Five Leaders Honored for Making History
The Wisconsin Historical Society honored the lifetime achievements of five top leaders with ties to the state on Wednesday evening, May 9, during its second annual Wisconsin History Makers Gala at Milwaukee’s historic Pfister Hotel. The 2007 History Makers included: conservationist George Archibald, PhD, business leader Oscar C. Boldt, American Indian leader and civil rights activist Ada Deer, hockey champion Mark Johnson, and inventor and entrepreneur John C. Koss. The diverse group of dignitaries was recognized for the historic and continued contributions they have made to society, and each received an award named after a famed Wisconsinite in their area of expertise. Presenters of the awards included family, close friends and business associates. Ellsworth Brown, The Ruth and Hartley Barker Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society, began the evening’s program by welcoming more than 500 supporters, state and nationwide and thanking the co-chairs of the event, Mary Buestrin and Murph Burke.
George Archibald, the evening's first honoree, was saluted by the Wisconsin Historical Society with the Aldo Leopold Award for Distinction in Environment and Conservation, an award named for the conservationist considered to be the father of wildlife ecology. Archibald is universally recognized as one of the greatest conservation scientists and ecological champions of the 21st century. In 1972 he co-founded the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin, and has dedicated his life to crane research, public education, habitat preservation, and captivity breeding of cranes for release into the wild. He pioneered several successful techniques to rear cranes in human care, and is responsible for restoring the decimated North American Whooping Crane population from near extinction. In accepting the award, he explained why he personally values the work of the Wisconsin Historical Society, saying "History is very important — it helps us understand where we came from and helps us fine tune where we are going."
Oscar C. Boldt, longtime Appleton builder and business leader, received the Samuel C. Johnson Award for Distinction in Corporate Leadership, an award named for former president and fourth-generation family member to head the wax product manufacturing company S.C. Johnson. Boldt has spent more than 55 years building the business his grandfather founded in 1889, Oscar J. Boldt Construction, into one of the largest, most highly ranked construction groups in the nation. John F. Bergstrom, chairman and chief executive officer of Bergstrom Corporation presented Boldt with the award saying, "Oscar Boldt is to construction what Vince Lombardi was to football." In his own remarks, Boldt reflected on his life and connecting to the past, saying, "Our lives are greatly influenced by history whether it is remembered or forgotten."
Ada Deer was presented with the Robert and Belle Case La Follete Award for Distinction in Public Service, named in honor of the famous progressive politician and his equally esteemed wife. Noted University of Colorado Law Professor Charles Wilkinson presented the award. Deer is a nationally recognized social worker, community organizer, activist and political leader. In 1974 she became the first woman to chair the Menominee Tribe in Wisconsin, and in 1993 she became the first American Indian woman to be appointed to head the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Her educational vita includes an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master's in social work from Columbia University, and she is a fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. During her acceptance speech she described education as an enduring Wisconsin value that has profoundly shaped her life and helped many others to realize their full potential.
Mark Johnson, hockey champion, coach and one of Wisconsin’s most decorated athletes was appropriately bestowed the Vince Lombardi Award for Distinction in Sports, an award named for the legendary Green Bay Packers coach. Playing hockey for his father, the legendary University of Wisconsin Hockey Coach Bob Johnson, he helped Wisconsin win the 1977 national championship. A star player on the U.S. Olympic Hockey team at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Games, his crucial goals helped secure a victory over the heavily favored Soviet Union squad, then helped the team prevail in its subsequent Gold Medal-winning game against Finland. In 2004, after a successful 11-year National Hockey League career, Mark Johnson was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. As head coach of the UW-Madison women’s Ice Hockey Team, he continues to shatter school records and make program history, scoring back-to-back NCAA championships in 2006 and 2007. According to Johnson, it takes passion, commitment, integrity and team work to be successful in athletics and life. "The most important thing we can do is live each day as a role model for others," he said.
John C. Koss, inventor, entrepreneur and co-creator of the very first stereo headphones, was presented with the Seymour Cray Award for Distinction in Technology, named in honor of the designer of the world's first supercomputer. His son Michael Koss presented the award. The senior Koss is the founder and chairman of Koss Corporation, a consumer electronics company recognized as the leading U.S. manufacturer of high-fidelity stereophones. Koss stereophones introduced the concept of personal listening to the audio industry, forever changing the way people listen to music. Accepting the award, Koss thanked friends, family, business associates and Koss employees for helping him achieve success. "Just because my name is over the door, it doesn’t mean that I deserve all of the credit," he said.
Founded in 1846, the Wisconsin Historical Society ranks among the pre-eminent state historical agencies in the nation and holds the mission of helping people connect to the past. The Society serves its audiences with the world's largest library collection dedicated exclusively to North American history, an archive with vast collections of national scope, the Wisconsin Historical Museum, and a statewide network of 10 historic sites that serve a large tourism audience. Additionally, the Society provides services in the areas of historic preservation and public history, including resources for teachers and publications for all ages.