A piece of Beaver Dam High School history returns home

A piece of Beaver Dam High School history returns home

There were many changes to Beaver Dam High School after voters passed a 2016 referendum to renovate the school, but one item that thousands of students have passed by over the years has now returned to the school.

A painting of John F. Kennedy that was donated to the school after the president’s assassination in 1963 has come back after being restored.

High school teacher Beth Rueter said the painting was almost part of the things lost from the school but was saved by a staff member before it was removed.

The picture had a lot of water damage to Kennedy’s face, Rueter said, and he was almost tossed out during the building’s remodeling.

“Melissa Gehring (a former associate principal at the school) saved him,” Rueter said. “Andy Loizzo (who taught at the school at the time) got a hold of him, but when Andy left he gave it to me. I thought it should be preserved because it was an important event to those who were in the school at the time.”

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The late Don Kordus, who had taught at Beaver Dam High School for 33 years prior to retiring in 1982, spearheaded efforts among staff and students to purchase the portrait after Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963.

It hung in the former commons area at the school above the fireplace, Rueter said. She hopes its new location will be in the library near the school’s new fireplace.

The painting of former President John F. Kennedy prior to its restoration.

“(The library) is a nice place and has so many people coming through each day and is right off of where he would have been before,” Rueter said.

The location is also near the history hallway. Rueter said she hopes a plaque can be put up near the painting noting that it was originally donated by the 1963-64 staff and students at the school.

Staff, students and community members gathered about $1,000 to restore the painting, Rueter said. It was first taken to Beaver Dam Paint and Glass but needed additional work and was taken to a restorer.

An artist at Hummingbird and Honeybee Art Services in Waukesha restored the painting, Rueter said.

“She cleaned him and ended up having to touch up part of his face,” Rueter said.

The painting will be hung in the school before students are back in the fall, Rueter said.

“It has been part of Beaver Dam High School’s history for 50 years,” Rueter said. “We need to respect and preserve the history we have been given.”

Follow Terri Pederson on Twitter @tlp53916 or call 920-356-6760