2019 Alumni Awards
Outstanding Graduate Award was given to Roy Johnson – Class of 1952
Roy Johnson was born in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, in 1934 to Algot and Agnes Johnson. The family moved to Bruno, Minnesota, for a time, and then in 1940 moved to a farm at Palmdale, in the Taylors Falls School District. He graduated from Taylors Falls High School in 1952.
Roy worked for a time in the Twin Cities for a school supply company. He enlisted in the U.S. Army from 1956-1959 and was stationed in Germany as a member of the 17th Signal Battalion. After his Honorable Discharge from the Army, Roy married Donna Thorsell and bought a farm one mile from Palmdale where they resided for the rest of their lives.
In addition to farming, Roy supported his school and community in many ways:
- Farmers Union 1963-1965.
- Taylors Falls and Chisago Lakes School bus driver
- Activity bus, away games, special events
- Shafer Township Board 1971-2014
- Immanuel Lutheran Church, Almelund MN 1964-1996
- Custodian and later Cemetery caretaker
- Lions International – Almelund Lions Club 24 years
- Melvin Jones Fellow
- Lion of the Year award
Roy and Donna raised 3 boys, Wayne, Vern, and Darin, who all graduated from Taylors Falls High School. Donna passed away in 2017, Roy in 2019.
Roy was very proud of his Taylors Falls background.
Outstanding Staff/Faculty Award was given Gerald Christianson to (1961 – 1984)
Gerald Christianson was a much beloved band director, choir director, and music instructor from 1961-1984. “Mr. C.” as he was known to students, staff, and parents alike was a devoted and dedicated teacher for 23 years in the Taylors Falls School District. During that time he taught weekly classes in general music to the elementary grades sharing the history and wonder of American folk music.
Gerald directed both the Junior High School and Senior High School choirs and bands for all those years. And “somehow,” he managed to provide ALL of the one-on-one and small group instrumental lessons required. Mr. C. facilitated the men’s and women’s octet ensembles as well as the varied instrumental ensembles, many of whom won countless music competitions over the years. Every year there were Fall, Christmas, and Spring Concerts. He directed the band at halftime for the basketball and football games. In the summer he marched with the band in local parades throughout the area.
For many years, Mr. Christiansen not only took his choir Christmas Caroling, but brought them back to his home for hot cocoa and cookies. He was serious, but also connected personally with the students, and many of them remembered him long after for the culture he brought into their lives.
One of the highlights of this auspicious career was in 1977 when he took the high school band students (and many who had already graduated) on a two-week summer band trip to England, France, Belgium, and Germany. The students had raised funds for two years to cover the costs. They stayed with host families, and in hostels and hotels. They performed and went sightseeing.
Upon his retirement in 1984, the Bluejarian Staff dedicated the Yearbook to Mr. C and all he had done for them. They wrote at that time that Mr. C. had his own unique way of getting attention when students were too busy getting caught up on the day’s gossip to follow along. “He directs along and when he sees that nobody is listening, he just quits directing and lets them wonder what is going on.”
In 1991, the new Music Room at TFHS was dedicated and named to honor Mr. C. for the hundreds of students he instructed over the years.
Outstanding Staff/Faculty Award was given to Deb Julik-Heine – Class of 1973
Deborah Julik-Heine was raised on a dairy farm six miles north of Taylors Falls. She has four brothers and one sister and attended Taylors Falls all twelve grades.
Deb attended Moorhead State and received a degree in Special Education and began teaching in Hawley, Minnesota. She has been married to Larry for forty years and they have two children. Austin and his wife Ashley live in Colorado, and Kathy who lives in New Haven, Connecticut is a graduate student at Yale University’s School of Management.
Larry is in the clothing business and is on the road a lot which accounts for Deb teaching in a number of schools. After Hawley she taught in New York, Ohio, and Texas where she took a leave from teaching to be a stay at home mom. Her last and final move twenty-three years ago was back here to Taylors Falls as a substitute, and special education teacher. In 2000 she attended River Falls University (in her spare time) and received her elementary degree and the last nineteen years has taught third and fourth grade students.
Deb’s personal goal is to always be mindful in her journey, learning with children each day. When she announced that she was to retire this June there was a flood of comments from the Taylors Falls staff as well as across the district thanking her for being a great teacher and colleague. She has strengthened everyone that comes in contact with her throughout the district. She has been a teacher, leader, tutor, mentor, and has been on every committee that helps kids.
Through her volunteering she has given so much back to the community. Deb has been very involved with the Taylors Falls Lighting Festival, in fact she was the Royal Lady of the Village. She has also helped with the Wannigans Day event as well as other community activities. Last but not least, she is the secretary and a very important member of our Taylors Fall Education Foundation.
Larry stated that after Deb chills out for a while, she plans on visiting Italy in September, visiting the kids and to continue doing all the things she loves to do.
Outstanding Citizen Award was given to Steve Julik – Class of 1970
When one thinks of an outstanding citizen, it is someone who believes in giving back to their community as a way of life. Truly good citizens integrate work to improve their communities into their daily routines by helping out their neighbors, assisting local businesses and volunteering at their schools and churches in an effort to make those places – and the world – a little bit better. Steve Julik, epitomizes exactly this kind of good citizenship and demonstrates these values through his daily actions.
Steve attended Taylors Falls Independent School District from first through twelfth grade (1957-1970) and was both a strong academic student as well as a natural leader throughout the entirety of those years. Children and adults alike looked up to that curious thinker and thoughtful steward as someone who modeled character and strength. While involved in sports, music, and academics in high school, Steve is most well remembered for filling the roles of organization leader, various class officers, and Student Council Vice-President.
After high school Steve attended and excelled at the University of Minnesota while working and raising a family. After receiving his Bachelor’s of Science he proceeded to work as both an engineer and manager at Cummins Onan in Minneapolis for the next 34 years. From an early age Steve was interested in how stuff worked and he usually figured it out by first taking apart and then putting back together again whatever motor, machine, or contraption lie before him. He used many of those self-taught skills to help family, neighbors, friends, and even strangers over the years.
Over the course of his life, Steve has consistently demonstrated the values his parents had modeled for him; when those around you are in need, step in and help. He volunteered at his children’s schools, supported local booster clubs, judged local Science Fairs, cantered at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church, flipped burgers at the Annual St. Joe’s Eats Fundraiser, and always assisted the St. Joseph’s Church Knights of Columbus on various renovation projects. Steve has worked with Habitat for Humanity, organized firewood cutting parties, and led roofing events for neighbors in need. He currently serves with the Kahbakong Cemetery Association. Bottom line: When someone is in need, Steve extends himself to help out – from plowing driveways to visiting the elderly and ill. Finally, inspired by both his mother, Kathryn, and his late brother, Joe, Steve (along with his wife, Nancy) are approaching their Ten Gallon Pins for donating blood.
Steve Julik is a modest individual and would be the last to accept accolades for his works of kindnesses, but every now and then it’s important to recognize the silent heroes in our midst.
Extra Curricular Award for the Years 1915-1952 was given to Delores Sellman Rivard – Class of 1946
Before beginning her career at Taylors Falls High School, Delores Selman attended Reed (Grammar) School near her family’s farm in Almelund. Delores’ children tell how much she loved her education at TFHS where she began many lifelong friendships. She was active as a cheerleader, encouraging the players on the field and court. Delores also played the clarinet in the high school band. It was at TFHS where she met the love of her life, Leland Rivard. They would marry two years after she graduated in 1946 and married they would stay for 70 years.
Delores settled in Taylors Falls, a town she loved, and was greatly involved in the extra-curricular activities of the community. All five of their children also attended TFHS, where Delores participated in the PTA and later worked as a cook until her retirement in 1994. She was always working, either with Leland at their businesses (Cherry Hill Meat Processing and then Rivard’s Grocery for 28 years), or volunteering at St. Joseph’s Church where she held leadership positions in the Altar Society and also coordinated a funeral lunch group for 30 years.
Delores had a green thumb and loved spending time in her garden growing flowers and vegetables. More than her family benefited from her skills at gardening; she and Leland tended the flowers at the corner of First & West Streets mini-park for more years than most can remember.
Her daughters, Robin and Cindy, both carried on Delores’ cheerleading legacy when they got to high school They talk with great pride about how their mom always took time to visit with those in poor health, at the hospital or nursing home. She gave the greatest gift of all, her time and energy to brighten others’ days.
Sadly, Delores departed this world this past February, 2019, only a few short months after her beloved Leland. No doubt she continues to participate in “extracurricular” activities in heaven.
Extra Curricular Award for the Years 1953-1992 was given to John Gustafson – Class of 1968
John Gustafson grew up in Taylors Falls and always enjoyed playing whatever sport was in season. During high school he earned an impressive 14 letters and was all-conference in basketball and football his junior and senior seasons.
As a member of the class of 1968 he played a big part on the 1966 District Championship Baseball Team. Later that fall, he led his football team in defeating state ranked North Branch who “had been” on a 22 game winning streak. In his senior year John was an essential part of the District’s Championship Basketball Team.
John feels truly blessed to have a lot of good memories of TFHS and the St. Croix Valley, and to the point that his friends in Nebraska tell him not to smile so large when he reminisces about the “good old days.” These days he and his wife, Kris, live in Ceresco, Nebraska, but Taylors Falls will always be home.