Two doctors, an accountant, a businesswoman and a vice admiral of the Coast Guard made up the eclectic list of honorees inducted Sunday into the Brainerd High School Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame.
More than 100 people attended Sunday's ceremony at the high school to watch as Thomas G. Anderson, class of 1968; Dr. Kimberley M. Broekemeier, class of 1977; Dr. Gene M. Bierhaus, class of 1939; Cindy Fryklind Clough, class of 1976; and Vice Admiral Howard Thorsen, class of 1951; collectively became the ninth class inducted into the Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame.
"Our inductees have shown once again how special our Brainerd community is," said Stave Razidlo, assistant superintendent of the Brainerd School District. "Each and every one of you has done Brainerd High School very proud."
Friend LeeAnn Mjolsness (left), pinned a corsage on Dr. Kimberley Broekemeier Sunday at the Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame induction at Brainerd High School. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Along with a plaque that will grace the walls of Brainerd High School outlining their achievements, each inductee received an etched wine glass and a peace lily from the Hall of Fame Committee.
The inductees will be introduced at the beginning of the high school's annual Senior Recognition Night program at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the high school gym.
Tom Anderson started his business career as a certified public accountant with Arthur Andersen and later became a financial manager with Jostens, Carlson Cos. and Midwest Vision Center. He worked more than 20 years for Universal Pensions Inc. in Brainerd and Baxter, including nine years as president and chief operating officer. UPI grew from 12 to 500 employees before it was sold and he moved on to Hunt Technologies as chief operating officer.
The Baxter resident attended Bemidji State University and Manchester College (part of Oxford University) as an exchange student for one year, spending part of his time in England as a member of the Oxford boxing team. Anderson received his bachelor of arts degree with distinction from the University of Minnesota.
He is now part-owner and chief executive officer of Minnesota Thermal Science, with offices in Baxter and Plymouth.
Cindy Fryklind Clough
Anderson said his education in Brainerd was a key to his success in that it taught him the value of hard work, planning and teamwork. For that he gave credit to his teachers.
"Quality of teaching, quality of education, certainly makes a difference on where we go in life," Anderson said. "Everyone here hopefully can look back in life and say they had a positive influence on someone you touched along the way."
Dr. Kimberley Broekemeier was valedictorian of her class in 1977 with a 4.0 grade-point average. She also was a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. In addition to a long list of scholastic activities, she was a three-year letter winner in track and basketball.
She became an honor student at St. Olaf College, graduating magna cum laude in 1981 with a chemistry major. She still had time to become the 1980 state pentathlete champion.
After college she joined the Hormel Institute in Austin as a lab technician. Three years later she returned to the University of Minnesota as a graduate student in biochemistry, receiving her Ph.D. in 1990 with an emphasis in physical biochemistry.
She returned to the Hormel Institute as a postdoctoral fellow and began a career in basic biochemical research. She became a senior research scientist at Ohio State University before moving to Ohio Northern in 1998.
Broekemeier went down a list of teachers she had in high school and how they nurtured her education. She also included her parents, friends and other family members in that list.
"In one way, it's no surprise I got here because I had so many people who supported me in my life," she said. "I am where I am today because I had such a supportive background."
The late Gene Bierhaus was nicknamed the Battering Ram in high school because of football exploits that helped him become a charter member of the BHS Athletic Hall of Fame. He also was named to the Brainerd Dispatch All-Century Team. He participated in football, basketball, track and golf. His all-state football honor helped him earn a scholarship to the University of Minnesota where he played football from 1939-1942 and was a member of the 1940 and 1941 national championship teams. Though drafted by the Green Bay Packers, he chose to join the Marines. After receiving a degree in education he served as a lieutenant during World War II. His service included the Battle of Iwo Jima. He won the Marine Corps boxing championship and a Purple Heart after being wounded twice in battle.
After the war Bierhaus earned his doctor of veterinary medicine degree and he opened a practice in Colorado where he became the Colorado State Racing Commission veterinarian in 1957. His work with the commission lasted until 1981 and his work in horse racing drug regulation gave him national and international recognition.
Bierhaus returned to the lakes area in the early 1990s. He died Oct. 11 last year in Lake Shore.
On hand Sunday to induct Bierhaus were family friends Hank Mills and Dick Ashmun.
"On the football field, in the Marine Corps, throughout his life, Gene was the champion of champions," Mills said.
Added Ashmun: "I will always love and respect the honor of Dr. Gene Bierhaus."
Cindy Clough has served as coach of the Kixters since 1976. The team has won eight state championships and advanced to the state finals 26 times. The Kixters won the National High Kick Championship in 1987 in Florida. Her dance-coaching career also has included the fact she choreographed more than 20 major college bowl game halftime shows and she led the Kixters to Japan for the opening of the Tokyo Dome.
Off the dance competition floor, Cindy and her husband, Steve, have grown Just For Kix in the Baxter Industrial Park from a local children's program to serving 164 communities with more than 20,000 dancers competing annually in several Midwestern states. Just for Kix now has a catalog division that distributes more than 900,000 catalogs a year.
Clough said she and her husband started Just For Kix in 1981, never expecting it to become as big as it has. She said one of the greatest rewards of their company has been that it empowers women. She also enjoys that fact that all three of her children are working in the business.
"This is a truly humbling honor," Clough said of being inducted into the hall of fame. "It is neat to be doing my life's passion. Ever since I was a little girl, dance is what I've loved."
She also joked that she was the only one of her fellow inductees who not only hasn't left Brainerd but hasn't left Brainerd High School.
Vice Admiral Thorsen, a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy and a distinguished graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, retired from the Coast Guard, where he had extensive experience in coordinating U.S. interagency and foreign activities, primarily related to national security issues. Besides serving as commander of the Atlantic area he was commander of U.S. Maritime Defense Zone, Atlantic, a Navy command.
Most of his assignments before he became an admiral were associated with Coast Guard aviation, with a specialty of aircraft maintenance. His career included being commandant of cadets at the Coast Guard Academy.
For the last 10 years he has been an outside director on the board of a corporation providing information technology equipment and services to federal agencies. He is a senior fellow at the Center for Naval Analyses. In 1999, he co-founded the Foundation for Coast Guard History and he is chairman of the foundation's board of regents.
After moving 23 times during his Coast Guard career, he and his wife, Marlyn, returned to their home in Alexandria, Va.
Thorsen said since leaving Brainerd he never missed an opportunity to tell people about his hometown.
"I have probably 200 to 400 people who have heard my description of why growing up in Brainerd was absolutely the best thing," Thorsen said. "It is in fact probably, in my mind, the perfect place for a young man or woman to grow up. I hope it's still that way."
The Brainerd Distinguished Hall of Fame, sponsored by Brainerd Public Schools Foundation, Brainerd Rotary Club and the Brainerd Dispatch, was established to honor graduates of the high school for distinguished achievements and careers. The first class was inducted in 1999.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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