Hall of Fame
Call for Class of 2016 Hall of Fame Nominations | Hall of Fame Bylaws

The Duluth East High School Hall of Fame was established in 2012 in a joint effort between the East High School Activities Office and the newly established Duluth East High School Foundation. The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to recognize the outstanding achievements made by community leaders, athletes, coaches, advisors, and teachers from East High School.

The selection of honorees is made by the Hall of Fame Committee, a standing committee of the Duluth East High School Foundation. Read more about the Hall of Fame Committee, nomination procedures and criteria for inductee consideration in the Hall of Fame bylaws.


Hall of Fame Class of 2015 | Hall of Fame Class of 2014 | Hall of Fame Class of 2013 | Hall of Fame Class of 2012
Class of 2014
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Thomas “Dukes” Knutson
A Birchen Award winner from the Class of 1969, Knutson was a teacher and coach at East 1984-2003. Dukes coached baseball and hockey and taught PE, health, and journalism. He established a chapter of the FCA and SADD at East. Knutson created The Association and advised it for 7 years. Dukes was a volunteer for UMD Athletics for 37 years. Dukes continues his work with the FCA and Baseball Chapel. He now serves as a StatsCrew operator for the USF's basketball teams, Press Box Coordinator for the Tampa Bay Rays (Twins in 2012), and he is active in prison ministry in Sarasota County.
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Kristi (Duncan) Plante
A member of the Class of 1991, class officer, and Homecoming Queen  Kristi earned 14 letters in volleyball, basketball, and softball. She was All-Conference in all three sports and All-State in basketball and softball. Kristi was Top Senior Athlete in 1991. Following her high school career, she became a star athlete at UMD where she was named Outstanding Female Senior Athlete and Top Scholar Athlete in 1999. She was the NSIC RBI Champion in 1994. In 1995 Kristi was selected to the All-Conference Softball team and was the 1995 NSIC Regular Season Champion in softball.  
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Glenn Lawrence Rolle
Rolle began his career at East in 1951, teaching PE and health. During his 14 years as head hockey coach, Rolle made four state tournament appearances and gave East its first State Hockey Championship in 1960. Glenn retired from coaching in 1967 and became East’s Athletic Director. He was instrumental in opening the door to equality in girls’ athletics. Rolle won numerous honors including: the Minneapolis Tribune’s Outstanding Coaching Award, the Cliff Thompson Award, 7AA Athletic Director of the Year, and in 1991 he was inducted into the MHSCA’s Hockey Hall of Fame.
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Judy Smith
A teacher of anatomy and physiology at East High School from 1976-1999, she is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin: Superior with a degree in biology and chemistry. She is a Certified Medical Technologist through St. Luke’s School of Medical Technology. Judy is known as an inspirational teacher who began the training of over one hundred doctors and numerous others in the medical field. She attended ten Nobel Conferences during her teaching career. Smith was the 1999 recipient of the Greg Irons Award for inspirational teaching and commitment to her subject.
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Phil J. Verchota
A member of the Class of 1975, Phil won All-State Honors in hockey and football. He was a winner of two NCAA National Hockey Champion titles while at the University of Minnesota. Verchota twice won the John Mayasich Award for outstanding athletic scholarship while at the University of Minnesota. Phil was a member of the 1980 and 1984 United States Olympic Hockey teams and won theGold Medal for Ice Hockey in the famous “Miracle on Ice” in the 1980 Winter Olympics. He is currently Northern Market President for the Deerwood Bank in Minnesota.
Class of 2014
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Robert Burrows
Robert Burrows began his teaching career in Duluth in 1946 when East was a junior high school. He was recruited from Sandstone to teach music.  He directed many musicals and operettas. He advised the Glee Club and "The Modernaires."  A second phase of his career began when he started teaching an elite CORE of history and English. Burrows was known for his many field trips to Minneapolis and Chicago where his students attended museums and theater productions. The Burrows Scholarship is named in his honor. He passed away in 1994.
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Lester Crystal
Lester Crystal was a member of the Class of 1952, East High's second graduating class. He began his career as a news writer for KDAL Radio and TV in 1957. He quickly rose in his field. In 1963, he joined NBC in Chicago. In 1967, he was transfered to New York where he would first become the news editor and then an associate producer of The Huntley-Brinkley Report. He was President of NBC News from 1977-79. In 1983, he joined PBS where he served as Executive Producer of "The NewsHour." During his tenure, the program won a Peabody Award and multiple Emmy Awards. 
Sheryl Jensen top
Sheryl Jensen
A teacher at East from 1984 through her retirement in 2007, she taught English and theater. Sheryl's production of "The Taming of the Shrew" won Bravo's 1992 National High School Theatre Competition. Jensen was a reader and consultant for the College Board for A.P. English, an Adjunct Professor for the UMD Theater Department, and a Community Theater Director. She is a member of the Board of Directors for WDSE/WRPT PBS and the Bluebird Foundation. Jensen is the Managing Editor of the Woman Today magazine. Sheryl was a finalist for Minnesota Teacher of the Year in 2003.
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Sherman Moe
A teacher at East from 1970 until his retirement in 1993, Moe taught a variety of social studies classes. He coached boys' basketball and girls' track while at East. In 1987, under his leadership as head basketball coach, Moe's team finished in third place. He was named Region 7AA Coach of the Year. In 1994, Moe was inducted as a member of the Moorehead State University's Hall of Fame. In 2004, Senator Mark Dayton named him a Minnesota Favorite Teacher, and he was listed in the U. S. Senate's Congressional Record.
Mary Vos top
Mary Vos
Mary Vos was the librarian at East from 1984 until her retirement in 1996. During her time at East, Vos was actively involved in coaching girls' swimming and co-advising the Association. In 1982 and 1983, Mary was named Girls' Swim Team Coach of the Year. Following her retirement, Vos continued to support East by volunteering in the Career Center and with the Music Department for the next eight years. Wanting to honor teacher Bob Burrows, she founded the Burrows Scholarship Committee and served as its first Treasurer.
Class of 2013
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Eric Eskola
A Birchen Award winner from the East High Class of 1971, Eskola began working at Duluth’s KDAL radio and TV station while attending UMD. Following his graduation, Eskola continued working at KDAL until 1980 when he began his work with WCCO Radio in Minneapolis. Eric served the last 21 years of his career with WCCO as the radio’s political correspondent where he was often referred to as “one of the best political reporters in Minnesota.” As a member of the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame, Eric retired from WCCO in 2010.  Eskola continues to co-host Almanac on Twin Cities Public Television which he has done since 1986

Thomas Little
A teacher at East from 1965 to 1978, Little taught social studies and advised several groups at the school. He taught in Duluth for thirty years. In 1977 he received a Bush Fellowship for his passion about learning and improving the quality of life in his community. Little was appointed as a lecturer for the Staley Foundation in 1981. Tom was the recipient of Minnesota’s Terrific Teacher Award in 1992. He served as a delegate to the City of Duluth’s Inaugural Sister City Delegation to Petrozavodsk, Russia, and was a frequent lecturer and guest speaker for numerous educational workshops and conferences.  Tom passed away on August 12, 2002.

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Thomas R. Nides
A Birchen Award winner from the Class of 1979 and a graduate from the University of Minnesota, Nides was the chief of staff to Rep. Tony Coelho and Rep. Tom Foley. In 1994 he served as chief of staff to U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor.  He has been in a senior officer position with Fannie Mae, Credit Suisse, and Morgan Stanley.  In 2000 he was the campaign manager for vice presidential candidate, Senator Joseph Lieberman. Following nomination by President Obama, Tom served as Deputy Secretary of State from 2011 until 2013. He is currently a vice-chairman at Morgan Stanley.
Joe Mrkonich

Dick Skogg
A teacher at East from 1963 to 1997, Skogg taught math and chemistry. He served as Activities Director during his last five years at East, during which 84 different teams participated in state tournaments, and he was named The 7AA A.D. of the Year.  He coached track for 32 years, cross country for 26 years, and five consecutive State Girls’ CC Championship teams.  Dick was named State Cross Country Coach of the Year for both boys and girls. He co-managed the Swain Cross Country Meet for 24 years. Skogg is a member of the State Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame and the State Coaches Hall of Fame. 

Denise Olson

Nick A. Srdar
Srdar served as principal of East High School from 1970 until his retirement in 1987. He began his career in education as a teacher in Floodwood, Minnesota in 1956 where he became principal in 1959. Prior to his appointment as East principal, Srdar served as principal at Keewatin, Woodland, and Washington. Nick believed in the potential of all young people and set high expectations for students and faculty. He took great pride in the scholarly achievements of students and in the Good Sportsmanship Award East’s student body consistently received at state tournaments. Nick passed away on November 25, 2009.

Class of 2012
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Joseph (Joe) R. Berini
A Guidance Counselor at Duluth East from 1965-1983, Berini co-founded the Lennon-Berini Scholarship and was also a founding board member on the Mitchell Scholarship Committee. He was a member of the Northeast Counselors’ Association as well as the Minnesota Counselors’ Association for over 20 years. Berini served an assistant coach for Boys’ Basketball at Duluth East from 1968-1975. He also coached the inaugural bowling team at East in 1975, and is a member of the Duluth Area Bowling Hall of Fame. A graduate of Duluth Central, Berini was heavily involved in the Duluth community through his church and his collegiate alma mater of UMD. Berini volunteered as a scoreboard official for UMD football for 50 years and UMD basketball for 30 years. He received the Bruce Bennett Volunteer Award for UMD Athletics in 2004. Berini passed away on January 23, 2010.

Betty Marciniak-Ahrendt
Having recently celebrated her 90th birthday, Marciniak-Ahrendt is best known for writing the lyrics to the traditional Duluth East fight song-The Birchen.  Marciniak-Ahrendt wrote the famous lyrics while attending East as a junior high school student.   Betty’s lyrics literally span the decades with every Greyhound, past and into the future, united by her refrain.  There is no better legacy than being responsible for "East High Rah, Rah, Rah!"

Robert Mix top
Robert (Bob) D. Mix
A 28-year choral music instructor at Duluth East, Mix taught over 7,000 young singers in his career. Upon arrival in 1960, Mix bolstered the Duluth East choir program from one choir to four and also added two chamber groups. He served as the director for Duluth East's two most prestigious singing groups, the A'Cappella Choir and the Choralaires. Both of these elite groups were selected to perform regionally, nationally, and worldwide throughout his tenure. Mix also directed several musicals and produced the spring talent show, "East Side Swing," a show whose tradition continues today. Mix has been a member of MMEA (Minnesota Music Educators’ Association) for over 50 years, and he received the F. Melius Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Choral Directors’ Association in 2004. Mix is also a member of the Music Hall of Fame at Austin High School (MN), where he graduated in 1949.
Joe Mrkonich

Joseph (Joe) W. Mrkonich
A teacher of History, Economics, and Government at Duluth East for 24 years,  Joe was a legendary Boys’ Basketball Head Coach from 1963-1970, Girls’ Basketball Head Coach from 1978-1987, and Head Football Coach from 1965-1976. Mrkonich led Duluth East to a combined 336 wins in the three sports, and led the Girls’ Basketball team to four state tournaments. Mrkonich retired from East in 1987, but continued to serve as a timekeeper and announcer for basketball games from 1987-1999. Mrkonich has a scholarship named for him at Duluth East.  He passed away on April 14, 2011.

Denise Olson

Denise (Holm) Olson
A 1985 Duluth East graduate, Olson was a three-year letter winner in basketball and volleyball. She was named Minnesota's Miss Basketball in 1985 and was a member of the state runner-up Duluth East Girls’ Basketball team that same season. Olson was also a state runner-up at the 1984 Minnesota State Volleyball tournament, and held a 3.5 GPA at Duluth East. She later went on to play basketball for UMD, led the nation in assists at the NAIA level in 1989, and is a 2004 inductee to the UMD Hall of Fame. Olson has also coached Girls’ Basketball at both Duluth Central and Duluth East, and has her jersey #22 retired at Duluth East.

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