Wisconsin History Makers
Each year the Wisconsin Historical Society presents four awards to individuals for their accomplishments and celebrates their contributions to history at the Wisconsin History Makers Gala.
Meet the 2010 class of Wisconsin History Makers. View more information on them and past recipients below.
The William Dempster Hoard Award for Distinction in Agriculture
Mr. William E. Allen is a former professional basketball player in the American Basketball Association and European Professional League, the first African American basketball player at the University of Miami, Florida, and a farmer and community activist. Allen is also the CEO of Growing Power, a national nonprofit organization based in the inner city of Milwaukee that supports the development of community food systems.
For his efforts to promote sustainable farming methods in low-income neighborhoods, he will be honored with The William Dempster Hoard Award for Distinction in Agriculture. Mr. Allen has over 50 years experience in farming, marketing and distributing food and has shared his knowledge with youth, adults, community groups, immigrants, farmers, and consumers. He is referred to by many as a modern day George Washington Carver, a person that he greatly admirers. Mr. Allen is also leading the effort to encourage our youth into healthy eating habits to end juvenile obesity. Read more about Mr. William E. Allen
The Spencer Tracy Award for Distinction in the Performing Arts
Professor Michael Leckrone, for his many years as Director of the Marching Band and Director of Bands at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, will be receiving The Spencer Tracy Award for Distinction in the Performing Arts. Before coming to Wisconsin, Professor Leckrone taught at Butler University, his alma mater. During his 41 years as the UW-Madison Band Director, he has developed one of the finest marching bands in the United States. In addition, he has considerable professional experience as an arranger, composer and performer, publishing over 200 arrangements and compositions for marching band and concert band.
Professor Leckrone was recently inducted into the Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Football Hall of Fame, named a Badger Legend by the governor of Wisconsin and named one of 10 "Madison Musical Legends" by "Madison Magazine." Read more about Professor Michael Leckrone
The Charles Van Hise Award for Distinction in Education
Dr. Robert R. Spitzer is President Emeritus of the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). As President of MSOE (1977-1991) he was known as the "businessman president" where he innovated financial and management charting systems. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs expanded incorporating international dimensions and global awareness into the MSOE mission.
Today, graduates of MSOE are highly sought after because of their excellence in engineering, entrepreneurship, business enterprise and national reputation. He will receive The Charles Van Hise Award for Distinction in Education. Prior to leading MSOE, Dr. Spitzer spent 28 years at Murphy Products Co., Burlington, WI, a nationally known agribusiness firm, where he served as Director of Research, Executive Vice President, President and CEO, and Chairman of the Board. Read more about Dr. Robert R. Spitzer
The Samuel C. Johnson Award for Distinction in Corporate Leadership
Mr. Frederick P. Stratton, Jr. will be receiving The Samuel C. Johnson Award for Distinction in Corporate Leadership for his work as the retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Briggs & Stratton Corporation, the world’s largest producer of gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment, founded by his grandfather. He faced many challenges as CEO from 1977- 2001 including the entry of moderately priced premium Japanese engines and the demand by mass retailers for lower prices.
Under his leadership, Briggs and Stratton reorganized into product-focused divisions, expanded product lines, and entered into a joint venture in China long before that country had a strong economic base. His tenure resulted in long-term stability for the company. He remains active in the community and serves on numerous corporate and nonprofit boards. Read more about Mr. Frederick P. Stratton, Jr.