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Hurley Education Foundation honors four


July 30, 2018

P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe

HURLEY ALUMNI honorees, or persons accepting on their behalf, are shown here after a Saturday morning recognition ceremony in the cafeteria of the Hurley K-12 School. From left are Peggy Masterson-Agee, Paul Sturgul, Dave Traczyk and Mike Downey. Sturgul accepted on behalf of the late Dr. Joseph Lalich. Downey accepted on behalf of his father, the late Vern Downey. Masterson-Agee accepted on behalf of her father, the late Joseph H. Masterson, Sr.


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Hurley - Members of the Hurley Education Foundation celebrated four special alumni or friends in their 17th Annual Induction Ceremony Saturday at the Hurley K-12 School.

Honored were David Traczyk, of Hurley, and three late honorees: Joseph H. Masterson Sr., Vern Downey and Dr. Joseph Lalich. Traczyk accepted his own award, while family members accepted for Masterson and Downey. A local representative accepted Lalich's award.

David Traczyk

Patty Riedl, of Austin, Minn., spoke in praise of her father, but kidded that when he was 17 years old, he never would have imagined receiving such honors.

"My dad was very intelligent," she said, but conceded he did not always apply his assets in his early years.

Now, she added, he is not only "the rock" of their family, but also a respected local business owner about whom she concluded, "We're very proud of you, Dad."

Traczyk, who has a C.P.A. firm in Hurley, himself got laughs when he said he's been at the induction ceremonies for years and had suggested honoring more people who are still living and have long-term potential for donations. "I guess it came back to bite me," he joked.

Traczyk, who was supported Saturday by his wife, Gerry, and many other family members, threw the focus off himself by saying the positive attitude about the school and the combined efforts of everyone "make the school district what it is."

Moreover, he emphasized of any given accomplishment, "It's not so much what we do. It's how we live."

Joseph H. Masterson, Sr.

Peggy Masterson-Agee, of Decatur, Ala., accepted her father's award.

"My father had strong ties to Hurley," she said. "He never let people forget where he came from."

She recalled regular trips to this region as a child and spoke appreciatively of how the community "always supported my father, particularly when he was in the military."

After being raised in this region, Masterson spent nearly 3 decades in the U.S. Army, where he received his master's degree and accumulated ongoing honors and achievements. Afterward, he began a new career owning, training and driving standard-bred race horses in Wisconsin.

Vern Downey

Mike Downey accepted honors on behalf of his father, who began teaching at the Saxon School District in 1924 and eventually became the supervising principal and a coach.

"He did all three (roles) in a really remarkable manner," said Downey, who added many people have told him, "Your dad was the Saxon School." Downey said his dad "loved kids" and made sure the Saxon curriculum was geared to their needs despite limited resources.

He said his dad also was a "forerunner" in special education, making sure children with disabilities "had a curriculum that was geared to them."

Finally, he commended the community of ongoing students who were part of his father's life. "Every student that went through the Saxon school enriched him."

Dr. Joseph Lalich

Paul Sturgul, of Hurley, accepted honors on behalf of the family of Joseph Lalich, who were unable to attend the ceremony.

Lalich, who originally was from Croatia came to the United States in 1912. Although he spoke no English then and was raised by parents who owned a Hurley saloon, Lalich eventually earned a medical degree, taught college and served as a surgeon in the U.S. Army.

Lalich bequeathed $1 million to the Hurley Education Foundation, and Sturgul said the interest earned from those funds has had a huge impact on this region. Both he and Hurley school board president Joe Simonich said thousands of students have benefitted from Lalich's funds.

Mark Saari, a 2014 graduate of Hurley High School, provided a bonus at the end of the induction ceremony by explaining how the school has influenced his success so far.

As a student of medicine at the University of Wisconsin, Saari said the benefits he gained from his Hurley schooling were "truly invaluable," but added the most important aspect of this region is "everyone just cared."

He said his lifelong connections here are "dear" to his heart and concluded, "I could not be more grateful."

Finally, emcee Mike Fauerback closed the ceremony by reminding the audience the Hurley Education Foundation has raised $450,000 since it developed in the 1990s. Those funds translated to a number of high-tech assets such as smart boards in classrooms, a long-distance learning center, computer tablets and contributions to the school's Northwoods Manufacturing Center.

"Why do we do this?" he asked, his voice breaking. "We do this because every child has natural abilities, strengths and weaknesses, and deserves the best chance of a productive and successful life."


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