The Tribune needs your help in selecting its 21st Person of the Year.
Readers are encouraged to nominate someone they think had a significant and positive effect on the community in 2022. The winner will be profiled in the Tribune at the end of the year.
Send nominating letters of 250 words or more to Tribune Person of the Year, 1407 St. Andrews St., La Crosse, WI 54603, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is noon Monday, Nov. 28. Please offer details for our committee of judges on why the person deserves recognition in 2022.
Here’s the list of past winners:
- 2002: Sister Leclare Beres, former director of St. Clare Health Mission, for her passion in providing health care to those who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Beres died in 2014.
- 2003: Bill Medland, former Viterbo University president, who led his school to record enrollment and fostered community outreach. Medland died in 2013.
- 2004: John Medinger, who finished an eight-year stint as mayor of La Crosse.
- 2005: Scott Mihalovic, who as principal at Logan High School provided steady leadership during a challenging period at the North Side school.
- 2006: Don Weber, chairman and CEO of Logistics Health Inc., whose fast-growing company opened its corporate headquarters in downtown La Crosse.
- 2007: Dempsey Miller, the former African-American family and student liaison for the La Crosse School District, who earned a reputation as a tireless supporter of young people.
- 2008: Jon Brenner, a YMCA swim coach who was diagnosed in spring 2008 with a late-stage cancerous brain tumor, and devoted the time he had left to his swimmers and his family. He died in January 2010.
- 2009: Fran Swift, a parent educator at The Parenting Place, who connects with area families through services such as play groups, fun nights, family coaching and classes.
- 2010: Dennis Loeffler, former director of the La Crosse Community Dental Clinic, who has provided dental care for thousands of the poor and underserved in the region.
- 2011: Marc Schultz, a longtime environmentalist who lives on Brice Prairie who has been a driving force in protecting the region’s natural resources.
- 2012: La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke, who secured a guilty verdict in a high-profile double-homicide while being recognized by people throughout the county for his compassion for crime victims.
- 2013: Mike Desmond, former executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse, who has taken a leading role in tackling community issues.
- 2014: Dave and Barb Erickson, a La Crosse couple who helped create the city’s first new park in 30 years in memory of their late son, Chad.2015: Tara Johnson, chairwoman of the La Crosse County Board, for bringing various parties together to turn a downtown parking lot into a $60 million development.
- 2016: Lee Rasch, for his achievements as president of Western Technical College for 28 years, his devotion to economic development and his passion for serving the La Crosse region.
- 2017: Dave and Barb Skogen, local philanthropists and longtime grocers who have spent decades giving back to the La Crosse area and its people.
- 2018: Russ Cornford, the Coon Valley fire chief who helped residents of the village he calls home recover from the worst flooding they have ever seen.
- 2019: Franciscan Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, who founded the La Crosse Task Force to Eradicate Modern Slavery to address human trafficking. She was honored for her decades of leadership in the community and beyond.
- 2020: Jennifer Rombalski, director of the La Crosse County Health Department, who led the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She became director of the Office of Policy and Practice Alignment at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in February 2021.
- 2021: Brent Smith, lawyer, active volunteer and public servant who led the way for the completion of a $42 million expansion to the La Crosse Center.