December 2, 2009



Campion alumni seek to establish Campion Hall of Fame

By Ted Pennekamp

Campion Jesuit High School alumni are seeking a place to house a Campion Hall of Fame. Alumnus Dr. Michael Garrity of Prairie du Chien said Monday that the alumni have been talking to a subcommittee of the Fort Crawford Museum Board of Directors about possibly having the Hall of Fame on the Fort Crawford Museum grounds.

"It is only in the discussion stage, but we’re hoping to get something underway by next June," said Garrity. "A Campion Hall of Fame would be a way preserving the memories and history of Campion."

Garrity said that a Campion Hall of Fame would encompass all standouts from Campion, including those who excelled in science, politics, academics, sports and numerous other noteworthy endeavors.

Campion Jesuit High School was a Jesuit-run boarding school for boys in Prairie du Chien named for the Jesuit martyr Edmund Campion. The school operated from its founding in 1880 until closing in 1975, and educated several notable figures during its existence. The former school’s campus now houses Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution. The school operated independent of the Roman Catholic Diocese of La Crosse. Campion Jesuit High School was founded in 1880 as the College of the Sacred Heart. Established on property donated by Prairie du Chien philanthropist John Lawler, the school was originally operated as a college by Jesuits from the Buffalo, New York, mission of the German Province of the Society of Jesus. Its first president was Rev. William Becker, S.J. The school continued as a college until 1888, when it was closed to lay students and became a house of formation for Jesuit priests. Ten years later, in 1898, the school was reopened to the public, as both a high school and college.

One building that was formerly part of the Campion High School campus, Hoffman Hall, remains outside of the prison and is currently operated as a public recreational facility by the city of Prairie du Chien. In fact, a tour of Hoffman Hall in September by some Campion alumni helped to spark discussion of a possible Campion Hall of Fame.

"Campion has numerous notable alumni," said Dr. Garrity. "Certainly, in teaching and science they are legion."

Some of the notable alumni include:

•George Blaha, sportscaster

•David Doyle, actor (best known as "Bosley" on Charlie’s Angels)

•Vicente Fox, president of Mexico (2000-2006)

•Walter Halloran, American Jesuit priest (assisted Father Bowdern in a 1949 exorcism)

•John Henebry, United States Air Force general

•Patrick Lucey, governor of Wisconsin (1971-1977)

•Kevin McCarthy, actor (Invasion of the Body Snatchers et al)

•Leo Ryan, congressman from California (1973-1978 — killed at Jones Town mass suicide)

•Dick Tuck, politician

•George Wendt, actor (best known as "Norm" on the television show Cheers)

•Garry Wills, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Lincoln at Gettysburg

•William Joseph McDonough, president of Federal Reserve Bank, NY

•Allan Scholls, inherited Dr. Scholls

•John "Jack" Rockne, son of Knute Rockne

•Patrick J. Nugent, married president LBJ’s daughter Luci

•Dr. James West, performed world’s first human organ transplant in 1950 along with Dr. Richard Lawler

•Col. Gregory J. Kessenich, inventor of the bazooka

•John P. Powers, Steelers tight end in the 1960s

•Patrick Bowlen, Denver Broncos’ owner

•Tony Cline, played nine years in the NFL

Garrity said that the grounds of the Fort Crawford Museum would be a good site for a Campion Hall of Fame because the museum already has a Campion exhibit.

"Campion alumni who have seen the Campion exhibit at the museum have been impressed," said Garrity.

Garrity said that the needs and requirements for a Campion Hall of Fame have been discussed and that the next step would be to draft a sketch of what could be done. The sketch, costs and other considerations would have to be approved by the Fort Crawford Museum Board of Directors. The plan then would have to be approved by the Campion Alumni Association. Garrity said that the target date to have a plan in place is the first Monday in June, the date of the annual Campion Golf Outing.

November 30, 2009


Future of Hoffman Hall remains uncertain

By Ted Pennekamp

Prairie du Chien Mayor Karl Steiner said that Campion High School alumni have contacted him to state that they will not attempt to raise money in order to keep Hoffman Hall up and running.

"They felt that Hoffman Hall is in too ill of repair to be saved," said Steiner.

Four Campion alumni, who wished to remain anonymous, toured Hoffman Hall on Sept. 15 to investigate the possibility of saving it. They later sent out 2,500 surveys to other Campion alumni to find out how the alumni felt about saving Hoffman Hall.

Steiner remains hopeful that Hoffman Hall can be saved but said that he is also realistic regarding the facility.

"The same mayor that brought it in might have to close it," Steiner said. "But, I would rather preserve it."

The future of Hoffman Hall is uncertain. However, the Hoffman Hall Task Force (consisting of two City Council members, two Prairie du Chien residents, and two city employees) is still looking for viable options.

In addition, Garth Frable, the city planning consultant, has applied for a $225,000 energy efficiency and conservation grant from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. If the grant is awarded, the money would go towards replacing the windows and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at Hoffman Hall. In 2011, the city is scheduled to take over the heating costs of Hoffman Hall from the Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution.

Prairie du Chien Parks and Recreation Chairman Michael Ulrich said that there are plans for more grant applications regarding Hoffman Hall.

Various financial figures have been mentioned regarding the continued use of Hoffman Hall, and Ulrich said that it has been estimated that $3.5 million will be needed in order to get the building up to proper code and accessibility.

"I would envision that in the next couple of months, there will be some numbers available for the Task Force and the City Council to make a more educated decision," said Ulrich.

"We need to put together all of the numbers," said Council Member and Task Force Member Jean Titlbach, who noted that all options need to be discussed. The options include closing down Hoffman Hall, keeping Hoffman Hall functioning, and expanding Hoffman Hall. Titlbach said that the Task Force and the City Council will need to discuss what "quality of life" activities would be lost if Hoffman Hall were to close, what would be the minimum cost of keeping Hoffman Hall functioning, and what would be the costs to expand. In addition, the Task Force and the Council will need to discuss what services will be offered and what would be the costs of those services should Hoffman Hall remain open.

Titlbach said that the Task Force is in the process of gathering data and looking at various funding sources. They will then bring those "real numbers" to the City Council for discussion in an effort to make the best decision regarding Hoffman Hall.

"We will all need to be singing out of the same hymn book," she said, regarding the data and the reaching of a realistic solution for Hoffman Hall.