Four announced for BHS Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame

Although their high school careers began in a similar place and fashion, the lives of this year's inductees into the Brainerd High School Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame went in four different directions and each have made impressive contr...


Although their high school careers began in a similar place and fashion, the lives of this year's inductees into the Brainerd High School Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame went in four different directions and each have made impressive contributions throughout the world.

Inductees for 2014 are Nancy Pedersen, Class of 1970; Dennis Borgwarth, Class of 1979; Tom Haglin, Class of 1981; and Josh LaRue, Class of 1992.

These four individuals will be honored at the Brainerd High School Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame banquet to be held from 5-9 p.m. on Sept. 26 at Cragun's Resort on Gull Lake.

"It is my privilege and pleasure to announce the four new inductees into the Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame," said Jill Neumann, director of the Brainerd Public Schools Foundation. "Our four 2014 inductees are yet another group of amazing individuals. On Sept. 26, they will join the nearly 50 Brainerd High School graduates inducted, whose vast achievements inspire others."

The Hall of Fame was established in 1999 to honor graduates of Brainerd High School for distinguished achievements and careers. The examples of achievement illustrated by the Hall of Fame members is intended to inspire and motivate BHS students to excel in everything they do and foster outstanding citizenship, fairness, honor, pride, and respect for themselves, their classmates and their school.


Nancy Pedersen - Class of 1970

After graduating from BHS Pedersen earned a B.A. in psychology from the University of Minnesota, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Pedersen then earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology and Behavioral Genetics from the University of Colorado.

Pedersen is a professor and leading researcher worldwide on behavioral genetics and twins. She has completed numerous studies such as LifeGene, The Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Aging Dementia in Swedish Twins, a twin study of environmental factors in Parkinson's disease, individual differences among the oldest, importance of quantitative trait and environmental factors for cardiovascular disease and chronic fatigue.

Pedersen is currently an adjunct professor (research) of psychology at the Karolinska Institute, a medical university in Sweden. She has a sister, Sue Lindstam, and brother, Rich Pedersen, who still live in the Brainerd lakes area. Two other sisters live in Arizona and California.

Dennis Borgwarth - Class of 1979

Following graduation from Brainerd High School, Borgwarth earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering, physics and mathematics from the University of North Dakota, graduating as valedictorian. Borgwarth also attained degrees and certifications in business, graphics arts, welding and machine shop.

Borgwarth was the chief executive officer of Hot Metal Engineering, Inc., a firm dealing with extreme metal fabrication. He worked at FMC, later known as United Defense - British Aeronautic Engineering, for 28 years. His highest honor came on Dec. 8, 2010, in the United States Library of Congress in Washington D.C. as he was presented with the Golden Chairman Award for Innovation in the national defense industry. He developed the Railgun and held over 17 different patents. Many of the projects Borgwarth worked on were highly classified and specific information regarding his work for the United States Department of Defense is limited.

Borgwarth died at his home in Andover on Jan. 25, 2014, from what his family describes as succumbing to "tremendous job pressures and an environment of top security clearance."


Borgwarth is the son of Hanspeter and Gisela Borgwarth of Nisswa. Surviving wife, Jeri, lives at their Andover home.

Tom Haglin - Class of 1981

Haglin's career has steadily grown with Acrometal Companies to founding the LINDAR Corporation in 1993 along with his wife Ellen. Through the years, their company has earned many awards and much recognition for innovation, growth and outstanding business practices. His company holds several patents, specifically for the food packaging industry, and has received the Blue Chip award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Enterprise, as well as the 2009 Business of the Year award from the Initiative Foundation. LINDAR - a custom plastics manufacturer - has grown over the years and has acquired three other businesses along the way. In 2012, the Haglins purchased Lakeland Mold Company and currently their companies employ over 200 people from the community.

After graduating from high school, Haglin earned a B.S. in business management from the College of St. Scholastica. He also is a graduate of Dale Carnegie, Brainerd Lakes Chamber Leadership Supervision I and II, plus many other professional development courses.

Locally, Haglin has served on many community and business boards where he continues to give back to the business, education, religious and local communities on a daily basis. Haglin is married to wife Ellen and they have three children.

Joshua (J.P.) LaRue - Class of 1992

During the winter of his senior year, LaRue suffered a severe asthma attack that left him blind, unable to move and unable to speak. LaRue missed much of the school year while recovering, but was able to meet his requirements and graduate along with the Class of 1992 from his wheelchair.

Frustrated from his inability to communicate, LaRue helped invent Virtual Morse, a communication device that consists of a small 10-button keyboard that resembles a harmonica. Each button has a different function and is operated with the user's tongue. Based upon the Morse Code alphabet, this device has not only allowed LaRue to send email, but also to attend college and write and publish several books.


Today, Josh lives in Ohio where he continues to work on his writings and a cooperative project to bring his book "My Last Breath" to life as a documentary with Minnesota filmmaker Cy Dodson. A trailer can be viewed of this work at .

Despite setbacks and the challenges life has thrown his way, Josh continues to persevere. He continues to be an avid outdoorsman and enjoys teaching others to hunt. He also hopes his writing will inspire others.

Major sponsors of the Hall of Fame include the Brainerd Dispatch, Brainerd Noon Rotary and the Brainerd Public Schools Foundation and event sponsors include Lakes Printing. Additional sponsorships are available. Please contact or 218-454-6921 for information.

The Hall of Fame event, including dinner, live music by Trillium Strings, cash bar, and program is $25 per person. To join the guest list contact the Washington Educational Services Building at 804 Oak St. in Brainerd, Room 206; call 218-454-6912; or email . Complete event information including menu, program and updates is at .

For further information regarding the Hall of Fame event, Brainerd Public Schools Foundation, or to support this event or your area of interest, see

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