Backer, Eyrich, Roegiers, Sauers enter Dist. 88 HOF

Backer, Eyrich, Roegiers, Sauers enter Dist. 88 HOF

Staff photo by Fritz Busch 2024 ISD 88 Hall of Fame inductees from left, Kathleen Cordes Backer, Brian Roegiers, and Travis Sauers for Ted Sauers at the Royal Oak Event Center Friday. Not pictured, Lou Eyrich.

NEW ULM — District 88 Superintendent Sean Koster may have said it best introducing the 2024 District 88 Hall of Fame inductees at the Royal Oak Event Center Friday.

“There are so many teachers that start out with the ambition to change the world. Any they should. They shape the minds of our youth, and year after year, build lasting roads into the hearts of countless community members,” Koster said.

“This is a special community here in New Ulm, and as I’ve said all year, one of the greatest towns to raise a family in all of Minnesota. One of those reasons is the dedication you all have to our schools and our success,” he added.

“The dedication the staff has for the continued success of our community and each and very student that sits down in classrooms around the district. Our teachers are the heartbeat of our organization. Our students feel their love each and every day,” said Koster.

The inductees, Kathleen Cordes Backer, Lou Eyrich, Brian Roegiers and Ted Sauers, varied greatly. All four reached high levels of achievement in a number of ways.

Backer, Class of 1964, was described as a natural leader with a passion for history and education. She was the executive director of museums including the Brown County Historical Society. She was the first female New Ulm mayor, elected in 2022.

“I want to thank my family, friends and colleagues who have loved, supported and encouraged me to be all I can be,” Backer said.

“I’m blessed with good health and a healthy spirit. It makes life a heckuva lot easier. I’m here because of all of you. I thank you,” she added.

Eyrich, Class of 1977, is an award-winning costume designer and producer whose career has panned managing the wardrobe of Prince to television industry executive director. She may be best known for her work in the television series “Glee” and “American Horror Story: Asylum.”

Eyrich was awarded the 2012 Career Achievement Award in Television from the Costume Designers Guild. She was nominated for 18 Emmy Awards and won five Emmy Awards.

“I’ve been humbled and I’m grateful for this honor. Thank you,” Eyrich said in a video shown at the event.

Eyrich worked at Lenore’s Grocery Store, owned by her mother and located across the street from St. Mary’s Catholic Church on South Minnesota Street.

Roegiers, Class of 1976, was described as a motivator and leader, professionally, personally, and on and off the field. He’s been executive director of the McCrossan Boys Ranch in Sioux Falls for more than 30 years and has worked with youth for 45 years.

Roegiers won three New Ulm High School football letters and held the school discus record for many years.

“New Ulm has meant to much to me. This town wrapped its arms around our family,” he said.

“This was very unexpected. God has led me all the way through. I was a kid that didn’t have much. Now I’m running a facility for trouble kids. Our school is accredited. We now have track and cross country teams. This is very exciting for us. It’s great to be back here. Thanks.” Roegiers said.

Travis Sauers of Shakopee spoke for his father, the late Ted Sauers, District 88 teacher and coach from 1970-2004, and active community volunteer. Ted Sauers died last August.

“People said they really enjoyed him as a teacher and coach. I remember how much he loved talking to his former students and coaches. He was very proud to be involved and close to education and people. That’s all he talked about late in life,” Travis Sauers said.

“Get involved, help people. It takes a village. Be a part of people’s lives. Do what you can to impact the community and make the world a better place. My family thanks you very much,” he added.

District 88 employees recognized for 35 years service were Kim Haroldson, Julie Peterson and Kevin Maudal. Vicky Bode was recognized for 30 years service. Donn Fahey, Rebekah Gordon and Debra Irmiter were thanked for 25 years service.

Retirees recognized were Joyce Berg, Julie Carroll, Janice Geske, Scott Stuckey and Daniel Walden.

Entertainment was provided by the New Ulm Middle School Jazz Band and Pops Choir, Oak Street Singers, New Ulm High School Jazz Band and Ulmer Quartet.


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