The student news website of Omaha Central High School

Central’s remarkable hall of fame

October 3, 2019

Several new additions are going to be made to the Central High Hall of fame on October 3. 

“When you look up at that wall, we want you to see yourself,” principal Ed Bennett said, “It shows that Central kids can be successful in a lot of different areas…it gives people hope. 

 The following individuals have been chosen for the class of 2019 Central Hall of Fame.

H. Bruce Bernstein graduated from Central High School in 1961. Since then, he has gone on to be recognized as an expert in finance as well as insolvency law during his career. He graduated from Harvard Law School, then became a partner of the law firm Sidley Austin LLP, helping to grow the firm immensely. Berstein’s background would later expose him to many opportunities, such as testifying in Congress on a litany of bills. Bernstein would also serve as chair of the commercial law sections of two major cities’ State Bar Association For many years. Bernstein was also the general counsel of the Commercial Finance Association.

Robert Holts helped pave the way for integration in the U.S. armed force, serving with the Tuskegee Airmen. After attending an integrated high school, segregation in the army surprised him. Most black soldiers served in non-combat positions, although Holt was assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group and 447th Bombardment Group in Tuskegee, Alabama, the first African-American fighting air squads 

1954 graduate Sharon Gidley Marvin Igel dedicated her life to bettering the Omaha community, teaching and volunteering for several civic institutions in Omaha. Boards she has served include United Way of the Midlands, United Way of America, Joselyn Art Museum, Nebraska Museum of Art, Nebraska Arts Council, Nebraska Humanities, Children’s Hospital, Nebraska Statewide Drive for NET, University of Nebraska Medical Center, World-Herald Good Fellows, Junior League, Commercial Federal Cooperation, Suzanne and Walter Scott Foundation, Millard Foundation and Omaha Community Foundation. 

1965 graduate and writer for The Register John Kuhns would make his mark in the newspaper world as a lawyer and advisor to the Washington Post and later a chairman of a group of newspapers in England. After high school, he attended Yale earning a law degree. Throughout the rest of his life, Kuhns would go on to advise the Post, publish The Valley News, and be a chair for multiple papers and be active in multiple charitable causes. 

1971 graduate Bruce Krogh had a long career in engineering research and education and establishing himself as an expert in the design and applications of computer control systems. He joined the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and was awarded the Presidential Young Investigator Award by the National Science Foundation. Krough’s research projects included smart grid technology, mobile robots, semiconductor manufacturing, automotive power trains and aircraft flight control systems. Towards the end of his career, he moved to Rwanda to begin a program bringing graduate-level engineering education to the continent of Africa. 

1986 graduate Zahn McClarnon went on to have a career in Hollywood. He credits his Central drama teacher for helping him discover his love for acting. During his career, McClarnon has often played roles that reflect his Native American heritage. He moved to Los Angeles in the early 90s and got his start with cameo roles on television. In 2005 he played Running Fox in “Into the West.” He acted in multiple critically acclaimed roles such as Chief Matthias in “Longmire,” Hanzee Dent in “Fargo,” a Comanche chief in “The Son” and played a recurring role on the HBO series “West World.” 

 C.M. Nick Newman graduated from Central High School in 1943. Newman grew his family’s business into a regional industry leader, although his lasting contributions are the ones that helped his community, turning 30 small grocery markets into 45 modern supermarkets and developed a concept of operating food departments within department stores from coast to coast. Newman also valued equal opportunity, helping found of Boys Club of Omaha, funded playgrounds in north Omaha, helped launch a minority owned bank and served as president of Goodwill Industries and Omaha’s Jewish Federation. 

1958 graduate Richard Speier played a major role in preserving peace during the nuclear age. His combined undergraduate degree in physics from Harvard with his political science doctorate from MIT allowed him to reform the nation’s nuclear and space programs and analyze nuclear technologies for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He co-authored “The Bomb in Southwest Asia,” and joined the Department of Defense to start the Office of Nonproliferation Policy. He spent years working to design and implement policies that would prevent the spread of missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. He was awarded with the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal in 1988.  

1909 graduate Madree Penn White was a hardworking advocate for women’s and civil rights. She attended Howard University where she was an accomplished linguist and a leader in the campus NAACP. She was also the first female staffer of the school newspaper and is credited with the nation’s first predominantly black sorority. This sorority focused on the advancement of women instead of social activities. She chaired the committee and became the second president. More than 1,000 chapters were eventually created around the world. During her career, White also worked as a journalist in St. Louis and Cleveland. She was honored by the Cleveland League of Women Voters before her death in 1967. 

1955 graduate Eugene Zweiback became a general, and cardiovascular surgeon. Zweiback attended Princeton University and then received a medical degree from Columbia University. He later served as chief of surgery at Air Force Academy Hospital in Colorado Springs. After returning to Omaha, he worked primarily at Clarkson Hospital, but practiced throughout the city and worked two years as president of the Midlands Hospital staff. Zweiback has also volunteered to give medical services for the indigent in both Phoenix and Omaha.  

“These alumni and their contributions are truly remarkable. Their compassion for their communities and the people around them has allowed them to better others and themselves. They will inspire generations to come,” Bennett said. 

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