As part of the recent Alumni Weekend celebration at DeLaSalle, the school honored seven individuals (including one husband and wife team) at the 2016 Hall of Fame/Lasallian Awards. Three awards make up the DeLaSalle Hall of Fame. (You may click on the award to view past recipients.)
Established in 1989, the DeLaSalle Hall of Fame perpetually honors and commemorates those graduates and friends whose leadership and achievements in the areas of Christian faith, education, service, and athletics have made an outstanding and enduring impact on DeLaSalle and its tradition. Because of what these award recipients have done in their lives and for DeLaSalle, it can be said that DeLaSalle would not be the same without them.
Jim ’60 and Jane Becker – 2016 Hall of Fame Award
Rarely has DeLaSalle honored a husband and wife team as inductees to the DeLaSalle Hall of Fame, but this induction is richly deserved and rightly shared. This year’s Hall of Fame winners are Jim ’60 and Jane Becker who have been married for over 48 years.
Jim earned bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Minnesota. He spent five years in private practice in Minneapolis, before joining the legal staff of Burlington Northern in St. Paul. In 1981, Burlington Northern moved the Beckers to Seattle, where he retired in 1993 as senior vice president and general counsel for the giant transportation company. Jane a graduate of Ripon College and the University of Minnesota, knew about De, of course, because of Jim’s loyalty to the school he attended, and the study habits and Christian values he learned there.
In 1998, Jim and Jane decided jointly to pursue more than just traditional success and philanthropy. Together with their sons, they established the nonprofit, Willow Family Foundation. Its mission is to make grants to charities in Seattle and Tucson to those located in cities where their adult sons, Steve and Tom lived, as well as to DeLaSalle. The Willow Foundation has continued making those grants over the ensuing years, changing the lives of many young people and providing these young people opportunities they likely would never have had without the grants. In their giving, they have generously supported over 20 DeLaSalle students who have journeyed into and through their college careers, and are now giving back to their communities and following their dreams.
“Because Jim and I became aware of the tremendous job De was doing in providing strong academic and faith-based education to the youth of Minneapolis, we were more than happy to support the scholarship fund at De,” Jane recalls.
Why did Jim and Jane choose to spend so much of their golden years and their treasure to embark on such a venture? Jim responds to that question very directly. “It’s because of the faith formation aspects of my De experience which helped me focus on the truly important things in my life,” he explains. “All of these lessons, learned at De, guided me to successfully complete my education, to build my business career, and to create a loving relationship with my wife and my sons.”
Established in 1989 to recognize and honor select DeLaSalle graduates and friends whose current efforts and achievements uniquely reflect St. John Baptist de La Salle’s vision of Christian leadership, support of education, and service for the world in which they live. Their continued efforts are worthy of honor, support, and gratitude.
Tom Kalitowski ‘66 – 2016 Lasallian Award
Many of DeLaSalle’s graduates have gone on to multiple achievements in life. Yet we’d be hard pressed to find a graduate who has yet quite as many achievements as Lasallian Award recipient and Hall of Fame honoree, Tom Kalitowski.
Significantly, Tom attributes much of his success to his education at De. After DeLaSalle, Tom went on to graduate from the University of Minnesota in political science and from the U of M Law School. What followed was a distinguished career in public service. He began his legal life as special assistant to the Attorney General. He served as Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture before becoming chairperson of the Minnesota Water Planning Board and, later, Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
In 1987, Tom was appointed a judge in the Minnesota Court of Appeals and since 2014, he has been senior judge of the Court of Appeals.
How on earth did he ever do all of that? De gets much of the credit. “I found De to be an amazing college prepatory school,” he says. “English Lit from Brother Fidelis and Mr. Markwalder prepared me well for my English minor. Likewise, Mr.Graf’s emphasis on current political events and world affairs sparked an interest that led me to major in political science. In addition, I left De with a strong appreciation of friendships and a deep sense of loyalty and dependability, values that played a large role in my personal and professional lives.”
Tom met his wife, Susan, during his junior year at DeLaSalle at a Catholic Youth Center retreat. They’ve been married for 47 years and have two children, Susanna, 37 and Maggie 32, plus two grandchildren, Ivy and Lola. Tom and Susan’s volunteer and charitable activities include Loaves and Fishes, Ascension Parish and Second Harvest Heartland food shelves.
Gerald Miller ‘56 (Posthumously) – 2016 Lasallian Award
All of us at DeLaSalle know full well that many of our DeLaSalle classmates are watching over us from heaven. One of them honored in 2016, some 20 years after his passing, is Jerry Miller, never forgotten by the many De students and colleagues who he touched during his life.
Jerry Miller’s teaching and coaching career spanned 37 years. It began at Ascension Grade School and was followed by nine years at De teaching social studies and religion and coaching football, basketball and baseball. At Robbinsdale High School, he taught social studies, coached football and served as the school’s first women’s track coach. He also coached at numerous other District 281 schools and at North Hennepin Junior College.
He earned both Bachelors and Masters Degrees at the University of Saint Thomas and later coached football at Saint Thomas with legendary DeLaSalle athlete and University of St. Thomas Head Coach, Mark Dienhart. Jerry was also head football coach at Benilde St. Margaret’s where he taught religion.
One of Jerry’s six children, Jeremiah, explains that, despite his father’s achievements in coaching and teaching, what he should most be remembered for is “remaining strong in his faith as well as raising six kids and loving grandchildren.” Four of those children are teachers, one is a communications specialist, and the sixth is a home health care giver.
For 20 years, Jerry attended annual spiritual retreats at the Jesuit Retreat House in Demontroville. Jerry taught CCD classes at Sacred Heart parish and also supported Sharing and Caring Hands. Memorial funds from his funeral went to the Jesuits to purchase coloring books and crayons for children.
Jeremiah also notes that is there was a guiding spiritual motto that sustained his dad during all of his years, it was the prayer he said at DeLaSalle during his student days: “Always remember we are in the holy presence of God.”
So let us always remember and honor this outstanding teacher, coach, husband, father, grandparent and De graduate — a man who lived by the Lasallian way, Jerry Miller, and is rightly recognized for his service to others with a 2016 Lasallian Award
Established in 1995, the Roberts-Reinhart Award honors those Hall of Fame recipients who have earned special recognition in the area of athletics. It is named in honor of George Roberts and Dick Reinhart, DeLaSalle Hall of Fame Inductees and coaching legends.
Majik Reed ‘02 – 2016 Roberts-Reinhart Award
There are many great athletes in the DLS Hall of Fame – but none of them have excelled more in the sport of track and field as Majik Reed has.. She also deserves this honor because of her career work on behalf of others in the field of health care.
Majik was state champion in both the 100 meters and 200 meters in 1999 and 2000. In 2002, she earned the Athena Award at DeLaSalle, and the radio station, KMOJ, honored her as Metro Athlete of the Year. Enrolling at the University of Minnesota, she earned a letter while recording the third-fastest, indoor 200-meter time in Gopher history. Then she went on to even greater glory at the University of Alabama, where she earned three more collegiate letters, All-Conference honors in the SEC, and Academic All-Conference as well.
She earned a Bachelor of Science award at the University of Alabama, followed by an MA degree in health sciences administration from Louisiana State University. She has been a refractive counselor at Berkeley Eye Center and in patient education and counseling for those undergoing eye surgeries.
Of her time at DeLaSalle, Majik says she emphasizes how well prepared she was for college, as well as the values and respect for all humans, interwoven with the importance of service to others. She credits DeLaSalle with shaping the kind of person she is, making her a “valued member of the communities I have lived in.”
Favorite teachers she recalls from her years at De include current Theology teacher, Brother David Barth, from whom who she learned so much, and Majik also lauds former president, Brother Michael Collins, who “made a big impact in my life, as he did for so many others who had the privilege of knowing him.”
Benjamin Johnson ‘99 – 2016 Roberts-Reinhart Award
The Minneapolis native enjoyed a standout prep career, leading DeLaSalle to a pair of state championships. He was a two-time, first-team all-state selection in both football and basketball, and as a senior, was named a Street and Smith All-American, as well as an honorable mention Nike All-American, and was also was listed on Tom Lemming’s High School Football All-American list as a top-20 national recruit..
A rare four-year varsity starter with the De basketball team, Ben was listed as the 60th-best basketball player in the country in his senior season, having totaled more than 2,200 points during his high school career.
Ben started his collegiate playing career at Northwestern and played two seasons before returning to the Twin Cities to finish his career at the University of Minnesota. He was a two-time captain at Minnesota and scored a total of 1,202 career points between the two Big Ten Conference institutions.
A natural leader among peers, Ben began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Dayton during the 2005-06 season and then serving as an assistant coach for two seasons at the University of Texas-Pan American. A rising star in the collegiate coaching ranks, Ben would next experience great coaching success over four seasons on the staff at Northern Iowa. The Panthers won 93 games in that time frame, winning at least 20 games in all four years.
Following his time at UNI, Ben spent one season as an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska before returning to his hometown and alma mater at the University of Minnesota in 2013, with broad duties in recruiting and player development. Ben makes no secret that many of the values he learned at DeLaSalle are incorporated into his work with major-college student-athletes. Proud to be an alum of De, we are in turn proud to recognize him with the Roberts-Reinhart Award in 2016.
Mark James ‘77 – 2016 Roberts-Reinhart Award
The exceptional athletes we honor with the Roberts-Reinhart Award are, like the other Hall of Fame winners, also exceptional people. They have represented the school’s core Lasallian values in their family lives and in their communities. It would be difficult to find a better example of that that Roberts-Reinhart award winner, Mark James.
Mark was a standout performer on the basketball court at De, one of the best players in Minnesota during the 1970s. Mark’s sophomore year of 1974-75 coincided with the Minnesota State High School League opening up their previously all-public school basketball tournament to include Catholic and other independent high schools for the first time. To nobody’s surprise, considering DeLaSalle’s long-standing dominance among Catholic and independent schools, the Islanders were the first-ever non-public high school to qualify for the inclusive state tournament – and in the very first year that opportunity was made available.
The untold story behind that historic tournament run was that DeLaSalle had posted only an above-average record throughout much of the regular season before coach Joe Shrake made the wise decision to promote his sophomore star, Mark James, into the varsity starting lineup. Mark’s skills and scoring complimented the stellar play of other Islanders such as Percy Wade, Jim Kenney and Don Zierden, and the team rattled off six straight playoff victories to reach the tournament. Playing the prime-time 7:00 quarterfinal game before a packed arena of 15,000 spectators at the St. Paul Civic Center and an interested, statewide television audience, De was a heavy underdog against undefeated Waseca, but in true Islander fashion, De knocked off the pre-tournament favorite, with Mark playing a pivotal role throughout the game.
By the time Mark was a senior, he was the MAN in the DeLaSalle program, leading the Islanders to a ranking of fourth in the state, while earning first-team all metro and all-state honors (and even mention on some high school All-America teams).
Mark’s teammates and fellow students at De remember him as “a gentle giant” and a very humble person. He earned both the Good Conduct Medal and Army Service Ribbon while in military service to his country. Now 24 years into a career as a Minneapolis firefighter, Mark was a first responder when the 35W bridge collapsed in 2007 and is highly respected throughout the department.