RACINE — Five Park High School alumni were inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame this year.

The Hall of Fame was started in 1974 by directing principal James C. Thompson. A scholarship program started in 1986 and funded by contributions from Hall of Fame members awarded two $2,014 scholarships to seniors Caitlin Kujawa and William Mattison.

Hall of Fame members must be Park High School graduates, have graduated at least 10 years prior to induction and achieved noteworthy status in the person’s profession or in the area of humanitarianism. A brief letter of nomination indicating the nominee’s name, year of graduation and accomplishments may be sent to Park High School. A committee of Park High School teachers and administrators reviews résumés submitted by nominees before the final selection is made.

Inductees include graduates from as far back as 1929. The inductees for 2014 include:

Ralph Anderson

Class of 1943. Anderson was called to active military duty in February of 1943. He flew 33 combat missions with the Eighth Air Force in England in 1944. He earned a Distinguished Flying Cross, four Air Medals, and retired from the military as a Lieutenant Colonel.

He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Marquette University in 1949. Anderson’s civilian career included 20 years as the secretary of GAB Business Services Inc. in New York City. His assignments included serving on the Committee for the Development of the National Flood Insurance Program and chairing the Committee for the U.S. Coast Guard’s Off Shore Oil Pollution Program. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Military Officers Association of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Anderson has continued to show his loyalty to Park High School, recently coordinating the Class of 1943’s 70th class reunion.

Susan Barna Cook

Class of 1960. Barna Cook graduated cum laude from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1964 and completed her graduate studies at the University of Illinois in 1966. Cook worked in education for many years as a kindergarten, first-, fourth-, and fifth-grade teacher in the Racine Unified School District and as an early childhood specialist.

She has served as a member and vice-chair of the Downtown Racine Corp., helping raise thousands of dollars for the community through events like Festival of Trees.

She is currently a member of the board of directors for The Prairie School, but has also served on the boards for the YWCA, the Racine Heritage Museum and the Racine United Arts Council. Cook has also helped fundraising efforts for the Christmas House for Cancer and the Racine Zoological Society.

Toney M. Bland

Class of 1977. Bland graduated with a double major in business administration and economics from Carroll College in 1981.

He began his professional career in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in 1981 as an assistant national bank examiner in Milwaukee. Bland has continued his ascent in his profession to become the deputy controller with the U.S. Treasury, helping charter, regulate and supervise all national banks and federal savings associations. This role has also led Bland to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services.

Bland, and the 450 bank examiners who work under his leadership, attempt to attain the goal of ensuring banks operate in a safe and sound matter in compliance with the law, giving Americans confidence in the banking and monetary systems.

Bland’s contributions go beyond his professional work. He is a financial contributor and supporter of the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other philanthropic organizations.

John R. Nickelsen

Class of 1960. Nickelsen graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1964 and earned his master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1969. He began his career in education as an English teacher at Mitchell Junior High School in Racine, but moved into administration in 1983 as assistant principal at McKinley Middle School and served in the same position at Park High School. He later became the directing principal at Mitchell Middle School and ended his career at McKinley Middle School in the same role.

Nickelsen’s talents have taken him beyond the schools and into the field of broadcasting. He has hosted and produced at WGTD’s Jazz Channel as well as the popular local radio shows “Education Matters” and “At the Water’s Edge.”

Nickelsen has also been an important contributor to the local music scene as a booster for local band camps and as Racine Band Fest program announcer.

Ed Steckley

Class of 1991. Steckley is a full-time freelance humorous illustrator, working primarily for print publications and advertisers. He has done illustrations for the toy industry, and has had art featured in theater productions, movies and television.

His work has been published in Mad Magazine, Cracked Magazine and the Boston Globe. He has done advertising work for Burger King, Canon, General Mills and Hasbro. He has also created illustrations for CD covers and an off-Broadway show.

Steckley was the 2012 winner of the Reuben Award, given for advertising illustration from the National Cartoonists Society. He is currently the president of the Manhattan Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society, and is also a member of the Society of Illustrators. Steckley is part of a small group of cartoonists from around the country who, through the United Service Organizations (U.S.O.), travel around the world entertaining the troops both on military installations and hospitals on morale raising missions.


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