The achievements of the Class of 2012 Anaconda High School Wall of Fame inductees are awe inspiring to say the least.
Four inductees — Joe Mehrens, Roger Rouse, Bob Morris and Michael Drescher — were nominated and chosen by the Wall of Fame’s board of directors due to the athletic, academic and/or civic achievements of these glowing examples of Copperhead greatness.
Below is a breakdown of the achievements that warranted such an honor for each individual.
Although members are selected in two criteria — athletics and academics/civic duty — Mehrens, a 1976 graduate at AHS, could have been chosen in both categories.
His dedication to excellence in the classroom has led to a swift increase in reading and mathematical proficiency in our schools, so much so the annual progress reports of every grade he’s overseen has continued to show marked improvements even after their time at Dwyer.
And even though he will argue until he’s blue in the face, some of Mehrens’ greatest accomplishments came when he helped build one of the best volleyball programs in the state during his 22-year tenure at AHS.
He led the team to a handful of divisional titles including the program’s best overall finish in 2009, placing second at state to Billings Central.
In ‘09, the Copperheads won the annual Class A Northwest-Southwest Tip-Off Tournament and recorded a 19-2 overall record — those two losses coming to Central at the state tournament.
Mehrens led the Copperheads to back-to-back Southwestern A divisional championships in 2008-09, also placing fourth at the State A tournament in Bozeman in ‘08 — which was tied for the best ever finish by any volleyball team in school history before their run at the state title the next season.
“Looking back, I put my heart and soul into volleyball for 22 years,” Mehrens said at the time of his retirement. “But the kids have given me more than I ever could have given them.”
Over his 13 years as head coach, Mehrens led Anaconda to the state tournament eight times including five-straight trips from 2005-‘09.
In his last five years at the helm, Mehrens’ teams compiled a staggering 42-8 conference win/loss record in regular season play, one of the reasons he was voted Southwestern A Coach of the Year in ‘09.
“A lot of times for coaches and even teachers, you don’t know what kind of affect you had on kids until 10 or 20 years down the road,” Mehrens said after he stepped down. “Hopefully I didn’t make too many enemies along the way.”
Perhaps the greatest boxing legend to ever call Montana home was a Copperhead through and through.
Rouse, an All-State fullback on the last AHS state championship-winning football team in 1951, graduated from AHS in 1953.
The move paid off. At ISU, Rouse was a two-time national champion at 165-pounds and became a member of the United States Olympic Boxing Team in 1956.
During the finals of the Olympic trials, Rouse soundly beat Doug Jones, who later famously fought valiantly against Muhammad Ali just before Ali went on to take the heavyweight championship away from Sonny Liston in 1964.
In the ‘56 Olympics in Melbourne, Rouse was disqualified in the quarterfinals for being overly aggressive.
After the Olympics, Rouse turned professional. He compiled an impressive record but was relatively unknown outside the Northwest until, in 1964, a group of Anaconda businessmen raised several thousands of dollars in order to entice light heavyweight contender Johnny Persol from New York to come fight Rouse in his own backyard.
On Nov. 23, 1964, Rouse demolished Persol in front of over 3,000 fans at Memorial Gymnasium, putting the Anaconda native on every boxing fans’ radar for good.
Rouse’s list of accomplishments is etched by the names he defeated, including Eddie Cotton, Henry Hank, Chuck Leslie, Gil Turner, George Gaston and Les Borden.
His biggest loss came in 1967, losing the light heavyweight title shot against Dick Tiger on Nov. 17 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. That fight earned national glory, with the 12th round being named as Ring Magazine’s Round of the Year.
His second title shot occurred in 1968 against Bob Foster at the Coliseum in Washington D.C.
Though past his prime and discouraged by boxing politics, according to friend and historian Chris Eamon, Rouse lost after the fight was halted in the sixth round.
Foster, who many claim as the one of the best light heavyweight fighters in the history of boxing, would later say Rouse was the hardest puncher he ever faced.
Rouse retired in 1973 and died in 1999.
“He was as genuine as any person I have ever known,” said Eamon. “There is no telling how far he would have gone under big time management in a boxing Mecca like New York or Las Vegas, but that wasn’t his style. He wasn’t perfect, but what you saw was what you got.”
ROBERT (BOB) MORRIS
Morris’ life can be summed up in one brief sentence: He dedicated his time to ensure the betterment of his fellow man.
A 1947 graduate of Anaconda High, Morris served in the Army and attended the Montana School of Mines (now Montana Tech), graduating with a degree in metallurgical engineering in 1955.
He began his professional career in engineering in Mexico along with stints in Southern California with various electronic and aerospace firms familiar with the development of integrated circuits.
He started his own business, Micro-C Corporation, in 1980 after finding that refurbishing integrated circuits yielded more profits than precious metals.
He provided jobs to over 150 employees before selling the company in 1992 to dedicate his life to humanitarian purposes.
He became deeply involved in charity work in Tijuana, Mexico, starting programs consisting of health care and construction of housing for the poor.
In 1988, the city of Tijuana presented Morris with their Silver Angel Award, recognizing him for his outstanding humanitarian services.
About that time, Morris began volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in San Diego, a program he has headed in Anaconda as well.
As a resident of Anaconda once again, Morris has helped Habitat for Humanity build four homes with a fifth underway while also founding the Anaconda Community Foundation where he also serves as an advisor.
In 1998, Morris was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award by Montana Tech citing his professional achievements.
Morris is still active in business, however chooses to dedicate most of his time to community service efforts.
Drescher was a quiet, unassuming honors student and 1991 graduate of AHS who blossomed into a man responsible for making advancements in US Government policy including working engagements with the Department of Justice and Homeland Security.
Drescher attended Arizona State University on the ASU Leadership Scholarship. In 1995, he graduated from ASU with a degree in Zoology highlighted by being awarded as a Truman Scholar, affording him the opportunity to pursue a graduate degree in public policy.
He attended graduate school at Princeton University, graduating from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1999 with master’s degrees in affairs and public policy, science and technology and environmental policy.
After graduating, Drescher worked as a public policy advisor for the federal government as a consultant. During his tenure, he managed projects such as studying ways to improve security at federal buildings, developed documents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation that are used to identify, analyze and prevent Internet crimes, created financial models for the US Attorney’s Office that helps prevent and collect debts from individual and corporations convicted of federal crimes and assisting the DOJ in determining how to allocate $4 billion in grant funding to the President’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Most recently, Drescher returned to his Montana roots. He was named president of Sterling Government Services in Missoula where he provides the US government with products and equipment services that contribute to the physical security and safety of our nation’s assets.
The Wall of Fame board of directors is always seeking out individuals such as these to grace the walls of the AHS cafeteria. If you want to submit your letter of recommendation for a potential honoree, send me an e-mail to email@example.com and I’ll get you more information on how to move forward.