MARSHALL - At a ceremony saying "thank you" to people who have touched many lives, emotions tend to run high. Even so, Saturday's induction of five new members into the Pride in the Tiger Foundation Hall of Honor was a powerful experience for many past and present Marshall residents.
"Honestly, I was sort of overwhelmed," said honoree Lowell Ziemann.
Ziemann, a math teacher and head boys' basketball coach from 1964 to 1976, spent a good part of the evening reconnecting with his former students. All but two members of the 1970 Marshall basketball team attended the induction ceremony.
Photo by Deb Gau
Five honorees were inducted into the Pride in the Tiger Foundation Hall of Honor this weekend. Sandy and Brian Hoffman, Carol Purrington, Lowell Ziemann and Jeff Kruse were recognized for their contributions to Marshall schools and the community. John Allen, far right, accepted the award on behalf of Jeff Kruse, who is undergoing cancer treatment and was unable to attend Saturday’s ceremony.
"They came from all over the country," Ziemann said. "This has turned out to be a group reunion."
Ziemann, Brian and Sandy Hoffman, Carol Purrington and Jeff Kruse were all recognized for their contributions to Marshall Public Schools and the surrounding community Saturday.
The Pride in the Tiger Foundation selects individuals for its Hall of Honor once every two years. Honorees can be school faculty or staff members, alumni and community members. The Pride in the Tiger Foundation awards scholarships to Marshall High School seniors, and helps support projects and programs in Marshall public and parochial schools.
This year, the foundation will also award more than $90,000 in scholarships to graduating Marshall seniors, said Foundation President Austin DeMuth.
A common thread shared by this year's honorees was a dedication to the people in the Marshall community, especially youth. Sandy Hoffman summed up her experiences coaching Marshall cheerleaders and leading Marshall High School's mentorship program in a single sentence.
"It's about the kids," she said. "I had some tremendous kids, and I almost choke up when I think about how hard they worked."
Honoree Carol Purrington said she learned much from the Marshall students she worked with. Purrington taught at Marshall High School, and was head coach of the Marshall speech team for 22 years. Seeing the speech students' growth and accomplishments, she said, "It really fills me with pride." But working with students who were struggling to read English was also deeply rewarding.
"Those students taught me so much, but they taught me to have empathy with struggling readers," Purrington said.
Marshall alumni came together to thank Ziemann for teaching them important lessons both in and outside of school.
"I think the most important thing Coach taught us was teamwork. It didn't matter who scored, as long as we scored," said Drew Kindseth, one of the Marshall basketball players Ziemann coached.
Ziemann said he was happy to have coached his team members, and just as happy to have taught them in class. Being named to the Hall of Honor meant a lot, he said.
"To say that this event was simply meaningful for me, is inadequate," Ziemann said.
Inductees displayed a strong connection not just to the local schools, but to the Marshall community. In describing honoree Jeff Kruse, presenter Matt Coleman said Kruse was a real 'yes-man,' but in the positive sense.
"Jeff rarely says no to anything people ask of him," Coleman said, including serving on the Marshall School Board, the Prairie Home Hospice board, and being active in the Methodist Church.
Kruse, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, was not able to attend Saturday's induction ceremony, but community members spoke warmly of him. John Allen, who served on the hospice board with Kruse, said he was one of the most positive and enthusiastic people around. Allen accepted the Hall of Honor award on Kruse's behalf.
Brian Hoffman said a connection with the Marshall community was just as important for him. A Marshall native, Brian served several years on the Marshall City Council and the Economic Development Authority, and was one of four co-chairs of the fundraising committee that built the Marshall Area YMCA.
"Marshall has been a wonderful place to live, raise a family and be part of a small business," Hoffman said.