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 Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society

Dedicated to Preserving our Shipwrecks and Maritime History
"From Prevention to Preservation"

HomeAward Recipients 2018


Tom Brueshaber - 2018 GLSPS Appreciation Award

As a non-profit the GLSPS relies solely on goodwill and volunteers to complete its mission.  As such, the GLSPS owes a debt of thanks to many, many people, but none so quietly giving and deserving as Tom Brueshaber.  Tom entered our circle of friends in 1994 as the big hearted, ex-marine MP, giant of a man, who had built with his dive partner Dave Schmidt an amazing ice diving operation.  He gladly volunteered his ice diving facilities and expertise to our first shipwreck preservation project on the Samuel P. Ely, the project that bonded the founders of GLSPS.  He shared in the year-long series of meetings and discussions to hammer out the By-Laws and direction of our infant society while keeping us all entertained with his endless tales of humorous revelry.  He is a founding member of GLSPS and has served on the board from its inception until this year when his work commitments dictated moving on.  He served as board secretary for almost twenty of those years. 

His commitment to the society did not end with meetings and administration.  Tom is a carpenter by trade and a quintessential builder.  From his Four Star ice diving shelter, to the underwater rebuilding of the SS America walls and bunks, to building a shelter to rehabilitate the GLSPS boat Preservation, to many hours working on the Preservation, to sharing in the building of the SS America spiral staircase display now visible at the Great Lake Aquarium in Duluth, to rebuilding numerous parts of the SS Meteor, and even to building the backdrop for our GLSPS display booth, you could say Tom helped forge GLSPS by the sweat of his brow and the strength of his hands.  When the GLSPS needed money Tom would set aside a construction job from his own business for a community barn raising so to speak.  GLSPS members could donate their labor to build a garage or roof a house with payment going to GLSPS.  Of course Tom did the lion’s share of the work anyway and it certainly took income away from his business, but hard work and giving is what Tom is about.  The truth is I don’t know that any of us will ever know everything Tom does and gives to GLSPS because he just quietly does it without mention or fanfare.  Things just get done.  He has run the raffle and silent auction at our UMSAT Show since we started having raffles.  It was just this year that we realized that no one else on the show committee knew all of the details to putting these events together, because they just happened and usually got completed without a hitch.

For twenty two years of toil and service, for all of the things you do for the GLSPS, with and without recognition, we say thanks.  For being a good friend to us all for these twenty some years, for sharing all of the good times and the trying times, just saying thanks can never be enough, but we know it’s more than you want.  The Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society humbly awards our friend, founder, and coworker Tom Brueshaber its 2018 GLSPS Appreciation Award.

Sara Blanck - C. Patrick Labadie Special Acknowledgement Award

The C. Patrick Labadie Special Acknowledgement Award honors outstanding professionals in our maritime community whose dedication and willingness to work with volunteers to achieve great things exemplifies the values of GLSPS.  Executive Director of Superior Public Museums Sara Blanck is one of those amazing professionals our maritime community has come to respect.  Sara is a hometown girl from Duluth where she was raised and received her Bachelor of Arts from UMD and her Master of Arts in Studio Arts at University of Wisconsin, Superior.  Sara started her career in retail where it was quickly discovered she was a born manager, a point that all of us who have worked with her can acknowledge.  With the strength of her education in art and history and her ability to manage she was a successful candidate for a position as Administrative Coordinator for Superior Public Museums.  She was promoted to interim director of the museums in 2010 following the departure of Susan Anderson and was eventually promoted to the Executive Director position.  As Executive Director she is responsible for three museums in Superior, Wisconsin the SS Meteor Museum Ship, Fairlawn Mansion, and the Old Firehouse and Police Station Museum.

Of course in GLSPS, we have mostly been involved with the SS Meteor Museum.  During her time as director she has amplified her small budget with the faithful work of hundreds of volunteers to renovate the Meteor and change its perception from a rusty and rotten old derelict to a world class museum experience.  Sara is the first to acknowledge that she did not do this alone.  We know working with volunteers can be a challenge, and it takes special skill and judgement to design tasks suitable to the team you have.  Between Sara and our GLSPS President Phil Kerber they design work weekends that keep fifty to seventy volunteers busy in valuable tasks for all skill levels while having fun doing it.  When the ship needed a paint job Sara invented the “Buy a Bucket of Paint” campaign then negotiated a sweet deal with Sherwin Williams to buy the paint.  She then harnessed dedicated volunteers to paint the entire hull which is a gigantic job.  This year with the help of Tamara Thomsen they raised the significance of the SS Meteor from state to national significance with a goal of becoming a National Historic Landmark.  The museum also unveiled a whole new set of exhibits for the ship.  The SS Meteor is no longer the derelict museum of Superior.  It is now a source of city pride.  In appreciation of your vision, hard work, and dedication to the maritime community the Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society proudly awards Sara Blanck with the 2018 C. Patrick Labadie Special Acknowledgement Award.