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.
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.
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.
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
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
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 Sr. graduated from
Northwood School in 1966. Thirty-three of his family members have attended
School, including nine
siblings and all of his children and grandchildren.
Inducted in 2008
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
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
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" LinkRobert W.
"Bob" Link was born and raised in Minong.
He is a 1957 graduate of the
Bob participated in sports during high school, setting records on the
Inducted in 2008
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”!
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
an integral player in our school for many years, is remembered as one of
Northwood's hidden treasures.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
Joanne Carol Berg Huelsman
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.
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.
Northwood Education Foundation
N14463 Hwy 53, Minong, WI 54859
715/466-4692, ext. 501
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