Cardinal Hall of Distinction

Jeanene Thicke and Steve Tucker inductees in the annual Cardinal Hall of Distinction ride along in the Bangor Homecoming Parade last Friday. Greg Wegner, not pictured, was also honored by the alumni committee.

Three pillars of the Bangor School District—Greg Wegner, Steve Tucker and Jeanene Thicke—joined the ranks of the Cardinal Hall of Distinction last week.

Every year a small committee of administrators, faculty and board members select three distinguished Bangor alumni, educators or staff who have continued to serve their community or school district long after their graduation or retirement.

This year’s inductees are no different.

Bangor Superintendent Dave Laehn said the committee inducted three different people with different ties to Bangor who have become outstanding members of the community.

Passion for agriculture

Passion is a theme that connects each of the 2017 inductees, and former science and agriculture teacher Steve Tucker is no different.

Tucker joined the Bangor School District in 1970 after receiving his degrees in agricultural science and biology from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

In Bangor, Tucker went to work to revitalize the farm town’s agricultural programming and reestablish the FFA.

A proponent of the sciences, Tucker encouraged his students to pursue scientific endeavors promoting participation in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

During his tenure, Tucker received the Outstanding Agriculture Program and Teacher awards from the Wisconsin Association of Vocational Agriculture Instructors. In 1988, he received the Aldo Leopold Science Teacher award.

Laehn said Tucker proved an easy choice for the committee given his 34 years of service to the district.

“He ran an outstanding agriculture program,” he said.

Outside of the classroom, Tucker was a role model for his students on the court.

He served as the Bangor basketball coach for seven years, leading the team to the state championship three times and a state title in 1996.

After retiring in 2002, Tucker continued to serve the region as a substitute teacher.

“I felt it was quite an honor,” Tucker said. “It’s a proud little school, it’s got some fine history, and there are some really fine people who have worked there and been a part of that school system.”

He said the Hall of Distinction honors people who have gone on to do great things.

“It’s an honor to be associated with those people.”

Thicke’s work

‘mind boggling’

The Cardinal Hall of Distinction doesn’t just honor educators. It was 1983 graduate Jeanene Thicke’s contributions to the children of Colombia that led to her induction.

After graduating, Thicke, like many of her classmates attended college. Upon receiving her degree, she planned a three-month visit to Bogota, Colombia. There, she found her calling and founded the charity Children’s Vision International.

For the last 25 years she has worked to save hundreds of Colombian from starvation, homelessness and death squads.

Her contributions have raised children from poverty and provided them with an education.

In 2016 she was honored with the Wings of Hope for her work by the Colombian Air Force.

Laehn said despite never having met Thicke before the induction he was amazed by her contributions.

“I thought her work in Bogota was just mind boggling,” he said.

Wegner preserves history

A life-long educator, published author and Bangor alumni Greg Wegner has dedicated his life to the teaching and preservation of history.

A 1968 Graduate of Bangor High School, Wegner began teaching at Milton High School in Rock County, Wis., in 1975.

In 1988 he began teaching at Hofstra University on the banks of Long Island before returning to his home in the Coulee Region a year later to take a position at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

He taught at UW-L for 23 years. During his tenure, he was a regional participant in the National History Day competition, a program dedicated to helping students think more like historians through the curation and presentation of historical texts.

In 2012, Wegner retired from UW-L, returning to his home in Bangor to take a new post as president of the Bangor and Area Historical Society.

His contributions to the preservation of Bangor’s unique history has never ceased.

Between 2015 and 2016, Wegner was responsible for coordinating the cleaning of more than 180 tombstones at the Fairview Cemetery by Boy Scout Troop 46.

“It’s a great honor and it’s very humbling,” Wegner said. “Now I just have to live up to it.”

He said the honor has only encouraged his continued to work to preserve Bangor’s histories beginning with the Old Baptist Church on Hwy. 162.

Laehn said Wegner was an outstanding university professor who continues to give back to Bangor.

“He’s just a tremendous individual,” he said.

The three members were officially inducted into the Cardinal Hall of Distinction during a ceremony last Sunday.

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Tobias Mann is a reporter with the River Valley Media Group. He can be reached at tobias.mann@lee.net or at 608-791-8216.

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