More than 70 people turned out Friday night to induct four into the Brainerd High School Hall of Fame.
Held in the BHS cafeteria, “thank you” was the word of the night, with inductees all honored to be chosen for the hall of fame of their high school alma mater.
“Looking around, I am truly honored to represent my school with people that have done as much as they have,” said Kevin Doran, class of 1979. “Words cannot express how grateful I am of my family, and the teachers and education that I had in Brainerd that led me to where I am today.”
• 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.
“It’s great to be back in these halls,” said Johnson Friday night with a smile. “I never thought I’d say that again. But I feel truly blessed to be honored with such an achievement like this (BHS Hall of Fame) tonight.”
• 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.
• 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.
“We are only responsible for what we do with ourselves,” said Mattson, who completed the Brainerd homecoming festivities with a performance Sunday. “I was given a talent. I only further completed that talent with the tools I was given around me.”
• 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.
Peterson passed away March 31 and is survived by his wife of 63 years, Marjorie, son James Jr., and two daughters, Deborah Johnson, and Tamara Holland.
“It’s amazing to see how many people my grandpa touched in his tenure,” said Peterson’s granddaughter, who spoke on his behalf. “I always thought his purpose was to protect me and his grandchildren and to find out he did so much more is wonderful.
“People will always remember his ‘treat jar,’ and it went beyond the reward of earning a ‘treat,’ but the approval of the principal. He really embraced that.”