A computer engineer, dance studio owner and Army major are among the 2019 inductees into Omaha Benson High School’s Hall of Fame.
The inductees and their year of graduation:
Gene Pace, 1966
Gene Pace retired in 2017 as president of Southern Wine of Nebraska, formerly known as Sterling Distributing, since 1983.
A 1,000-point scorer in basketball at Benson, he lettered four years at Creighton University. He graduated from college in 1970 as an economics major and worked for McKesson Wine and Spirits for 13 years.
He entered the Omaha Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2015. He served for more than 20 years as president of the state’s wine and spirits wholesale association. He has been on the Century Council, which supports efforts to curb underage drinking, for more than 20 years. He is active in community and sports-support organizations.
Kelly Johansen, 1971
Kelly Johansen recently retired from Northrop Grumman in Woodland Hills, California, as a computer engineer and scientist in the aerospace industry.
His career contributed to the nation’s defense, but most of his accomplishments cannot be detailed because of his Top Secret governmental security clearance level.
He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Southern California. His 42-year career began with Hughes Aircraft working with missile, radar and software systems. In 1993, he became a principal engineer at Xon Tech, which Northrop Grumman purchased. He was technical groups manager and retired as a software engineering manager in missions systems.
He has been active in Habitat for Humanity and has made trips to Belize and to Biloxi, Mississippi, for building and rebuilding projects.
Shannon Barnhart Vosberg, 1973
Shannon Vosberg has owned her own midtown dance studio for 46 years, opening it just months after her high school graduation.
It’s estimated that she has worked with more than 15,000 students during that time. Her studio, which specializes in tap dance, employs seven teachers and 10 student assistants. She coaches four competitive dance teams that travel nationally. One of her teams is made up of fathers and grandfathers. She also is a nationally recognized dance judge.
She earned an associate degree from Metro Community College and graduated summa cum laude in French from UNO. She taught middle school French at St. Paul Lutheran School for seven years.
Steve Villamonte, 1980
Steve Villamonte is the executive director of the Omaha Press Club.
He is a second-generation certified executive chef who learned from age 5 from his Peruvian-born father, Luis. The family’s Thunderbird salad dressing is now sold commercially.
Through the years, he has been at Happy Hollow Club and Plaza Club in Omaha as a sous chef and then executive chef at Lakeshore Country Club in Council Bluffs, the Press Club and the University of Nebraska Medical Center before returning to the Press Club in 2000 as executive director. He also began his catering business that year with his wife, Christine.
He co-founded the Omaha Professional Chefs Association. He is a graduate of Bellevue University.
Patrick C. Williams, 1988
Patrick Williams is a retired Army major who during his service received the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and three meritorious service medals.
He enlisted in the Army Reserve before the start of his senior year and went on active duty before his graduation day. He trained as a medic and in 1998 was selected for officers’ candidate school. He earned his bachelor’s degree from UNMC in 2000 as a certified physician assistant.
In 2003, he was deployed to Kuwait and was in the initial ground invasion of Iraq. He received his Bronze Stars for training and supervising combat medics and EMTs.
In 2005, he was deployed again and in Iraq saved the life of a soldier who was on combat patrol. For his heroic efforts, he received the Silver Star.
After retiring in 2015, the recipient of the Army Physician Assistant of the Year award moved to Olympia, Washington, and is a physician assistant in a private-practice clinic.
Andre Woolridge, 1992
Andre Woolridge is a former All-Big Ten basketball player at the University of Iowa. He owns All World Ballin’ Basketball Dojo in Sacramento, California.
He is the all-time career scoring leader in Class A boys basketball in the state with 1,911 points. The final 50 points came in his last game, which was for the 1992 state championship. It was Benson’s first title in 72 years.
The two-time All-Nebraska player signed with Nebraska, then transferred after one season to Iowa. He was a three-year starter for the Hawkeyes and graduated with an English degree. He played professional basketball overseas for 13 years.
He is enshrined in the Iowa Athletics, Omaha Public Schools Athletics, Nebraska Black Sports and Nebraska High School Sports Halls of Fame. Later this month, he returns to Omaha for his induction into the Omaha Sports Hall of Fame.
Ingrid Jordon-Thaden, 1993
Ingrid Jordon-Thaden is director of the Botany Garden and Greenhouses at the University of Wisconsin.
She came to Madison from the University of California-Berkeley, where she held a volunteer position as a research botanist and lab manager. She previously had been at Bucknell University, the University of Florida and the Florida Museum of Natural History.
She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2000 with degrees in chemistry and horticulture and received her master of science degree in biology five years later after working as assistant lab manager in the chemistry department. She then managed the undergraduate botany labs for three years before her family moved to Heidelberg, Germany, and she completed her Ph.D. in natural sciences, completing her studies in the German language.
Linda Olson Reeh, booster-graduate, 1968
Linda Reeh retired in 2016 from Benson High School after 41 years in the main office, the last 31 as school secretary.
She began at Benson in January 1975, working for Virginia Maxwell, who herself is in the Hall of Fame. When Maxwell retired in April 1985, Reeh was promoted as her replacement.
She worked for six principals during her career, from Howard Sorensen to Anita Harkins, and worked during several building renovations. She was for a time the school treasurer. She submitted payroll hours, typed the daily bulletin, compiled the school newsletter, handled transcript requests and was the de facto school historian.