Nonprofit Spotlight: Central Hall of Fame inductees share history

Farm Forum

Gretchen Sharp is the executive director of the Aberdeen Public Schools Foundation Inc.

The Aberdeen Public Schools Foundation was pleased to honor and celebrate the 2013 Central High School Hall of Fame Inductees this weekend. This year’s inductees have made a significant difference in the lives of those around them. Despite the diverse variety of accomplishments they represent, they all have Aberdeen Central High School in common.

These individuals were nominated to the Hall of Fame by classmates, friends or family because of their accomplishments in academics/achievement, athletics or fine arts. After receiving biographical information from the nominees, the Hall of Fame selection committees review the candidates, and ultimately select individuals for induction into the Hall of Fame.

This year’s inductees were:


• Dr. Thomas Bower, class of 1974, serves as the chair of the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

• Mary (Hafnor) Hanson, class of 1961, produces and hosts “The Mary Hanson Show,” which is the longest-running independently produced cable program in the United States, spanning 32 years.

• Lt. Michael Hayes, class of 1968, graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., in 1972, and served his country in the Navy. On April 26, 1978, Hayes was safety testing a P-3 Orion naval aircraft when it crashed, killing all on board.


• Laura Legge, class of 2003, was a prolific high school and collegiate athlete, lettering in multiple sports, and the first female athlete at Central awarded the prestigious “Spirit of Su” Award in 2003.

• Jack Niesen’s professional career spanned 39 years, over 30 years (1965-96) with Aberdeen Public Schools. Jack coached football, wrestling, and track at Aberdeen Central.

• Gene Reich, class of 1969, is one of the most well known sports figures and broadcasting personalities in South Dakota as the “Voice of the Northern State University Wolves,” where he has called all the Wolves football and basketball games for 25 seasons.

Fine Arts

• Sue (Stewart) Gates, class of 1970, is director of the Dacotah Prairie Museum in Aberdeen, where she has been instrumental in revitalizing the ever-changing exhibits and programs.

• Ellen Premack, class of 1972, is the executive director of the Mizel Museum in Denver, where she builds bridges of understanding between diverse people through the intercultural arts.

• Rob Richards, class of 1974, is the house organist at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, playing the legendary “Mighty Wurlitzer” pipe organ originally installed in San Francisco’s Fox Theatre.

The Distinguished Service Award was presented to Joseph Kelly, class of 1936, recognizing his many contributions to the school and community. He touched many lives as a substitute teacher at Central, a veteran, and through his leadership of many community organizations.

Congratulations to this year’s Hall of Fame inductees! To nominate a distinguished Central alumnus for the 2014 CHS Hall of Fame, contact the Aberdeen Public Schools Foundation at 725-7118 or