2021 ISD 88 Hall of Fame

The ISD 88 Foundation and its Alumni Committee are pleased to announce the inductees into the 2021 ISD 88 Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame seeks to honor individuals who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in their lives or vocation, and who have made a difference in the communities in which they have lived It also conveys to current students the value of their education and the possibilities to which it may lead. The Hall of Fame is a way for the school and the community to honor exceptional individuals who, through example, inspire a new generation of students and staff.

The public is invited to a free open-house reception for both the 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame inductees at the New Ulm High School Commons on Friday, October 1st from 5pm-6:30pm with an induction ceremony at 5:30pm. The inductees will also participate in the Homecoming parade before the reception at 4pm and will be honored at half-time during the football game at 7pm

The 2020 135th Anniversary Celebratory Class inductees are:
Ted Fritsche – Class of 1924
Marni Gislason Obernauer – Class of 1963
Donald Mathiowetz – Class of 1957
Henry Somsen, Jr – Class of 1926

The 2021 inductees are:
Charlotte Anderson – Teacher 1950-1986
Ali Bernard-Sprenger – Class of 2004
Darla Cordes Gebhard – Class of 1966
Robert Niemann – Class of 1946
Brian Raabe – Class of 1986
Richard Schugel – Class of 1963

Charlotte “Jibbie” Anderson (Deceased) – Charlotte’s impact on the New Ulm public schools is immeasurable; she taught in the district for 37 years as a music instructor, first grade, and kindergarten teacher. She made a lasting impact on so many students through her caring and compassionate nature. She taught nearly 3,000 students during her time as an educator. After she retired, Charlotte helped establish The Wanda Gag Foundation, which was created to buy and restore the Gag house. She was unrelenting in her efforts to bring the house back to its heyday when Wanda Gag and family resided there. The restoration of the house took 20 years to complete, and Charlotte was there every step of the way. Charlotte admired Wanda Gag as an author and illustrator and shared in the same fondness for feline friends. In addition to her work with The Wanda Gag Foundation, Charlotte and her husband Hobart, established two scholarships for students in New Ulm and surrounding areas, one being a teaching-focused scholarship and the other, a health-related one. Charlotte was a lifelong learner and valued education, creating these scholarships allowed her to share that gift of learning with future generations. Charlotte’s influence is still felt in our community by her legacy rooted in education and steeped in volunteerism.

Ali Bernard-Sprenger – A 2004 graduate of New Ulm High School, Ali began her wrestling career at 11 years old. It was at that early age that she began to show drive and dedication to the sport. She became a member of the New Ulm High School wrestling team in seventh grade and that passion for wrestling continued to flourish in that environment. It wasn’t easy being a female in a male-dominated sport, as she was often taunted by wrestlers and fans from opposing teams. She didn’t complain or back down. Her reputation for being a tough, unrelenting opponent grew as did her wins. She went on to wrestle with the Minnesota Storm while in high school. During college, Ali was the first woman to earn five CIS Canadian College National Champion titles. In addition to that, Ali has had many accomplishments over her long wrestling career from being named Junior National Champion in 2003 to being a member of two Olympic wrestling teams. Her commitment to the sport has led to a career as a coach of the Minnesota USA Girls’ Wrestling program. She continues to lead and inspire girls in the sport of wrestling through her enthusiasm and coaching expertise. The sport is evolving, leading the way for more girls to participate, Ali has been instrumental in this change not only in the state of Minnesota but across the country.

Darla Cordes Gebhard – A 1966 graduate of New Ulm High School, Darla has been a lifelong resident and a passionate advocate for keeping the stories alive of New Ulm’s past. She has served four terms on the Junior Pioneers Board of Directors. It was during that time that she worked fervently to protect the park through land negotiations. She has worked on the Minnesota Historical Society oral history projects. Her extensive knowledge of New Ulm’s history, and more specifically the US-Dakota War of 1862, led to her working with Twin Cities Public Television, taking them on tours of the city and Milford so they could film a documentary on the subject. Darla secured a grant to assist with the cost of placing cemetery markers on all the unmarked graves at the New Ulm city cemetery of those that died in the US-Dakota War of 1862. Darla’s effort to preserve the history of that war provided her the opportunity to co-author a book, Eight Days in August that detailed the stories of the survivors and those that lost their lives in the uprising. Her commitment to preserving New Ulm’s history is an asset to all. In her role as a research librarian for the Brown County Historical Society and Museum, she doubled the family genealogical files that are now available there from 2,500 to over 5,000. Her enthusiasm for history has led to many opportunities for the community to benefit from learning more about the past and upholding it for generations to come.

Robert (Bob) Niemann (Deceased) – A 1946 graduate of New Ulm High School, Bob was involved in basketball, football, track and field, class play, choir, boys’ octet, and the editor-in-chief of the Eagle. While he enjoyed participating in many activities, he was most interested in flying. He earned both private and commercial pilot licenses while in high school and gave rides for free. He went onto the University of Minnesota and was in the engineering program, while there he applied to West Point. Bob was accepted and was the first New Ulm resident to have attended West Point. After graduation, he married his high school sweetheart, Thelma Muesing. He went onto Air Force pilot training and was sent to South Korea in 1953. On April 12, 1953, Bob was reported missing in action as his plane was shot down in a dogfight with a Russian-flown aircraft. There was some evidence that he survived the crash and was hospitalized in China. Some believe that he was then sent to Russia. To this day his case remains unsolved and the investigation by the U.S. Department of Defense is still ongoing. Bob left behind his wife, Thelma, daughter, Ann, and son, Robert that was born two months after he went missing. Bob’s life was cut short but his love of family and service to our country never wavered.

Brian Raabe – A 1986 graduate of New Ulm High School, Brian Raabe has had a zest for baseball. It was beyond loving the game, it was a desire to not only be the best player he could be but also a fierce and hardworking teammate. While Brian played baseball at NUHS, he also excelled in football and hockey and was named captain in all three sports. He went on to play baseball at the University of Minnesota where he made his mark as the consummate team player. That dedication to working hard and to continually play at a higher level led to Brian being drafted by the Minnesota Twins. In addition to the Twins, he also played for the Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees and played for one year in Japan. His time in the minor leagues resulted in him leading in hitting in four out of the five years he played. After he retired from playing professional baseball, Brian embarked on a new career as a coach. He led the Forest Lake High Baseball team for 10 years in much success. He then provided the spark needed to turn the Bethel University baseball program into a mighty force these past nine years. Brian is also the lead hitting instructor for the Minnesota Twins Youth Training academy, the Play Ball! Minnesota Ambassador and is the part-owner of two instructional hitting facilities in the Twin Cities. His love of baseball began on the fields in New Ulm and has allowed Brian to have a career in a sport that he’s passionate about, coaching players the art of the game and doing so with the fire and intensity that has never faded.

Richard Schugel – A 1963 graduate of New Ulm High School, Rich went onto attend Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis, then enlisted in the army. It was during his time in the army that his leadership skills flourished. He spent one year in Vietnam where he was in charge of heavy equipment repairs. His service there earned him an Achievement Citation for Faithful and Efficient Performance of Duty. After Vietnam, he was sent to Fort Carson in Colorado where his integrity and dedication led to him being “Battalion Soldier of the Month.” After his time in the army, Rich returned home to Minnesota where he formed J&R Schugel Trucking, Inc. with his brother, Jerry. As the business grew, Rich started trucking terminals in both Illinois and Georgia. His unending passion for the trucking industry provided the opportunity for him to mentor those that were interested in being part of the profession. In 2003 he made a career change as a branch manager for CIT where he was in charge of service, parts, and sales. He has always dedicated time to giving back to the community as he has served as a volunteer firefighter in New Ulm and Courtland, coached the Junior Bi-County baseball team in Courtland, and served on the church council. He retired in 2010 and moved to New Ulm. J&R Trucking has made a lasting impact on our community and beyond. They are the seventh-largest employer in New Ulm and their commitment to their employees continues to be steadfast throughout all these years thanks to the vision Rich and Jerry had all those decades ago.