Four to join Parker's Distinguished Vikings

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Thursday, May 17, 2012
— Parker High School will today honors four of its graduates: a diplomat who helped develop girls sports in Ecuador, an engineer who promotes the recycling of paint, a fire chief who served in his hometown and a police chief whose community named a day after him.

The four will be honored at Parker's annual Distinguished Vikings ceremony at 2 p.m. today.

Following are the honored alumni and some of their accomplishments, from biographies supplied by Parker.

Nicholle Manz, Class of 1990

Manz graduated from Parker High School in 1989. She was a member of the Vikette pompon squad, Key Club, Spanish Club, International Club and Letterwomen's Club. She also attended Washington Seminar, the annual trip to the nation's capital for U.S. government students.

Manz earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish literature, international relations, Latin American studies and Iberian studies from UW-Madison. She also holds a master's degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Manz joined the U.S. State Department in 1998 as a foreign service officer. She was posted to the U.S. consulate in Ecuador, where she supported efforts to address alien smuggling, banking and agricultural trade.

Manz later served at the U.S. Embassy in Honduras, focusing on telecommunications, energy, and technology. Then it was on to Algeria, where she was deputy chief of the joint Political and Economic section.

Manz also worked as an international economist in Washington. D.C., focusing on sanctions, counterterrorism financing and debt restructuring.

Manz is now posted in France as the U.S. economic adviser for financial and economic affairs. She works with staff at the White House, Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve.

During each of her assignments, Manz has participated in projects to improve people's lives. In Algeria, she participated in emergency relief efforts at refugee camps.

In Ecuador, she traveled the country, working with girls to participate in sports and cheerleading. She helped increase participation nationwide from nine teams to more than 500.

Jack Wickham, Class of 1976

Wickham played football, basketball, track and baseball. He was inducted into the National Honor Society in 1975.

Wickham earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., and a master's degree in operations management from Purdue University.

He first worked as a chemical engineer for Bee Chemical in Lansing, Ill., in 1980. While there, he helped design improved processes for applying plastic resin coatings to metals. An emphasis in this project was to develop systems that were environmentally friendly and highly efficient.

Wickham became the plant manager at Neste Resin in Toledo, Ohio, in 1988 and helped implement a green formaldehyde production system.

Wickham was named vice president of manufacturing for Ace Hardware's paint division in 1997, a position that he still holds.

He oversees two production plants and 180 employees who help produce 11 million gallons of paint each year.

From the beginning of his career, Wickham's work has had a strong emphasis on producing products that are environmentally friendly and support his community. He is Chairman of the Board of PaintCare, a nonprofit organization that supports environmentally responsible recycling and disposal of leftover paint.

Wickham also is a member of Paint a Brighter Chicago, an organization that paints inner-city schools free of charge.

Wickham's service to his industry, the environment and community earned him the George Baugh Heckel Award in April. The award is the highest recognition by his peers in the American Coatings Association.

Thomas S. Hansen, Class of 1973

Hansen earned a horticulture award with FFA and was a member of the state FFA parliamentary procedure team in 1972. He was a member of Parker Playhouse and received the Technical Director Award in 1973.

He also lettered in swimming and was on the track team.

Hansen enlisted in the Air Force after graduation and served for 10 years. He then earned a degree in police science and first line supervision at Fox Valley Technical College. He later graduated from the FBI Enforcement Executive Development Institute.

Hansen was hired by the Iola Police Department in 1982 and was promoted to chief in 1986. He held this position until his retirement in 2006.

Hansen also served as the emergency government director for the village of Iola and was a 10-year member of the Iola Fire and Ambulance department, rising to the rank of assistant chief.

Hansen was on the team that drafted a 2004 state law that regulates confidentially of pupil records. He also served on state committees that addressed child welfare issues.

During his time as police chief, Hansen was chairman of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, Waupaca County Delinquency Prevention, Waupaca County Law Enforcement Administrators Association, Waupaca County Teen Court and Waupaca County Integrated Services Project.

Upon his retirement from the Iola Police Department in 2006, "Tom Hansen Day" was declared in the community. Hansen is now a senior special investigator for Sentry Insurance in Stevens Point.

Larry J. Grorud, Class of 1969

Grorud was inducted in the National Honor Society and was a member of the Parker Band, German Club, and Math Club.

Grorud worked at General Motors after high school and took classes at UW-Rock County before being drafted into the United States Army. He was first in his class during his military training and was deployed to Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star.

Grorud returned to General Motors after being honorably discharged in 1973. Fearing a layoff, he applied to the Janesville Fire Department. He was hired as a firefighter in 1974, and later that year was selected to be a member of Janesville's first paramedic team.

Grorud then earned a degree in fire science and was certified by the National Fire Academy. He was selected to be deputy fire chief in 1983.

He was promoted to chief in 1989 and held the position until his retirement in 2011.

Grorud joined the International Association of Fire Chiefs in 1987 and was elected to the Great Lakes Division Board of Directors in 1989, representing firefighters from six states. He became president of the organization in 2008. During this time, he visited five countries and 13 states representing the organization on legislative issues, including fire safety, public service and national fire code. The Center for Public Safety Excellence and Institute of Fire Engineers recognized him for his work.

Grorud has also been active locally with the Boy Scouts, Knights of Columbus, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Moose Lodge and American Legion.

Last updated: 8:20 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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