WSU Medallion Society

The Winona State University Foundation established the Medallion Society in 2012 – a new tribute to honor individuals whose philanthropy makes the university’s mission possible. The President’s Medallion itself carries the spirit of philanthropy. The medallion was a gift from WSU students in 1968 in honor of President DuFresne’s inauguration. The gems in the medallion were donated by members of the Winona community. It was said that the medallion represented the people’s faith in education, a responsibility for the university’s mission and guardianship on behalf of the State of Minnesota and future generations. The Medallion Society is prominently displayed outside the entrance of Somsen Auditorium and recognizes giving levels by aligning each with a gem represented in the actual medallion.

$25,000 Gold
Original gem donated by the 1967-68 students of Winona State College

$50, 000 Aquamarine
Original gem donated by Mrs. James Browning

$100,000 Topaz
Original gem donated by Mrs. Ward Lucas

$500,000 Garnet
Original gem donated by Allyn S. Morgan, Jr.

$1,000,000 Opal
Original gem donated by Miss Floretta M. Murray

$5,000,000 Alexandrite
Original gem donated by Dr. John J. Fuller

$10,000,000 Diamond
Original gem donated by Mrs. R. H. Watkins

The very foundation of Winona State University was built on philanthropy in the mid-1850s under the campaign leadership of Dr. John Ford, an advocate for public education. Dr. Ford swiftly raised more than $7,000 in cash and land. The gifts obtained were at all levels, much like the new Medallion Society which will showcase this tradition and honor the leaders who continue to make Winona State University's mission possible. 

2013 Inductees 

Harriet Johnson August was born in Winona in 1924 and grew up a few blocks from the Winona State campus. After graduating from Winona Senior High School, she moved to Chicago and enjoyed a long and very successful career, first in banking and then in real estate. She passed away in March 2013 at the age of 87. Harriet remained devoted to Winona throughout her life. While unable to attend college herself, she believed that education offered a path to advancement and success. To honor her hometown values and faith in the power of education, Harriet bequeathed her estate to endow scholarships at Winona State. To recognize Harriet’s transformative gift, Winona State has named the “Harriet Johnson Auditorium” in Somsen Hall in her honor. Her legacy will touch the lives of students far into the future.
The story begins in 1950, when Charles and Anita Mettille met while attending Winona State. Charles graduated first, with an accounting degree in 1950.  Anita earned an elementary teaching degree in 1953 and a master's degree in 1967. They married in 1952 and made Winona their home and are proud that six of their eight children graduated from WSU. A scholarship honoring their son Michael, a 1986 WSU graduate's beliefs in family, education, and the National Guard has been established to assist future students as well as a Mettille Family Scholarship. "We strongly believe that a good education is the most precious gift we can give to children."

Donald Redlich earned his bachelor's degree in education from WSU in 1950 and did three years of graduate work in theater and dance at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Leaving for New York City in 1953, he spent the next 40 years pursuing a career in theatre and dance. He has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the Julliard School, Adelphi University, New York University and Rutgers University, where he is Professor Emeritus in the Mason Gross School of the Arts. Donald says, "I give back to Winona State University because this is the community and the school where my life in the arts was formulated both as an educator and as a performing artist."

Since graduating in 1967, Susan has lived in both Maryland and North Carolina. She was a school librarian in Baltimore County. In North Carolina she worked at different times with United Healthcare, American Express and Davidson County Community College. Now, after returning to Minnesota in 2005, she and her husband Jim reside near Henderson. Susan is a volunteering her community and serves on a board at St. Anne's School and the local hospital. Her hobby is helping in the school library. When asked why she gives to WSU Susan said, "Receiving a scholarship was an honor; sponsoring a scholarship is a true joy!"

William E. “Bill” Green obtained a BS in entomology from Colorado State University where he was honor man in his division. He subsequently received a MS in 1937 and a Ph.D. in 1948 in economic zoology from Iowa State University.  In 1938, he became a regional game manager for the Game, Fish and Oyster Commission, working in the Gulf Coast and Rio Grande Valley.  He joined the staff of the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife and Fish Refuge in 1940. He subsequently became an area wildlife management biologist with the Division of Refuges, U.S. Department of Interior. 

Harriet L. Green received her two-year degree from Winona State Teachers College in 1932 and in 1945 earned her Bachelor of Science degree in education from Winona State Teachers College.  She taught in several Minnesota school districts including Lewisville, Grand Meadow, Owatonna, Faribault, Lewiston and Mable.  In addition, she taught in Juneau, Alaska and Carson City, Nevada.  Winona students benefited from her expertise as an elementary teacher for more than 30 years at Jefferson and Central schools. Her commitment to elementary education and the betterment of the lives of young people will be carried on by elementary education graduates of Winona State University.

Etta H. Howell, a friend of the university, generously left a portion of her estate to Winona State University to fund scholarship for education majors.
William “Bill” Koutsky graduated from Winona State University with a degree in speech communications in 1975. He worked as the sales and music director at KWNO for 23 years, and was later an announcer, head of marketing and co-owner with Home 101 in Winona. Bill finished his career at WSU in the facilities department beginning in 2001 and retired in 2013. He was named the Minnesota Broadcast Personality of the Year in 1992, and is an honorary member of the WSU Dance Society for his on-going support though his scholarships for the WSU theater, music and dance programs. Bill serves throughout the community in various clubs and organizations. He enjoys music, dance, theater, arts, sports and film noir.
Merle Peterson graduated from high school in 1948 and quickly enlisted in the Army. He served our country during the Korean War and in 1956 received his commission.  He is still active as a West Point Liaison Officer. After his service, he attended Winona State Teacher's College from 1952 to 1955 and graduated with a BS degree in Industrial Arts and Math.  In 1965, he received his M.S. from Winona State. After 31 amazing years of teaching, he retired. Merle married his wife, Betty, in June of 2007 and the two reside in Rochester, MN. Merle is extremely grateful to Winona State University for the major part they played in his life, "athletics was an important factor in my student days and I want other students to have the opportunity for athletics and scholarship."
Pat and Janet (Jozwick) Thompson met on a blind date while they were both students at WSU. They were married prior to Pat leaving for service in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, while Janet stayed on in Winona and earned her education degree in 1969. Professor emeritus George Bolon inspired Pat's interest in aviation. He served four years as a fighter pilot, and later became a partner in Mississippi Valley Airlines, a commuter airline in the Upper Midwest. A number of the Thompsons' family members have attended WSU.  They said, "We give back because WSU has meant so much to us and our family."
After graduating from Cannon Falls High School in 1940, LaVerne “Dick” Traxler entered Winona Teachers College. He completed just two years of school before "Uncle Sam" called on him to enlist in the United States Marine Corps Air, where he spent three and a half years before his discharge in 1946. It was that summer that Dick married his wife, Valeria, and returned to Winona, MN to finish his degree. He graduated from Winona State in 1948 with degrees in Physical Education and History.  Dick accepted his first teaching job in St. Charles, MN, where he taught for 16 years. In 1964, Dick accepted a position in the Rochester School System, retiring in 1980. Dick contracted polio in 1952 and was confined to a wheelchair; however, he was rarely idle. He passed away in October 2009.  Dick considered Val to be “his rock” as they raised their four daughters in a home that was active and filled with love. Valeria and her daughters established a scholarship at WSU in honor of Dick’s memory.
The mission of the Rochester Area Foundation is to strengthen community philanthropy by promoting responsible and informed giving and to assist donors in meeting their charitable objectives. For more than 68 years, they have partnered with donors to improve the quality of life, promote greater equality of opportunities, and develop effective methods to assist those in need in the greater Rochester area.
Lifelong residents of Winona's East End, Joseph and Renelda Cieminski made incredible sacrifices to support their nine children. In addition to providing the necessities, they emphasized the value of education and an appreciation for helping others. Three of their children, Don, Leroy, and Allan, went on to graduate from Winona State University. The Cieminski family established the Gertrude Finch Scholarship to honor the Winona State educator's career, particularly her early years during the 1940s when she helped establish the university's Business Department. Joseph’s son Don says his mother’s words "it is always better to give than to receive" and "the more you give, the more you get" have guided the Cieminski family's strong sense of philanthropy.
Karen Fawcett is a native of the Grand Marais area and graduated from the Northwestern Hospital School of Nursing and Winona State University with a BS in nursing.  Before retiring, she was an outreach coordinator with Way to Grow and Family Service Programs for School District 861 in Winona. O.J. Fawcett grew up in Winona and earned degrees at Hamline University and the University of Minnesota. He followed in his father's footsteps as funeral director and owner of Fawcett Funeral Home.  The two have devoted much of their community service work to families and served on the boards of many local organizations.  As a result of their dedicated worked, Karen and O.J. received the Ben and Adith Miller Community Service Tribute in 2006. Longtime supporters of the WSU Foundation, Karen has recently joined our WSU Foundation board as a committee member.
Michael Garvey earned his MBA at Winona State University in 1991.  He joined the staff of Hormel Foods, worked for 3M, P&G and the Vaccine Division of Merck Pharmaceuticals. Throughout his career in corporate sales, Michael earned several top sales honors. Michael says “In 1990 WSU awarded me a scholarship and my WSU education led to a fantastic career in sales. I am honored to return this favor to WSU.” Currently residing in Massachusetts, Michael spends his free time travelling, fishing, skating and landscaping.
The General Mills Foundation's mission is to provide financial support to nonprofit organizations that make a distinctive contribution to the quality of life and that strengthen the capacity of communities to solve problems and create opportunities for all citizens. The Foundation is an important part of General Mills which is one of the world’s leading food companies, operating in more than 100 countries around the world.  One goal at General Mills is to be among the most socially responsible food companies in the world. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., USA, General Mills had fiscal 2013 worldwide sales of US $17.8 billion.
HSBC Bank USA, National Association serves 3 million customers through retail banking and wealth management, commercial banking, private banking, asset management, and global banking and markets segments. It operates more than 250 bank branches throughout the United States. There are over 165 in New York State as well as branches in: California; Connecticut; Delaware; Washington, D.C.; Florida; Maryland; New Jersey; Pennsylvania; Oregon; Virginia; and Washington State. HSBC Bank USA, N.A. is the principal subsidiary of HSBC USA Inc., an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of HSBC North America Holdings Inc. HSBC Bank USA, N.A. is a member of the FDIC.

Dr. Jean E. Jederman was born and raised in Winona. She attended the Phelps Laboratory School and graduated with honors from Winona State with a major in elementary education and minors in physical education, geography, and social science in 1949. After graduation Jean moved to Elgin, Illinois, where she taught for 35 years, earned her master’s degree from the University of Minnesota and her doctorate from Northern Illinois University. To honor her father, Frederick Jederman, Jean has established the Frederick A. Jederman Scholarship benefiting history. Frederick had an illustrious career at Winona State as a professor of history, chair of social science division, dean of men and chairman of the scholarship committee. As Jean says, "the college became a part of our lives. So too the college was my life."

Carol Jefferson earned her PhD in Botany at Oregon State University in 1974 and went on to serve as WSU’s biology professor for 30 years from 1976 to 2006. Carol has been extensively involved in the restoration of Garvin Heights Park, Krueger woods, and general nature conservancy in Winona, involving hundreds of students in the process. She has also published several publications on her research in ecology and ecology restoration. Currently Carol resides in Winona and is the instructor for WSU’s Senior University. She enjoys music, literature, outdoor sports and nature study.
Steve Kohner attended Winona State University from 1964-1966. While at WSU, he played football and received the Northern Sun All-Conference Award in 1966. From 1967-1970, he served in the U.S. Army. Steve and his wife, Candi, are self-employed and own Modern Ready Mix. As strong enthusiasts of the university, they contribute to scholarships as well as other projects and can be found at various Warrior Athletic games and events. Together they enjoy raising buffalo, hunting, fishing and spending time with their family of six children and twelve grandchildren. "We believe in the opportunity for students to attend WSU and also participate in spots if they choose. These students are out future."
Michael Leaf was born and raised in Winona. After earning his bachelor's degree in elementary education from Saint Mary's University in 1983, Leaf furthered his education at WSU, graduating in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in physical education and in 1989 with a master's degree in physical education. Since graduation, Leaf has led an outstanding coaching career at WSU including the first ever NCAA Division II National Championships victory in 2006, and again in 2008. He has earned numerous regional coaching awards and during his tenure at WSU, his players have won many awards as well. Leaf is WSU's all-time leader on the coaches list for wins and in winning percentage. Mike supports a number of campus initiative and focuses on supporting Warrior Athletics. Off the court, Leaf spends his time with family and friends, plays golf, enjoys traveling, and dabbles in gourmet cooking.
Gerald “Gerry” & Patricia Neal established The Charles F. and Mary Jane Neal Scholarship as a permanently endowed fund in the Winona State University Foundation in honor of Gerry's parents. He says his parents always put their family first and while they didn't have the opportunity to graduate from college, they always insisted that their four boys would have a college education.  It was with their parent's encouragement and support that they all attained a college education and their own personal success. Gerry says they give back to WSU because, "we value education and know not all families are able to make the sacrifices our parents did to enable us to complete our college degrees."
The Winona Daily News is proud of its more than 150-year partnership with Winona State University. The newspaper was founded on Nov. 20, 1855 -- making it the second-oldest continuously published newspaper in Minnesota. Early editions identified Winona as being part of Minnesota Territory because it predated statehood. And, since 1858, it has been our privilege to cover Winona State University – the first state Normal school, founded with $7,000 in contributions from Winona citizens. The Winona Daily News is proud to cover and partner with this unique institution and document what the university means to our community and our region. The Winona Daily News and Winona State share a great pride and fondness for our beautiful surroundings, our rich heritage and the people who make this such a great place to live.

Donor Honor Roll

All existing members of the Medallion Society.