The chief of police in Minneapolis, a famed North Shore artist, the region’s former top public defender and an ink-stained scribe from the West End are among the 12 people who will be inducted Saturday into the Denfeld Hunter Hall of Fame.
“I would love to say something witty, but I think I’m supposed to say something nice about my high school years at Denfeld,’’ said Jim Heffernan, Denfeld High School class of 1957 and one of this year’s hall inductees.
Heffernan was the longtime editorial page assistant and columnist at the News Tribune, from which he retired in 2005 after a 42-year career in journalism.
Most of the living members of this year’s Hall of Fame class, including Heffernan, are slated to attend the induction ceremony at the school in West Duluth. The event in Denfeld’s auditorium starts at 1 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
The 12 Denfeld grads were nominated and voted into the hall based on their school and life achievements. The Denfeld Hunter Hall of Fame began as the school’s athletic hall of fame with 20 original members in 1966. In 1996 the hall was expanded to include all walks of life, not just sports, and this year’s class will bump membership to 71.
New members are added on an occasional basis, usually in groups of 10 or 12.
Ironically, while ink-stained during his professional career, Heffernan never wrote for the Criterion newspaper at Denfeld and instead focused on theater, acting in school plays. That (and a childhood spent in West End movie theaters, when movies were about a dime) began a lifelong love of acting, including serving for many years as the newspaper’s theater critic and serving on several arts boards. Heffernan credits the music and theater faculty at Denfeld for inspiring his career, especially Joseph D. Dunn, who taught and directed theater, as well as music instructors Edgar Felten (Hunter Hall of Fame class of 2012) and Ellen Smith, who directed the annual operettas.
Heffernan said he recalls watching as his brother, Rodney, six years Jim’s senior, attended Denfeld and aspiring to follow in his brother’s footsteps.
“I really grew up thinking it was an honor to be able to go to school there. … I still do,’’ Heffernan said.
After graduating from Denfeld he served his stint in the Army, graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth and went to work for the hometown paper he idolized. He worked in all areas of the newsroom, from general assignment and city government beats to education, arts and entertainment, city editor and eventually editorial page assistant.
For 34 years he also wrote a weekly “slice of life” and humor column filled with a cast of characters. In print he “played” the Answer Man and touted his moniker as the newspaper’s Ethnic Editor, whatever that was. One of his most infamous characters was Blanche, his make-believe wife who was big and mean and bowled a lot.
Heffernan’s real-life wife, Voula, is none of those things. And, also unlike Blanche, Jim Heffernan has not sat around during retirement smoking Virginia Slims and eating bonbons. Heffernan continues to write regular columns for Zenith City Online and now spends time traveling (a recent Baltic cruise) and spending some winter weeks in Florida. He also is enjoying grandchildren in Duluth and is a board member of the Greater Denfeld foundation, which oversees Denfeld’s scholarship programs, and was a Denfeld commencement speaker in 2009.
Online For more information on the Denfeld Alumni Association and Hall of Fame go to denfeldalumni.com.
This year’s Denfeld Hunter Hall of Fame inductees also include:
Janee Harteau, Class of ’82, is the Minneapolis police chief - the first woman to serve in that role. That’s still a groundbreaking accomplishment, considering there are only 11 female chiefs in Minnesota and only three among the largest U.S. cities.
Harteau, who was named to the department’s top spot in 2012, earned a bachelor’s degree in police science, a master’s degree in public safety administration and worked her way up the ranks of the Minneapolis Police Department over
30 years, gaining accolades along the way.
Harteau says she went into police work because “I wanted to have a positive impact on the world and help people. As police officers we see people often at their worst or after they have become victims of terrible crimes. Having a positive interaction with a caring officer can make a significant difference in how a person deals with a tragic event, and catching ‘bad guys’ is very rewarding.”
In a 2012 interview with the News Tribune, Harteau joked that her favorite class at Denfeld was study hall.
“I had fun in school,” she said. “I was very social, and I liked the social aspect of school. I was truly not interested in learning. I was always known as the funny one, not the smart one.”
Harteau then buckled down. She earned a law enforcement degree at Hibbing Community College while performing as the lead singer in a rock band called “Magnum.” From there she joined the Minneapolis Police Department at 22 years old. Along the way, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from St. Mary’s University’s Twin Cities campus. She also is a graduate of the School of Police Staff and Command at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and is now an instructor at both schools and travels around the country teaching command leadership to police departments.
Harteau has a teenage daughter, Lauren, and is a volunteer on the boards of many nonprofits that work to help youths, girls and homeless people.
Howard Sivertson, class of ’47, may be among the most beloved, famous and talented artists in northern Minnesota. Sivertson said that as far back as kindergarten he told his teacher he wanted to be an artist, and the fact that he went on to paint so much about his childhood spent on Isle Royale, where his family operated a fishing camp, was a natural.
In high school he took art classes and was “nagged” by Denfeld art instructor Genevieve Eby to enroll in the Minneapolis School of Art. He did, and graduated in 1950. He served two years during the Korean War in Hawaii as a U.S. Naval cartoonist and illustrator. For the next 22 years he was employed as a graphic artist in Duluth. From 1969 to 1976, he was the in-house advertising agency for St. Louis County Savings and Loan and won a national award for advertising. In 1976, he turned to his first love as a fine-art painter of local history subjects and landscape painting of the North Shore and Isle Royale.
Sivertson has written and published five books on Lake Superior and the North Shore. Among his awards, Sivertson has won the Benjamin Franklin Award, a publishers award picked by a panel of 160 independent publishers and given annually to books based on their editorial excellence and design. Sivertson teaches painting and has an art gallery in Grand Marais while his daughter runs the Sivertson Gallery in Canal Park in Duluth.
Fred Friedman, class of ’65, served as Northeastern Minnesota’s chief public defender from fall 1986 until his retirement in April as the most senior public defender in the state. When Friedman addressed the Denfeld graduating class of 2010 he stressed, “Outside of my parents, my wonderful wife and two children, the most constructive thing that ever happened to me was my parents’ decision to enroll my brother and me into Denfeld High School when we moved here in March of 1964.”
After Denfeld, Friedman graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Duluth and earned his law degree from the University of Minnesota in 1972. He then returned to Duluth where he practiced as a full-time public defender from 1973-77, and as a part-time defender with a private practice specializing in criminal defense and representing professionals in front of licensing boards from 1977-92.
James M. Banovetz, class of ’55, is now a senior fellow at Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies, which he founded. Banovetz was a forensics champion at Denfeld. He credits his speech coaches, Hal Goetsch, who helped him correct a speech defect and taught him how to type, and Audrey Stolen, the debate coach, with building his oral communication skills and teaching him to think on his feet. Banovetz is credited with pushing city officials to install traffic lights on 44th Avenue West when, as editor of the Criterion newspaper, he wrote about two separate accidents in which pedestrians were struck and killed near the school.
Banovetz earned his B.A. at UMD as a Hunt scholar. He credits professor Emmett Davidson, chairman of Duluth’s City Charter Commission, for deepening his interest in government. Both his M.A. in 1961 and Ph.D. in 1963 are from the University of Minnesota. He has become a recognized expert in the field of local and state government. Banovetz has written eight books, including the bestselling text “Managing the Modern City” in 1971.
Jack Puglisi, class of ’60, died in 2011. His list of accomplishments at Denfeld include singing in the Cappella choir, vice president of his senior class, a nominee for homecoming king, a state-ranked shot putter in track and field and an All-Conference, All-State and second-team All-American football player, playing for his uncle Frank Puglisi (Hunter Hall of Fame inductee in 1966.)
Jack Puglisi played college football at the University of Minnesota and then at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and was drafted but didn’t play for the Miami Dolphins. Puglisi went on to become a world-renowned gun collector and dealer, and his shop in Gary-New Duluth, the Puglisi Gun Emporium, remains one of the premier gun shops in the nation.
Retired Maj. Gen. Wayne Gatlin, class of ’42, was an all-conference quarterback on a city championship team and that same year won the Duluth District Golden Gloves as a 135-pound lightweight before becoming an accomplished fighter pilot in World War II. He returned to Duluth in 1949, joining the 179th Fighter Squadron, retiring from the Minnesota Air Guard in 1984 having flown 7,747 military flying hours.
Gatlin was elected to the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame in 2000, having received the U.S. Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, Six Air Medals, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Combat Readiness Medal, the American Campaign Medal and several state of Minnesota medals.
Robert “Bob” Lund, class of ’38, died in 2007 after a career with General Motors during which he is credited with developing the concept for the Chevrolet Caprice, one of the best-selling cars of all time. He later was made a corporate vice president and moved to the Cadillac division, where he introduced the “Seville” that made Cadillac the top luxury car company in the nation.
Lund came from humble beginnings in the West End. His father died when he was 12, and he had to earn his own money as a paperboy. He was captain and an All-City football lineman at Denfeld in 1938 and was a member of the 7-0-1 team that outscored its opponents 130-20. At the 1976 Denfeld All-Class Reunion, Lund donated a Corvette as a door prize.
David Hicks, class of ’63, famed ski jumper and golfer. Hicks jumped for the U.S. Ski Team at the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. While at Denfeld he was the Minnesota high school state ski jumping champion in 1961 and 1962, a golfer, swimmer and National Honor Society member. He was the U.S. ski jumping champion in 1965 and 1966. He also was a successful amateur golfer and received his PGA Class A professional membership and became a club pro in Eau Claire, Wis., in 1983.
Betty Suliin, class of ’62, spent 40 years in the Denfeld High School office as secretary to the principal. Former Denfeld Principal Bill Westholm said she was an integral part of the Denfeld community: “For a high school principal who is responsible for a complex community of 130 staff, 1,000-plus students, several hundred families, other local residents and the business community, there is no greater asset than a competent lead secretary. When I got to Denfeld, Betty was that person,’’ Westholm said. “The main office is the center of a school’s universe. For many years Betty Suliin kept Denfeld’s center a friendly and efficient place to work, play and learn.”
Theodor J. (Ted) Litman, class of ’50, a longtime professor at the University of Minnesota. After graduating from Denfeld, Litman attended the U of M, receiving a B.A. (cum laude) in 1954, an M.A. in sociology with a minor in political behavior/American government in 1956 and a Ph.D. in the same areas in 1961. He joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 1961 and stayed until his retirement in 1999; he has served as professor emeritus since 1999. Litman has had more than 50 professional articles and reports published and co-authored “Health Politics and Policy” with Leonard Robins, now in its fifth printing.
Jean Endrizzi, English teacher/speech coach, had a career that spanned nearly 30 years at Denfeld. Endrizzi served as the Faculty Senate organizer, chairwoman of North Central Evaluation and Accreditation (which evaluated schools on a set of high-quality educational standards), chairwoman of Honors Night and coach of graduation speakers. She also served as adviser to the American Field Services student exchange program, and was Senior Class adviser and Girls Club adviser. She may be best known for her dedicated work in the English classroom and her success as a speech coach, including two Minnesota State High School League championship speech teams. In 2013 she was inducted into the Hurley High School Hall of Fame.