BHS Alumni Who's Who


Every two years the Association honors selected alumni who have made significant accomplishments in their fields of work and/or outstanding contributions to the welfare of mankind. The names and biographical sketches of those selected are announced at the biennial alumni picnic and announced in the fall issue of the BHS Alumni Newsletter. In addition, framed certificates containing biographical information are also affixed to the wall and the honorees receive a framed certificate. Association members are encouraged to participate in the nomination process through recommending former BHS alumni who appear to have met the established criteria.

Who's Who Application Form


Arne C. Johnson, a member of the Class of ’49, attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering. He was commissioned in the U.S. Navy through the NROTC Program and devoted 26 years to the Navy working on submarines and destroyers. His operational shipboard experience included numerous deployments, exercises and sea tests. During his naval service, he was early selected for promotion to the grade of Commander and Captain and was award 4 Navy Commendation Medals, 2 Meritorious Service Medals and 2 Legions of Merit. Upon his retirement from the Navy, Captain Johnson worked in developing advanced combat systems at Sonalysts, Inc. as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and is currently on its Board of Directors and President of the Submarine Force Library and Museum Association in Mystic, CT. Captain Johnson resides in Mystic, CT, is married to June Gilbride Johnson (BHS Class of ’50) and has three children.

James Leonard is a proud classmate of the Class of ’54. He went on to the Danbury State Teachers College where he graduated with a degree in education. Jim began his teaching career in his hometown of Bethel and later ‘moved’ on to Ridgefield where he served as a Reading Teacher. Later he became the principal of Branchville Elementary School for some 20 years. He was devoted to his school and would do part-time maintenance to keep things in top shape and please his staff. He has always been very patriotic and made sure each classroom had a flag. He served on active duty in the National Guard and was awarded several awards: Armed Services Reserve Medal, Outstanding Unit Award, Eisenhower Trophy Award and Connecticut Long Service Medal (10 years). He retired as Captain. He returned to Ridgefield and became Assistant Superintendent for 3 years. Jim was instrumental in developing the BHS Alumni Association where he was the President for 7 years. He was a strong leader, which was exemplified in the way he maintained membership addresses, formed numerous committees, organized newsletter mailings, ran meetings, and planned special events such as the semi-annual picnics. His devotion to doing the right thing to help others is second to none and his love of family, friends and Bethel is unmatched.

Leonard ‘Link’ Hurgin was a member of the Class of ’40. He served in the Army from 1943-1946 as an X-Ray Technician. He played minor league baseball in 1947 for the Lawton Giants and the Fort Smith Giants (affiliates of the former N.Y. Giants!)  Link married Dorothy Jean Kelly and entered the U.S. Postal Service in 1949, becoming the postmaster from 1969-1986. He had an incredible ability to remember names, dates and details. He loved life—his family, church, country and the Boston Red Sox. He served as a trustee to St. Mary Church where he and Dorothy served as cemetery administrators for 19 years. He belonged to many organizations, was selected as Hibernian of the Year in 1988 and coached numerous youth sports teams. Link always had a kind word and is fondly remembered by everyone in his beloved hometown of Bethel.

John ‘Butch’ Rist graduated from BHS in 1967 and went into education. Butch earned his MA from New Hampshire College followed by an administrative degree from the University of New Hampshire. He worked his way up the ladder. He was a Marketing Instructor and coach, a Business Manager for a retirement community, Director of TECH-NH, Apprenticeship Program Director, Assistant director for Adult education to Principal of Central High School in Manchester, New Hampshire. Butch has been in education for a total of 37 years and has decided to retire this past year. During his reign as principal, he has made a major impact to the educational system at Central High School and the Manchester School District. He was honored with a commendation from Governor John Lynch for decreasing the dropout rate at Central High School in 2011, awarded Administrator of the Year in 2009, and chosen to be NH Marketing Teacher of the Year in 1981. The graduating classes of ’81, ‘02 and ’11 at Central High School dedicated their yearbooks to him. Butch was selected to the New Hampshire State Board of Education in June 2011 and occasionally teaches a graduate course at Southern New Hampshire University. He pushed students to become involved in activities, the dropout rate declined and test scores rose while student pride flourished.

Larry Chesto was a graduate from the class of 1954. He went to the University of Connecticut and Shippensburg University and furthered his education in communications-electronics by attending various communication, guided missile and radio frequency schools. He served in the United States Air Force from 1956-1980, was awarded the USAF Meritorious Service Medal in 1980 and retired as a Major. He received various awards such as RTCA President’s and Achievement Awards and the Federal Aviation Award. Larry served as the U.S. Air Force representative to the Interdepartmental Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC) and was responsible for IRAC’s approval of all Air Force systems. He also established the electromagnetic protection level for aviation use of GPS. Larry was employed as a director of Telecommunications Systems and is presently an aviation consultant on satellite communications, navigation and spectrum management.

Joan Crofut Weibel-Orlando—Joan is a member of the Class of 1956. She graduated summa cum laude and co-valedictorian from Western Connecticut State College and received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California. She taught and was tenured in the Anthropology Department at the  University of South California for more than 20 years. She worked in health clinics in the American Indian Community and the Rape Crisis Intervention Program at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica.  Her love for music has given her the opportunity to play for various symphonies.  Joan has published more than 50 articles, 2 books, and 4 scholarly texts and has produced a number of teaching films. She and her husband, ‘Dr. Bob’, reside in Newport Beach, California.

Donna Jurdy—A BHS graduate in 1964, Donna went on to receive her B.A. from the University of Rochester and her M.S. from SUNY at Buffalo and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Her major field is in Geophysics. She is a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Northwestern University where she is currently researching tectonics of Venus and the magnetic lineations on Mars. Donna has published 48 journal articles and is a co-editor of the book, ‘Plumes’ published by the Geological Society of America. She served on the Illinois Board of Natural Resources and Conservation and received the Distinguished Service Award from the Association for Women Geoscientists. She and her husband live in Evanston, Illinois.

Robert J. Hennessey—Bob graduated from BHS in 1959 and continued with his education at the University Of Connecticut for his B.A. in Liberal Arts and M.A. for Political Science. His employment with various pharmaceutical companies proved successful as he achieved senior executive positions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Bob’s generosity knows no boundaries. He established and funded more than 150 scholarship awards to BHS students. He also established and funded a new program  to select a  B.H.S. 'Teacher of the Year'. The Hennessey Foundation has made significant contributions to causes such as  building a school in Guatemala, Catholic Charities, the Mitochondrial Foundation, the Salvation Army, Red Cross and the University of Connecticut. Bob has four children and six grandchildren. He lives with his wife, Carol, in Cheshire, CT and Naples, FL.

Allan Kellogg – A member of the Class of 1962, Allan left school early to become a Marine Corps member. During a fierce close-up battle with North Vietnamese troops, Gunner Sergeant Kellogg threw himself on a live grenade heaved by an enemy soldier. His heroic act saved the lives of several members of his unit and resulted in severe multiple injuries to himself. For his extraordinary valor, Allan received our nation’s highest military award, The Medal of Honor. Today, following his retirement as a Sergeant Major, he resides in Hawaii. He and his late wife, Carol, raised seven children: Allan III, Aaron, Kristen, Maile, Meagan, Rhonda and Tanya.

Gary Griswold – Following his high school graduation in 1966 and a few months after enlisting in the Marines, Gary, a Private First Class and an Assistant Machine Gunner, made the ultimate sacrifice in a deadly battle between his company and a North Vietnamese military unit. Although already wounded by enemy fire, Gary, together with his squad leader and gunner engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the assaulting enemy force inflicting several casualties before he was mortally wounded by enemy fire. For his inspiring courage he was awarded the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest military honor.

Ralph Bartram – Ralph, a member of the class of 1946 holds a PhD in Physics from New York University. He served for several years as head of the Physics Department at the University of Connecticut, retiring in 1992. The author of two books and countless journal articles dealing with science and related research, Ralph is a U. S. Navy Veteran and resides in Mansfield Center, CT.

Edward Emilia – Ed, the father of six, graduated from BHS in 1955. He retired as an officer in the U. S. Army in 1976, after spending much of his career in the field of Nuclear Weapons Logistics Management. Among other military awards he has received the Meritorious Service Medal and a Bronze Star. After his military retirement Ed worked as a federal government civil service employer for a number of years and was active in a number of community organizations. Ed and his wife Jean reside in Lakewood, Washington.

Sandra Vilardi Leheny – A BHS graduate in 1956, Sandra went on to attend Albertus Magnus College in New Haven where she earned a B.A. in English. Following a number of years devoted primarily to raising her three children, Sandra returned to college earning a J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She served for several years as Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Danbury prior to her appointment in 1990 as a Connecticut Superior Court Judge. She and her husband Joe, a retired public school administrator, live in Danbury.


Alfred E. Schlemmer - class of ’49 received his BS from Williams College School of Banking, MS from Ohio State University and his PhD from Rutgers State University, Stonier Graduate School of Banking.  He was the Regional Senior Vice President of Union Trust, Executive Vice President of New Milford Bank and Trust and he started the Bethel National Bank working as the mortgage clerk.  Alfred has also been very active in the surrounding communities.He has published a book, The Life of Alfred E. Schlemmer and has written articles that have appeared in Real Estate and Investment TrustAlfred has one son, Jeffrey, and now lives in Newtown with his wife, Doris.

Clarice Shanley Osiecki – A number of years after her graduation from BHS in 1952, Clarice earned a B.S. degree from Marymount College. Later she was awarded a M.A. in History from Western Connecticut State University. She served four terms as a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives elected from the 108th District. For nearly twenty years she served as a member and president of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce and authored several publications dealing with demographic profiles and corporate programs. A mother of three adult children she continues to reside in Danbury and remains active in a number of community projects.

John Cleary – John, a member of the class of 1945, holds a Masters Degree and Sixth Year Certificate. He is retired after many years of teaching in the Stamford, CT public schools. Prior to his retirement John was Chairman of the Mathematics Department at Stamford High School. A lifetime resident of Bethel, John has spent countless hours serving on sports, recreation and civic committees and commissions. The first Chairman of Bethel’s Permanent Building Committee, John oversaw the construction of six major public buildings. He also served for six years as Chairman of the Bethel Police Commission. John, his wife Cecilia, and his five sons are all graduates of Bethel High.

Robert Perdrizet – A 1938 BHS graduate of the former high school on South Street, Bob has had an outstandingly successful career in the field of business after six years of distinguished service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. As a Navy non-commissioned and commissioned officer he served in both the European and Pacific Theaters. Later Bob was appointed Principal of the Burnham School in Bridgewater, CT. After leaving the education field he eventually became vice president of a major corporation. Bob has five children and 22 grandchildren, several of whom have achieved noteworthy achievements themselves.

Joseph Tarrant – Joe’s lifetime achievements and service to our community, state and country have been truly extraordinary. A graduate of Bethel High in 1946, he went on to the Teachers College of Connecticut (now Central Connecticut State University). His high school and college years were marked by outstanding success in athletics. Following college graduation, Joe enlisted in the U. S. Army, graduating from Officer’s Candidate School and Airborne School. He served for more than thirty years in the Connecticut Army National Guard returning from state service as a Brigadier General. His 30 years service in the Bethel Schools included originating and directing the High School Career/Study Program which became a model for our state. He has been a leader of the American Legion at both local and state levels and served as Coordinator of the Connecticut “Boys State” program. He has chaired the town’s Senior Center Board of Directors and has participated on a number of municipal committees. Joe has been honored by the Danbury Sports Old Timer’s Association, The American Legion and the Fort Sill, Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Joe and his wife Joan’s six children are all graduates of Bethel High School.

Todd Ingersoll-Class of ’88, is a local resident from Newtown, CT where he resides with his wife and three children. Before serving in the U.S. Navy as an Anti-Submarine Warfare Operator and Naval Rescue Swimmer.  Todd is the President/CEO of Ingersoll Automotive and owns three retail facilities—Ingersoll Auto of Danbury, Ingersoll Auto of Pawling and Buick GMC of Watertown.  Todd was not selected to be the Wall of Fame recipient because of what he owns, but because of who he is and what he has done for our community. He is known for his unselfish and continuous support of the Bethel Public Schools and especially for Bethel High School.  Todd has made numerous donations to Bethel and the educational system.He initiated the Bethel Teacher of the Month Program, supports Bethel’s Education Foundation, BHS post-prom activities and school initiated fun raising events. He contributes to the BHS Alumni Hall of Fame dinner and provides a car for the All-Sports Booster Golf Tournament and pace cars for local parades.

Lise Pearlman-Class of ’67, is a resident of California with her husband, Peter. She has three children.  As an undergrad, she was one of the first women admitted to Yale University.  She has been a pioneer for women in the field of law. She was the first presiding judge of the California State Bar Court, clerked for Chief Justice Donald Wright of California Supreme Court, and was a private arbitrator/mediator.  Lise served as the President of the Board of California Women Lawyers and holds the distinction of being the first woman named sole managing partner of an established law firm in the state of California.   Lise is also an accomplished author and winner of the U.S. Book News International Book Award for books on law and is an executive producer of two films on pioneering minority women judges.






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