Simley High School Hall of Fame to induct five new members

The Simley High School Hall of Fame exists to honor individuals who have distinguished themselves in the areas of academic achievement, athletic achievement and/or humanitarian achievement. The Hall of Fame also serves as a way to preserve history, build a sense of a community and connect the past with the present. 

The newest additions to the Simley Hall of Fame — a five-member group that makes up the Simley Hall of Fame Class of 2019 — will be recognized at halftime of the Simley football game vs. North St. Paul on Friday, Sept. 13. 


Kevin Ahern (1988)

Kevin Ahern was the 1988 Simley High School Male Athlete of the Year and graduated in the top 10 in his class. He was a three-time state qualifier and two-time state placewinner (fourth/1987; second/1988) for the Spartans wrestling team and played a key role on Simley’s 1987 (first in school history) and 1988 state championship teams. Ahern also earned all-conference honors in wrestling in 1986, 1987 and 1988 and was a senior co-captain. He finished his wrestling career with a record of 102-28-2. 

Ahern was also a two-time letter winner and 1987 all-conference honorable mention selection for the Spartans football team. He earned Academic All-State Football (1987) and Academic All State Wrestling (1988) honors. He was named the 1988 Steichen’s Scholarship Award winner as the Twin Cities Outstanding Male Student-Athlete. 

Ahern went on to become an NCAA Division III All-American at the University of St. Thomas (third/158 pounds/1991) and helped the St. Thomas wrestling team place third in the nation at the 1991 NCAA DIII Championships. Ahern went on to earn a master’s degree in education from St. Mary’s University and owned a small business. He has volunteered more than 1,000 hours at Feed My Starving Children.


Jeff Davis (1973)

Jeff Davis is the longest serving firefighter in the history of the Inver Grove Heights Fire Department, retiring in 2019 after 45 years. Davis joined the fire department shortly after graduating from Simley High School in 1973. Davis’ career is filled with many heroic efforts, including the time he climbed into a fire through a second-story window before the hose was ready to find a person, perform CPR and save a life. 

Another time, Davis performed CPR for 45 minutes on a swimmer who appeared to have drowned, also saving that person’s life. For these efforts and more, Davis received several awards and special recognition throughout his career. He has one of the highest attendance records in the history of the Inver Grove Heights Fire Department, and Inver Grove Heights Fire Chief Judy Thill estimates Davis responded to over 10,000 calls during his career. 

When not serving the people of Inver Grove Heights and the fire department, Davis can be found running marathons — he has completed Grandma’s Marathon 33 times, making him one of the most accomplished runners in Inver Grove Heights, in addition to its most accomplished firefighter. 


Joseph F. deLeon (1980)

Joseph F. deLeon was the 1980 Simley High School Male Athlete of the Year. He was a three-sport standout for the Spartans, earning seven letters and several honors and accolades in football, baseball, and hockey. He was student-council vice president, a member of the National Honor Society and graduated with honors. deLeon was Simley’s first Hispanic Male Athlete of the Year and was the 1979 Simley football team MVP and an all-conference selection. He was also a member of the 1979 Pioneer Press All-Metro football team, a Pioneer Press Prep Athlete of the Week and a Minnesota High School All-Star football game nominee. 

deLeon was a three-year letterwinner in hockey, 1980 team MVP and 1980 all-conference selection. He was a 1980 all-conference honorable mention selection in baseball. deLeon graduated with a bachelor of arts in marketing management from the University of St. Thomas in 1985, and was a four-year letter winner on the UST men’s hockey team that won the 1984 MIAC Championship, the DIII WIHA championship and competed in the NCAA DIII national tournament. He was also a four-year member of the UST football team from 1980-83. 

deLeon coached for four years in the Inver Grove Heights Hockey Association and served more than 23 years as a hockey official with a number of organizations. Professionally, he’s vice president of Vikings Exteriors. 


Brian Howard (1981)

Brian Howard was a three-year varsity letter winner at Simley High School, graduating in 1981. He participated in football, wrestling and baseball, and was a defensive leader and captain of the 1979 and 1980 Spartans’ football teams that were two of the most successful in Simley history. Howard played two years of football at Inver Hills Community College, where he also served as captain, and graduated from Mankato State University with a degree in electrical engineering and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas. 

During his professional career, Howard worked in executive sales roles with a variety of Fortune 500 companies. He served as a member of the Inver Grove Heights City Council and Planning Commission. Howard is a committed volunteer who coached football and served as a board member for the Eagan Athletic Association. He was instrumental in creating the first-ever middle school football program at Faithful Shepherd Catholic School in Eagan, also serving as chairman of the board of directors for the school. He led the development of the Septemberfest music festival, the single largest fundraiser for Faithful Shepherd Catholic School. 

Howard officiated high school and college football with the MSHSL and MIAC. He has been immobilized by multiple sclerosis but still uses his positive energy to help others with the disease. He has worked with the Kenny Courage Center, utilizing state-of-the-art technology to aid in mobility, and has created videos to share with others to create hopefulness when dealing with the challenges of daily life with MS.  


Jill Lewis

Jill Lewis has provided over 40 years of service to the Inver Grove Heights School districts, serving as a member of the ISD 917 School Board representing Inver Grove Heights for nearly 25 years and as a member of the Inver Grove Heights School Board for 15 years. She served as chairperson in both roles for 29 years. Lewis has also been an inspiring force behind the development and growth of the Inver Grove Heights B.E.S.T. Foundation, which has provided millions of dollars in scholarships to Simley High School graduates. 

Her successes prompted an Inver Grove Heights Schools superintendent to say, “Jill’s vision and leadership with the B.E.S.T. Foundation has served as a community builder while instilling significant pride in our school district community.” Lewis spent 26 years as an active member of the Rotary Club of South St. Paul/Inver Grove Heights and was the recipient of the SSP/IGH Rotary Club 2019 Service to Others Humanitarian Recognition Award. Lewis is a small business owner and works with vocational programs, as well as special education programs for deaf, hard-of-hearing, and autistic children. She is a single mother of two and was a foster parent for eight years.


All Simley students and staff, alumni, current Simley Hall of Fame members and community members are encouraged to come out on Sept. 13 to help recognize the Simley Hall of Fame Class of 2019. More information on the Simley Hall of Fame can be found at


—submitted by Matt Krumie, a member of the Simley High School Hall of Fame communications committee.

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