Education Foundation announces distinguished alumni

Published 6:17 am Sunday, August 19, 2012

Two of the four distinguished alumni for 2012 are Dr. Lyman Steil and Barry Blackhawk, who will be honored at the Pathways to Success Banquet on Sept. 13 at Wedgewood Cove Golf Club.

The Education Foundation of Albert Lea each year selects graduates of Albert Lea High School to be honored as distinguished alumni. Selections are made from nominations; the nomination form is available on the foundation’s website at

Tickets may be purchased for the banquet by reservation via the foundation. Information and costs are available on the Pathways webpage at

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The banquet will be preceded by a public forum at 3 p.m. featuring these and other honorees discussing education. The moderator will be a former distinguished alumni, Dr. Don Draayer. Following are profiles of two of the four distinguished alumni. The profiles for the remaining distinguished alumni will appear in the Sunday, Aug. 26, edition of the Tribune.


Dr. Lyman Steil

Lyman K. (Manny) Steil was born July 23, 1938, at Naeve Hospital to Leland K. and Gretchen V. (Johnston) Steil. Steil and his siblings, Sue, Thomas and Gregory, attended Ramsey Elementary School and all graduated from Albert Lea High School. During Steil’s high school career he was active in chorus, student government, track, wrestling, intramurals and Hi-Y.

Steil graduated in 1956. His exceedingly positive memories of growing up in Albert Lea and the shaping impact of Presbyterian pastors, Boy Scout leaders, coaches, employers, numerous life-long friends and teachers have driven him throughout his life. Specific memories of the powerful and beneficial impact of individual teachers LeRoy Maas, Gertrude Piers, Wallace Kennedy, Hildred Tennihill, Luther Olsen, Ralph Summers, Robert Myers and many others fueled a lifetime passion for enhanced education and service to others.

Lyman Steil

Upon graduation, Steil enlisted in the United States Navy and served honorably in the United States Navy Submarine Service. Upon his discharge in 1959, Steil enrolled at the University of Minnesota where he completed an associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree in the fields of speech communication, organizational psychology and listening. Steil earned his Ph.D. in speech and organizational communication from Wayne State University.

For more than 48 years as a leading professional educator, speaker, trainer, consultant, author and businessman, Steil has served high school, college and university students, and enhanced the listening and communication knowledge and skills of thousands of organizations and professionals throughout the world.

Steil is an internationally-known speaker. Steil is CEO and chairman of Communication Development, Inc.; CEO and chairman of the International Listening Leadership Institute; founding partner of The Masters Alliance; founding director of The Amara Institute; former director of debate and forensics, Lincoln-Way (Illinois) High School; former director of debate, Macalester College, and chairman of the speech communication division, Department of Rhetoric, University of Minnesota.

In addition, Steil was founder and first president of the International Listening Association, author and co-author of five books; creator of the first Effective Listening Video Program, and architect of the renowned Sperry Listening Program. He has earned the Certified Speaking Professional and the Certified Listening Professional designations and has been inducted into both the National Speaker’s Association and the Minnesota “Speaker’s Hall of Fame” and the International Listening Association’s “Listening Hall of Fame.” In addition, Steil has been recognized with the Legend of Professional Speaking Award and the International Listening Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Among his numerous awards Steil was honored by the University of Minnesota, College of Liberal Arts with the CLA Distinguished Alumni Award.

Steil is co-author of the award winning book, “Listening Leaders: The 10 Golden Rules to Listen, Lead, and Succeed” and continues to serve Listening Leaders throughout the world. Steil’s life-long commitment to heighten the state of education has focused on helping everyone enhance their listening and personal and professional performance, productivity, profitability and pleasure. Steil believes that everyone can listen better and achieve more.

In support of ALHS students, Steil designed and led the building of the class of 1956’s 50-Year Reunion Legacy Gift of “Inspiration and Ponder Point.” In addition, Steil’s philanthropic efforts to create scholarships to support continued higher education of Albert Lea High School graduates has been blessed with the energetic support of his late wife DeAnna T. Steil. Married for nearly 49 years, Dee was centrally involved in creating any and every success Steil has enjoyed. They are the parents of three children: Scott (Sarah Nervig) Steil; Sara (Dr. Sam) Shuster; and Stacy Steil, plus six grandchildren: Elliot, Josie, Sophie and Zach Shuster, and Ben and Joseph Steil, and grand dogs, Cash and Tango.

Steail currently resides in the Minnesota town of North Oaks and the Vail Valley, Colo.


Barry Blackhawk

Barry L. Blackhawk was born Feb. 28, 1938, in Winnebago, Neb., to parents Lillian Decora and Joseph Benjamin Blackhawk. His father died when Blackhawk was 18 months old and it was requested that his grandparents, David and Minnie Littlebear, raise him. He was a Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) American Indian. He attended his early school years at the St. Augustine Indian Mission and the Winnebago Public School on his Tribal Reservation in Nebraska. He and his family moved to Albert Lea around 1950. His grandparents worked in the fields near Albert Lea. He attended Albert Lea High School, participating in football, basketball, track, chorus, swing band as a vocalist, the Ahlahasa, Tiger’s Roar, student council and drama. He graduated in 1957.

He married Albert Lean Sharon Tuchtenhagen in 1957. He took 10 years to complete his education at what is now Minnesota State University, Mankato, as he alternated college and working to support his growing family, according to his son, Bradley, of Mounds View, Minn.

In 1967 Blackhawk received his degree in education, with majors in English and physical education. He was hired in the fall of 1967 to teach English, coach football, wrestling and track in Renville, Minn. In 1969, he moved to North High School in Minneapolis, where he taught English and coached wrestling, track and football from 1969-1971. While there he taught a year in the Gifted Indian Children’s Program in Minneapolis and worked as assistant editor of the Winnebago Indian News.

Barry Blackhawk

While furthering his education at the University of Minnesota in a summer session he had the opportunity to take about 20 Native high school and college students on an eight-week tour of Europe. Family said he often talked about how fun it was to bring a bunch of Native American kids and teach them about other countries. It wasn’t only the students who were learning, said Roger Buffalohead, chairman of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. “He saw how much more interested Europeans were in Indian culture than Americans were.”

He left the Twin Cities in the late 1970s to return to Winnebago and teach. He taught his native language at the Nebraska Indian Community College and founded the Memorial Neola Walker Language Committee to save the Ho-Chunk language and culture from extinction.

He left Winnebago in the 1990s to work for the Ho-Chunk Nation in Black River Falls, Wis. There he worked at the Tribal Aging Unit. He was a lifelong educator dedicated to Ho-Chunk people everywhere.

He also lived for a time in Denver, Colo., and Albuquerque, N.M.

He returned to Winnebago, Neb., in 2000. One of the key actions he led there was to coordinate a reconciliation trip to Mankato. Documented by friends and educators Bruce and Sheryl Dowlin in a DVD titled “Return of the Ho-Chunk – Reconciliation 142 Years Later,” it involved a trip to Mankato by Winnebago elders, tribal officials and youth from the reservation in Nebraska. They visited old Winnebago village sites, a cemetery in St. Clair which included ancestors of some of the group, etc. Several leaders were involved but the event wouldn’t have happened without Blackhawk’s leadership. A permanent reminder of the event is a historical marker along the Minnesota River in Mankato marking the site where the Winnebago people arrived in Mankato from their previous reservation in northern Minnesota. He was chairman of the Elder Council in Winnebago.

He was a lifelong member of the Native American Church of North America, Winnebago Chapter. It wasn’t recognized in the United States as a legitimate religion when, still in Renville, he joined the executive committee of the Department of Indian Work of the Minnesota Council of Churches. In 1969 he was elected its first Indian chairman and in 1970 headed an all-Indian committee that planned the council’s annual general assembly. He performed baptisms and name-giving ceremonies for family and relatives as a Native American Church leader.

Besides being a lifelong educator and language teacher, he was also a traveler, guitarist, singer and poet. Some of his poetry can be accessed at One featured poem is about his grandmother, written in 1972.

Barry died at age 67 on Oct. 15, 2005, of heart disease, in Winnebago. Services were held at the Native American Church in Winnebago, with burial in the Winnebago Indian Cemetery. A memorial service was also held at the Department of Indian Work of the Minnesota Council of Churches in St. Paul, sponsored by the Native American Church, Twin Cities chapter.

His family includes his son, Bradley, of Mounds View, children Elizabeth, Bradley Jr. and Summer Joy Blackhawk; son, Bryan, of Brooklyn Park and his wife, LouAnn, and their children, Brenda, Brianna, Bryan, Melania and Shila; son, Benjamin, of Crystal and his wife, Diane (Rae), and their children Rachel, Rose, Nick, Grace, Joseph and Benjamin; son, Coty Jon Blackhawk, of Winnebago, Neb.; and son, Justice Hunter Blackhawk, of Black River Falls, Wis. Daughters include Polly Ann Aitken of Cass Lake, her husband Larry and their children Athena, Ann and Josephine; daughter Betsy Lee Blackhawk of Crystal and her children, Lauren and Eric; daughter Becky Wallace Blackhawk of Los Angeles; and daughter Mariah Blackhawk and her children Araya and Mitchell Jr. Blackhawk had 23 grandchildren.

Blackhawk is also survived by brothers, Morgan Earth and Anthony Earth, of Winnebago; sisters Elizabeth Blackhawk White, Winona Armell, Grace Earth, Cecilia Earth and Charlene Earth, all of Winnebago; an adopted sister Esther Williams Russell; and his former wives Sharon, Agnes and Jean, and his special friends Bonnie and Carmela. His parents and grandparents preceded him in death.