Johnson, Ernie

Ernie Johnson
EHS Class of 1967
A brief profile of noteworthy accomplishments, of a “work career” well lived.

Even in the early years, Ernie always displayed an above average desire to succeed in his work environment.

He started his professional career in Wisconsin as a Plant Foreman, and later joined Harnischfeger Corporation in Escanaba as a Machine Shop Foreman and Production Control Manager.

Shortly after the closure of P&H, Ernie and family moved to the greater Grand Rapids area, where he accepted employment at Stiles Machinery, the “World's largest supplier of Industrial Wood Working Equipment”.

Ernie's career at Stiles spanned some 25 years before his retirement in 2011.

Ernie held a variety of management roles in his career, from Facilities Management to Purchasing; he became the National Parts Manager for Stiles and was later promoted to the position of Corporate Director.

His responsibilities afforded him the privilege of extensive U.S and World travel to Europe and Asia where he insured the company's success through Customer Care Management and relationship building.

Ernie also started and built a small automobile related Business Enterprise, which he has operated since 2003.

He is also a semi- professional artist having sold many of his creations, a ”hobby” he has enjoyed very much.

I would be remiss if I did not also include that Ernie found time to study and become a licensed minister and fulfill the duties of an Assistant Pastor at a local church.

I can recall that he always credited his English teacher Evelyn Klug with his communication skills, Mrs. Cote his History teacher for his interest in reading historical events and lifestyles and John Gustafson his Art teacher for his guidance and patience.

My husband and I are in the process of selling our Grand Rapids holdings, and moving to the “Esky area”, a long anticipated and greatly looked forward to “homecoming”.

Submitted by Linda Kay Preston-Johnson

Abrahamson, Gary

Gary Abrahamson
EHS Class of 1949
As a youth, Gary excelled at athletics. He was the proud recipient of the 1949 Herman Gessner Trophy (now called the Pfotenhauer-Gessner trophy) at Escanaba High School. He was also selected to be on the football all-star team from 1947-1972, a member of the National Honor Society, and awarded an athletic scholarship to Alma college.

In 1949, Escanaba High School consisted of only three grades (10th through 12th), and Gary won eight of a possible nine letters in three sports (football, basketball, and track). He was exceedingly proud to grow up in Escanaba and play for the Escanaba Eskymos.

He could tell you what it was like to play six-man football at the Escanaba Junior High under Bill Pucklewartz. Or how the 1948 Escanaba Eskymo football team won every game – except one – and outscored its opponents 206 to 47 that year. Ironically, though, the most vivid memory and most talked about game was – not the wins – but the one loss … by one point … to the Menominee Maroons. Over fifty years later, his classmates (and Coach Ruwich) still talked about that game … “if only we had run a different play on that last drive.”

Even when he could no longer play, the love of sports continued to be an active part of Gary’s life … the Cubs, Tigers, Packers, and the University of Michigan Wolverines. A highlight for him was when he and his son Jeff traveled to Anaheim, CA, to attend both the Rose Bowl parade and the Rose Bowl game in 1998, when Michigan won the national title.

Since 2007, The Gary Abrahamson Trophy has been awarded each year at Escanaba High School to the senior boy and girl who earns the most athletic letters during their high school athletic career. In the case of a tie, the trophy is awarded to the person with the highest grade point average.

Although one of Gary’s early ambitions was to be a coach and history teacher, life circumstances led him to become a successful small business man instead. He and his wife Patt owned and operated multiple dry-cleaning stores in Michigan and Wisconsin (and was assisted by their daughter Vicki for many years). They also developed and owned Hawaiian Sun Fitness Center. Business was like a competitive game to Gary. He was good at it and enjoyed the challenge.

Gary and Patt also took care of their eldest son, Gary Jr., who – at the young age of 37 -- acquired a brain injury and required 24-hour care. In reflecting on his almost 25 years caring for an adult brain-injured son, Gary said that it was an event that affected him more deeply than anything else in his life. He said: “The grace of God gave me the strength to do my part … I became a better father and caregiver.”

Gary was a deeply spiritual man with a light-hearted, active sense of humor. He was a positive and upbeat person and wished good things for people and gave them encouragement. Gary was also proud of the fact that his paternal grandfather, James H. Elliott, and Thomas Edison were first cousins.

He was a true patriot and a history buff. Gary had his son take him to see where General George Washington crossed the Delaware River, the military academies (the Virginia Military Institute, West Point in NY state, the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, and the Air Force Academy in Colorado) and many civil war sites, including Bull Run (first battle of the civil war), Gettysburg (where the war turned decisively in favor of the North), and Lexington, VA (of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson fame).

Gary also knew a great deal about Escanaba history and people. For years, he loved helping his wife research and suggest topics for her weekly column in the Escanaba Daily Press.

In later years, Gary suffered from general heart failure but managed to celebrate his 60th wedding anniversary and 80th birthday before passing away in April 2011. In the hospital, coming out of a drug-induced coma, the doctor asked him what month and year it was, and he responded: “You know doctor, I’ve been in the hospital so long that I’m not sure what the date is today, but can you tell me where the civil war ended?” The doctor didn’t respond right away, so Gary told him -- Appomattox, Virginia is where General Lee met General Grant to sign the surrender papers.

In a final trip Gary took to Florida with his son Jeff, both knew he was dying and so Jeff asked him: Dad, with all of your knowledge and life experience and days meditating on life in the early mornings (as he would often do), what words of wisdom about your life can we impart to those who come to pay your final respects. And he thought for a moment, and said: “I wish I would have been a better son, a better husband, and a better father.” He also imparted some words of wisdom to his daughter Vicki: “Always do what’s in your heart.”

Submitted by the Abrahamson family

Beaumier, John

Dr. John Beaumier
EHS Class of 1949
Dr. John Beaumier is a graduate of Escanaba High School, “class of 1949.” Following graduation, he attended Northern Michigan University and earned a degree in biology in 1953 prior to entering medical school at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He completed his residency at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, and additionally served in the United States Navy.

I recently asked Dr. Beaumier about how Escanaba High School prepared him for his future, and he told me a very interesting story, one that actually gives us a great perspective about Dr. Beaumier—the person.

Dr. Beaumier shared that when he was in high school, EVERYONE wanted to be out for the football team. He had looked forward to playing for many years. About the time when he was ready to really make some headway on the gridiron, he noticed that he had an extremely painful leg. He went off to see Dr. Lindquist who checked out the symptoms, who then issued a report to the Esky football coach, Coach Schram. Young John Beaumier had been diagnosed with a blood clot, and the recommendation was to just not play football. John was just broken hearted. He decided not to tell anyone, and believed he would rather drop dead on the field than not play.

So the next year, he went out for football again and he finished the season despite the clot. By the time he was into the track and field season, the pain was gone. He felt extremely close with his teammates, and had high respect for his coaches. Dr. Beaumier characterized Coach Schram as “outstanding,” who never accepted a salary, but who did everything he could possibly do for his players.

Amazingly, when Dr. Beaumier was into his residency at the Mayo Clinic in 1963/1964, when he was looking over his own slides he discovered a calcification in the soft tissue. It was then he found out that he had not had a blood clot at all! John had worried and worried about it for years but still chose to play football. He had even played football at Northern Michigan University! What he had believed to be potentially life threatening turned out to be something quite different. He certainly overcame his fears, and persisted.

Upon recalling his high school experience, Dr. Beaumier mentioned that he remembered being a part of “E-Club,” the National Honor Society, along with football and track. He said he wished he had time to do more things related to music too, but his first love, football took priority over everything.

Dr. John Beaumier is an “Escanaba Success Story” for many reasons. He is an individual who pursued his dreams, and who never gave up. He maximized his ability to learn, his ability to work with others as a team, and his passion to succeed in life, but also his used his vocation “to give back” to others in a variety of ways. Thanks to Dr. John Beaumier, and his wife, Mary Jane--the Mayo Clinic, Northern Michigan University, Marquette University, the City of Escanaba, as well as the Escanaba Area Public Schools (among others) have been recipients of his generosity. For me, I have been happy to get to know him during the last few years. He has a great sense of humor and has great stories to tell. People who are deemed a “success” generally can be noted as having met certain accomplishments. Dr. Beaumier has accomplished many things—but he also has touched many hearts and inspired others through how he has lived his life. He is a true “Escanaba Success Story.”

For more about Dr. John Beaumier, please check out the following link:

Submitted by Michele B. Lemire

Thatcher, Frederick S.

Frederick S. Thatcher
EHS Class of 1942
Our uncle, Frederick S. Thatcher, moved with his family to Escanaba in 1929. Throughout his childhood, he engaged in a variety of community and school activities (hiking, scouting, sailing, and lettering in track as a pole vaulter). During his years as a young student in Escanaba, Uncle Fred did so well that he was skipped a grade in elementary school and was one of the youngest graduates from Escanaba High School in 1942. He worked briefly for the Forest Service and, following graduation, spent most of the summer of 1942 as a seaman on an ore boat making runs from Duluth, MN to Lakawanna, NY. He left Escanaba in the fall of 1942 to become a student at the University of Michigan, where he took pre-engineering courses and enlisted in the Army ROTC. This was the beginning of a lifetime of service, to his country in all three branches of the armed forces, to his community, to the public school system, and to his church.

Following his freshman year in Ann Arbor, Fred enlisted in the Navy in 1943. Based upon his Army ROTC experience he became the Cadet Company Commander of his unit. Upon graduation, he was sent to Rangefinder School in San Diego, CA, and six weeks later was a Fire Controlman, 3rd Class, on the USS Hornet, CV12. Three months later he accepted an offer to enroll in V12, the Navy officer schooling program, and he was sent to Lawrence College in Appleton, WI. After four semesters he transferred into V5, the Navy flight program. He was in Norman, OK following the end of World War II, and by September 1945, he was released to Inactive Reserves. He returned to Lawrence College (Class of ’47, BS in Physics and Math) and used his remaining GI Bill benefits to attend the American Institute of Foreign Trade in Glendale, AZ. When the oil seismograph company he was working for wanted to send him to Canada, he decided to reenlist in the Air Force Flight program, thereby entering the first of the professional careers he pursued in his life.

In his own words, Uncle Fred writes:

I received my commission and 'wings' at Williams AFB, Arizona, in May 1950. My assignment was to a fighter wing at Bergstrom AFB, Austin, Texas. My time with this Wing included high flights (plane delivery) to units in Germany before a tour in Korea where I had 101 combat missions. We later had a high flight delivering F84's to Northern Japan, where my tour of duty entailed island defense. I was twice chosen on a five-man team representing the Wing/Air Division in fighter nuclear delivery and fighter tactical competitions at Nellis AFB. When the Wing received the F101 twin engine fighter bomber in 1967, we were reassigned, planes and all, to Bentwaters RAF Base in England. There I was the Wing Weapons Delivery Officer. I then had an interesting tour of duty at Wheelus AFB, in Libya, where we refined the delivery techniques for the F101.

Assignments followed at Command and Staff College, and I was then assigned back to duty at Eglin AFB, Florida, first in munitions testing and soon thereafter into the Tactical Air Warfare Center as a requirements officer. With a short tour of duty to Vietnam, I addressed multiple Air Force needs to improve safety and weapons delivery systems for the conflict. When an opening for an officer with my qualifications to go to Brazil unexpectedly arose, I applied for the position and was selected. The mission was to work with the Joint Brazilian/US Commission in Rio on Fighter research and development. A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum: The Southern Command and Brazilian Air Force had not been coordinated on this mission, and when I reported for duty, their response was not enthusiastic. I ended up flying the C47 and C54, serving outposts all over Brazil. Upon rotation back to the States I requested retirement due to my wife's bout with Hodgkins late in the tour. HQ said I would first have to do a year in Vietnam, so I requested direct assignment there. HQ then said they had failed to make an assignment for the posting in Rio and asked that I extend my tour there for a year instead of going to Vietnam. I was happy to oblige. Then due to failure to meet congressionally-imposed ceilings in my pay grade that year (1969), HQ reconsidered my original request and approved my retirement on return to the US. I retired as a Lt. Col. at Luke AFB, Arizona.

Upon becoming a civilian, Fred began his second professional career as a middle school teacher in Arizona. After putting fifteen years into that rewarding career, he and his wife, Lillian (a former Air Force nurse) moved to Prescott, AZ for their final retirement. They were the first of three generations to serve in the United States armed forces, as their sons Tom (Marine helicopter pilot) and Craig (Army helicopter pilot), as well as Fred and Lil’s grandsons (both Navy), followed in their footsteps. Fred currently plays golf whenever he can. He is active in his Episcopal church. In the past ten years, Fred has served as President for “Project Aware,” which provides shelter for men and an affordable housing complex for veterans. During his tenure as President, the Project Aware facility has grown from a six-bed rented shelter to its present condition as a million dollar property consisting of fourteen low-income veteran rental units and a renovated fourteen-bed shelter and transitional program. Project Aware anticipates receiving a grant to subsidize eleven more low income apartments on the property.

In summary, the Escanaba Public School System has no finer representative of a life well lived than Frederick S. Thatcher, and we are proud to share the story of his impressive accomplishments.

Submitted by Carol Thatcher and Char Thatcher

Thatcher, Charles M.

Charles M. Thatcher
EHS Class of 1939
Our father, Charles M. Thatcher moved to Escanaba with his family in 1929. By the time he graduated from Escanaba High School (as Valedictorian in the Class of ’39) he had enjoyed a wide variety of activities (serving in the National Honor Society, lettering in football, playing trombone in the band, singing in operettas, acting in the senior class play, sailing, swimming, skiing, and editing The Escanaban, to name but a few). Education in the Escanaba school system provided an outstanding foundation for a life filled with music, humor, and a love of learning.

Dad left Escanaba to attend the University of Michigan (Class of ’43, BSE in Chemical Engineering) and continued to pursue many of the interests he had begun to pursue in the U.P. (marching band, editor of The Michigan Daily, and All-Campus Honor Society). He enlisted in the ROTC (becoming Cadet Colonel in a 1,200-man regiment), became a brother in Sigma Chi Fraternity (receiving the National Balfour Award for Leadership), and started singing barbershop quartet. (He’s still singing close harmony to this day.)

Following his service in the Army as an Ordnance Officer from 1943 – 1946, attaining the rank of Captain, Chuck returned to the University of Michigan to earn MSE and PhD degrees in Chemical Engineering. He began a lifelong career in education as an Assistant Dean of Students before joining the Chemical Engineering faculty (Instructor 1947 – 1955, Assistant Professor 1956 – 1958). He left Ann Arbor to take a position as Professor and Department Head (1958 – 1965) at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. While there he received a National Award for Teaching Excellence, authored two textbooks, served on an advisory committee for the Arctic Environmental Lab at the University of Alaska, and was the chairman of the Chemical Engineering Division, American Society of Engineering Education.

Professor Thatcher was promoted to Dean of the School of Engineering And Science (1965 – 1970) before leaving New York (forsaking the sailing opportunities he had exploited in Long Island Sound and in the Bermuda Races) for a Distinguished Professor position at the University of Arkansas (1970 – 1992). While there he twice served as interim department-head, authored a third textbook, received the All-Campus Award for Teaching Excellence, served as University Faculty Chairman, helped create a University Faculty Teaching Academy (1st president), received Reynolds Metals Company Plaque Award for Consulting Service, and delivered frequent speeches on such topics as time management, scholarship, and leadership.

Dad retired in 1992 in deference to the age-70 mandatory retirement policy then in effect. He was so well remembered, however, that he was called back to teach (so much for the mandatory retirement age!) in 2005 and 2006. His enthusiasm for teaching continues to this day, as he has considered getting the credentials to become a substitute teacher in Milaca, Minnesota, where he currently resides, and he has also done some tutoring in algebra.

In addition to his dedication to and love of education (and his family), our father also enjoyed a wonderful relationship in his service to Sigma Chi Fraternity (1948 to present). He was a faculty member for the Sigs’ National Leadership Workshop every summer we can remember growing up (even though it always fell on his wedding anniversary). He served on the National Executive Committee (1964 – 1979) and was the Fraternity’s International President from 1975 to 1977. Even this year, he will attend the Executive Council meeting in Washington, DC, and probably the annual Workshop in August (but only if he is assigned something meaningful to do). We were glad to learn the Escanaba Sesquicentennial Celebration was scheduled between the two Sigma Chi commitments because we are all looking forward to being in his hometown again. We think it is safe to say that Charles M. Thatcher, our Father (who art not yet in heaven, but one day will be) has enjoyed great success in life and has been and remains a fine “Native Son” of Escanaba. We, his children, are grateful for everything he gained from his roots there.

Submitted by Carol Thatcher and Char Thatcher

Dewar, David Curtis

David Curtis Dewar
EHS Class of 1999
David was the vice president of the last class to graduate from Escanaba in the 20th century. While in high school, David was an active member in his school and community. His talents were evidenced in both academic and athletic successes. While maintaining an excellent grade point average, he led the 1998 football team into the playoffs as captain and starting center. His summers were spent working for the City of Escanaba as a lifeguard and eventually as the Beach Director, having received an accommodation from the city for facilitating and participating in the rescue of a distress swimmer.

After graduation, David left for Michigan State to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a doctor. He joined the Lyman Briggs Honors College where the academic foundation he had received at EHS allowed him to participate in prerequisite medical school courses at an advanced level. David graduated with high honors.

David decided to remain at MSU for medical school to pursue a career in pediatrics. It is here that David met his wife Amy. They both completed their residencies at William Beaumont hospital in the Detroit area. During this time, David participated on the resident curriculum committee and was elected as chief resident.

During his neonatal intensive care unit rotation, David found his calling and decided to pursue a fellowship in neonatology. He was subsequently accepted into the nationally acclaimed program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. In addition to completing his fellowship, David earned a masters degree in medical education.

Currently, David is completing his fellowship, and has accepted a job with Henry Ford in the Detroit area. He, his wife, and their 2 ½ year old son, Gabe will be moving into their new home in Birmingham, MI this month.

Submitted by Nicole Dewar-Braun

Jones, Kyra

Kyra Jones
EHS Class of 2011
The person I would like to nominate for the web site is Kyra Jones. Kyra graduated from Escanaba High School in 2011. While she was in school, she took Intro to Welding and she loved it. Lots of credit to Mr. Boomer and during her senior year with Mr Bellingar. He was really there for her, she also place 3rd in a welding competition. When she graduated in 2011, Kyra wanted to go to college for welding and she enrolled at Bay for their welding certificate program. Kyra completed the program in one year, graduating in 2012 from Bay with her certificate in welding, all while holding down a part time job at Super One Food. Kyra started working at Marinette Marine on Sept 10, 2012, is currently there and she still loves it! Thank you to Mr. Boomer and Mr. Bellingar for their guidance, now Kyra is working in a job she loves!

Submitted by Myra Croasdell

Hickner Family

Hickner Family
John and I moved to Escanaba in 1978, where we lived for 22 years. John was a family physician employed by Michigan State College of Human Medicine and OSF St. Francis Medical Group. I worked part-time as a speech and language therapist for Head Start, although most of those years I was a stay-at-home mom raising our five children and volunteering for school, church and community projects.

Escanaba’s nurturing environment for children is the success story I want to highlight. Our children grew up in a town that cared about children. I witnessed many success stories every single day living, working and playing in the fine community of Escanaba, especially in Escanaba Public Schools. The superb teachers, administrators and staff worked day in and day out and cared deeply about our children. They supported educational goals, attended many extra-curricular activities and attended to the special needs of children.

Our children, Michael, Laura, Zach, Anna and Olivia are hard-working, productive, responsible, kind and caring adults, due in good measure to the supportive environment in which they were raised. We claim Franklin School as their port of send-off from home into the world. Franklin had a teaching staff second to none that included Ken Myllala (principal), Terry Hampton (principal), Bev Ladin, Mary Hughson, Bonnie Hyde, Paula Buckbee, Ernie LaFave, Kathy Miller, Michelle Bink Dykema, Kay Johnson, Terri Mileski and Vicki Shuh. Our family’s honor roll of junior and senior high school teachers includes Bob Koski (junior high principal), Jim Hansen (senior high principal), Jean King, Jean Jokipii, Doug Fix, Dick Burroughs, Terry Ellis, George Libby, Lynn Miller, Mr. Schleicher, Mrs. Walker, Mrs. Wolffer and music teachers Laura Robinson, Bruce Cassell, John Beck, Kim Beck and Anne Wood.

Escanaba is a caring community of adults that extends beyond the schools. The village cares, the streets are safe, the water is clean and the air is fresh. These factors and this environment contributed to the success of our kids and thousands of other kids.

Success is often measured in lofty achievements, but one can’t build the spires of a church without a strong foundation. We found that strong foundation in Escanaba in our homes, our neighborhoods, our schools and our churches, which stressed values and service to our fellow man. We found that foundation on the tennis courts, the hockey rink, the ball fields and the beach. We found that foundation in Escanaba’s music and art programs. This solid foundation has led to the success stories of thousands of children. This foundation provided our children with the tools, skills and opportunities they need to succeed. Raising our kids in Escanaba made a difference because of the people who live and work in this great community.

John and I are grateful we raised our children in Escanaba, where we lived an extraordinarily good life in ordinary ways. Honor each and every success in ordinary daily life; extraordinary success will unfold.

Submitted by Val Hickner

Bissell, Tom

Tom Bissell
EHS Class of 1992
An Escanaba native, Tom Bissell graduated in 1992 and went on to receive a Bachelor’s in English in 1996 from Michigan State University. Joining the Peace Corps, he found himself teaching in the country of Uzbekistan for a year. The next few years were a learning experience for Tom, first working as an intern at Harper’s Magazine, then as an assistant editor at W.W Norton, and finally as an editor at Henry Holt. His experiences at editing lead him to a teaching job at Bennington College from 2003 to 2009, and to Portland State University as an Assistant Professor of English from 2009-2011.

It was with his deep love of writing however, where Tom has made his mark in the world. His first book, Chasing the Sea came out in 2003 and described his feelings upon returning to visit the country of Uzbekistan. This was followed by a collection of short stories, God Lives in St. Petersburg in 2005. After an extended visit to the country of Vietnam with his father, Tom penned The Father of All Things, a touching account of son trying to better understand his father and his experiences during the Vietnam War. The book received much acclaim both for its historical accuracy and emotional connection between Tom and his father John Bissell of Escanaba.

In addition to his novels, Tom has written many articles for magazines, such as: Harper’s, GQ, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker. His short stories have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, Best American Science Writing, Best American Mystery Writing, and Best American Travel. His short story “Expensive Trips Nowhere” was also the basis for the 2011 film “The Loneliest Planet”.

In 2010, Tom wrote Extra Lives, an in-depth study of the most popular video games of the day and why this was an important entertainment venue. This ground breaking book was featured in Time Magazine and The New York Times called him “probably the most influential video game critic in the world”. This lead to a new avenue of writing for Tom, when he and his writing partner were asked to write the script for the 2013 “Gears of War:Judgment” video game. This billion dollar franchise is the fifth largest intellectual property in video games in the world.

Over the past ten years Tom has also received many writing awards, including the Rome Prize in 2006 which allowed him to live and write in Rome for a year, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2010. He has lived in five countries and his work has been translated into seven languages.

From his educational start right here in Escanaba, Tom has gone on to become a world class writer. His sixth book, The Disaster Artist was recently published. Tom and his girlfriend Trisha Miller, an actress and Escanaba native as well, currently live in Los Angeles, California.

Submitted by Lynn Soderburg

Kelly Gabe, Kaitlyn

Dr. Kaitlyn Kelly Gabe
EHS Class of 1996
We are nominating Dr. Kaitlyn Kelly Gabe to be an Escanaba Success Story. Kaitlyn graduated in the top ten from the Escanaba Senior High School in 1996. She was a member of the National Honor Society and was senior class vice president. Other activities that Kaitlyn participated in during her years at the Escanaba Senior High School include: Key Club, Ski Club, “E” Club, basketball, cheerleading, track and cross country. Her love of cross country continues today as she is still a long distance runner. She has completed the New York City, Chicago and Boston marathons.

After graduating from high school, Kaitlyn entered the pre-med honors program at Albion College. She graduated number one in her class from Albion in May, 2000.

Kaitlyn then entered medical school at New York Medical College in Valhalla, New York. During her time at New York Medical College, she did two research fellowships. One fellowship was completed at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas and the other at the University of Manchester in the U.K. It was during these fellowships that Kaitlyn realized she was interested in the field of surgical oncology. She graduated junior alpha-omega-alpha and received her M.D. in 2004. She then matched for general residency at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan.

Kaitlyn was at St. Vincent’s from 2004 to 2006. She entered a basic science research fellowship under Dr. Yuman Fong at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York from 2006 to 2008. While at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, she worked on oncolytic viral therapy for cancer (a novel cancer treatment that is now in early stage clinical trials). She also published 12 peer reviewed studies on viral therapy.

St. Vincent’s had financial trouble and eventually closed. Kaitlyn transferred programs and finished her general surgery residency at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (2008 to 2011). She completed several clinical research studies on surgical outcomes during her time in Wisconsin. She passed her boards and became a board-certified general surgeon.

Kaitlyn then matched in a fellowship training program in the specialty of surgical oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center where she continues to train at the present time (2011 to 2013). She was just hired as a surgical oncologist at UC San Diego and she will begin her new job in June 2013. She will specialize in surgery for gastrointestinal cancers.

In addition to everything mentioned above, Kaitlyn has 24 peer-reviewed original research studies in publication and she has written three chapters in surgical textbooks. She has also presented original research at sixteen different national conferences.

Kaitlyn has devoted her life to cancer patients and cancer research. These are her own words: “I want to be a superb surgeon and offer my patients the best quality cancer care available. I plan to achieve national stature in my research career and to impact cancer care standards and outcomes”.

Our entire family is very proud of Kaitlyn and all that she has accomplished in her thirty five years of life! Kaitlyn attributes much of her success to the great start she got at the Escanaba Senior High School and her favorite teachers Mrs. Majestic, Mr. Burroughs and Mr. Seehafer.

Submitted by The Kelly Family (John, Karen, Meghan and Molly)

Fry, Michael D.

Michael D. Fry
EHS Class of 1962
Retired Army Col. Michael D. Fry, was born in Wisconsin on September 11, 1944, died at 61 on April 22, 2005, in San Pedro, California  The list of his life accomplishments begins early in Escanaba, Michigan, which he considered his home town. Elected class president all four years of High School, he was also active in Orange and Black (a high school service organization), and was selected to play the male lead in the senior play. He lettered in football and tennis and was concurrently a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist. Rotary honored him with its Rotary Boy watch award. He then graduated number one in his class academically.

At West Point Military Academy he excelled, graduating in the top 5% of his class and picked infantry as his branch and Ranger School as an extra qualification. He was deployed to Viet Nam not long after graduation. Nam comprised his first episode of outstanding service to country where, in an attempt to retrieve a wounded man under his command, he was hit by mortar fire, came very close to dying, almost lost his leg and was hospitalized in Japan and the US for nearly a year till he healed. As a result of his service in Nam he was the recipient of of the Silver Star Award, the Distinguished Service Medal and a Purple heart.

But because of his injury, Mike lost his combat ready status, so the Army sent him to Harvard for a Masters degree in International Relations. Following that he received a second Masters degree in International Relations from the Geneva School of International Relations in Geneva, Switzerland.

While teaching at West Point he was picked to represent the Army on the National Security Council, reporting to Admiral Brent Skowcroft, who reported to the President of the US. Mike appears to have done his job to such a valued degree that he was continued on in the position through three presidents—Reagan, GHW Bush and Clinton.

While on the National Security Council and working out of his office in the basement of the White House, Mike headed up the team responsible for bringing forth the 1968 Nuclear Arms Non-Proliferation Treaty, signed by 117 nations. His service on the National Security Council comprised the second aspect of his service to Country. He retired from the position in 1993, having again served remarkably and settled in San Pedro, California on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

We can get a glimpse of how he served Country the third time by a review of the list of organizations who sent a representative to the Honor Ceremony held for Mike on June 17, 2006, at Fort MacArthur, California. Eulogies were delivered by:
  • Corey Karl, Mike's Little Brother of Big Brothers/Big Sisters 
  • Robert Valentine, Esq; Beacon House Association 
  • Penelope Thomson, RN, Trinity Care Hospice 
  • Dara Cerwonda, Operation Jump Start 
  • Tina Smith, Operation Jump Start 
  • Val Parker, Power for Youth 
  • Pierre Hazel, Power for Youth 
  • Lisa Ferguson, All South Bay Central Office 
  • Liz Schindler Johnson, Grand Vision Foundation 
  • The Warner Grand Theater Arts and Cultural Center.

By his own admission this third aspect of service to his Country was closest to his heart because it dealt more directly with people and especially with those disadvantaged or disabled. This was shown in the way he parceled out his volunteer hours, with the programs surrounding Beacon House getting most of his attention. He seemed to genuinely enjoy his working hours, taking calls on the crisis line and meeting directly with those in need. . Another favorite was his work with his “little brother.” Hospice was a different world, but the Hospice staff considred him an excellent volunteer, eager to help and generous with his limited time.

Start to finish, civilian leader as early as 8th grade; military combat leader, military peacetime leader; and full circle back to showing us how to serve our neediest citizens through civilian helping organizations.

Mike Fry served his country well in three different ways, and Escanaba should be proud at this time of our Esky 150 Celebration to count him among our military heroes and outstanding citizens.

Submitted by Jeanne Rose

Potvin, Rose (Neubauer)

Rose (Neubauer) Potvin
EHS Class of 1970
Rose went through the Escanaba School system. Two of Rose’s sisters, one older and one younger, attended and graduated from Holy Name. Rose requested she attend Esky so she could be in the marching band. She was active in school. She was always a good student, very respectful. Rose was the first in her family of nine children to go to college.

Rose is one of my older sisters. Growing up, she was always teaching me things, or sharing experiences with me. I was always encouraged by her love and attention. She even rewarded my good grades, when I got them. This alone would make Rose a success in my book, but she accomplished so much more. Rose went to NMU and got her teaching degree. She taught a short time then took some time off to raise her 3 successful children.

When Rose returned to teaching, she taught special ed at Soaring Eagle School in Hannahville. Rose never stopped learning. She went on the get her Ed Specialist degree at NMU all while working. She also moved into administration positions at Hannahville, as Vice-Principal and then Principal.

Rose was instrumental in the startup of the F.A.C.E. program at Hannahville. This program serves to educate young parents as well as their children. Rose has also taught graduate level courses at NMU. Education has always been a passion for Rose. She has impacted so many lives.

Rose lives in Bark River and continues to work at the Hannahville School. She will be part of the new Team Leadership. Rose has been married to Joe Potvin for over 30 years. They have 3 children, all with college degrees, and 4 grandchildren. Rose is active in her church, and her community.

Submitted by Cathy (Neubauer) Smith

Rosemurgy, Alexander S.

Alexander S. Rosemurgy
EHS Class of 1971
Alex attended Escanaba Area Schools graduating from Escanaba High School in 1971. He has been featured on television in an episode of Trauma where he speaks about teaching surgical students. A tough professor because he is so accomplished and expects the best from his surgeons, Alex has received endowments for his research in pancreatic cancer and robotic surgery.

After completing his residency in Surgery at the University of Chicago, Dr. Rosemurgy joined the faculty of the University of South Florida (USF) in 1984. From 1995 through 2011, he was a Professor of Surgery and a Professor of Medicine at USF where he was awarded The Vivian Clark Reeves/Joy McCann Culverhouse Endowed Chair in Pancreatic Cancer and Digestive Disorders. In addition, Dr. Rosemurgy served as the Associate Dean for Academic Enrichment and Simulation at the university through 2011. Prior to relocating to Florida Hospital Tampa, Dr. Rosemurgy served as Chief of General Surgery at Tampa General Hospital for over 20 years. Currently, he is serving as the President of the Southeastern Surgical Congress. Dr. Rosemurgy has been the lead investigator in over 40 pancreatic cancer trials and has published more than 300 clinical and scientific journals.

For more information about Alexander S. Rosemurgy, please click here.

Submitted by Susan Carlson

Brukardt, Larry A.

Larry attended Pine Ridge School and then Escanaba Junior and Senior High Schools where he was in track and cross country. He attended Bay De Noc Community College and continued his education while serving 22 years in the United States Air Force.

He served at Kincheloe AFB in Rudyard (now closed), overseas for almost 10 years in Zeiwbrachen, Germany, Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, NE; and Andrews AFB including Camp David, Maryland, among others. He began employment after retiring from the Air Force with a company which manufactured batteries for the space shuttle program. He then began employment with ARINC (now Booz Hamilton), a contractor working with the United States military and also installing lightening detection systems for numerous airlines. 

Larry's expertise and technical skills are a testament to his education, dedication and hard work but have enabled him to travel the world sometimes to the most remote and arduous locations where most people will never go (or be allowed to visit). 

Among his installation projects are such locations in Hong Kong, Greenland, the Aleutian Islands, Guam, Australia, Italy, and South Korea. Among the projects and installations of solar telescopes and space weather equipment he has done are those listed below. 

The Radio Solar Telescope Network (RSTN) is a network of solar observatories maintained and operated by the U.S.Air Force Weather Agency. The RSTN consists of ground-based observatories in Australia, Italy, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Hawaii.

It became apparent in the early 1960s that certain space weather events might interfere with the stated U.S. objective of a manned mission to the moon. In particular, the sun emits continuous electromagnetic energy and electrically charged particles, which can cause disturbances in the near-Earth environment and disrupt satellite communications. 

Foremost among these concerns was the possibility of a geomagnetic storm of solar origin. Metric Type II radio bursts, signatures of coronal shock waves or coronal mass ejections, were known to be commonly associated with solar flares. The United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) was thus assigned the task of developing and validating a network of ground-based solar observatories. AFRL established a world-wide network of sweep frequency recorders from which estimates of the shock speed in the corona could be made. This network, called the Radio Solar Telescope Network (RSTN), uses a bandwidth from 25 MHz to 85 MHz. The prototype was assembled and operated at the Sagamore Hill Solar Radio Observatory during the early 1960s. The Sagamore Hill Solar Radio Observatory began operating solar patrols in 1966. The Air Force Geophysics Laboratory (AFGL, currently Phillips Lab) transferred operation of the observatory to Detachment 2 of the 2nd Weather Group of the Air Force Weather Agency in October 1978. However, Phillips Lab continues to work in an advisory capacity to the observatory. 

The RSTN is complemented in its real-time capability by a radio telescope operated from 25 MHz (the ionospheric cutoff) to 1800 MHz by the Ionospheric Prediction Service in Culgoora, Australia. The USAF/RSTN system is currently being upgraded in frequency to a bandwidth from 25 MHz to 180 MHz by the Solar Radio Spectrometer (SRS) system at Palehua, Hawaii; San Vito dei Normanni, Italy; Sagamore Hill, Massachusetts; and RAAF Learmonth, Western Australia. The Sagamore Hill site is scheduled to be moved in the future to Holloman AFB, New Mexico. 

The mission of the solar observatories of the RSTN is to monitor solar flares, noise storms and other releases of energy from the sun, and when necessary, notify military and civilian personnel concerned with space, weather, power and communications in countries throughout the world. The observatories are operated by detachments of the 2nd Weather Group, as follows: 
  • Det. 1, RAAF Learmonth, WA, Australia 
  • Det. 2, Sagamore Hill Radio Observatory, Hamilton, Massachusetts, USA 
  • Det. 4, Holloman AFB, New Mexico, USA 
  • Det. 5, Palehua, Hawaii, USA 
  • Det. 6, San Vito Solar Observatory, San Vito dei Normanni, Italy 
The USAF/RSTN system is currently being upgraded in frequency to a bandwidth from 25 MHz to 180 MHz by the Solar Radio Spectrometer (SRS) system at Palehua, Hawaii; San Vito dei Normanni, Italy; Sagamore Hill, Massachusetts; and RAAF Learmonth, Western Australia. The RSTN is complemented in its real-time capability by a radio telescope operated from 25 MHz (the ionospheric cutoff) to 1800 MHz by the Ionospheric Prediction Service at the Paul Wild Observatory in Culgoora, New South Wales, Australia. The Sagamore Hill site is scheduled to be moved in the future to Holloman AFB, New Mexico.

Submitted by Susan Carlson

Aronson, Arthur V.

Arthur V. Aronson
EHS Class of 1915
Mr. Arthur V. Aronson attended the Franklin School, which was built in 1882. He graduated from the old high school, which was built in 1907. He was on the high school football team. Aronson then went to Michigan State and graduated with a civil engineering degree. As an adult, he was very involved with the school millage elections. He often spoke to Escanaba High School students in their government classes as a part of their education.

As the city engineer and city manager for 39 years (1923-1962), he played a great part in the growth of the town. Ludington Park was a very small strip of land until the 1930s. Aronson supervised the building of the large additions to the park, which took many years. The city built a large barge with a powerful motor that deepened the harbor by sucking sand from the bottom of the lake and running it through large stove-type pipes to build the large park we have today. The road that now runs from the Karas Memorial to the old lighthouse was the shoreline before this project. The peninsula where the museum and water plant are now located was all part of the lake before the land was made. The land going to the swimming beach and Aronson Island were also a part of this work. People were out of work during the depression in the 1930s, and this gave many people jobs.

Other major projects during Aronson’s tenure were a new bathhouse and steam plant, which supplied most heat for the stores on Ludington Street. He also headed other projects such as the gas plant, the new water plant, and the sewage disposal expansion. Most streets in Escanaba were paved during his years of being city manager as well.

Arthur Aronson was honored by the City Council in 1981 by naming “Aronson Island” after him for his service to the city for many years. Mr. Aronson is buried in Lakeview Cemetery.

Submitted by Don Aronson