AHS names Distinguished Alumni

Published 10:35 am Monday, September 8, 2008

The Austin School Alumni Association and Friends, along with Austin High School, would like to announce the 2008 recipients of its Distinguished Alumni Award. This award recognizes graduates of Austin High School for outstanding achievements and contributions to society following graduation. It also promotes positive role models for currently enrolled students in Austin School District No. 492. The two alumni selected this year are:

David Simonson, Class of 1970

David Simonson graduated from Austin High School in 1979. While at Austin High he excelled in wrestling and football. In 1990, Dave was named to the Austin High School Sports Hall of Fame. He attended the University of Minnesota and in 1974 was drafted into the National Football league. During the next four seasons, he played for the Baltimore Colts, the New York Giants, Houston Oilers, Seattle Seahawks and the Detroit Lions. After his NFL career, Simonson returned to his hometown and soon after began a 30-year commitment to Austin and the Austin High School District. As well as serving on the Austin Police Department first as an officer, then as a sergeant and finally as a lieutenant, he became very involved in serving his community. He has coached youth football as well as Austin Junior College football, and has served on several boards, including Park and Recreation, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Wescott Field Remodeling Committee and the Austin School Board. He has held every position within the board and continues to serve on the board. He is currently in his fifth term.

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Mary Dunlop Wennes, Class of 1958

Mary Wennes graduated from Austin High School as the Outstanding Senior in 1958. She served on the Student Council and was on the Homecoming Court in her Senior year. She received her bachelor of science degree in 1962 from the University of Minnesota, was an educator from 1962-2001, during which time she also received a master of science degree from California Lutheran University.  Wennes’ Love of travel branched out to encompass a global effort, working with hunger and justice issues. She taught in South Africa, returning there four times since 2000 to work on development projects, such as the building of dams in Kenya and a shared animal program in Tanzania. Her leadership, passion and volunteer efforts for sustainable development programs have impacted dozens of congregations and hundreds of donors and led to hundreds of thousands of dollars raised for projects in the Central African Republic, International Disaster Response, hunger relief and many local initiatives.

An assembly honoring the Distinguished Alumni will be held on Oct. 2 at 9:30 a.m. in Knowlton Auditorium. An open house will be held at the Hormel Historic Home from 4:30 to 6 p.m. that day, sponsored by the AHS Alumni Association and Friends. The public is cordially invited to attend both events.