Alumni group announces 2023 ‘distinguished’ honorees

Published 6:02 pm Friday, September 22, 2023

Two former residents will speak to local students and ride in the downtown Homecoming parade in early October for being honored as Austin High School’s “Distinguished Alumni.”

U.S. Master Sgt. Baffour Agbey (Class of 1999) and Patrick Bradley (Class of 1969) are the 2023 Distinguished Alumni as selected by the Austin High School Alumni & Friends Association.

On Thursday, Oct. 5, Agbey and Bradley will be part of a reception and dinner at Austin High School and will take part in the Homecoming festivities on Friday, Oct. 6, including the afternoon parade and evening football game.

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The public is invited to the Oct. 5 reception and 6 p.m. dinner in honor of Agbey and Bradley at Austin High in the commons outside of Knowlton Auditorium. Dinner tickets are $25 per person and need to be reserved by Friday, Sept. 29, by calling Alumni & Friends chair Jeni Lindberg at 507-433-4557 or by email at:

A school assembly is set for the morning of Oct. 5 at Knowlton Auditorium, where Agbey and Bradley will speak to students.

Agbey, of DuPont, Wash., joined the military the next day in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and is a U.S. Army Master Sergeant with 20 years of service, including as a combat medic providing care during Operation Iraqi Freedom while actively engaged with enemy fire. He has 16 years of training and developing experience, specifically for medical officers preparing for overseas deployment; and seven years of hospital management expertise with a Top Secret-SCI clearance. He now works with HireMilitary as a talent acquisitions recruiter, serving the military’s transitioning members and their families, and he is the owner and chief of operations for Wildland Medics LLC, training wildland firefighters.

Bradley, of Edina, Minn., is a Twin Cities small business and real-estate attorney, philanthropist and investor in Austin’s downtown revitalization projects, starting in 2006. One of the projects was the major remodeling and historic preservation of the building that today is the Austin ArtWorks Center. He then purchased adjacent buildings that also dated back to the late 1800s and had their exteriors historically restored and interiors remodeled.

Agbey attended Austin Public Schools from kindergarten through 9th grade before his family moved to Albert Lea in his 10th grade year. Yet, Agbey has always considered Austin his hometown and himself an Austin Packer. His niece, Saraya Donovan, is an Austin High senior this year, and his nephew, Wayde Hall, an Austin High Class of 2019 graduate, is serving in the U.S. Army.

“Be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Agbey said of his advice for students.

Agbey lived that motto when he joined the military the day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“Disregarding my natural fear of heights and blood, I deliberately chose to serve as an airborne medic,” said Agbey, who is a parachutist now training firefighters to be dropped into a wildfire.

Assigned to military units in multiple U.S. states and foreign countries, Agbey has managed complex projects and developed innovative ways to train and develop not only systems but people. He’s a certified military instructor and earned a business studies degree in 2012 from Wayland Baptist University.

Agbey said everyone wants to inherently make a difference but don’t know how in today’s modern yet volatile world.

“I started by doing small things,” Agbey said. “Holding the door open for others; helping my mother with household chores; staying after class to help a teacher. Ultimately, this could lead you to being a servant leader.”

In 1977, Bradley started the Bradley/Deike law firm and has had a successful career representing small business and real-estate owners. He also served on numerous private and nonprofit corporate boards of directors.

Outside of business, Bradley has taught religion classes; served as a mock trial coach and judge at the high school and college levels; and supported numerous charities, including the University of Minnesota; Ordway Theatre, Minnesota Orchestra; Minnesota Science Museum; and Austin ArtWorks. In 2012, he helped raise more than $260,000 for the University of Minnesota’s research into ataxia, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and ALS while serving as chair for the Bob Allison Ataxia Research Committee’s major fundraiser, the Diamond Awards.

Bradley wants students to remember that education – and the tuition we pay for that education – are “life-long.”

“As we proceed in life, we make mistakes and have to pay tuition for those mistakes,” Bradley said. “However, those mistakes are like the incorrect questions we got on a test – we have the opportunity to learn the most from the mistakes.”

He urges students to resist the desire to be part of the “in crowd” in school. Rather, students should strive to know themselves and what they want out of life and seek people who share their passions and interests.

“We generally get most of what we want as long as we work toward it; we just do not control the timing,” Bradley said. “A lot of life is about being open to opportunities that present themselves to you and taking advantage of them. Some of the best-made plans never come to fruition but other things that we never dreamed of do.”