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Alumni, friends honored at Hurley school


Ryan Jarvi/Daily Globe

HURLEY EDUCATION Foundation honored four people with the Distinguished Alumni and Friends Award during a ceremony held Saturday morning at the Hurley K-12 school. Joe Sekelski, left, accepted the award for his cousin, Robert DeZur, who was unable to attend. Roger Myren, second left, Peter Korpi and Ron Harma were also presented the award.

HURLEY - Four people were honored with the Distinguished Alumni and Friends Award given by the Hurley Education Foundation during its 12th annual awards ceremony held Saturday morning in the commons of the Hurley K-12 school.

The first recipient was Roger Myren, who was the Hurley district administrator from 1987-97.

Myren was instrumental in unifying all of the district's students under one roof by establishing the K-12 school building.

"This was, and still is, a nice memory for me," Myren said of his time in the district. "It was fun. And I should tell you that (the school) has been, don't know if it still is, has been called for years by the Madison Department of Instruction, 'The Diamond in the North.'"

Myren was also a teacher in Somerset, Wis., for seven years and the district's administrator for 16 years.

The second honoree, Robert DeZur, currently lives in New York and was unable to attend the ceremony because of health issues.

DeZur graduated from Iron Belt High School in 1946 as the class valedictorian.

His cousin Joe Sekelski, a graduate of Hurley, currently of Colfax, Wis., accepted the award on his behalf.

Sekelski mentioned the number of roles DeZur has held over his lifetime, including a soldier in the ARMY, a smoke jumper-someone who jumps from airplanes to fight fires-a professor of mathematics and an employee in government intelligence.

"As a mathematician, I believe his job was to statistically find evidence that there was intelligence in government," Sekelski joked.

DeZur worked as a math teacher at several universities across the nation and even worked for Apple, Inc. in California.

"I have been to many places and done many things, but Iron Belt is where it started," DeZur wrote in an email read by Joyce Nelmark, a member of the Education Foundation.

Ron Harma, a 1956 graduate of Hurley High School, was the third person honored.

Harma earned several degrees in the engineering field through Michigan Technological University and spent nearly 40 years working for Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company.

Harma said he was pleased with the honor, but admitted he didn't get there on his own.

"I was encouraged by my parents to get a solid education," Harma said. "My father just had an eighth-grade education so he knew what it takes to get a better job in life."

He also thanked his wife, and former employers and colleagues for supporting him in his career and professional development.

During semi-retirement, Harma also performed international consulting in many metals and ore-related industries in Brazil, China, Europe, Mexico, Ukraine, Siberia and the rest of North America.

"I feel any successful Hurley High School student is a product of the school, and its system and its teachers," Harma said. "In my case, it provided me with a good background and helped prepare me for my engineering education career."

The final inductee was Peter Korpi, who graduated from Hurley in 1974 and went on to earn a doctor of optometry degree in '83.

He has performed a number of charitable acts throughout the world helping those in impoverished nations with vision problems.

In the past year alone, he's traveled to three nations and has helped 2,400 children in 15 different schools associated with Vision Trust.

Korpi said his brain operates on a 2+2=4 kind of format, whereas others' operate differently.

He said he appreciated the math and science courses in school, which helped prepare him for his career.

"But the other part of the training that I got at Hurley High School was the classes and activities that I didn't like so much, because they weren't operating on a 2+2=4 kind of format," Korpi said. "One of them was industrial arts. I tried, it was hard; the coat rack took me all semester and it's a rectangle with three hooks, ... But what that taught me was, in life there are sometimes things that are just difficult, and if you kind of keep at it, and you ask for help, you can get it done."


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