Hall of Fame 2020

The ISD 88 Foundation and its Alumni Committee are pleased to announce the following inductees into the 2020 ISD 88 Hall of Fame in 1985, five graduates were recognized as Distinctive Graduates for the 100th Anniversary of New Ulm Public School’s first graduating class. In this, the Hall of Fame’s seventh year of induction, and not the 135th Anniversary of graduations, the ISD 88 Foundation has chosen to honor four of these graduates with formal induction into the ISD 88 Hall of Fame (the fifth, Ann Vogel, was previously inducted in 2015).

Due to Covid-19, the induction ceremony will be postponed until it can be safely held.

2020 Inductees:
Ted Fritsche – Class of 1924
Donald Mathiowetz – Class of 1957
Marni Gislason Obernauer – Class of 1963
Henry Somsen – Class of 1926

Theodore R. Fritsche (deceased) – A 1924 graduate of New Ulm High School, Ted was involved in the theater and athletics, including gymnastics. He continued this in college, eventually becoming the team captain. He was also chosen by President Coolidge to be among the “President’s 100” top marksmen in the country. After graduation, he attended the University of Minnesota. Following in his father’s footsteps, he graduated from the Medical School in 1930. In 1935, Dr. Ted (as he would come to be known) returned to New Ulm, where he practiced as an Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor before focusing solely on Ophthalmology later in his career. He was president of the Minnesota Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology and a 20-year chairman of the Committee of Ophthalmology. In 1967, Ted was the recipient of the prestigious Harold S. Diehl award of the University of Minnesota Medical School. In addition to his professional successes, Ted was involved in the New Ulm community. He was elected as Mayor in 1962 and served two terms. He was also a member of the Junior Pioneers, Chamber of Commerce, and the Lions Club. Many in New Ulm also fondly remember him as the owner of an apple orchard, which is now New Ulm’s “Orchard Addition” neighborhood.

Donald Mathiowetz – A 1957 graduate of New Ulm High School, Donald was involved in both the arts and athletics, participating in many activities. After graduation, he attended the University of Minnesota, where he graduated with a degree in chemical engineering. Through the NROTC, Donald graduated from US Naval Submarine School and then the US Navy Guided Missiles School. He was the Commanding Officer of the nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Puffer during the Cold War. He later served in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Engineering, and Systems at the Pentagon. Donald was promoted to the rank of Captain by Senate confirmation in 1982. Capt. Mathiowetz has been awarded the Navy Achievement Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, and the Legion of Merit. After retiring as an inspector general, he later became a math and science teacher in San Diego and, after that retirement, continued as a substitute teacher. In his free time, he sings in the prestigious San Diego Master Chorale and is a Docent for the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

Marion “Marni” Gislason Obernauer (deceased) – A 1963 graduate of New Ulm High School, Marni was active in the arts, including the High School’s first musical, and she was an early voice for women’s equality and leadership. After graduation, Marni attended Smith College in MA, where she majored in English. Marni wanted to “see the world,” so she spent a year as a flight attendant for Pan Am airlines. She spent another year with Pan Am, this time coordinating a program she designed to pair flight attendants with non-profit volunteer opportunities. Marni returned to academics, and she earned her MBA from Harvard Business School in 1974, where she was one of only 49 women in a class of 800. She began work at Morgan Guarantee Trust on Wall Street, where she stayed for 20 years. A working mother at a time when this was not common, Marni was on the cover of Working Woman in 1977. The Marion Gislason Award was established in her honor at Boston University School of Business – Executive Development Roundtable for excellence in the field of leadership development. Marni tragically passed away in 1996 at the too-young age of 50 years, but her memory lives on with the family, friends, and colleagues that knew her.

Henry Somsen, Jr. (deceased) – A 1926 graduate of New Ulm High School, Henry, Heine to his friends, was involved in the arts and athletics. After graduation, he attended the University of Minnesota, where he received his undergraduate degree in 1930 and his law degree in 1932. During WWII, Henry enlisted as a Private in the US Air Force and attained Captain’s rank by the time of his honorable discharge. After service, he served three years as Secretary to Senator Joe Ball of Minnesota. Henry returned to New Ulm to the family law firm, established in 1894, where he was an attorney at Somsen, Schade & Franta, PLC for over 50 years. An avid outdoorsman and environmentalist, Henry served on the Minnesota Council of Parks and was one of the seven founding members of the Minnesota Parks Foundation in 1967. Somsen Slough west of New Ulm is named in his honor. In New Ulm, he founded the New Ulm Area Foundation, was president of the Community Concert Association for almost 40 years, served on the New Ulm Industries Group and the Union Hospital Board, and many more. The legacy of Heine’s 98 years of life lives on in New Ulm today.