Graduates from 1943, 1956, 1979 and 1989 were represented as Brainerd High School (BHS) gets set to induct four members into its Hall of Fame during the 2012 homecoming festivities.
The Hall of Fame banquet and induction will kick off at 5 p.m. Oct. 5 with a social hour in the high school cafeteria. The dinner will be at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15 and available through the superintendent’s office in the Washington Education Services Building.
Selected for this year’s hall of fame class are the late James Peterson, Sr., Phil Mattson, Kevin Doran and Jill Wyant Johnson
• James Peterson, Sr., Class of 1943 — James (Jim) graduated from Washington High School in 1943 and the Brainerd Junior College in 1948. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1949 and his master’s degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1955. Peterson served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during World War II and the Korean War. Peterson taught in Eau Claire, Wis., and Duluth prior to returning to Brainerd in 1951. He taught at the Lowell and Whittier Elementary Schools for two years before being appointed an elementary principal. For several years, he was the acting principal of three schools simultaneously.
As an elementary school principal, he worked hard to ensure that his students and staff received the best possible care. Peterson strongly believed in the power of positive reinforcement. He is known for implementing the “Principal’s Treat Jar” system into the Brainerd School District. where he sent a personalized letter of congratulations along with a pass to the treat jar to students who showed improvement in their course work. The students received a candy bar and, more importantly, heard words of praise from Mr. Peterson.
He worked for the Brainerd School District for 35 years until retiring in 1986.
Peterson passed away March 31, 2012 and is survived by his wife of 63 years, Marjorie, son James Jr., and two daughters, Deborah Johnson, and Tamara Holland.
• Phil Mattson, Class of 1956 — As a student at Washington High School, Phil Mattson was at times given keys to the school building to practice piano. Mattson is internationally known as a conductor, arranger, pianist and teacher. Twice nominated for Grammy Awards with his group, The P.M. Singers, his success in training young musicians for professional careers led to the establishment of The School for Music Vocations at Southwestern Community College in Creston, Iowa.
Mattson has served as director of choral activities at Foothill College in California and Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. He has taught at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma,Wash., and at The Phil Mattson School in Spokane, Wash. His undergraduate studies in music and philosophy/religion were done at Concordia College — Moorhead, graduating summa cum laude. His graduate degrees in choral literature and conducting were completed at the University of Iowa as an NDEA Fellow.
Mattson has published more than 100 works for choir and vocal jazz ensemble. The Manhattan Transfer, The Real Group, Chanticleer, The Four Freshmen, The Dale Warland Singers and Beachfront Property are among groups who have commissioned his arrangements.
Mattson has conducted honor choirs and clinics through out the Unites States, Canada, Europe and the Far East. He served as ACDA National Repertoire and Standards chair for Vocal Jazz and annually conducts the Carnegie Hall Vocal Jazz Festival. During the summer, Phil Mattson Vocal Jazz/Choral Workshops are presented on campuses in the Unites States, Canada and Europe. His ensemble, Phil Mattson and VoicesIowa, was honored as “Vocal Jazz Group of the Year” by Downbeat Magazine.
Mattson lives in Minneapolis and is an active musician. He leads the Phil Mattson Singers, a nationally known six-voice vocal jazz ensemble and continues to arrange music for many choirs and vocal jazz ensembles worldwide. He is an accompanist for several leading Twin City singers and recently completed a CD of Duke Ellington compositions with singer Dorothy Doring. He teaches a number of voice, piano and arranging students, and this fall began teaching part-time at The MacPhail Center for Music. He enjoys his six children and eleven grandchildren as well as being a serious bicyclist and long-distance Harley-Davidson motorcycle rider.
• Kevin Doran, Class of 1979 — Since graduating from BHS in 1979 Kevin Doran has been living at the pace of the daily news as a broadcast journalist. He has been the face and the voice of the news for millions of people in thousands of newscasts over his career. Doran has earned several journalism honors, including two Emmy Awards from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, an Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association for excellence in electronic journalism, the National Anna Quindlen Award from the Child Welfare League of America for excellence in journalism on behalf of children and families, plus awards from The Associated Press for his reporting on education issues and his anchoring.
Doran got his start in 1985 working as a producer and news photographer at KCMT-TV in Alexandria, now known as KCCO-TV. He met his wife Teresa while working as an anchor and reporter at KTTC-TV in Rochester, Minn. To gain experience he moved to WSAZ-TV in Huntington, W.Va., and then on to WRTV-6 in Indianapolis. He has been the evening news anchor and managing editor at both WROC-TV News 8 and WUHF-TV FOX in Rochester, New York since 2000.
Doran is a graduate of St. Cloud State University. At BHS he was president of both his junior and senior classes. Growing up he played football, basketball and baseball and he was a member of the A cappella Choir in High School. Doran is the son of Tom and Marguerite Doran. His brother Mike and sister Kathy Barta both live in the Brainerd Lakes area with their families.
Today Kevin and his family live in Victor, just outside of Rochester, in New York’s Finger Lakes region. The Dorans have two daughters, Emma and Eva, and they are active members of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. They volunteer their time with many local charities. As recognition for their efforts Kevin and Teresa were named Victor’s Citizens of the year in 2003.
Regardless of where Kevin is or whatever story he is reporting, Brainerd is always in his heart. He says the values of hard work, honesty and fairness he first learned from his parents and then from his teachers and others in his hometown have given him the perfect foundation for his work as a journalist.
• Jill Wyant Johnson, Class of 1989 — Jill Wyant Johnson is currently senior vice president and general manager of the Food & Beverage (F&B) Americas business for Ecolab Inc., a Fortune 500 company that provides water, hygiene and energy technologies and services for customers in more than 160 countries around the world. As leader of this $700 million business, Wyant is responsible for serving the dairy, brewing, beverage and food processing industries in some of the industry’s largest and fastest growing global markets.
Wyant joined Ecloab in 2009 as vice president, Global Strategic Planning, where she was instrumental in developing the global water, energy and waste growth strategy for Ecolab. This strategy work culminated in the company’s $8 billion acquisition of Nalco, the world’s largest sustainability services company focused on industrial water, energy and air, in 2011. Prior to joining Ecolab, Wyant spent twelve years at General Electric where she gained broad senior management experience, including sales, marketing, Lean Six Sigma quality, product development and customer service.
After graduating from BHS in 1989, Wyant attended the University of St Thomas, and graduated summa cum laude with degrees in international marketing and Japanese studies. She completed her undergraduate international program at Osaka Gakuin University in Osaka, Japan. Wyant earned an MBA with highest honors from the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business in 2002.
In addition to her Ecloab responsibilities, Wyant serves on the Leadership Cabinet of the Greater Twin Cities United Way and will help raise nearly $90 million in support of Minnesota communities this year. In 2011, she served as executive chairperson of Ecolab’s Community Giving Campaign which raised over $1 million, a company record. She and her family also volunteer as a “Big Family” in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program. Her professional and philanthropic achievements were recognized by Profiles in Diversity Journal magazine when she was named one of their “Women Worth Watching” in September 2011.
Jill and her husband, Pat, have one son, Jacob, and live in St. Paul. Jill enjoys spending time with her family, running, biking, and reading. She credits her success to the strong work ethic she learned from her parents, the support of her husband and son, and the tremendous mentoring provided by teachers in the Brainerd School District (especially David Stark and Stuart Lade).
The Brainerd High School Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame is sponsored by Brainerd Rotary, Brainerd Public Schools Foundation, Brainerd High School and the Brainerd Dispatch.
All people who have been graduated for seven years from BHS are eligible for nomination for the hall of fame. The recognition seeks to honor those who have made distinguished achievements after graduation from high school.
Nominations may be made with the superintendent’s office or members of the hall of fame selection committee that is chaired by Jim Hunt.
Other members of the selection committee are Terry McCollough, Ruth Gmeinder, Don Ryan, Arnold “Casey” Stengel, Katie Ulm, Rick Bricker, Jill Carlson-Ferrie, Kevin Thesing, Karen Owen, Andrea Rusk, Steve Razidlo and Bob Nystrom.