Distinguished Alumni to speak, return to AHS for homecoming week

Published 6:32 am Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Homecoming isn’t only for those still in high school. This year, a few alumni will also get to take part and be honored.

Austin High School alumni who have excelled in music and science will be honored during Homecoming festivities in October. Marlou Garbisch Johnston, class of 1960, and Wendell King, class of 1958, have been selected by the Austin High School Alumni & Friends Association as the 2014 Distinguished Alumni. Johnston and King plan to travel to Austin for a reception and dinner on Thursday, Oct. 9, along with taking in Austin High’s Homecoming festivities on Friday, Oct. 10.



Johnston, of Bourbonnais, Illinois, is an accomplished violist who currently is a Music of the Baroque member in Chicago and freelance musician in recording studios. In the past, Johnston has been a concert master and soloist with Chicago Civic Orchestra, member of the Grant Park Orchestra and Lyric Opera Orchestra, and a frequent player in the Chicago Symphony. She also co-founded a nonprofit corporation called Trio Chicago and Friends that is a music ensemble that takes annual tours to remote parts of the world as cultural ambassadors, including performing concerts sponsored by the U.S. Embassies in third-world countries.

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Johnston is a member of the Austin High School Music Hall of Fame, and she also received the Distinguished Achievement Award in 2004 from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

She passed on advice to Austin High students based on what her parents told her after she worked hard in high school for good grades: They told her, “Have fun.”

“What they meant was explore every subject and follow your passion,” Johnston said in a press release. “If you love learning about something, you will do that all your life and be rewarded.”



King, of Pillager, Minnesota, currently is CEO of King Consulting following a successful career that included serving as a top executive at Medtronic, a Fortune “200” company that creates medical devices. He also founded two medical-device companies that are publicly traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange today and has earned more than 30 medical-device patents. He served as Chairman and CEO of Angeion Corp. and Gateway Alliance following his time with Medtronic, where he served as director of research and development, corporate vice president, and president of Medtronic in Puerto Rico. King has invented and/or participated in the development of medical devices that have saved or increased the quality of life for thousands of people.

King emphasized that the secret to success is to be focused and persistent.

“Don’t allow temporary setbacks to discourage you,” he said in a press release. “Keep striving towards success. When it appears that you have failed, learn from your mistakes and search for another path to success.”

The public is invited to attend the Oct. 9 reception and dinner for this year’s Distinguished Alumni at the Hormel Historic Home in Austin. Tickets are $20 per person and must be purchased by Oct. 7 for the 6 p.m. dinner. They are available by calling the Austin Public Education Foundation office at 507-460-1938. A school assembly is set for the morning of Oct. 9 at Austin High’s Knowlton Auditorium to honor Johnston and King, who each will speak to the Austin High student body.