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Posted October 8, 2018
Plymouth High School inducted the two newest members of the Plymouth High School Alumni Hall of Fame during its 2018 Homecoming celebration.
Shortly after graduation from PHS, Allen Nohl enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to a helicopter crew in Vietnam. While there, he was the lone survivor of an accident in which two helicopters on a support mission crashed into each other and exploded in flames. He was able to jump from the burning chopper. A rescue helicopter could not land, but dropped him a rope and he dangled from it for the 20-mile ride to an aid station. Mr. Nohl was awarded a Purple Heart and was honorably discharged in 1972.
He has freely given his time to serve veterans through the Sheboygan County American Legion for more than 40 years. He has served as post commander, county commander, and mentor for veterans’ treatment court, and he helped set up the Camo-Quilt Project. Since 2000, Mr. Nohl has served as chairman of the Sheboygan County Veterans Memorial Committee. The memorial is just off Highway 23 on the west side of Sheboygan, and displays the names of men and women who participated in wars and conflicts.
During the induction ceremony, Mr. Nohl told those gathered that he was blessed to have gotten through the situation in Vietnam, and honored to have been able to help vets. “We’re all here for a reason,” he said.
After his Army service, Mr. Nohl had a 38-year career at Johnsonville Sausage as a team leader and a foreman. Additionally, he has volunteered his time to support the Johnsonville Fire Department, Plymouth High School FFA, Saron United Church of Christ Senior Choir, the Eastern Wisconsin Stock Car Association, the U.S. Snowmobile Association, and the Sheboygan County Fair.
There will be setbacks, he warned students. “So surround yourself with family and friends,” he said. “That what I had. And that’s why I’m here.”
Mr. Nohl noted that he is not a doctor or a company owner or a professor. But now he too will have a plaque on the Alumni Hall of Fame wall. “Focus on your dreams, live your dreams, and have a successful life,” he told the students, who gave him a standing ovation.
As part of the induction ceremony, Mr. Nohl also played a Generation Gap game against two current PHS students, Jack Keller and Riley McMullen, in which they tried to identify cultural references from each other’s youth. Mr. Nohl was shown images of Candy Crush, a fidget spinner, PHS Football Coach Dan Knaus, a scene from the “Black Panther,” the Spotify logo, and Elsa from “Frozen.” Jack and Riley were presented with a manual charge card machine, Lincoln Logs, Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr, Mr. Magoo, an 8-track tape, and the original “Tarzan.”
Mr. Nohl was nominated by his friend, Konrad Kaczkowski of Plymouth.
After graduating from PHS, Ralph Stayer attended Notre Dame, where he earned a degree in Finance. Upon graduation in 1965, he returned to the small meat-processing operation his family founded in Johnsonville, Wis. He immediately began building the company’s wholesale operation, which was spun off into a separate entity in 1968. This led Johnsonville Sausage to incredible growth – it became the leading sausage brand in the United States and grew its operations to more than 30 countries.
At Johnsonville, Mr. Stayer embraced a decentralized management style, giving his members (i.e. employees) a lot of decision-making ability. In 1990, he established Leadership Dynamics, a consulting firm that specialized in coaching leaders of large organizations. His article “How I Learned To Let My Workers Lead” was published in the Harvard Business Review – and it remains one of the top 100 most reprinted articles.
Mr. Stayer’s commitment to his members is best exemplified after a Johnsonville manufacturing plant in Watertown was destroyed by fire. He kept everyone on the company payroll, instructing them to complete service work in the community until a new production facility could be constructed.
Not as well known, Mr. Stayer and Johnsonville have supported a host of charitable causes, including Stayer Park in Plymouth; the Quit Qui Oc ball fields; Boys & Girls Clubs in Sheboygan and Fond du Lac counties; The Stayer Center at Marian University; the Boomer Esiason Foundation; and a school for the poor in Nicaragua run by his PHS classmate, Sister Katie Schilling (also a member of the PHS Alumni Hall of Fame).
Today, Mr. Stayer and Johnsonville work directly with PHS supporting Youth Apprenticeships, Inspire, and The 180° Program, which honors students who significantly improve their GPAs between the fall and spring semesters.
Mr. Stayer was nominated by Larry Schmitz, president of the PHS Class of 1961.
• Visit the PHS Alumni page, which includes links to bios of all Hall of Fame members.
• Read an article about other Homecoming 2018 events.
• Explore the Post-Graduate Success section of our award-winning District Report Card to learn more about how Plymouth grads are making an impact all over the world.
The PHS Student Council established the Alumni Hall of Fame in 2010 to honor individuals who have made a difference, who have achieved a high level of success, and who have given unselfishly to make their community a better place.
New candidates, who must have graduated from PHS at least 10 years ago, may be nominated annually in the spring. A Student Council committee selects the finalists, who are revealed at Commencement in June and inducted at Homecoming in the fall.
Past honorees include: