After a pandemic hiatus, two classes of inductees into the Mankato High School/West High School Hall of Fame are being celebrated this week.
The school annually recognizes outstanding former staff and alumni. The 2020 and 2021 inductees will be honored at a ceremony Thursday. Attendance is limited to invitation only due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020 inductees are a military attaché and policy adviser, a musician, construction and real estate development company owner, a teacher and early girls athletics coach, and a principal:
• Bruce Boevers, class of 1969, served around the world in the Army and U.S. Department of Defense. He was a deputy chief of staff for political-military affairs in Germany; Army and Department of Defense attaché in Finland, Estonia and Austria; and a policy adviser for the Afghan Ministry of Defense. He later worked as a military analyst and a university adjunct faculty member.
• Mary Jane Alm, class of 1973, is an award-wining musician and a teacher. She was a member of City Mouse and toured all over the world with various groups.
She received eight Minnesota Music Awards and and an Emmy Award for a show at the Guthrie Theater. She taught at the McNally Smith College of Music and now The Institute for Production and Recording.
• Mike Brennan, class of 1975, started Brennan Construction, a commercial general contractor, and Brennan Properties, a real estate development and management company.
The construction business had $28 million of revenue in 2019 and Brennan Properties manages about 100,000 square feet of commercial office space in Mankato. Brennan also has served on the boards of a number of community organizations.
• Barbara Knutson was a teacher and one of the pioneers of girls athletics at West. She was a physical education teacher from 1969 to 2002. She started outdoor recreation programs, coached volleyball, swimming and golf and advised the Sole Steppers/Orchesis Dance group. She died in 2019.
• John Barnett started his teaching career in Slayton and came to Mankato in 1976 as West assistant principal. He became principal in 1981 and remained until his retirement in 2004.
During his tenure, West was selected a Blue Ribbon National School of Excellence by the U.S. Dept. of Education. He helped create a model for staff involvement in school financial, personnel and operational decisions.
The 2021 inductees are a football coach, a curler turned charity founder, a military intelligence analyst, a space engineer and a teacher turned university dean:
• Win Brockmeyer, class of 1927, was an athlete turned coach. At West he held records in football and track and went on to play for the Gophers and then semi-pro with the Minnesota All-Stars.
He coached high school football for 40 years, most of them in Wausau, Wisconsin, where he won 26 conference championships. He also coached other sports, including a state champion basketball team. He died in 1980.
• Todd Birr, class of 1986, began his curling career at West, went on to earn a bronze medal at the Men’s World Curling Championships in 2007, and now is the ice manager at Four Seasons Curling Club in Blaine.
He also is co-founder of the nonprofit Lupus Research Foundation. His wife, Regan, has lupus. He helped start the Lupus Spiel USA that has grown to become the largest professional-amateur curling tournament in the world.
• Mary Schroeder, class of 1990, is a senior intelligence analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense. She served in the U.S. Navy Reserves and was deployed twice to Venezuela. She previously also was an English language teacher in Korea and Egypt.
• Christopher McQuin, class of 2001, served in the Air Force then went to work for NASA. He helped operate rovers on Mars and develop future lunar and Martian rovers. He was chief engineer for hardware development on NASA’s first full humanoid robot.
He later worked for SpaceX and Motiv Space Systems and now at Nimble Robotics in California.
• Harold Fitterer was a teacher, professor and School Board member. He taught English at Mankato High School from 1951 to 1965. He also was a coach and club adviser and announcer at football games.
He later became a professor and dean at what now is Minnesota State University. He also served on the Mankato School Board. He died in 1977.