A letter from Howie Zien:
April 19, 2019
I am searching for the right words or image to communicate to all of you my gratitude, thoughts and feelings for the joyous Hall of Fame Event and Weekend we just experienced. Without question, you were each such an important part of.
The closest I can come is how Tom Hanks’ character must have felt in the 1988 movie BIG. As you know in the movie, Tom Hanks’ character was transformed overnight from an awkward 13 year-old boy into an equally awkward adult. He was in a different form but maintained the same mental and emotional perspective.
And at the end of the movie, he reverts to his boyhood self.
For me, last weekend was Tom Hanks’ BIG in reverse.
In high school, I thrilled in my life as Howie. I remember to this day the athletic magic of the high school years. Not so much the detail as the over-riding feeling. And one vital take-away of this experience for me was the confidence I felt that I could accomplish in life anything I put my mind to.
Then for the past 50 years, since high school, I have lived my life as Howard. I have accomplished a lot, but not everything I imagined. I have cherished my family, my professional accomplishments, my friends, my memory of life in WFB and life in New York.
Last weekend, I became Howie again. I hope all of you also revisited your 18-year old selves. From the loud cheers, thunderous applause and sense of togetherness, I think you did. I had to remind myself that we are 70 now, not 18. And I am sure the non-67-ers in the crowd were wondering this same thing.
Now for the Thank you’s.
Like peeling the onion there are many layers of thank yous, as we work our way from the outside in.
- To all the classmates who were unable to make the trip, thanks for at least giving it a thought.
- To those classmates who submitted nomination letters, all of which I read and most of which made me blush, thank you.
- To those local to Whitefish Bay and Milwaukee who attended the events thank you so much.
- To those who came from afar (I think Don Lindley from Italy wins the prize), you have got to be kidding, and thank you.
- To Jim Stearns (we have so many Jim’s in our class I need to include the last name), who connected the dots, kept the event in the front of all our minds, thank you so much.
- To Wendy, who maintained awareness on our class web site. How great was that. Thanks.
- To Becie who nailed down the event space. It was so relaxing and comfortable. Thanks so much
- To my family and soon-to-be extended family for joining me for this unimaginable (for them) occasion, thanks so much.
- To my family in the 1960’s. My mom and dad who were witnesses to the countless events that transpired and who were here on Saturday in spirit . Thank you does not begin to express my gratitude, devotion and memories.
- Also to my 2 brothers and sister, 2 of whom were out of the country on Saturday due to prior commitments. To my brother Don and his wife Jane who were present and accounted for, thank you
- To Jim Rumack and Mary who were so vital to everything that happened. Yeah, I was a good athlete, but it was Jim who made sure it mattered.
We heard from many quarters that WFB has never had such an energized, exciting, and uplilfting HOF event! Here's to all of us for letting the school admins, teachers, and others see how energized and special our class is and was.
GRAZE MILLE- THANK A MILLION !!!
And to anyone I forgot to mention, my apologies and thanks.
What a great weekend, mini-reunion, and celebration of our classmate, Howie Zien!
If you missed the induction ceremony, here's the video of Howie's speech, recorded by his wife Marj.
Full video from WFB Athletics will be posted when available.
And thanks to Richard Sohns for a great album of photos!
And if you memory is fuzzy (who's isn't?), here's a great article from Bay Track History!
First row: Jim Stearns, Tom Bamberger, Howie Zien, Ellen Armour Hayn, Leigh Dagget Bowman, Marsh Babbitz,
Second row: Jane Mann Gellman, Debbie Simon Konkol, Ellen Henningsen, Wendy Metzler Wetzel, Barbie Mercer, Kathy Erickson Welnick, Jim Rumack, Bill Bowman.
Third row: George Friedman, Jeff Ehlenbach, Becie Leininger Jones, Dick Lindley, Todd Gordon, Dave Deblitz, Mark Olson.
Not shown, but they were there: Richard Sohns and Ellen Kaufman Mandelman.
Plus an assortment of family and friends - quite the cheering section!
A Letter from Howie
As many of you know, one of the outcomes of our recent 50th reunion was a request to the Athletic Committee of our high school by our class to admit me to the WFB Athletic Hall of Fame. This initiative was spearheaded by our own Jim Rumack who solicited nominating letters from you, the members our class.
Jim shared with me the dozens of letters that you wrote. And I must tell you they were so laudatory that they could make a hall-of-famer blush. And the Athletic Committee was equally impressed. They have decided to induct me to the HOF on Saturday April 13.
While it is true that my athletic exploits were an essential ingredient to this honor, the tireless efforts of Jim Rumack and your involvement were an indispensible ingredient as well. WFB was the foundation for countless Athletic Triumphs. WFB has chosen to honor us.
I have always been a team player. So, I feel this honor and award belongs to our entire class. It is through my efforts and as well as yours, that the class of 1967 is being honored in this way.
As I think about all of this, two moments come to mind:
The first was at our 50th reunion, as we were touring the high school, the WFB Principal said to a few of us within earshot.
“I must say your class has an amazing amount of energy and spirit”.
The second moment occurred 50 years prior, in late winter of our senior year. As we returned from the State Basketball tournament, the school hosted an assembly in the auditorium for the entire student body. It was my honor then to address the assembly. The tournament did not turn out as well as many of us had hoped. But it was a thrill for all of us to go, to compete, and to cheer As I stood in front of the student body, so proud of our achievements, not so much of the results. To be truthful, I have never been a good loser. As I looked out over the student body, I remember saying
“Although we all hoped for a better outcome, from this day forward, everyone will say ‘1967, that was the year we went to Madison’.”
In this spirit, if it possible for you to be there on April 13, I would love you to share this moment. It belongs to all of us.
**See all the letters of nomination here**
During our 50th Reunion, classmate Jim Rumack began the process of nominating Howie Zien for the Whitefish Bay High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Now we need to join the throng and send letters to the school in support of this nomination. All you need to do is send a letter stating your support of this nomination. The requirements include a written letter of less than 300 words, stating your support of the nomination, and sent by snail mail to Activities Office, Whitefish Bay High School, 1200 E. Fairmont Avenue, Whitefish Bay, WI 53217.
You do not need to repeat Howie's achievements (those are already on the nomination form which is loaded in our photo gallery, click on "Past Reunions" on the left navigation bar), just offer your support. But add your own memories such as "he was so exciting to watch" or whatever memory you have that makes the letter personal. It doesn't have to be long.
Jim also requested that you email him a copy of the letter so he can keep them on file. Jim's NEW email address is email@example.com. Thanks to you all for your input!
Here's what Jim wrote in his nomination:
Whitefish Bay Athletic Hall of Fame Statement of Support for Howard (“Howie”) Zien
Howie Zien was a superstar before there were superstars. He not only starred in football, basketball, and track, but was a captain and leader in each of these sports. He lettered as a freshman in track and accumulated nine additional letters over the course of his high school career.
He demonstrated a fierce competitive spirit and led WFB to championships in football and basketball, including its first ever appearance in Madison in the finals in of the State basketball tournament, before there were tiered divisions. In basketball, he was a wizard at point guard. In football he was an elusive, lightning fast halfback, punt returner, and kickoff returner - talents recognized in a first team all-suburban conference selection and a second team all-state selection, both in his senior year. When he set his still existing state 180-yard hurdles record as a junior at 19.1 seconds, his margin of victory recalled Secretariat’s legendary Belmont Stakes win (immortalized in the movie by the same name) by 31 lengths – the others had not even rounded the final turn. He captured the 180-yard hurdles state title again in his senior year.
He was a leader and a scholar off the field as well, maintaining an A average, active in student government, and serving as the sports editor of the Tower his senior year. He was well-liked, admired, and respected by his peers.
Following high school, he completed his college education at Princeton with a degree in philosophy, taught himself computer science, received his MBA from New York University and went on to found his own company, Business Logic, presently located in Manhattan, specializing in providing unique software needs for businesses and governmental organizations, including the Department of Defense and New York City.
In addition to his professional accomplishments in New York, Howie is President of his residential COOP and Treasurer of his class at Princeton. He is an Assistant Director in BNI, a global business networking organization with 220,000 members, and frequently delivers speeches to groups of varying sizes on its behalf. He maintains his fitness by being an active tennis player in the USTA, bicycling to work, jogging, and running errands on rollerblades!
He has resided in Greenwich Village since 1976 and is married with two accomplished children, his wife Marj working as a software developer in his business.
James S. Rumack, M.D. ‘67
Thanks, Jim, for honoring our classmate in this way!