AHS set to induct 4 into Hall of Fame

ALPENA – Alpena High School Hall of Fame inductees are nominated and selected based on having distinguished themselves in their career/field of study, community and society as a whole, and have exemplified the pride and spirit of AHS. This is the 12th year alumni have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and four have been chosen to be inducted this year, joining 38 other distinguished individuals.

John Nethercut (1974), Dr. Jim Richey (1981), Brad Keen (1986) and Dr. Heather Bullen (1994, posthumous) will be honored at an induction ceremony Friday night at Wildcat Stadium prior to the homecoming football game.

Nethercut was born in Detroit, and moved to Alpena when he was in kindergarten. He graduated from AHS in 1974 as a National Merit Scholar and worked on the Alpena County road crew.

“Alpena was an amazing place to grow up in,” Nethercut said. “I was in the woods all the time, and my folks still live there. I was influenced a lot by my family and I had a good public school education. The teachers at AHS really stemmed my curiousity.”

Nethercut attended Harvard Law School and went on to eventually become deputy chief of the consumer protection division for Maryland. In 2002, he went into nonprofit work to be the executive director of the Public Justice Center, which focuses on cases and campaigns that take on the laws, practices and institutions that cause injustice and poverty.

When he found out he was being inducted into the Hall of Fame, he was excited.

“It’s an honor to be inducted,” he said. “I have fond memories of Alpena.”

Richey was involved in basketball, baseball and golf, and as a member of AHS’s 1980 varsity baseball team, he helped break the school record for most consective wins and was the starting catcher on the 1982 Alpena Senior Babe Ruth World Series championship baseball team. He is a member of the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame.

“I learned a lot about teamwork at AHS,” Richey said. “I’m all about teamwork. Everyone has a role and is vital to keep things running smoothly.”

Richey earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Michigan State University in 1985 and a Juris Doctorate degree from Ohio State University in 1988. He ran his own legal practice in Melbourne, Fla., and joined Eastern Florida State College Board of Trustees in 2008. He was named president of Eastern Florida State College in 2012.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be nominated,” Richey said. “To the community, I’m extremely indebted. Alpena taught me small town values.”

Keen grew up in Ossineke and worked as a dishwasher at Churchill Pointe Inn, from which he advanced to prep cook and then lead cook in the Inn’s kitchen. Keen’s experience cooking led him to enter Alpena Public School’s vocational food service program to which he credits his instructor, Joyce McCoy, to having the highest impact on his decision to pursue further education and placement in culinary arts.

“My dad’s side of my family all worked at Lafarge, and I didn’t think that direction was for me,” Keen said. “My instructor Joyce McCoy helped steer me in a positive direction. I found out I liked hospitality.”

Keen is now the president/general manager of Boyne Highlands Resort and senior vice president of food and beverage for Boyne Resorts. He also serves as chairman of Michigan Restaurant Association Board of Directors and is a leader in the restaurant industry in Michigan.

He credits his hard work and dedication to a strong upbringing in Ossineke, and said he was surprised to be chosen for the Hall of Fame.

“I am honored and humbled by the induction,” he said. “We all do what we do and it’s not for public recognition, but for myself and my family. I’m very appreciative of being recognized.”

Bullen was a 1994 Magna Cum Laude graduate of AHS where she was active in band, figure skating and science. She went on after graduation to establish a career as a professor of analytical chemistry and earned her B.A. in chemistry from Albion College and a Ph.D. from MSU in 2002.

She completed her post-doctoral engagement in Iowa State University’s Ames laboratory-department of energy and became an associate professor of chemistry at Northern Kentucky University in 2004. She developed grants and proposals that brought in more than $3 million in money to the university, and her most recent research, which was funded by the National Institute of Health, targeted medical delivery systems that could breech the blood-brain barrier, allowing new advances in drug delivery for brain cancer, HIV dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Bullen lost her short battle with colon cancer in 2012, and her induction will be accepted by her brother, Robert Bullen.

“Heather learned the value of persistance at AHS,” Bullen said. “I think she took her love of teaching from the teachers she had at AHS. She always valued the power of mentorship to help in success, and as a female scientist, she was such a minority she strove to be a mentor to other girls.”

Bullen volunteered to help scientific minded students to become scientists.

“We had a great education and opportunity growing up in Alpena,” Bullen said. “I think it’s outstanding that they have a program that recognizes people who have been successful academically. I think Heather would’ve really liked the sentiment of the award, but would have made it about the people who supported her to get where she was. She really lived to teach her students and help them succeed, and believed that everyone deserved a safe and good education. She was an advocate for learning. Even when she was sick, she never made things about herself. She approached the illness as a scientist would, and taught and was there for her family and her students. She always believed there was pride in being someone who is good at something.”

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at ngrulke@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.