Judge Meyer practiced law in the counties of Vermilion, Sangamon, and Cook for more than 55 years. He practiced in the firm of Burke, Twomey, and Johnson. He started a partnership with Henry Wise and Thomas Graham. The firm later became Graham, Wise, Meyer, Young, Welsh, and Maton.
John Meyer was elected to, and served in the Illinois House of Representatives and the Senate. He introduced and passed legislation creating a public defender’s office, the Fair Employment Practices Act, and state funding of Illinois Community Colleges, including Danville Area Community College. He also served as chairman of the legislative commission on narcotic drugs. He served as the first assistant attorney general for the State of Illinois.
Judge Meyer was also admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme
Court. In his retirement years, he was a member of the law firm of Dukes, Ryan, Meyer & Freed, Ltd., with his son, Christopher Meyer. He was elected and served as judge of the circuit court for the Fifth Judicial Circuit.
Judge Meyer was active in the Danville community, serving with youth football, the Vermilion County Museum Society, United Way, Schlarman Foundation, the Danville Dans baseball team (as its first president), and the Christian Home for Youth, an organization that assisted in the rehabilitation of juveniles who came before the county juvenile court. He purchased, sold, and raced thoroughbred horses, several of whom were winners in races in Florida, Kentucky, and Illinois. In his retirement, he authored the book, Observations of an Elderly Gentleman.
In 1942, he married Barbara Martin. In 1969, he married Mertyce Erickson Fagot. He was the father of five children (John P. Jr., Marilyn Manfredi, Elizabeth Elam, Michael, Melinda Jankowski, and Christopher) and three step-children (Tamara Fagot Goetting, Marc Fagot, and Rob Fagot).
Inducted November, 2015
2014 Wall of Fame Inductees:
Romadelle McNair Austin- (Class of 1941) - Retired Danville Police Officer
Scott Eisenhauer (Class of 1982) - Danville Mayor
Romadelle McNair Austin, a native of Danville, attended Washington School and graduated from Danville High School in 1941. At DHS, she participated in the Drill Team and the Phyllis Wheatley Club, an organization for African-American girls. The girls were advised by Miss Helen Hofmann, the German and Spanish teacher. Mrs. Austin felt that Miss Hofmann had a positive impact on herself and other girls.
Beginning as a radio dispatcher for the Danville Police Department in 1962, she later served as secretary to the chief. As the number of females coming through the facility increased, she assisted with the officers in whatever manner was needed to house the females. As this need for female police officers became apparent, Mrs. Austin entered the Police Training Institute and met all of the requirements necessary for certification, including marksmanship. Mrs. Austin stated, “Marksmanship was the most difficult part of the training, but am thankful that I never had to draw my weapon.” Hired as the first female police officer of the City of Danville in 1976, she remained as an active officer until her retirement in 1998. The majority of her career was spent in the Criminal Investigation Division, focusing on juvenile offenders. She was frequently in the Danville School District No. 118 schools, meeting with principals, teachers, and parents. In looking back over her career, Mrs. Austin is proud that she had the opportunity to give young people the option of going in a positive direction. Her superior, Edwin McGee, retired Police Commander of the Criminal Investigation Division, stated that Mrs. Austin was one of the finest and most professional officers with whom he worked. A lifetime member of Carter Metropolitan C.M.E. Church, Mrs. Austin has sung in numerous choirs, served as class leader, and visited the sick and shut-ins as a lay minister. She has also served in the Laura Lee Fellowship House and the Center for Children’s Services board.
Scott Eisenhauer attended Douglas School and graduated from Danville High School in 1982. At DHS, he was a participant of Student Council, Radio Club, Madrigals, Drama Club, Singing Vikings, Contemporaries, and the baseball team. An alumnus of Danville Area Community College, he has served as the voice of Vermilion County and Danville High School sports for Neuhoff Broadcasting for over 20 years.
Elected in 1993 as the youngest alderman on the Danville City Council, he served for five years before serving at the Vermilion County Emergency Management Agency. He has volunteered extensively in the community including the following: Lynch Volunteer EMT, Arts in the Park, Red Mask, and serving as master of ceremonies for countless programs at Danville High School. In 2003, he was named one of Illinois 10 Outstanding Persons by the Jaycees for his significant community service.
In 2003, he was elected Mayor of the City of Danville and is currently serving his third term. He eliminated the $3 million city deficit, supported neighborhood associations, teamed up with the school district to enhance the area adjacent to the DHS campus, and is a tireless advocate for economic development and constituent services. In 2013, he was elected as president of the Illinois Municipal League. The North Ridge Future Problem Solvers noted the Mayor’s active support for their project such as pill recycling drive, the multi-cultural fair, placing chairs and planters created from recycled items in city parks, and the life-savers anti-drowning campaign.
2013 Wall of Fame Inductees:
Mr. Carl B. Fliermans, Ph. D. - Microbiologist(Class of 1962)
John Stevenson, Jr. (Class of 1955) - Business and Industry Leader and Innovator
Carl B. Fliermans attended Roselawn School and graduated from DHS in 1962. At DHS, he was a
memberof Maroon & White, the Dramatic Club, A Cappella Choir, and thegolf team. As he grew up, he admits, “I always had bugs, worms, snakes,and a variety of biologs in my pockets. I was probably the classic caseof the late bloomer, but along the way, a few people took the time tobelieve in me and give encouragement…Two people in my early years weremy champions, my grandmothers and my scoutmaster, Albert Greene of Troop19.” He earned his undergraduate degree in biology at Asbury College,his master’s degree in soil microbiology from the University ofKentucky, and his doctorate in microbiology from Indiana University in1972. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes ofHealth at the University of Minnesota from 1972-1974. He began his 30years association with the Westinghouse Savannah River Company/SavannahRiver National Laboratory in 1974. From 1974-2004, he advanced frommicrobial ecologist to microbial ecologist advisory scientist, theposition he held at retirement. He has served as an adjunct researchprofessor in biology at the University of South Carolina (Aiken) since1980 and in toxicology at Clemson since 1990. He was seniorvice-president and chief scientist of Environment America from1989-1990. Since 1978, he has been President/CEO of Ecological MicrobesUnlimited of Augusta, GA, and also since 2004, partner and microbialecologist.
Dr.Fliermans is a noted microbiologist. He has published over 100scientific publications , filed numerous patents, and earned many awardsin the field of environmental and microbial ecology. One of his mainareas of expertise is in the ecology of the bacterium that causesLegionnaires’ Disease; he was the first to define the environmentalhabitats where the bacterium lives and was the first to isolate thebacterium from its natural environments. His seminal research paved theway for the understanding of the disease, the successful treatment ofthe facilities that harbor the bacterium, and the definition ofguidelines for the safe treatment of water systems for the Cooling TowerInstitute and the American Society for Heating, Refrigeration, and AirConditioning Engineers . His basic work in this area has beendistinguished by being responsible for promoting the awareness of thebacterium and of mechanisms for its survival, growth, dissemination, andremoval. His work has been useful in the saving of many lives. He hasserved as an expert witness for numerous cases throughout the nation forboth the defense and the plaintiffs. His career of three decades at theSavannah River National Laboratory has earned him numerous awards andhis work has been funded for over $100 million by both private andpublic institutions. His research has taken him to over 47 nations withthe basic research in the microbiology of landmine detection, designingprobes in the search for extraterrestrial life for the Mars probe,defining the existence for life in extreme environments of hightemperature and high radiation fields, and probing for the presence ofmicrobiological life thousands of meters below the earth’s surface.
Dr. Fliermans has this advice for current DHS students: “Choosesomething that you love and devote yourself to it. Go as far as you cango in your education because the higher one goes, the more autonomy andfreedom one can achieve. Don’t restrict yourself to working 8 hours/daybecause that will restrict what you can do and what you can be. Workhard and wherever you are, be all there. Enjoy life. You get only oneand that purpose is to glorify God Who made you and enjoy Him now andforever.”
John Stevenson attended Washington Grade School and graduated from DHS in 1955.
AtDHS, he earned nine athletic letters in baseball, basketball, and crosscountry and was a key player on eight teams that won district and statetitles. Baseball team captain, an editor of Maroon & White, classofficer, and honor student, he compiled a strong record at DHS before hecontinued his studies at the University of Illinois where he earned hisbachelor’s and master’s degrees and was a member of the varsitybaseball and basketball teams. He was a member of the Naval Reserve from1954 through 1963 and served on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Benningtonand participated in the Korean War Conflict.
A leader and innovator in business and industry, Stevenson rose to theposition of Vice-President and Director of Marketing for AT & TConsumer Products after serving in a variety of positions of increasingresponsibility at Illinois Bell and AT & T from 1962 to 1985. Heintroduced AT & T into the retail marketing world, opening the firstphone center retail phone center in the Chicago-area Woodfield Mallthat was followed by the opening of 800 additional stores across thenation. He was selected as one of five officers to be in thepresidential potential officer class. He served at AT & T until 1985when he was asked by the President of the University of Illinois tohead a new industrial program. Stevenson served from 1985 until 2007 ascorporate officer of the National Center of Supercomputing Applications(NCSA) at the U of I. He worked to meet and exceed the Center’s missionto “Improve the Competitiveness of American Industry.” He developed themarket plan for the program, obtained the approval of universityadministration and the director, and introduced and supported acomprehensive partnership program to teach corporations the value ofsupercomputing. He successfully marketed the program to over 20corporations in 13 business sectors and managed the partnerships for 20years. Each of the participating corporations succeeded in making majorcompetitive breakthroughs that resulted, not only in increased revenues,but in significant improvements that have helped mankind. In 1996,Fortune magazine featured Stevenson’s accomplishments at the Center. Hewas recognized as improving the way American industry does research.
In1988, Stevenson met then-U.S. Senator Al Gore at a press conference atthe National Center of Supercomputing. Stevenson developed arelationship with Gore which led him in helping to get two major billspassed in Congress – the 1988 National High Performance Computer Act andthe 1992 Information Infrastructure and Technology Act which, alongwith the Center’s introduction of MOSAIC software in 1993, contributedto the opening of the internet. Gore shared, “The magnitude of Mr.Stevenson’s contributions towards the passage of these bills wastremendous. The combination of high-level corporate experience andpersonal leadership style that he brought to the NCSA helped create thetype of systemic impact that forever changed and improved the way bothcorporations and individuals process information.”
Upon learning of his induction to the Wall of Fame, Stevenson stated,“This is an incredible honor. The teachers and coaches taught me thefundamentals that have proven to be the drivers in my accomplishments. Ireferred to the principles they taught me throughout my life andespecially in the tough business challenges I faced. They proved to beright over and over. I am deeply indebted to DHS. In fact, I am tryingto teach my children the same principles.”
2012 Wall of Fame Inductee:
Mr. Robert E. Jones (Class of 1956)
RobertE. Jones, a 1956 graduate of DHS, has been a life resident of theDanville area. At DHS, he served on the Student Council and was amember of both the Projector Club and the Wrestling team. Firstworking, then managing local restaurants and stores, Jones purchased theColonial Parkway Restaurant in 1970, a popular establishment heoperated until 1994. He has owned and operated a Dairy Queen inDanville since 1982. He opened the new Dairy Queen on E. Main Street in2003.
Not only a successful Danville businessman, Jones has served the publicin a variety of elected political offices. After serving as VermilionCounty Treasurer from 1978-1987, Jones was elected as Mayor of Danvillein 1987, an office he held for 16 years over four terms. Jones was thefirst mayor elected under the new aldermanic form of government. Duringhis administration, he held economic summits, the new Danville PublicLibrary was built, the Vermilion County War Museum was established inthe former library building, the Winter Avenue Soccer Complex and AMBUCSPlayground for Everyone were opened, and Danville Stadium wasrenovated. McLane Midwest, Auto Zone, and Alcoa located in the cityduring his tenure as mayor and the Lynch area was further developed.
An active 33rd Degree Mason, Jones is a life member and past master ofthe Anchor Lodge #980. His active and sustained support wasinstrumental in the establishment of the Masonic Learning Center fordyslexic children. Jones described the center as his passion; “instudying dyslexia, I realized I must have been dyslexic.” Jones is alsoa longtime member of the Lions Club. The City of Danville named CityHall in his honor after he ended his tenure as Mayor.
Mr. Jones was surprised by his induction and states that it was “quitean honor” that left him “speechless”. Jones added, “It’s beyondwords…I’ve been very, very blessed throughout my life.”
2011 Wall of Fame Inductees:
Julius W. Hegeler II (Class of 1946) and Myrtle Louise Johnson Robinson (Class of 1933)Julius W. Hegeler ('46),
Businessman, war hero, philanthropist
Julius W. Hegeler II grew up in the large family home at 1521 N.Vermilion, now commonly known as the Hegeler Mansion. He attendedRoselawn School in grades 1-8. At Danville High School, he particularlyloved manual arts classes and took as many as he could, includingdrafting and mechanical drawing. Mr. Hegeler stated that one of the bestpieces of advice he ever received came from Mr. James Hawkins, hisdrafting teacher at DHS: “It’s better to be quiet and be thought a foolthan to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” He graduated from DHS in1946. He attended University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for threeyears, then transferred to Millikin University in Decatur. He studiedindustrial management, mechanical drawing, and business and earned abachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Millikin in 1950.Hegeler joined the Air Force and became a fighter pilot, flying in 70combat missions, including the final mission of the Korean War. Heserved with distinction, earning the Air Medal with an Oak Leaf Clusterand the coveted Distinguished Flying Cross. Shortly after his dischargefrom the Air Force, Julius W. Hegeler II, with his brother, Edward, andthree other partners co-founded Peterson Filling and Packaging. Thecompany employed as many as 1,000 workers in Vermilion County. TheJulius W. Hegeler II Foundation has donated millions of dollars tosupport numerous local agencies for special events and projects focusingon historic preservation, healthcare, the arts, and, most importantly,improving the lives of children through opportunities for growth andlearning that they might not otherwise have been given. He has activelyand conscientiously served on many boards. Through his hard work andgenerosity, Julius W. Hegeler II has made an indelible mark on VermilionCounty and has benefited all of its citizens.
Myrtle Louise Johnson Robinson ('33), Trailblazing teacher, traveler, philanthropist
Louise Johnson attended grade school in Danville and graduated fromDHS in June, 1933. She earned her teaching certificate at Indiana StateTeachers’ College in what was then a two-year program, as was typicalfor that time. She was just 18 years old when she started teaching atJackson School in 1935. She was one of the two first African-Americanteachers in the Danville school district and the first to hold ateaching certificate. According to news reports, she was told by thensuperintendent, Clarence Vance, “I’ll hire you as an experiment. If youdo well, I’ll hire other [African-American teachers].” Within a fewyears, several African-American certified teachers were hired to teachin the Danville schools. Miss Johnson taught first and second grades atJackson School from 1935 to 1943. She was known as a strict teacher withhigh standards and high expectations from her students. She personallyfinanced many experiences for students, including trips to Chicago.After moving to New Jersey, Myrtle Louise Johnson Robinson completed thecoursework for a doctorate degree at Seton Hall College and taught formany years. She was an adventuresome worldwide traveler; Egypt, HongKong, Africa, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil were among her destinations.She and her sister, Vivian Goins, established the George and NoliaJohnson Scholarship that helped many students attend college. DavidFields, who later became superintendent of Danville School District No.118, said, “I remember her very fondly. We just thought she was sopretty. She was a snazzy dresser. We knew that she cared about ourlearning and being motivated. She was a tremendous lady...She was alwaysvery upbeat and friendly and she really cared. She was just anoutstanding teacher.”
2009 Wall of Fame Inductee:
Dr. Ronald Gillum (Class of 1956)
Physicianand Humanitarian. Ronald Gillum has lived the American Dream. He grewup in a family that was loving, but he had to cope with poverty andother difficulties at home. He was bright, hardworking, and, motivatedby the thought, “I'm not going to live like this.” He built a life thatwas successful personally, professionally, and financially. He citesmany mentors, tutors, and people who cared for helping him along theway.
Ron Gillum attended Garfield and DanielElementary Schools in grades 1-8. He was an avid reader and checked outand read several books from the public library every week. While atDanville High School, he was senior class president, best boy citizen,participated in the science and drama clubs, and was news editor for theMaroon and White. He was co-valedictorian at his graduation.
When young Ron was in third grade, hebecame very ill and missed three weeks of school. During that time hereceived daily visits from Dr. Walt Lance. Ron was so impressed by thedoctor’s gentleness and concern that he decided that he wanted to becomea physician like Dr. Lance. He financed most of his college educationthrough scholarships and a variety of jobs. He served in the militaryfrom 1969-1972 and spent 23 months in Ethiopia doing research onrelapsing fever. He then transferred to Washington, D.C. where heprepared his research findings for publication.
He has published over 30 articles innational medical journals and has written several medical technicalmanuals. He completed over 125 lab inspections for accreditation inOklahoma and surrounding states and has helped train physicians studyingto become pathologists. He has held memberships and offices in severallocal, state, and national medical professional associations. Until hisretirement, he served as Chief of Clinical Pathology Labs at UniversityHospitals, Oklahoma Children’s Memorial Hospital, and the Veterans’Affairs Medical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Dr. Gillum has maintained close tieswith his former DHS classmates. He compiled and maintains a data base ofcontact information for members of the Class of 1956 and sponsored aproject to archive past issues of the Maroon and White in digitalformat. He has generously contributed to the Danville Public SchoolsFoundation in an effort to help keep students throughout the district inschool in appreciation of the education he received and in memory ofthe teachers who were instrumental in his life.
“There are three major blessings frommy time at Danville High School. The courses I took prepared me for acareer with teachers who became role models and guides for life.Classmates became and remain friends and filled the moments ofloneliness and even despair during my difficult days.”
Dr. Gillum offers this advice forstudents: “Evaluate your strengths and set goals for yourself withoutthinking about reasons you cannot achieve them. Then work hard towardthose goals and have faith that if you keep working, something will fallinto place and you will be able to do what you want to do. You may haveto evaluate what you really can do and make adjustments along the way.If you enjoy what you do, life is much more pleasant.
2008 Wall of Fame Inductee:
Ms. Nina Cottrell (Class of 1964)
"Smart,""killer instincts, acerbic wit, stunning presence," "street-savvy,""perfectionist," "charming and disarming"... these are the wordsassociates use to describe DHS graduate Nina Cottrell. Through acombination of hard work and strategic self-education, she became aleader in her field. She rose from secretary to CEO of the45,000-member Council of Residential Specialists, a non-profitaffiliate of the National Association of Realtors that offers trainingand certification for real estate agents. CRS is an internationalorganization that seeks to enhance the professional competency of itsmembers and provide them with education and tools to help them betterserve their clients. As a young child, Ms. Cottrell attendedWashington Grade School. Bobby Short, who later became a renownedmusician and one of the first inductees into the DHS Wall of Fame,babysat for Nina and her four siblings. Cottrell says that she was atomboy who never attended prom, but started to bloom while in highschool. After graduating from DHS in 1964, she worked in Chicago as amodel and in other office jobs. At age 26, she accepted a position assecretary for CRS. She stayed with the same employer for over 35years, rising to the very top through hard work. Although she did notchoose to pursue a college degree, she has been a lifelong learner.
She actively sought mentors who could teach her what she needed tolearn. She says, "I was like a sponge. I asked questions and tookrelated courses along the way that would help me in any area I felt Ihad a weakness. I targeted what I considered my weaknesses because Ialways knew that I had to compete with people who had more formaleducation." She also cites her extraordinary work ethic to explain hersuccess. "I worked hard, checked facts and went beyond what wasexpected. There are no entitlements, no shortcuts. You have to workfor it. "She has loved her work and the opportunities for world travelit has afforded her. "When I moved to Chicago and took this job, Ihad the exposure of being around a lot of people who traveled anddressed nicely. I wanted to live my life like that. I knew I wouldhave to work hard to make the money to experience all that." Whenasked what advice she would give to young people today, she stated,"When anyone goes out into the world, they have to know what they wantout of lie and realize that if they want it, they're going to have towork for it. They have to plot their path, draft their goals and makea plan. There are so many things that will distract you. You haveto know how to get back on that road, and see the path you want to godown."
2007 Wall of Fame Inductees:
Dr. John W. D. Kay (Class of 1956) and Steven F. Eckert (Class of 1970) Dr. John W. D. Kay ('56) JohnKay attended Lincoln Grade School and graduated from Danville HighSchool in 1956. He played tennis for four years at DHS and was captainof the tennis team during his senior year. He also worked on the Maroon & White, servingas editorial page editor in his senior year. He was active inChristian youth activities. He earned his B.S. in chemistry at theUniversity of Illinois, Urbana, in 1960 and completed his doctorate inbiochemistry at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, in 1964.During his lengthy and distinguishedcareer, he worked as a research/development immuno-biochemistdeveloping and improving tests to diagnose infectious agents such ashepatitis B, rubella, Group A Strep, and N. gonorrhea. His most famouspioneering work came in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The first casesof AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) in the United States werediagnosed in 1981. In 1984, HIV was identified as the cause of AIDS.
Within three months of receiving the viral materials, Dr. Kay’s teamdeveloped a test to identify the presence of the antibody to HIV inblood; this effort pushed all manufacturers to develop tests as soon aspossible. This was vitally important as the nation struggled toprotect the supply of blood that was available for transfusions.
Within six months of introduction of the first test, he led a team thatdeveloped a test that was 300 times more sensitive than his originaltest, far more accurate than other tests on the market, and allowed theidentification of HIV-positive patients 10-14 days earlier than theinitial tests.
A major challenge faced by Dr. Kay’s teamwas to develop tests that would be both accurate and simple to read andcould be used on various body fluids. Ease of obtaining test resultsis important for rapid diagnosis and disease control. His groupdeveloped tests for HIV in which adding a liquid to a processed sampleresulted in a color change as a final indicator that HIV infection wasdetected. This was an important breakthrough, particularly inthird-world countries where special equipment may not be available.Dr. Kay is a devout Christian and hisfaith has impacted his life, in and out of his profession. “When youtake faith into the workplace, it’s amazing what will happen. Faith inthe Living God will affect your work. You pray to understand what’sright and then the Lord enables a solution to the problems.”Dr. Kay learned a valuable lesson at DHSthat he has carried throughout his life. At his father’s insistence,he studied Latin. After a lackluster first semester he transferred to adifferent class. His new teacher had students conjugate verbscompetitively; this exercise caught his imagination and inspired him towork much harder. “I accepted the challenge to learn well so I coulddo well. It’s the opposite of the culture of doing as little as youcan. Putting in effort and activating your energy, not just showingup, makes the work more interesting. It’s so much better in the longrun of life.”
Steven F. Eckert (’70)Over the past three decades, Steve Eckert has made life in our countrysafer by bringing issues to the public’s attention. His reports haveearned TV journalism’s top honors. In addition to his Emmy awards, hehas earned the Peabody, DuPont-Columbia, Edward R. Murrow,Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), RFK, Sigma Delta Chi, andNational Headliner Awards. Eckert’s stories have done much more than winawards. They’ve revealed wrong-doing, exposed hidden dangers, andprompted changes in local, state, and federal laws. His hour-longinvestigation of counterfeit medicine in America, entitled “BitterPills,” was judged the best TV investigative report on any network in2006 by Investigative Reporters and Editors. It marked the fourth timethat Eckert’s investigations have won the prestigious IRE Award. Anational consumer group stated this Eckert investigative newsproduction “…has done the nation a tremendous service.” That reportearned him the 2007 Emmy Award for Investigative Reporting. Otherinvestigations produced by Steve Eckert have changed lives, resulted inlegislation, and earned national awards as well. Following are just afew examples of his work: Within days after Eckert’s hidden camerascaptured outdated eggs being repacked and re-dated as if they werefresh, the USDA issued emergency rules. Within weeks, Congress passednew legislation and within months, the President signed a new law toprotect public health (This production entitled “Shell Game” wonseveral news awards). He revealed fatal flaws in both the local 911system and the Child Protection network, forcing major reorganizationsin both systems (Edward R. Murrow & DuPont-Columbia Awards). Justfour days after Eckert exposed “secret pardons” for convictedcriminals, including child molesters, the Minnesota Legislatureabolished the system (Murrow & Headliner Awards). Steve Eckertgraduated from DHS in 1970. He attended Liberty Elementary School andNorth Ridge Junior High School. While a student at DHS, he was aneditor for the Maroon & White and participated in theRadio Club. His first newscasts were at WDAN radio. He later becamestudent news director at WPRB, the college radio station at PrincetonUniversity. He worked in radio for two years, then switched totelevision. He has produced national investigative stories andnewsmaker interviews for NBC News and Dateline NBC since 1993. Looking back on his years at Danville High School, Eckert remembered, “My best memories… editing the Maroon & White…marchingin the band at half-time of Viking football games…and helping revivethe DHS debate team and nearly going to state finals in our secondyear. Looking back, two of my English teachers – John Sanders and JohnWatkins – stand out. They challenged us, expanded our horizons, andhelped give us the confidence to keep exploring.”Backto top
2006 Wall of Fame Inductees:
Dr. James Westwater (Class of 1937) and Robert Gregory Meidel (ex 1971)
Dr. James Westwater ('37) wasinvolved in swimming and the D Association when he was a student atDanville High School. An outstanding student. Westwater earned acompetitive scholarship to attend the University of Illinois where heearned his bachelor’s degree in 1941. Westwater was the firstpost-graduate student to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Delawarein 1948. Returning to the University of Illinois that fall,Westwater began his 40 year association with the university thatculminated with his retirement 40 years later in 1988 as Head of theDepartment of Chemical Engineering. His research and study in the fieldof heat transfer in chemical engineering earned Westwaterinternational recognition as well as benefiting both industry and thegeneral population. Dr. Westwater’s work focused on “the processes thatoccur in the boiling of liquids and dropwise condensation. Hepioneered in the use of high-speed photography, linking the camera tothe microscope to study these processes. In 1955, he produced the firstfilm made at the U of I using these processes. In succeeding years, heperfected the equipment so that by 1966 he could take pictures at thespeed of 6,000 frames per second.” Honored by the university by having achemical engineering chair endowed in his honor, Westwater remained asan honored member of the U of I faculty emertitus until his death onMarch 31, 2006. He was survived by his wife, Elizabeth Keener Westwater(’37), and four children: Barbara Westwater, Urbana; Judith White,Champaign; David James Westwater, Albion, IA; and Beverly Moore,Marshalltown, IA.
Robert Gregory Meidel (ex ’71) attendedRoselawn, Edison, North Ridge Junior High School, and Danville HighSchool until he moved to California with his mother at the start of hissenior year in the fall of 1970. When informed of his induction,Meidel reacted: “I’m thrilled to be honored by DHS. It’s a fabulousinstitution. Whatever success I’ve enjoyed in the entertainmentindustry was the result of my passion for arts, primarily television,which started with a field trip to the local TV station while attendingDHS!“ Relating to his academic career in Danville, Meidel stated,“I’ll never forget my first grade teacher, Mrs. Yeazel. She was sosweet and insisted that I practice my A, B, C’s! I have fond memories ofMrs. Tobin at Edison, Mr. Black at North Ridge, and the one and onlyqueen of all music classes, Miss Wolff at DHS!” Popular and well-likedby his classmates, Meidel earned a host of friends in Danville with hiseasy-going and friendly manner. Through a determined and tireless workethnic as well as a keen sense of both business and people skills, GregMeidel has risen to the top of the television profession, serving asPresident of Programming (Domestic Television) of Paramount Pictures ofHollywood, overseeing all programming and development activities forthe entertainment conglomerate. Among the shows his division producesand distributes are the following syndicated offerings: Dr. Phil, Entertainment Tonight, ET Weekend, The Montel Williams Show, Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, and The Insider.Before his stint at Paramount Domestic Television, Meidel served asPresident, COO and partner of Massive Media Group, a technology drivencompany focusing on providing digital rights management for theconvergence of content and technology over the internet. He also servedas Chairman and CEO of Universal Television Group (1996-1998),President and COO of Twentieth Century Television (1992-1995), as wellas a variety of increasingly responsible management positions atParamount (1979-1992). Looking back at his years at DHS, Meidelremarked, “DHS is a remarkable high school. My memories are ones withgreat friends, a solid education, and a school and faculty that let youpursue your dreams. DHS has all the charm of being in a small town,but has the wherewithal to prepare a young adult for greatness at anyuniversity, career, or future endeavor…DHS is always a topic ofconversation when I run into Dick and Jerry Van Dyke, Irving Azoff (whenI need Eagles tickets!), and Gene Hackman.” When asked what he missesmost about his home town, Meidel responded, “Danville is a specialplace. I miss friends, water skiing on Lake Vermilion, and Steak &Shake!” Greg Meidel resides in Hollywood with his wife, Nancy.Backto top
2005 Wall of Fame Inductees:
Dwight Lucas (Class of 1968) and MatthewWoodring Stover (Class of 1980, early graduation in August 1979)
DwightLucas has been a major forcetoward helping improve the lives of families in our community andthe surrounding counties since the early 1970s. As police communityrelations advisor in the early 1970s, he, along with Dorsey Boyd,started the Dustbowl basketball tournament. This event has grownfrom a small gathering in Carver Park to an even now played at theCivic Center, with crowds numbering in the thousands and teams comingfrom as far away as California.
He is currently CEO of the East Central Illinois Community ActionAgency, directing and coordinating programs and developing servicesto help move families toward self-sufficiency through a varietyof efforts, including energy assistance, weatherization programsand small business loans. The Community Action Agency also offersa variety of programs to help prepare students for college suchas tutoring, guidance counseling, campus visits and scholarships.Dwight Lucas directs initiatives that touch lives all the way frompreschoolers attending Head Start to senior citizens. His agencyprovides emergency services for any family in need. The CommunityAction Agency is a major economic force with an annual budget of$9 million and over 110 full-time equivalent positions.
Dwight Lucas is one of a small number of Certified Community ActionProfessionals. This rigorous program, offered to executives of communityaction agencies, requires collection of letters of reference, awritten thesis on management systems and program history, and completionof a 6-8 hour written test.
Not content with merely changing lives locally, Lucas has takena leadership role at the state and national levels. He is BoardChair of the Illinois Community Action Association that providesmembership services including training, technical assistance andresource information to 36 community action agencies. He also sitson the board of the six-state regional association.
In 2001, Dwight added further responsibilities to an already busylife when he became Executive Director of Laura Lee Fellowship House.During his tenure Laura Lee experienced a 50% increase in membershipand 250% increase in building usage. He spearheaded and successfullycompleted a capital building campaign to raise over one-half milliondollars to construct an annex to Laura Lee which will increase itsprogram space by more than 50%.
Dwight was raised in public housing. As a child, he spent manyhappy hours at Laura Lee Fellowship House. After serving in themilitary, he worked hard to support his family and complete hiseducation so he could offer a better life to his wife and children."Danville has been good to me and my family. I never wouldhave dreamed, growing up on Junction Avenue and in Carver Park ,that I could end up where I am. Public housing was a temporary waystation,not a lifestyle. I lived in a village where the whole village lookedafter you. I have been blessed and feel I have a responsibilityto give back. You have to do the best you can." Backto 2005
MatthewWoodring Stover is a successfulauthor of science fiction/fantasy novels, seven of which have beenpublished to date. His novels are Iron Darn (1997), JerichoMoon (a sequel to Iron Dawn, published in 1998), HeroesDie (1998), Blade of Tyshalle (2001), Traitor (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order, Book 13), published in 2002, Shatterpoint (Star Wars: Clone Wars Novel (2003), Star Wars, Revenge of theSith (2005). A new novel, Caine Black Knife, willbe published in 2006. One of his books, Revenge of the Sith,was on the New York Times bestseller list for 10 weeks and has soldover 600,000 hardcover copies to date.
Matthew Stover attended Roselawn Elementary school and North RidgeJunior High. Although a member of the DHS Class of 1980, Stovertook early graduation in August 1979. Two of his former teachers,Barbara Cullen and Joyce Brown (Alexander) encouraged him to pursuewriting as a career. Matthew Stover says, "Mrs. Brown was alovely woman who taught an interesting class and took my writingseriously. She looked at what I produced in class and said I shouldconsider pursuing that." He also cited DHS social studies teacherBob Kay for igniting an interest in history that he still pursuestoday. Another source of inspiration was his mother, Barbara Stover,a rhetoric professor at DCC, who provided help, support and encouragementand was "a major sculptor of my life." He regularly readher Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine which printed stories writtenby previously unpublished authors and helped him see that authorsdevelop over time, they don't just "spring full-grown fromthe brow of Zeus." He graduated from Drake University in 1983,where he earned a degree in theater.
Stover says, "My primary intention [when writing a novel]is to write something that, on first reading people are going tostay up all night to finish, but it'll stay with them so that they'llread it again in six months to find more in it. What you get outof a novel depends on what you bring to it. If you read the samenovel at age 17, 25 or 35, it's a different novel because you aredifferent. I want my stories to be a collaboration between the storyon the page and the reader's imagination. I want to be a catalystfor something in the reader's mind.
Matthew Stover says his life was uniquely influenced by growingup in Danville because it provided "an intersection of a ruraland urban childhood." There were many industries in town, butalso a working farm close to his home. "I had the ability towalk out of my house and go someplace where all I could see wastrees." He says that this varied background shows up in hiswriting "all the time. You never really get away from anything,no matter where you go." Back to 2005Backto top
2004 Wall of Fame Inductees:
Kim Crockett (Class of 1975), MargaretJones Dugdale (Class of ex 1980), Glen Murphy (Class of 1938), William "Pee Wee"Summers (Class of 1961), John Swisher (Class of 1947), L. W. "Bill" Tanner (Class of 1937)
KimCrockett stands on theshoulders of giants. A 1975 DHS graduate, she understands that asa beneficiary of opportunity, comes great responsibility. “Iam indebted to the generations before me. Their perseverance andcourage under intolerable conditions made the impossible, possible.”Ms. Crockett enjoyed a 20-year journalism career where she rosefrom consumer reporter to editorial writer, from two-time PulitzerPrize winner to newsroom manager. Her favorite assignment was leadreporter for Nelson Mandela’s 1990 visit to Miami. Her greatestadventure was sailing around the world. Her most defining momentwas integrating an all-white neighborhood in 1969. Her greatestachievement remains in the future. Growing up in Danville in the1960s and 1970s, Ms. Crockett credits her family, Second BaptistChurch and Danville High School for nurturing her self confidenceand sense of adventure. At Danville High School, Ms. Crockett receivedone of the highest honors bestowed on a graduating senior: BestGirl Citizen. She served as News Editor and Features Editor of theMaroon and White newspaper. As a member of the inaugural Girls Tennisteam in 1974, she earned athletic letters in her junior and senioryears and qualified for state competition in doubles. In her senioryear she was elected captain of the tennis team, shared Most Valuablehonors and earned the High Scholastic award. Ms. Crockett also co-chairedthe Human Relations Club and was chairman of the Improvement onEducation Committee of District 118. Today Ms. Crockett is Directorof Public Relations for the Arizona Education Association. Backto 2004
MargaretJones Dugdale is an accomplishedprofessional violinist who regularly returns to Danville to shareher talent. She attended DHS in the late 1970s.
A founding member of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, she hasalso worked extensively with the Columbus (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra,the American Ballet Theatre, and the Opera Orchestra of New York.She has performed with a variety of well-known artists, including,Luciano Pavarotti, Bob Hope, Henry Mancini, Andy Williams, PerryComo, Natalie Cole, Ray Charles, Bernadette Peters, Josh Groban,and The Moody Blues. While living in New York, she performed onBroadway in the revival production of Peter Pan and the Tony Award-winningSwan Lake. She spent four years touring the world with Mikhail Baryshnikov,performing with him as an onstage soloist, as well as with the WhiteOak Chamber Ensemble. She resides in Indianapolis where, in additionto her work with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and studio recording,she is in great demand as a soloist and chamber player with variousensembles. She also teaches privately and is on the faculty of theChamber Music Institute at the University of Indianapolis. Ms. Dugdalereturns to Danville frequently each year to perform as Concertmasterof the Danville Symphony Orchestra. She says it is very meaningfulfor her to play at Danville High School again. “It’swhere I began; with the DSO, right on that stage.” While inDanville, she has held master classes throughout District 118 towork with individual students and groups of young musicians. Ms.Dugdale stated, “I had so much support and opportunity asa young person. Danville played a large part in my success as amusician. It is wonderful to be able to come home and give backsome of what was so generously given to me.” Backto 2004
GlenMurphy spent his entireadult life serving others, particularly the youth of Danville. Inhis career with the YMCA, he organized activities such as games,sports, and camping trips to keep young people engaged in healthybehaviors. While a student at Danville High School, he excelledat softball, baseball, and tennis. He held after-school jobs deliveringnewspapers and working as an usher at the Fischer and Palace Theaters.He earned his bachelor’s degree at Illinois State University.He worked at the Danville YMCA from 1948-1981. Under his leadership,the current Family Y facility was constructed. It was dedicatedOctober 15, 1972. He encouraged noontime volleyball games and manyother activities to promote adult fitness. He was active in hischurch, United Fund, the Red Vests, and Golden K. He also directeda camp for children with cognitive disabilities. He lived his lifeaccording to the YMCA creed: God first, other people second, methird. He died in December, 2003, at the age of 83. Backto 2004WilliamSummers was an outstandingathlete at Danville High School in the late 1950’s and early1960’s. His brother gave him the nickname “PeeWee”when he was born prematurely. His father earned $30 per week workingas a janitor at the Fischer Theater to support the family that includedfour children. PeeWee remembers going to work with his father to helphim clean up.
Summers graduated from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri,with a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education. He was the firstAfrican-American to graduate from the college. He credits his parents,relatives, friends, local teachers, business people, and organizationsfor offering support and encouragement so he could go to college.After graduating from the University of Kansas where he earned a master’sdegree in social work, Mr. Summers became the Director of Employmentand Training for Kansas City and Wyandotte County, Kansas. He movedto Florida where he was the marketing consultant for Sunshine Athleticsand helped oversee programs which had over 20,000 registered athletes.He owned his own business which hired officials for Orange Countyand all the high schools in the Central Florida Officials Associationof Orlando, Florida. He worked for the Amateur Athletic Union as thesenior sports manager where he administered a nationwide program thatencompassed over 100,000 members. He has officiated high school, juniorcollege, NAIA, and NCAA football, basketball and baseball throughoutthe United States. He has even traveled abroad as an internationalofficial for sporting events in different countries. In 2004, he wasnamed Executive Director of the Danville Boys and Girls Club. Hisemphasis is on teaching responsibility and respect. His goal is toimprove all club member’s academics and to have them graduatefrom high school. “The basis for everything I have ever achievedin life began with the strong foundation laid out for me whileattending Danville High School,” said Mr. Summers. Backto 2004
JohnSwisher: In the mid-1950s,DHS graduate John Swisher was a young man with a dream. He and hiswife borrowed $25,000 from their parents and started a hog feedbusiness which grew into a company that had $278 million in salesin 2003. He stated, “I never thought it would be this big.When you start down the path, you can’t see much but as youkeep going, you can see more. Now my vision is big.” Manyof his innovative business ideas later became the industry standardsand many of his former competitors are no longer in the feed business.His company employs a highly educated sales force and engages inresearch to continually improve their products. He said, “Ichanged an industry; changed how feed is marketed. Then we got moreinto research and developed proprietary products.” At thetime of his induction at age 75, Mr. Swisher was still very activelyinvolved in the day-to-day operation of his business. Reflectingon his career, he stated, “It’s a noble thing to improvethe food supply.” John Swisher graduated from DHS in 1947,having lettered in football, basketball and track. He was classpresident in his junior year and worked on the staff of the Maroonand White. He credits his teachers for helping prepare him for success.“I didn’t appreciate them then. Only after time, youlook back and realize these were extraordinary people.” Herecalls that successful alumni were brought in each year to talkto high school students. “Each one of these people centeredtheir thoughts on hard work and ethics. Here I sit today and I wouldsay the same thing. I don’t know how you get anywhere withouthard work. I don’t know how you have a civilization withoutethics.” He earned a bachelor’s degree from the Universityof Illinois in 1951 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in AnimalScience from Purdue University in 2000. Back to2004
Dr.L. W. "Bill" Tanner has the distinction of having delivered and cared for many of thecitizens of our community. He graduated from Danville High Schoolin 1937. While a student at DHS, he played violin with the orchestraand trumpet with the band. He was on the swimming team for fouryears. He was editor-in-chief of the Medley and was inducted intothe National Honor Society. He credits the excellent teaching stafffor helping him get off to a good start in life. He earned his medicaldegree at the University of Illinois. During World War II, he servedwith distinction as battalion surgeon with the fleet Marines inthe Pacific, including the battle at Iwo Jima. In 1974, he was namedhead of the Family Practice Department in the School of ClinicalMedicine at the University of Illinois and directed the residencytraining program in Danville during the ten years of its existence.A number of physicians who trained in that program remained in Danvilleto practice medicine. He was medical director of the health clinicat the Danville Correctional Center, which became the first prisonhealth clinic in the country to receive accreditation from the AmericanHospital Association. He was named First Citizen of Danville in1967 and has taken leadership roles in the YMCA, United Way, andthe Vermilion County Medical Society. He has been very active inthe Piankeshaw Council of the Boy Scouts of America and earned theSilver Antelope award, one of scouting’s highest adult awards.All five of his sons became Eagle Scouts. An avid gardener, Dr.Tanner has helped beautify the CRIS Senior Center and First PresbyterianChurch as well as his own home. Dr. Tanner and his wife, Dr. MeganTanner, are parents of previous Wall of Fame inductee, astronautJoe Tanner. Back to 2004Backto top
2003Wall of Fame Inductees:
Irving Azoff (Class of 1966), Dr.E. N. Hetherington (Class of 1941), MollyMelching (Class of 1967), and P. Kevin Strader (Class of 1973).
IrvingAzoff is prominent in musicand entertainment. He is the longtime personal manager of the Eagles,who were inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Healso manages the careers of Grammy Award winners Don Henley, ChristinaAguilera, Glenn Frey, Seal, John Fogerty, and Paula Cole, as wellas platinum artists Jewel, Charlotte Church, Journey, and Bush.He has guided the careers of other artists including the Eagles,Steely Dan, and Jimmy Buffett. He produced several motion pictures,including Urban Cowboy, Fast Time at Ridgemont High, Jack Frost, and The Hurricane. He has been honoredby various groups for his work on behalf of charitable causes. Backto 2003
Dr.Edward N. "Pete" Hetherington is a local physician who practiced medicine in Danville from 1955to 1992. In addition to maintaining a large private practice, hewas instrumental in the formation of the Vermilion County Boardof Health and served as medical director of the Vermilion CountyHealth Department for many years. Under his guidance, the HealthDepartment began providing vaccinations, created the Family PlanningClinic, and initiated an inspection process for local eating establishments,among other accomplishments. Back to 2003
Molly Melching has lived in Senegal for the past 28 years. She has written andpublished books for Senegalese children adapted to their cultureand environment. She and her team use songs, stories, proverbs,theater, and other oral African traditions to entertain and teachchildren. Theirradio program teaches families across a wide area with messageson health and environment. She created the non-governmental organizationTostan, which means "breakthrough" in the Wolof language.Its mission is to provide communities with skills necessary forpositive socioeconomic transformation, including democracy, humanrights, leadership, and problem-solving as well as literacy, math,health, and management skills. This program has been adopted onan experimental basis in other African countries, including theSudan, Burkina, Faso, Mali and Guinea. Her programs have helpedreduce maternal and infant health mortality rates and implementsuccessful and sustainable income-generating activities for ruralwomen. Through Tostan, remarkable progress has been made to endthe centuries-old tradition of female genital cutting, which isstill practiced in many countries and has caused much sufferingand death among millions of African girls and women throughout thecenturies. Melching was awarded the University of Illinois AlumniHumanitarian Prize in 1999 and the Sargent Shriver DistinguishedAward for Humanitarian Service in 2002. Back to2003
P.Kevin Strader is a writerof books and programs for children. At Danville High School, Mr.Strader showed a penchant for drama and comedy. Though some of thispassion made it to the auditorium via the drama club—mostof it was practiced on friends, classmates and the Dean of Boys.While pursuing a responsible college major at Syracuse University(Communications), Kevin's entertainment ambitions lay dormant untilhe was asked to emcee the annual campus talent show. The showbizbug stuck to him like a tick to the hide of a gnarly old dog. Aftercollege, Mr. Strader moved to New York City to try his hand at stand-upcomedy, bravely taking to the stage with ideas that were funnieron paper. This experience taught him a valuable less: he was funnieron paper. Kevin began penning sketches and short plays for a verytalented group of actors with the theatrical group Alarm Dog Rep.His odd brand of social satire and existential high jinx met witha steady following but precious little material reward. Upon thebirth of his son, Mr. Strader sought a diaper-buying writing opportunitythat his son could never point to and say "Daddy, why are youhurting the world?" He landed a job at the educational entertainmenthothouse, Children's Television Workshop (creator of Sesame Street)ultimately serving as Associate Editor of Sesame Street Magazine.His poems and stories did not make children cry and brought praisefrom parents, peers and the Educational Press Association. Mr. Straderleft Sesame Workshop to accept a writing position on a breakthroughnew TV show hatching at Nick, Jr.: Blue's Clues. Doors in children'stelevision opened wider. He has since gone on to write over 50 televisionprograms that have appeared on PBS, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon,Nick Jr., Noggin', HBO Family and television and cable channelsin dozens of countries throughout the world. He also wrote the firstseason of Tellyvision: the Sesame Street Radio Show, books for DisneyPublishing, a Sesame Street International Live Show and variousCD-ROMs. For his efforts on one particularly satisfying TV program,Jim Henson's Bear in the Big Blue House, Mr. Strader has earnedfour Emmy nominations. Kevin wishes to thank his family of elevenfun-seeking, irony-loving brothers and sisters and especially hisson, for their eternal inspiration. He wishes to thank his lovingwife for making nearly all of the above possible. Backto 2003Backto top
2002 Wall of FameInductees:
Reginald A. Weaver (Classof 1957); Douglas J. Mathisen, M.D. (Class of 1966); Scott Shaw (Class of 1981); Daniel James Olmsted (Class of 1970); Dr. David L. Fields (Class of 1953); LaVadaFields Thornton (Class of 1934); HonorableWilliam B. Black (1959); Rear Admiral JosephTaylor (1906-1963); Dr. Robert F. Lash (1925-1992)ReginaldA. Weaver, Educator and National Union President. In July 2002, Reg Weaver was elected president of the National EducationAssociation, the country’s largest professional employee organizationrepresenting over 2.7 million teachers and education service personnel.This was the culmination of a career that included teaching science,elementary and special education in Harvey, IL, serving as presidentof his local teacher’s association, then as vice-president andpresident of the Illinois Education Association. Weaver was encouragedby his teachers to take science courses and join the public speakingclub. He declined, thinking “Black kids don’t do that.”However, when he got to college, he studied science and became a scienceteacher. Public speaking became a significant part of his duties asa teacher activist. As NEA president, Weaver works to ensure thatevery student will have a safe environment in which to learn and qualifiedteachers in every classroom. Back to 2002
DouglasJ. Mathisen, M.D., Thoracic Surgeon. Dr. Mathisen graduated from DHS in 1966 and went on to become oneof the most-respected thoracic surgeons in the nation. He is a professorof surgery and thoracic surgery at Harvard Medical School. He hasauthored over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts and written over 100textbook chapters. He has been a visiting surgeon and guest speakerin countries all over the world. While at DHS Doug Mathisen wasan outstanding athlete. lettering in baseball and basketball. Backto 2002
Scott Shaw, Photographer. Scott Shaw graduated from Danville High School in 1981. Seven yearslater, at the age of 24, he won the Pulitzer Prize for photojournalismfor a picture he took of toddler Jessica McClure shortly after shewas pulled from a very narrow abandoned well following a 58-hourrescue operation. At the time of his induction into the Wall ofFame, he worked for ThePlain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio as a photographer. While astudent at DHS, Shaw worked for the DHS Maroon and White as wellas the Danville Commercial-News. He attended Danville Area CommunityCollege and graduated from Southern Illinois University. Backto 2002
Daniel James Olmsted, Journalist. At the time of his induction to the Wall of Fame, Dan Olmsted wasWashington Bureau Chief of United Press International (UPI), workingon an investigative project about severe side effects and deathsassociated with an anti-malaria drug. Beforejoining UPI in 1999, he was senior editor of USA Weekend, the 22-millioncirculation magazine that appears in 600 U.S. newspapers. As thecover story editor, he commissioned an investigation of the murderof a Vietnamese immigrant in Florida that won first place in theAsian-American Journalists Association awards. He was an originalstaff member and assistant national editor at USA Today. He workedfor the Danville Commercial-News and won the Illinois AssociatedPress award for public service reporting. He graduated from DHSin 1970 and was editor of the Maroon and White. He is a 1974 graduateof Yale University. Back to 2002
Dr. David L. Fields, Educator. Dr. David L. Fields ended a 41 year career serving the childrenof Danville when he retired from the Danville District #118 Schoolson June 30, 2001. Beginning in the fall of 1960 as a history teacherat Danville High School, he served as a teacher, a coach, and anadministrator over the course of his years of service. His otherpositions included North Ridge social studies teacher, Dean of Boysat DHS, Title I Director, Principal of Northeast Elementary andEast Park Middle Schools, Assistant Superintendent, and for thelast 10 years, Superintendent of Schools of Danville District #118.A fair man who motivated staff and students to achieve high standards,Dr. Fields always gave the credit to others, but he was an integralpart of the District’s success over four decades. Perhapshis greatest accomplishments included the focus that he placed onacademics, the collaborative partnerships he built with the District’semployee groups and the community, and his leadership in movingthe District from a $9 million deficit to solid financial footing.His child-focused decision-making, professionalism, successful planningfor the long-term, and modesty all contributed to the positive impacthe made. Besides his educational contributions, Dr. Fields has madenearly a lifelongcommitment to the Laura Lee Fellowship House, either as the executivedirector or as a member of the Board of Directors. A community-mindedcitizen, he has served as chair of the United Way and has workedwith the Danville Housing Authority, as well as numerous other groupsand endeavors in the community. A member of the Class of 1953, Dr.Fields attended the Danville Schools for 12 years as well as workingin the District for 41 years. District #118 and its children arethe beneficiaries of the sustained commitment of Dr. David L. Fieldsto maintain and improve the high quality of education availablein Danville. Back to 2002
LaVadaFields Thornton (1915-1999), Educator.LaVada Fields Thornton was a District #118 teacher who retired in1985 after 18 years of service. Graduating from Danville Area CommunityCollege and Eastern Illinois University after her family was grown,Mrs. Thornton realized a lifelong dream. Her pleasure in teachingand being around children was immediately observed by those withwhom she interacted. Later, she earned her Masters Degree from IllinoisState University. She taught at Fairchild School, Liberty School,East Park Junior High School, and lastly, South View Middle School.After her retirement in 1985, Mrs. Thornton continued to teach.She was a familiar sight at Laura Lee Fellowship House where shetutored four afternoons each week. She also taught GED classes forDanville Area Community College at the Fair Oaks Housing Complex.She taught others until her death in 1999. Mrs. Thornton was selectedas Outstanding Woman of 1971 by The Commercial-News. In1992, she was honored as Layman of the Year at the Lincoln-Douglass-KingBanquet at the Allen Chapel AME Church of which she was a life-longmember. A life member of the PTA, she was also an active memberof Altrusa International, Vermilion County Retired Teachers Association,American Association of University Women, Delta Kappa Gamma, andthe O.W.L. Club. A 1934 graduate of Danville High School, she demonstrateda love of music since she was a child, serving as a church pianistsince the age of nine. Mrs. Thornton’s positive and cheerfuloutlook and effective instructional skills nurtured many Danvillechildren through the years. Back to 2002
HonorableWilliam B. Black, Civic Leader and Legislator. The Honorable William B. Black, a 1959 graduate of Danville HighSchool, was elected to the Illinois General Assembly from the 105thDistrict in November, 1986, after serving since February, 1986,at which time he was appointed to fill a vacancy. He earned hisundergraduate degree at William Jewell College and his graduatedegree from the University of Illinois. An educator for 22 years,Mr. Black taught at North Ridge Junior High School and was a counselorat Danville High School. He later served as an administrator atDanville Area Community College. He was a member of the VermilionCounty Board from 1976 to 1986 and served as its chairperson in1982-1983. Active in civic activities, Mr. Black was a past presidentof the Danville Jaycees and Danville South Rotary. His many activitieshave included service on the Danville Area Convention and Visitors’Bureau, Vermilion County Red Cross, Boys Scouts, Director of YMCAYouth Center, Danville Junior Achievement Board, and the SalvationArmy. He was the recipient of the Danville Distinguished ServiceAward in 1972. His family has owned and operated a small businessin Danville for over 60 years. He was active in the formation ofthe Danville Area Economic Development Corporation, now known asVermilion Advantage. He was named the Outstanding Freshman Legislatorin 1987 and was one of 10 outstanding state legislators named in1991 by the NRLA. Representative Black was named Republican floorleader in 1991 and is currently Assistant Minority Leader in theHouse. Representative Black’s outstanding service to his districtis evidenced by his strong commitment to serve his constituents.He is particularly known for his strong support for education andchildren. So successfully has he served his district that RepresentativeBlack has run unopposed in several elections. A man who believesin serving others, open government, and free expression, RepresentativeBlack has compiled a long and distinguished career in the serviceof others. Back to 2002
RearAdmiral Joseph Taylor (1906-1963), Naval Hero. Joseph Taylor, a 1923 graduate of Danville High School, achievedthe highest rank in the U.S. Navy of any Vermilion County citizen,being the recipient of three Navy Crosses, a military honor secondonly to the Medal of Honor. He was an honors graduate of the U.S.Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1927. He developed an interest inaviation and became a flier after graduation from the academy. Commanderof a torpedo plane squadron on the aircraft carrier Yorktown earlyin World War II, his squadron sank a Japanese seaplane carrier inMarch, 1942, an accomplishment that earned him his first Navy Cross.Two months later, he was awarded his second Navy Cross during theBattle of the Coral Sea. Later in the war, as executive officerof the carrier Benjamin Franklin, he earned his third Navy Cross.While 60 miles off the Japanese coast, an enemy bomber slipped throughthe clouds and scored two direct hits on the carrier. As secondin command, he assumed charge from the disabled captain and directedthe crippled ship to safety. Having attained the rank of Rear Admiral,Joseph Taylor retired from the Navy in 1950. He died May 4, 1963.When writing to his parents after his heroic exploits at the Battleof the Coral Sea, he wrote, “There is one thing I am surelythankful for. I brought every one of my pilots back with me afterthe raid.” Back to 2002
Dr.Robert F. Lash (1925-1992), Physician and Emergency Medicine Trailblazer. Dr. Robert F. Lash, a 1943 graduate of Danville High School, distinguishedhimself in the area of emergency medicine. “A watchdog fordisaster,” is how one long-time colleague described Dr. Lash’srole in the Knoxville, Tennessee, area. A tireless worker, Dr. Lashcould be found at the site of any major wreck or disaster calmlyassessing the options, then going into action. Dr. Lash’smedical career spanned four decades before his death on April 29,1992. Dr. Lash graduated from the George Washington University Schoolof Medicine, Washington, D.C., in 1949. He then served in the U.S.Navy. Locating in Knoxville, Tennessee, Dr. Lash served as chairpersonand professor of the Department of Family Practice, director ofthe Family Practice Residency Program and the Emergency and OutpatientDepartments, chief of staff, and from 1984 until his death, as directorof Aeromedical Services (LIFESTAR). LIFESTAR, designed and namedby Dr. Lash, is an acronym for Life, Shock, and Trauma AeromedicalRescue. LIFESTAR was one of the first air ambulances. Dr. Lash becamenationally known as an expert in toxicology, aerospace medicine,hypothermic injuries, snake bites, and scuba diving injuries. Heinvestigated more than 140 aircraft accidents and delivered morethan 200 lectures on medical aviation and accident investigation.After his death in 1992, the Knoxville, Tennessee, community raisedin excess of $100,000 to fund the Lash Endowment of the Universityof Tennessee Medical Center at Knoxville in his honor. A representativeof the endowment, Roger Redding, said in 1993 that, “Dr. Lashwas a hero to us here in Knoxville and certainly left his mark ineducation and healthcare in East Tennessee.” Backto 2002Backto top
1995Wall of Fame Inductees
Joe Tanner (Class of 1968) JoeTanner (Class of 1968) Born January 21, 1950 in Danville, Joeattended both North Ridge Middle School and DHS. During his days atDHS, Joe participated in many activities, including track, Maroon& White, president of Pep Club, co-captain of the swim team,and senior class president. Joe placed 7th at the state swim meetin two events. After graduating in 1968, he continued his educationat the University of Illinois, where he received his bachelor's degree(1973) in mechanical engineering. He then began flying planes forthe Navy and served in active duty for six years. Joe joined the staffat NASA in 1984, moving his way up the ranks and eventually becomingDeputy Chief of Aircraft Operations at Johnson Space Center in Houston.Joseph Tanner was named to the newest team of astronauts in 1992.Two years later, on November 3-14, 1994, Joe was aboard the spaceshuttle Atlantis, performing the Atmospheric Laboratory Applicationsand Science 3 (ATLAS-3) mission. This was the first of many spacemissions for him.
1991Wall of Fame Inductees
Theodore Gilliand (Class of 1921), EdwardTelling (Class of 1937), Major Kenneth Bailey (Class of 1930), Dick Van Dyke (Class of 1944), Jerry Van Dyke (Class of 1951), GeneHackman, Bobby Short (Class of 1942), LouMervis Class of 1952), Florance Walton Taylor (Class of 1916), Mary Alice Buchanan (Classof 1937), Harvey Skadden (Class of 1910), Robert Wright (Class of 1934), Dr. DavidMorrison (Class of 1958), Albert "Pete"Derrickson (Class of 1941), Dr. Marvin Edwards (Class of 1961)Backto top
TheodoreR. Gilliland (Classof 1921) was a scientist and radio technology pioneer who contributedsignificant research to the development of radio communication—groundto ground and ground to air. His study centered on gases ionizedby ultraviolet rays and x-rays from the sun. He labored on two problems:(1) the skipping of signals from ionized layers to an area not designatedand (2) the escape of signals through the atmosphere when they didnot hit an ionized layer. He developed a continuous ionosphere recordsin 1932, and his recorder's initial photographs in 1933 were consideredthe world's first. These are now on permanent display at the NationalBureau of Standard's Museum. The Carnegie Institute, the BritishRadio Research Board, the Australian Radio Research Board and HarvardUniversity adopted the principle on which the machine worked. In1934, Gilliland solved problems that American Airlines, Inc., washaving in ground to air communications on the Chicago to Newarkflight. This research was a major contribution to pioneer airlinesafety (his study was published in two professional publications).His radio technology contributed three achievements to WWII: theatomic bomb, radar, and the proximity fuse. He established a researchstation in Puerto Rico in 1949 and served as a consultant to CornellUniversity in the development of a radio telescope, a giant reflectorsuspended between mountains near Arecibo. He was the recipient ofthe Distinguished Service Award from the Washington Academy of Sciences. Back to 1991
EdwardR. Telling (Class of 1937)was a business entrepreneur, serving as the Chief Executive Officerand Chairman of the Board of the Sears Roebuck Company from 1978-85.He was a former retail, insurance, real estate and financial servicesexecutive. In 1946 he was a manager trainee at the Danville store.He was named manager of the Danville store in 1956. He later becamethe Rockford store manager before becoming manager of the SearsMidwestern zone. In 1965 he became general manager of the New Yorkmetropolitan area. In 1968 he was named administrative assistantto the vice-president of the Eastern territory. In 1969 he becamethe elected vice-president for the Eastern territory and a director.In 1974 he was named vice-president of the Midwest territory. In1975, he became the executive vice-president for the Midwest. In1976 he was named senior executive vice-president in charge of centralizingretail operations. In 1978 he was named the tenth Chairman of theBoard of Directors and Chief Executive Officer in Sears' 99 years.He oversaw the 1981 Sears' acquisition of Coldwell Banker &Company and Dean Witter Reynolds Organization, the 1982 formationof the Sears World Trade and the 1985 testing of Discover creditcard. Back to 1991
MajorKenneth Bailey (Class of1930) served in the Marines during World War II and was the winnerof the Congressional Medal of Honor presented posthumously by PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt. He attended Oaklawn School, was active infootball, swimming, Glee Club, student council, and yearbook atDHS. After graduation from DHS, he attended the University of Illinois.On June 17, 1945, a battleship was commissioned the USS KennethD. Bailey in the Federal Shipyards of Port Neward, New Jersey. Personalvalor, leadership, and a fighting spirit were attributes for whichhe received the highest honor his country could bestow. Backto 1991
DickVan Dyke (Class of 1944) graduatedfrom DHS to become a comedian and actor in television, movies, andBroadway shows. While in high school, he appeared in school playsand civic theater productions. He appeared in the Merry Mates andEric and Van pantomime acts. His television credits include "TheMusic Shop" (Atlanta), "The Dick Van Dyke Variety Show"(New Orleans), master of ceremonies for the "Good Morning Show"(CBS, 1955), the "Cartoon Show" (1956), and guest appearanceson national TV shows (1958). He made his Broadway debut in "TheGirls Against the Boys" in 1959. He appeared in both the Broadwayand motion picture versions of "Bye Bye Birdie" (1960-1961).The weekly comedy show, "The Dick Van Dyke Show" appearedon television from 1961-1966 on CBS. The "New Dick Van DykeShow" ran from 1971-1974. His motion picture credits include"What A Way To Go" (1964), "Mary Poppins" (1965),"Divorce American Style" ((1967), "Chitty ChittyBang Bang" (1968). He wrote "Faith, Hope, and Hilarity"in 1970. He received the Theater World Award in 1960, The AntonettePerry Award for best actor in a musical comedy in 1960, and EmmyAwards for comedy in 1962, 1964, and 1965. Backto 1991
JerryVan Dyke was a nightclub, movie,and television entertainer. A 1948 trip to Hollywood with his parentsconvinced Jerry to become a comedian. Following his high schoolgraduation, Jerry formed his own group, "Jolly Frauds."He played in nightclubs throughout the Midwest with his record/pantomimeact. He attended the University of Illinois and Eastern IllinoisUniversity, winning awards in swimming, tennis and basketball. Followingcollege, he joined the Air Force and won international competitionfor emcee of "The Tops in Blue," a service entertainmenttroupe. After the service, he returned to nightclub performancesand was invited to appear at the University of Illinois AssemblyHall in 1964 to perform at the Elite Eight basketball tourney. In1965 he had his own television series, "My Mother the Car."In 1967, he was in the "Accidental Family" televisionseries on NBC. He had several movie appearances, including "TheCourtship of Eddie's Father." He joined Bobby Short, DonaldO'Connor, Gene Hackman, and his brother Dick in May, 1988 in a galafund-raising effort for the restoration of Danville's Fischer Theater.His most successful TV series to date was "Coach." Jerryprefers the nightclub circuit. "The clubs have always beenmy meat," said Jerry. Back to 1991
GeneHackman became an actorin movies, television, and Broadway. In 1971, he became the onlyactor in the business to receive four major awards in one year.In that year, he won the Academy Awards "Oscar" for BestActor, the Hollywood Foreign Press "Golden Globe Award,"the New York Times Film Critics Award, and the National Associationof Theater Owners Award. He won this award again in 1974. He wonthe "Star of the Year Award" for his role in "TheFrench Connection." Gene has over 30 films to his credit, withmany shot in locations around the globe. Hackman attended OaklawnSchool. Both his father and grandfather were journalists. "Ilearned in school I couldn't write," said Hackman. Insteadhe acted in high school plays. Lying about his age, he joined theUS Marine Corps at 16 and became a radio operator. After discharge,he moved from radio to television in small-town stations all overthe country. He returned to the West Coast to study at the PasadenaPlayhouse. He and Dustin Hoffman were considered the two studentsleast likely to succeed. He had his first starring role on Broadwayin "Any Wednesday." His hobbies include flying and filmcollecting. In 1988 he returned to Danville for a gala fundraiserfor the Fischer Theater, an event held at the Hegeler Mansion. Backto 1991
BobbyShort (Class of 1942), entertainerand author, was a singing pianist even as a child. After high schoolhe appeared in nightclubs both in the USA and overseas. Althoughhe gave concerts in major cities, his home base was the Hotel Carlylein New York City. His recordings include "Krazy for Gershwin,""Live at the Cafe Carlyle," "Short Celebrates Rodgersand Hart," and "Guess Who's in Town." He had TV appearancesin "The Next Generation" and the mini-series "Roots"in 1979. He made a White House appearance in 1970 for PresidentNixon honoring the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. In 1987 he performedfor Illinois Governor Jim Thompson's Inaugural Ball. He wrote "Blackand White Baby" in 1971. Back to 1991
LouisL. Mervis (Class of 1952)was an industrialist. He serves as Chief Executive Officer and Presidentof Mervis Industries (10 divisions). In 1966, he received the JayceeDistinguished Service Award. In 1979 he received the "FirstCitizen Award" from the American Business Club. He served asgeneral chairman of the United Way campaign in 1977. In 1988 hewas the recipient of the first Excellence in Leadership award fromLeadership Danville. He was named chairman of the Illinois StateBoard of Education in 1991 after serving as a member of the Boardfor ten years. He is a past member of the Illinois Human RelationsCommission, a former chairman of the Illinois Board of Anti-DefamationLeague, a member of Governor Jim Thompson's transition team (finalterm and Governor Jim Edgar's (first term). He was a member of theDistrict 118 Board of Education for six years, serving as presidentfor three years. He has served as Director of the Chamber of Commerce,as three-term president of Congregation Israel, as chairman of theZoning Commission and the Danville Planning Commission, on the Boardof Director for Danville Little League (sponsoring a girls' teamfor ten years), as a member of the Schlarman Foundation, as a memberof the Greater Danville Development Corporation, as a member ofthe Palmer National Bank Board of Directors, and as a founding memberof the Danville Area Economic Development Corporation. He was activewith the Gifted Children's Program of Vermilion County. In 1991,U.S. Congressman Terry Bruce said, "Few have been as importantto Danville as Lou Mervis. He is untiring in his efforts for theDanville community." Back to 1991
FloranceWalton Taylor (Class of1916), an author, began her career writing short stories for children,which she sold to newspapers. Her first book, With Fife andDrums, was published in 1936. She had the most unusual honorof having her first book (With Fife and Drums) publishedby the first publisher to whom she sent a copy. The book was publishedby the Albert Whitman Company in Chicago. She also published twoadditional children's books: Vermilion Clay was the storyof the old salt works in Vermilion County. Towpath Andy was a story about the Wabash and Erie Canals. After several yearsof research and work, she learned that her first adult book, SaltStreak, would be published by Fleming Revell Company of NewYork. Back to 1991
MaryAlice Buchanan (Classof 1937) was a humanitarian and educator. After graduating fromDanville High School, she attended Danville Area Community College.She was instrumental in the conception of Project Head Start, bothlocally and at the state level. She was a teacher, parent coordinator,and director of the local Head Start from 1973 to the present. Shewas vice-president and a member of the Board of Directors for theIllinois Head Start Association. She was named in Black Womenin the Midwest. She was the Illinois representative to theWhite House for the 25th anniversary celebration of Project HeadStart. She was a member of the Illinois Head Start and Day CareAssociation. She was named "Woman of Achievement" by theAmerican Association of University Women, was the 1973 Commercial-News "Woman of the Year," the East Central Illinois CommunityAction Program "Employee of the Year," recipient of theIllinois Head Start Association Parent Award in 1975, and the MinorityEducator Award. She has served in Altrusa Club, the Humane Society,the Laura Lee Fellowship House, the Danville Recreation Department,and the Second Baptist Church Sunday School and Superintendency.She is known by those in need and especially by children as someoneto look to for help and guidance. Back to 1991
HarveySkadden (Class of 1910),an architect, designed St. James United Methodist Church in 1927.The design was inspired by Gothic cathedrals in France that he sawduring his Army service in World War I. The technical name for theSt. James layout is English perpendicular Gothic. Additional churchdesigns include the first Vermilion Heights Methodist Church, theBowman Avenue Methodist Church, the 43rd Avenue Presbyterian Churchin Gary, Indiana, and the United Brethren Church in Potomac, Illinois.He also designed several schools, including Danville High School.Other schools include Edison Elementary, Jamaica High School, andCatlin and Bismarck Grade Schools. Many homes on Maywood and NorthVermilion were also designed by him. He was a partner in severalarchitectural firms, a member of the American Savings & LoanBoard of Directors, the Danville Public Library Board, Big Brothers,and Danville's Architectural Control Board and Planning Commissions.He was named the first "Boss of the Year" by the PiankeshawCouncil of the National Secretaries Association. Backto 1991
RobertWright (Class of 1934) wasa journalist and historian. He served as the City Editor of the Danville Commercial-News from 1949-1958. He began his careerwith the Commercial-News in 1939 as a reporter, assistanttelegraph editor, and night editor. As a reporter he covered CityHall and the hospital and was responsible for features and generalassignments. Following military service in 1943 and 1944, he returnedto the Commercial-News as a general assignment reporter,feature writer, and the Saturday night local side desk man. He wasacting City Editor from 1944-1949. From 1949-1958, he served asCity Editor. He also served as correspondent for the ChicagoSun Times, the Chicago Daily News, and the AssociatedPress. He was the editorial page editor from 1960-1978. Hewas a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the NationalConference of Editorial Writers, and the Illinois Associated PressTelegraph Editors Association. He received awards from the IllinoisPress Association, the George Washington medal and Honor Certificatefrom the Freedom Foundation, Valley Forge. He received a first placerating for an individual column in the Illinois Associated Presscompetition, as well as several awards and citations from the IllinoisDepartment, American Legion. He held board memberships on the VermilionCounty Museum Society, the Red mask Players, the Travelers Aid Society,Laura Lee, and the Salvation Army, and the Danville Public Library.He was the author of Danville: A Pictorial Story (firstedition, 1987; second edition, 1988) with credits to photographersRich Stefaniak and Chuck Cannady of the Commercial-News.Backto 1991
Dr.David Morrison (Classof 1958) was an astronomer and astrophysicist. While in high school,he was selected to represent the USA Amateur Astronomers in theSouth Pacific. He received a PhD in astronomy from Harvard University.He was an astronomy professor at the University of Hawaii from 1969-1989.He served as the Director of NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, amember of the support teams for Mariner 10, Voyager, Galileo, andComet Rendezvous missions for NASA. He was Deputy Administratorfor Space Science for NASA in 1981, and chairman of the NASA SolarSystem Exploration committee. He was author, co-author or editorof the following books: Frontiers of Astronomy, Satellitesof Jupiter, Voyage to Saturn, Voyages to Jupiter, Comic Catastrophe, as well as the textbooks The PlanetarySystem, The Exploration of the Universe, and Realmof the Universe. He authored over 100 articles for sciencejournals, including a monthly column for Mercury magazine.He served as the Chief of Space Science Division of the NASA AMESResearch Center in Mountain View, California. Asteroid #2410 isnamed for him. Back to 1991
Albert"Pete" Derrickson (Classof 1941) was a civil rights activist, laborer, and counselor. Hewas instrumental in effecting many changes involving the human andcivil rights of local and regional citizens, including the desegregationof public schools, playgrounds, pools, public housing, local bowling,public theaters, and seating arrangements. He was instrumental inthe change of local government from commission to aldermanic. Heserved as president of the local NAACP, was a charter member ofthe Community Rehabilitation Committee and Home Opportunities MadeEqual. He was an elected officer for 30 years with Local 579 ofthe United Auto Workers International. He served on the following:City of Danville Human Relations Commission, Police and Fire CommissionBoard, City of Danville Zoning Board, Danville Township Trustee,and Deputy Registrar. He was a Golden Gloves boxer, a World Warveteran, and an arbitrator/counselor for many individuals of allraces. Back to 1991
Dr.Marvin Edwards (Classof 1961), educator and author, received his BS from Eastern IllinoisUniversity, his MS from Chicago State University in 1969, and hisEdD from Northern Illinois University in 1974. He was the firstAfrican-American Superintendent of Education in the State of Kansas;in Dallas, Texas; in Lockport, Illinois; and in Joliet Township,Illinois. He has published in excess of 16 different magazines,periodicals, newspapers, journals on a variety of educational-relatedsubjects and has been cited or featured in numerous publicationsby other authors around the country. He has received awards andhonors, including the EIU Distinguished Alumnus, Outstanding Texan,Outstanding Service Award, the NIU Outstanding Young Alumni, ExecutiveEducator 100 List (100 of North America's top Executive Educators),Those Who Excel, Outstanding Citizen, and Outstanding Young Educatorin 1975. He was General Superintendent of the the Dallas IndependentSchool District with 135,000 students, 194 schools, and 15,000 employees. Back to 1991Backto top