many hats during her 13 years at Northwood. Beginning in 1967 she was the vocal music and business education instructor, yearbook and newspaper advisor, and instructional aide. She served as class advisor for many years and gave direction to a variety of student clubs, using her talents and creativity to encourage learning in and outside of the classroom. Shirley was also an accomplished organist and played for nearly every Northwood graduation until she left the Minong area.

She showed Northwood students the way to success by role-modeling diligence, caring and commitment to excellence in work and in living.

Shirley was held in the highest regard by her students and her co-workers. In the yearbook dedications to her, the students wrote of their gratitude for her wonderful work and care for them. Students remember her best as helping with everything. She reached out her hands and her heart to students and staff, and we honor her for sharing the gift of her gracious life with Northwood School.

Janet (Nelson) Hennessy
Inducted in 2000

Janet (Nelson) Hennessy inspired students at Northwood for over 20 years. Officially she was the physical education/health teacher, but her curriculum went far beyond the textbook as she taught her students about compassion, determination, courage and love through her daily example.

She was born in Lutsen, Minnesota, into the Nelson family, famous for skiing, and became the first female ski instructor in the Central United States Ski Association. She brought those skiing skills to Northwood and helped many students learn to downhill ski. She also coached girls basketball, softball and volleyball. Janet and Fred Hennessy successfully coached the softball team to several conference championships.

Janet is the proud mother of Jill, Jay and Jane and the "second" mom of hundreds of Northwood students. Her famous cookies are filled with unconditional love and acceptance. Her love for others and enthusiasm for life have kindled the fires of learning at Northwood. Her mom's favorite proverb, "A person who wishes to sing can always find a song," is true of her life. Janet Hennessy's life is the sweetest song.

John Marlett
Inducted in 2000

John Johnny Marlett bought his first school bus in 1930. He continued to own and operate a bus for about 35 years. Johnny ran many extra-curricular trips and his was the bus of choice. His treatment of the kids was with kindness, concern and respect.

One of the most memorable advantages of being on Johnny's bus was the occasional stops he made to provide ice cream treats for all. It was his way of saying, "I like you guys and appreciate your cooperation and behavior." He wasn't trying to buy anyone's affection; he gained it because of his treatment of the kids.

Outside the school, Johnny was also the local banker before Minong had a bank. You could always get a little gas for your car from his Shell station until payday. It seemed that his business philosophy was that everyone's credit was good until you proved to him otherwise.

Johnny lived to be 78 years old. He passed away in 1980.

Jim McConnen
Inducted in 1999
Jim McConnen was the head custodian at Northwood for 25 years between 1954-1977. He began his history here with the CCC Crew and helped build the main 1926 building at the old school in Minong. He knew the systems inside and out. Throughout his tenure he served Northwood with pride, dependability and consistency. He was a quiet, unassuming man who did his job with diligence and dignity.

Jim is remembered walking down the halls with either a dust mop or a dust rag in his hand, whistling a tune. He had greetings for students and staff alike and was always willing to lend a hand.

Jim worked long and hard. The first week after school was out was always boiler cleaning week. Jim, Wally Jaquish and Larry Nelson were down in the boiler room, cleaning the boiler and ducts. At the end of the day they would emerge; the only thing left white were eyes and teeth. He truly cared about the school and
how it looked.

In the winter at ten oclock every night, Jim would walk over to the school to check the furnaces and stoke coal fires, especially when it was 30 degrees below zero. It was his school.

Jim McConnen, an integral player in our school for many years, is remembered as one of Northwood's hidden treasures.

Lucile Mercier
Inducted in 1999

Lucile Mercier was born in Omro, Wisconsin, in 1898 and died in 1996. She taught high school English at Northwood for 14 years from 1957-1970. She went back to college after her husband died in 1953 and obtained her four-year teaching degree. She first taught in the Nemadji School before teaching at Northwood.

Although many years have passed since Lucy has been part of the Northwood family, her name brings warm smiles, fond remembrances and ready "Mercier stories" from those who knew her when. She was genuine, sharp-witted, popular with students and always demanded excellence.

As she busily diagramed sentences and disciplined boys twice her size, it was her concern, compassion and involvement with others that truly impacted her students. Lucy nurtured her students educationally and emotionally. There was always a place to go after a game, a prom, a graduation -- to Mrs. Mercier's house, of course, where kids were welcomed and comfortable.

Her tenure at Northwood raised the bar for excellence. Her dedication, hard work and concern are remembered and appreciated by the many lives she touched. Lucile Mercier was a complete teacher

Denise Smith
Inducted in 1999

Denise Smith graduated from Northwood High School in 1969 and then attended the University of Wisconsin-Superior. She graduated from UWS in 1973. While in college, Denise participated in volleyball and basketball and was captain of the basketball team her senior year.

In the fall of 1973, Denise began her teaching and coaching career at Northwood. She taught elementary physical education, health and girls physical education. Denise coached Junior Varsity Boys Basketball and was the only female coach of a boys team in the State of Wisconsin at the time. She coached both girls basketball and softball and was instrumental in establishing the girls athletic program at Northwood.

The summer before her death (1976) Denise played shortstop for the Rustic Bar Womens Class A Slow Pitch Softball Team of Duluth, Minnesota, that won the national championship. She was chosen Honorable Mention All Tournament Team as a shortstop.

Prom Queen, athlete extraordinaire, charm, wit, sense of humor, enthusiasm, friend – Denise was the entire package!

Denise was killed in a tragic automobile accident on December 11, 1976.

Mabel Toddy Gagnon
Inducted in 1998

Toddy Gagnon served as the head cook at the school in Minong for 32 years (1948-1980). Besides being a good cook, she was an extremely hard worker. Toddy made herself readily available to all classes and organizations who sponsored fund-raising dinners.

Maybe Toddy's greatest accomplishments are best remembered by those who were fed while she was operating out of the old kitchen in the original school building. Toddy was serving meals to hundreds of kids, including the huge Christmas and Thanksgiving feasts, out of a kitchen that would have been adequate for a family of four.

Toddy's work was more than just a job to her. She never let a kid go hungry. She had a keen sense of who might have come to school hungry and took special care of those kids. Toddy will always be remembered for her keen sense of humor, her love of her job and her concern for the welfare of her kids.

Toddy Gagnon certainly is a kind, unique human being and one of the most recognizable employees to ever work at Northwood.

Caryll Harper
Inducted in 1998

Caryll Harper was a teacher and administrator at Northwood from 1961 until his death, February 6, 1976. He started and finished his tenure in the high school as a teacher of chemistry, physics, biology, German and conservation. Caryll also served as assistant principal and district administrator before returning to the classroom full time.

Caryll was born and raised in Hayward where he graduated from high school in 1947. He then took a job with a construction company in South Dakota until the Korean Conflict broke out. Caryll joined the military and was stationed in Korea and Japan for 3 1/2 years serving as a medic in the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Division.

In addition to teaching science, Caryll impressed on his students the value of knowledge and new ideas as well as the moral responsibility to oneself and to others in all walks of life. He was up front and straight forward with a unique blend of home-spun wit and humor.

Caryll Harper was certainly one of the most popular teachers to ever work at Northwood. At each graduation a $200 scholarship is given in his memory to the outstanding senior science student.

June Warner
Inducted in 1998

June Warner taught for 30 years between 1953-1989 at the Gordon Campus of the Northwood School District. In addition to being an outstanding educator, June is very active in the community. She has been a Cub Scout leader, Sunday school teacher, church choir member and an active participant in the American Legion Auxiliary.

Along with reading, writing and arithmetic, June taught LIFE in her classrooms. She is described by her former pupils and colleagues as an extremely dedicated teacher who expected her students to work hard and play fairly. June disciplined her students with fairness and consistency. Kids always knew what to expect. She truly nurtured with love, patience and understanding.

June Warner, Master Teacher ,pleasant, friendly, unparalleled. In education, it doesn't get any better than this.

Roger Finstad II
Inducted in 1997
Roger Finstad graduated from Northwood High School in 1962. He was an honor student, three-sport athlete and co-founder of the N Club. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1966 and a Master of Business Degree from UW-Madison in 1968. Roger was drafted into the U.S. Army 1st Air Cavalry during the Vietnam War and was awarded two Bronze Stars.

Roger was a former business analyst, and he served on the board of directors for Impact Seven. Roger owned Finstad Realty in Gordon. He was a member of the Superior Board of Realtors and was named Realtor of the Year in 1982. Roger helped obtain grant money for low-income housing for the elderly. The Roger Finstad Manor in Gordon was dedicated in his honor.

He was president of the Gordon Sanitary District and helped obtain grant money to create the district. Roger received the Active Fireman of the Year Award in 1983 from the Gordon Fire Department. He was a member of the Lockman-Jensen American Legion Post in Gordon and the VFW Post in Barnes.

He was tireless in attempting to gain state aids for the district. He lobbied for construction of the new school and highway to promote growth. Roger was a supporter of Northwood academics and athletics and was committed to the advancement of education in the school community.

Roger died on October 7, 1993, from Agent Orange-produced lung cancer resulting from his exposure to the chemical.

Margaret I. Hackbarth
Inducted in 1997

Being elected to Northwoods Wall of Fame is a real honor, and I shall treasure it for the rest of my life.

I started teaching grades three and four in the fall of 1949, at Minong. For the most part I taught grades one and two. After 26 years and several different assignments, I retired from the Northwood School system in the spring of 1975.

During those years I worked with many fine children and am very proud of all of their accomplishments. I dealt with many parents who cared greatly about their childrens education, and their concern and involvement was very important to the success of their children.

Finally, we always had communities, boards, administrations and staff people who wanted the best possible education for our youngsters. These associations made my years of work in the Northwood School system very enjoyable and rewarding for me.

This honor and distinction continues giving to this very day as I seldom go into town without someone, from at least one of several generations, saying, "There's my teacher," and wanting to fill me in on the progress of their life.

Joanne Carol Berg Huelsman
Inducted in 1997

Joanne Carol Berg Huelsman was valedictorian of the 1955 graduating class at Northwood High School. Joanne received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Home Economics and Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1959 and a law degree from Marquette University in 1980.

Joanne taught at the high school and vocational school levels for 10 years. She also holds a real estate brokers license and owns a real estate management business and a law practice. She and her husband, A. William, have founded several manufacturing and service businesses and have developed a number of commercial and residential real estate projects.

She has been elected to the Waukesha County Board, the Waukesha School Board, the Wisconsin State Assembly and the Wisconsin State Senate.

Joanne has also been a member of the United Way in Waukesha County, Waukesha Symphony Board, Mental Health Association in Waukesha County, and Waukesha Training Center Board, and she was a 4-H leader and a Sunday School teacher.

They own property in and frequently vacation in Minong.

Julius Richard
Inducted in 1997

Julius Richard served on the Northwood School Board for 22 years (1965-1987). His tenure as a board member is the longest of anyone since district consolidation in 1951.

Jule was one of the most progressive, student-oriented members to ever serve on the school board. He was instrumental in several building improvements, including the 1973 kitchen/cafeteria/ elementary classroom addition on the old school and the 1987 new library addition to the old school. Jule was also one of the key players in the referendum and building of the new school.

Jule was a self-appointed school/community historian, and as such, very active in promoting the Northwood School Centennial Celebration. As part of that celebration, he produced the Northwood School District Scrapbook.

As a school board and community member, Jule Richard was always the voice of reason during some of the school district's most difficult times. His philosophy as a board member was always, "Promoting the best for our kids."

George O. Whitney
Inducted in 1997

George O. Whitney was valedictorian of the 1942 graduating class of Minong High School. He attended Superior Teachers College for 1 1/2 semesters before enlisting in the U.S. Naval Reserve. George was assigned to the Navy V-12 Program and went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison until March 1946 when he was commissioned Ensign, USNR. He was ordered to report to Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration for six weeks of training, then to Coco Solo Naval Air Station, Panama, until May 1947 when he was released to inactive duty with a permanent rank of Lt.(JR) USNR.

George then returned to UW-Madison and received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering in March 1948. He worked for several engineering architectural and construction companies while residing in Milwaukee and was granted a license to practice engineering in Wisconsin in 1952.

George founded and operated his own masonry and concrete company from 1960-1971. He relocated to Florida and owned and operated a mobile home park until it was sold and he retired in 1986. The Whitneys built a new home and continue to reside in Tierre Verde, Florida. In 1992 he and his wife, Mary, established the Mary & George Whitney Engineering and Science Scholarship that for several years provided $7,500 a year for four years to a selected student pursuing an engineering or science degree.

Contact Us
Northwood Education Foundation
N14463 Hwy 53, Minong, WI 54859    715/466-4692, ext. 501

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