ELK RIVER HIGH SCHOOL HALL OF FAME 2005
Osborn "Red" Billings, Eugene "Pat" Donahue, Jerry Schempf, Jeff Hawkins, Emery "Yummy" LaPointe, Betty Piccolo, Joe "Skipp" Schaefbauer, Gary Lefebvre, Janet Madsen Cotton, George Meyer, Craig Otto
Osborn “Red” Billings 1941 Red had a stellar coaching career in football, basketball and baseball from 1929 through 1941. His 1934 football team was 7-0, won the district title, and posted the Elks’ first win over Anoka in 18 years. His basketball team won the district title in 1939. Billings was born in Wales and grew up in Minneapolis, attending South High. He played hockey and baseball for the Gophers before arriving at Elk River. World War II ended his tenure here. Billings served in the Army, and after the war became chief of corrective surgery at the Veterans Hospital in St. Cloud. His daughter, Helen Nyberg of Ramsey, said her dad was kind and modest, adding that she never knew he’d been a Gophers hockey player until she saw an old scrapbook after he died in 1992: “No wonder could skate so well when he took us to Lake George!”
Eugene “Pat” Donohue 1949 Pat scored 26 touchdowns for the Elk football team and helped them go unbeaten in 1947 and 1948. He lettered four times in football and three each in basketball and baseball. As an adult, he took up skiing enthusiastically. He taught downhill skiing at Duluth’s Spirit Mountain, won numerous gold medals in the Nastar series in the Rocky Mountains, and created cross country paths near his home. Now retired, Donahue was a cabinet maker and was involved in real estate, and traveled extensively to Europe, the Soviet Union and China. He served in Navy Reserve and National Guard, and was active in Rotary Club and politically at the precinct level. He and his wife of 53 years, Mary, have lived in Orrock Township for 30-some years, and frequent visitors are daughter, Bridget, and her husband, Paul, and son, Michael, and his wife, Kari.
Jerry Schempf, Coach and A.D. Jerry Schempf had a long and distinguished career as baseball coach and athletic director at ERHS. He posted a 189-80 record with 10 conference championships and just one losing season in 21 years at the helm of the baseball team. He headed the school’s sports programs for 31 years, from 1952 through 1983, and was basketball assistant coach for 17 seasons. A Kimball native and St. Cloud Teachers College graduate, Schempf coached four sports at Henning before arriving in Elk River. During World War II, as Lt. Schempf, he served in the Army Air Corps as a bombardier navigator, with 35 missions over Germany in a B-26 Marauder. Now 84 years old, he has been retired since 1983. He and his wife, Eunice, have three sons who played for the Elks, Steve, Phil and Brad.
Jeff Hawkins 1974 Jeff set several school rushing records that still stand after 32 years — 2,897 career yards, 1,655 yards and 19 touchdowns in a season, three 200-yard-plus games, and 340 yards in a game — and his 32 career TD’s ranks No. 3. The 6-foot, 1-inch tailback made all-state as a senior and led the Elks to a pair of 8-1 seasons. In track, Hawkins was state Class B high and low hurdles champ as a senior as the Elks placed second in the state meet. He also won highs at state as a junior and held school records in both hurdle races and high jump. In basketball, he made all-conference as a wing. He had one year of college football and track at North Dakota. Hawkins is an electronics technician foreman at Great River Energy. He and wife, Mary, live in Waverly. They have a daughter, Sarah, 23, and a son, Brendan, 21.
Emery “Yummy” LaPointe 1970 Yummy was a rampaging ballcarrier for Elk River and St. Cloud State football teams. He ranks No. 3 all-time in ERHS history with 1,769 yards and No. 7 with 24 touchdowns, and his 338-yard game against Braham is No. 2 all-time. Also a three-year starter at linebacker, he made the WCCO all-state team as a senior. He then led St. Cloud State in rushing four straight years and was Huskies MVP as a senior. LaPointe also held school track records in shot put, discus, low hurdles and mile relay. Currently, LaPointe is production manager at Old Castle Precast in Ramsey and his wife, Kathleen (Weis), teaches at VandenBerge. Their three sons, Kyle, Ryan and Aaron, were all Elk football captains.
Betty Piccolo, Coach Betty was a pillar in Elk River girls’ sports when the programs got started in the late 1960s nationwide on the heels of Title IX legislation. A physical education teacher from 1967 through 1999, Piccolo coached track from 1967–85 and had five championship teams in the first six years of the conference meet, and coached basketball from 1968–76, highlighted by a 12-1 season in the mid-70s. She then gave up basketball to watch her two sons, Wade and Eddie, play for Becker. Piccolo also headed Girls Athletic Association for 20 years as well as cheerleader, pom-pom and dance team groups. The advent of girls’ interscholastic sports was the highlight. “It was extremely exciting to open those doors for girls,” she said. “They loved it.”
Joe “Skipp” Schaefbauer 1993 Skipp is the school’s most-honored basketball player. He was Mr. Basketball, Star-Tribune player of the year, and Pioneer Press male athlete of the year in 1993, and played four years of Division I basketball. The 6-foot, 3-inch guard was all-metro three times and all-state twice, and scored 1,808 career points, tops in school history. He led the Elks to an exciting state tournament as they handed Hopkins its first loss before falling to Cretin-Derham Hall in overtime. Schaefbauer was also an all-state wide receiver twice in football and all-conference three times in tennis. He played two years each as a starter at East Carolina and Illinois State, making Missouri Valley Conference all-academic in both locations. Now in real estate and investing, he lives in Bloomington, Ill., with wife Nicole, and their children, Isabel, 3, and McKenna, 1.
Gary Lefebvre 1978 Gary was a state wrestling champion for Elk River and a Big 10 champion for the Minnesota Gophers. With the Elks, he earned state silver and bronze medals before winning gold at 119 pounds as a senior, and posted an 81-7 high school record. At the U of M, he was captain his last two years, notched 184 wins against 42 losses, reached the Big 10 finals three times and won the 126-pound title his junior year when he also took sixth in the NCAA. After college, he was a member of the short-lived Minnesota Grizzlies, a professional team, and was Gopher assistant coach for two years. He has been active in coaching at all levels in Elk River while officiating for 20 years, including 10 state tournaments. A contract salesman for Clearwater Interiors, he lives in Elk River with wife Crystal and daughters Hannah, 11, and Laura, 5.
Janet Madsen Cotton 1986 Janet had an outstanding basketball and volleyball career with the Elks and continued at Kansas State, where she was basketball captain and leading scorer for two years. The 5-foot, 9-inch forward scored 1,182 points at ERHS and averaged nearly 20 points as a senior when she was conference MVP and picked up her second all-state honor. She was captain and all-conference for three years each. Madsen was volleyball captain and twice made all-conference. At Kansas State, she was captain her sophomore and junior years and averaged 12 points before a knee injury her junior season ended her career. Now in financial services for Target, she lives in Elk River with husband Brent and daughters, Taylor, 9, and Elle, 1, and son, Cameron, 7.
George Meyer 1942 George was not yet 21 when he was killed late in World War II at the Battle of the Bulge near Coulee, Belguim, in 1945. He had been captain of the Elk football, basketball and baseball teams not long before, and was the Nowthen town team’s shortstop and best player on a state runner-up team. He’d also played one pro baseball season with Fargo and one season of football for Hamline, in 1942. With World War II beckoning, Meyer enlisted in te Army in March 1943, and became a paratrooper. “He lived life to its fullest,” said his sister, Dorothy Meyer Bakke. “He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and trapping. He also played the trombone, and liked to ski, skate, swim, bowl and play pool.”
Craig Otto 1984 Craig was a football, basketball and track star for the Elks and started at tight end three years for the Minnesota Gophers. Otto scored 15 touchdowns for the Elks in 1983 and had 22 career touchdowns and 1,203 rushing yards. He was a WCCO all-state pick and was defensive MVP in the state all-star game. He led the Elk basketball team in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots, and was a track standout in triple jump and shot put. With the Gophers, he excelled as a blocker despite a relatively lean 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame, and made honorable mention to all-Big 10. He then played semi-pro football three years in Birmingham, England, where he met his wife, Amanda. They live in Big Lake with son Taylor and daughter Emily. Otto travels the country to do seminars for Rainbird, an underground sprinkler company.