Here are the 2021 East High School Hall of Fame Inductees
Ron Anderson, Class of 1966
30-Year Member, Polk City City Council
35-Year Employee, North Polk Community School District (Retired)
Father, husband, City Council member, retired custodian, bike rider, Little League softball coach, these are all roles that define Ron Anderson.
Growing up on the East side, Ron Anderson, or as many people call him, “Ronnie”, participated in football and basketball. He learned many valuable lessons and had meaningful experiences as a student at East.
Although he no longer lives on the East side, he will always consider it home. “I tell people I live in Polk City, but I’m from East Des Moines,” Anderson said.
One of Anderson’s best memories was time spent with friends, many of who he is still in contact with. After a big win in the last football game of their senior season against Roosevelt, Anderson and about 20 of his friends decided to skip school to celebrate. Anderson remembers coming home after school to his mom, who asked him how school was. After telling his mom it was “just another day,” she told him that Mr. Cooper had called to say he wasn’t there. “Of course, I was one of the 20 and got caught,” Anderson said. His mom didn’t bail him out, instead telling him to accept the consequences. “Those were the values that are learned growing up on the East side,” Anderson said.
After graduating from East, Anderson took a job as a custodian at West Elementary in Polk City. He watched the school grow from 90 students to over 500. Anderson built relationships with teachers, students, administrator, and community members during his time at West Elementary. He was instrumental in the expansion of school facilities and took his involvement to another level when he was elected to the City Council in Polk City in 1991 as a write-in candidate. 30 years and eight terms later, Anderson still serves on City Council, mentoring younger members and mayors along the way.
In 2015, Anderson proudly coached an Iowa Girls Little League team to the World Series in Portland, OR. “It was just the trip of a lifetime,” Anderson said.
“Ron has lived the EHS motto, “For the Service of Humanity” devoting years of his time, talent, and service to his community. Ron’s story exemplifies having an impact on the lives of others,” nominator David Merrill (Class of 1965) said.
Andersen has advice for other alumni, “don’t forget where you’re from.”
B.J. Baker, III, Class of 1976
Chairman & CEO, Baker Group
When the story of B.J. Baker’s life is written, two themes will emerge: family and community.
The Baker name has deep roots on the east side. B.J.’s father, Bernard “Bernie” Baker Jr., founded Baker Plumbing and Heating in 1963 as a small plumbing contractor. B.J. took over the business in 1984 and guided its transition into Baker Group and one of the largest full-service specialty contractors in the Midwest.
Through that growth, the spirit of the father guided his son.
“Our company was founded in 1963 by my father, and my goal is to make sure that it sees 2063. So we’re in the process of building the company to do that,” B.J. said.
Following his father into the Hall of Fame is a natural progression for B.J.
“It’s exciting to follow your father’s footsteps,” said B.J., who learned about motivation at his father’s knee. “He was posthumously brought into the Hall of Fame in 1998, and here we are, in 2021. This is a great honor to be able to emulate that kind of commitment and excellence to East High School and the Alumni Association.”
B.J. credits his time at East for teaching him skills that have made him a successful businessman.
“At East, you’re exposed to and able to work with and meet and understand people from every culture possible. … No matter what scenario you can come up with, you’re going to have a chance to interact with somebody (from a different background) and get to understand them and learn.
“One of the things that people tell me is I do a good job of going from the boiler room to the boardroom. And I think that that’s one of the things that I picked up and learned at East High School.”
B.J. also embodies the East High motto, For the Service of Humanity.
“The most valuable asset you have is your time,” he said. “Giving of your time and treasure is a wonderful way to support the East High Alumni Foundation and the Alumni Association.”
His time and treasure also extends into the community, with the loss of two children at the heart of B.J.’s philanthropy.
“I had two children pass away from medical complications from birth, and so being able to support other children’s activities is a passion of mine. And being able to pour that energy into something constructive is why I do what I do,” he said.
A long family history with the Boys and Girls Club also plays into that passion.
The first club on the east side, at Washington Elementary School, was the result of a collaboration among his father and other business people. The club, now in Hiatt Middle School, is called the Bernard & Berniece Club, after his parents. B.J. himself has served in various roles, including on the board and as a trustee, for more than 30 years.
Among other community pursuits, in 2010 ground was broken on The Baker House, a facility for adults with mental, physical or medical challenges who cannot care for themselves, on land donated by B.J.
All of his accomplishments come down to one thing, B.J. said: hard work. “The harder you work, the luckier you become. … It’s amazing what you can achieve.”
Bill Eisenlauer, Class of 1971
Founder & Consultant, Eisenlauer Group RE/MAX Revolution
The very first song that Bill Eisenlauer ever learned was “Dear East High.” Although his family grew up on the Eastside, as a young child, Eisenlauer lived in Cedar Rapids. His family would drive back to the Eastside each Friday night for games. It was no surprise that Eisenlauer’s family found themselves back on the East side permanently.
The best memories Bill has of his time at East mostly revolve around sports. During his senior year, the Scarlets traveled to Cedar Rapids Jefferson to play the #1 ranked team in the state. The Scarlets came out on top and celebrated the whole way home. “You can only imagine 20-30 high school guys partying on the way home. It was so much fun. Everybody seemed so excited,” Einsenlauer said. Another fond memory was watching his cousin Dick Eisenlauer (Class of 1971) help the Scarlets prevail in a come-from-behind win at the Drake relays.
Eisenlauer’s dedication to East did not end when he graduated. He has proudly sold and promoted the East Side of Des Moines for 40 years selling real estate with the Eisenlauer Team.
“Bill provides a good example of entrepreneurship, giving back to the community that supported him, changing and creating new business practices as the industry evolves, hard work ethic, and maintaining family values, sincerity and honesty in a long-term business,” nominator and Bill’s cousin Debra Eisenlauer (Class of 1974) said.
Aside from real estate, Eisenlauer has accomplished so much through his work in the community. He was awarded “Citizen of the Year” by the East Des Moines Chamber of Commerce. He is a charter member of the East Side and Pleasant Hill Lion’s Club, where he was awarded the Melvin Jones Humanitarian Services Award and Lion of the Year. He is an active member of the Altoona and Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce where he was awarded Citizen of the Year and Volunteer of the Year. He organized the Pleasant Hill summer parade for the past 12 years. He raised money for the Valley View Village expansion. He served on the Prairie Meadows Grant committee for four years. He sponsored sports at East, Saydel Salvation Army and Little League. He is an active East side church member, Chaplain at the Polk County Jail and a Gideon Member.
“Bill loves what he does, and it shows. Bill and the team believe in supporting the community that supported them. He enthusiastically embraces the concept of giving back,” Debra Eisenlauer said.
Scott Helverson, Class of 1981
National Football League Official (Back Judge)
Growing up on the East side of Des Moines, Scott Helverson, never anticipated that he would end up as an NFL official, working the Super Bowl in both 2008 and 2011. Helverson was a two-time First-Team All-State football player for the Scarlets and later played for the Hawkeyes, being named MVP and a member of two Rose Bowl teams.
“I always had a love for football,” Helverson said. “The officiating side was more attractive to me, less time and more time for family. I met some people and fell in love with it and I just worked my way up the ladder, and I’ve been very happy and lucky and successful with it.”
Helverson has worked several notable games during his career as an NFL official. He has officiated nearly a dozen post-season games. Helverson was on the crew when the New Orleans Saints played their first game back in the Super Dome after Hurricane Katrina.
“There is no one factor that makes a great official,” Retired NFL Official Ed Hochuli said. “Scott communicates well, and he has that confidence and judgement ability that just can’t be taught. Anybody would love to have Scott on their crew.”
Although life has taken Helverson many cool places, he stresses the impact that East had on him. “For how East shaped me, I think loyalty and commitment to family and friends.” In his career, he has met many important people, but he will still tell you his role models are members of his family. “Family is what is most important, and I wouldn’t trade it,” Helverson said. His biggest role model was his Grandpa Happ, who was also an East graduate. Helverson has three daughters.
Some of Helverson’s best memories from high school are forming friendships with his peers, teachers and coaches. He remembers football game days fondly. “We had very good teams. We had very good coaches. To this day, they are still friends of mine that I talk to regularly. It was just a wonderful experience and a great time,” Helverson said.
In offering advice to current East seniors, Helverson has one message. “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Be true to yourself.”