Danville High School Wall of Fame
Danville High School has recognized outstanding alumni since 1991 through annual inductions into the DHS Wall of Fame. The purposes of the DHS Wall of Fame include:
- To promote pride in the Danville Public Schools
- To promote pride in Danville
- To provide positive role models for students
Danville High School students are exposed to the Wall of Fame on a daily basis. Inductees’ framed biographies and photographs are hung prominently outside the auditorium in the office lobby at DHS. Community members also become familiar with our alumni success stories when they visit the high school.
Any individual may nominate a candidate for the DHS Wall of Fame. Candidates are preferably graduates of Danville High School or have attended DHS for at least one year. The deadline to nominate someone as a 2024 Inductee is January 10, 2024. Nomination Form
An independent community committee will review the nominations and select the inductees. All nominations are due to the Office of the Superintendent, 110 E. Williams St., Danville, IL 61832 by Friday, September 9, 2022. Three references must be provided for a candidate to be considered.
It is expected that inductees have demonstrated achievement or service above and beyond the responsibilities of their normal employment.
- Inductees who no longer live in the local community must have distinguished themselves with excellence nationally, internationally, or within a particular field or service to humanity.
- Inductees who have remained in the area must have distinguished themselves with excellence locally or regionally within a particular field or with service to humanity or have been actively involved in local community service. This category may include a nominee who achieved locally but later moved away.
Currently, 60 honored DHS alumni are enshrined in the Danville High School Wall of Fame. Inductees include Congressional Medal of Honor, Academy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award recipients, as well as public servants, doctors, teachers, community activists, and authors. Your assistance in publicizing our DHS Wall of Fame nomination process is appreciated. If you have any questions, please contact the Superintendent’s office at 444-1004.
Each year, Danville High School accepts nominations for its Wall of Fame. A framed biography and photograph of each Wall of Fame member is permanently displayed in the main hall of the school. The purpose of the Wall of Fame is to promote pride in Danville and its public schools, as well as to provide positive role models for current and future students. Criteria includes the following: a graduate of DHS or a former student who attended DHS for at least one year who has made his/her mark in one of the following areas:
- service professions (education, religion, politics, law, medicine, research, etc.)
Danville graduates have made significant contributions to society. The Wall of Fame, located outside the auditorium, highlights individual achievements with pictures and biographical sketches of former students who have been inducted.
Dr. Kimberlee Kidwell - Class of 1981
UIUC Associate Chancellor for Strategic Partnerships & Initiatives, Scholar, Teacher, Plant Breeder
Dr. Kimberlee Kidwell graduated from Danville High School in 1981. She was one of seven valedictorians of her class and was a member of the DHS girls’ basketball and softball teams. After graduation, Kim went to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) intending to become a sports broadcaster. An inspirational professor changed her course of study to plant science, and as a result she earned a B.S. in Genetics and Development (1985) and a B.S. in Agricultural Science (1986). She then went on to earn master’s (1989) and Ph.D. (1992) degrees in plant breeding and plant genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
From 1994 until 2016, Dr. Kidwell served as a faculty member and administrator at Washington State University (WSU). She is a nationally respected scholar and award-winning teacher. She is also an accomplished spring wheat breeder, developing more than twenty wheat varieties for Washington State farmers. Her research led to multiple patented discoveries and addressed basic questions involving gene discovery and genetic characterization of important traits for wheat improvement. Dr. Kidwell was the first female to be promoted to full professor in the Dept. of Crop and Soil Sciences. From 2007 to 2016, she served as the associate dean of academic programs and the executive associate dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. Dr. Kidwell also was the founding director of the Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership at WSU, which provides life-skill enhancement training for students, staff, faculty, and non-university participants.
In 2016, Dr. Kidwell was named the first female Dean and the inaugural Robert A. Easter Chair in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at UIUC. Her goals as dean were to improve student learning; drive sound, innovative research; and cultivate external partnerships to improve the lives and livelihoods of people in local communities and beyond. In 2021, Dr. Kidwell was named the first Associate Chancellor for Strategic Partnership and Initiatives for UIUC, a role she still holds today. Dr. Kidwell assists the Chancellor with strategic development of high-priority, high-impact, multi-stakeholder initiatives for the University. She provides leadership in pursuing resources and developing new and sustained partnerships with academic institutions, foundations, federal and state agencies, alumni, and the private sector to position UIUC to lead scientific discoveries and innovations that will inspire and empower tomorrow’s sustainable food, agriculture, nutrition, and rural health systems.
While having a highly awarded and impressive resume, her accomplishments are only surpassed by her kindness and commitment to others. Her friends and colleagues are often impressed with her ability to relate to everyone, saying that she has the rare talent of making every person she meets feel mattered and seen.
Dr. Kidwell said the most important thing she learned while at DHS was to “to dare to dream and that I could do extraordinary things.”
Lt. Colonel Dennis B. Fay - Class of 1969
Former Air Force One Presidential Advance Agent, Retired United States Air Force Pilot, Pilot Instructor
Dennis B. Fay was a 1969 graduate of Danville High School. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from the United States Air Force Academy and later a master’s degree from the University of Texas A&M Commerce.
Captain Fay began his military career at Undergraduate Pilot Training. He was given the Commander's Superior Flying Performance Award for excellence in airmanship. He went on to fly as a KC·l35A Tanker pilot where he twice received the highest recognition award as a Distinguish Graduate in flight qualification training.
He flew many sorties in support of global Tanker Task Force operations and numerous Higher Headquarters operational missions. Captain Fay was handpicked to become an Aircraft Commander for a newly formed elite KC-l0A squadron in 1982.
He made strides to achieve flight status as an Instructor pilot and shortly thereafter moved on to become an Evaluator pilot. Captain Fay was asked to become Chief of KC·l0 Operations for the Director of Operations Training Division at 15th Air Force. He served as a member of the Support Battle Staff and coordinated and assisted in directing all KC·l0 Operations within the entire Pacific Operations. More significant accomplishments included the operational planning for Tanker air Refueling support for the Bl·B bomber's first world record flight and aiding the establishment of the initial integration of the KC· 10 into the SR·71 Blackbird's air refueling support operations. His later years were spent at the Command staff level, where he served at Headquarters Strategic Air Command and Air Mobility Command (AMC). Captain Fay wrote and authored several military policies and procedures throughout his career. He wrote the initial design structure for SAC's instructional systems development for the KC·135A's first Inertial Navigation System. Due to his knowledge and experience of understanding both airlift and air refueling operations, he was a key instrument in the rewrite of the Strategic Air Command/Military Airlift Command joint operating policies. Captain Fay also wrote several revisions to the KC-10 aircraft Cold Weather procedures still used by aircrews to date. He worked to design and develop KC·IO instructional courseware for training scenarios for Air Force aircrews.
He volunteered to organize and fly Air Force Academy cadet orientation KC-135 flights. He also stepped up and participated in Operation Air Force, a KC-10 summer orientation program for cadets. As a Command Staff officer, he volunteered his time to teach Quality Training at the Command level. On one special occasion during the holidays, he flew "Operation Santa Claus" for underprivileged children.
Even with all of Lt Colonel Fay's achievements throughout his illustrious military career, none were more rewarding or satisfying than his selection by the Office of the USAF Vice Chief of Staff, as an Air Force One Presidential Advance Agent from 1988 to 1994. Captain Fay worked and coordinated directly with the Air Force One and Air Force Two Pilots, the White House Military Office, the US Secret Service, the White House Communication Agency and the Presidential and Vice Presidential Advance Staff. The culmination of his efforts was recognized in 1991 as he was nominated by the USAF Vice Chief of Staff Office for Airlift Management, the White House Military Office, and the Air Force One Crew. He was selected by the Air Force One Pilot as the Presidential Advance Agent of the Year 1990-1991.
Shortly after "retirement", he initially found himself working as a Courseware Writer and Developer and later a KC-10 Simulator Pilot Instructor for major aircraft corporations. He continued to teach and pass on his life lessons to the younger pilots for over 17 more years. He taught anywhere from recurring training to basic qualification courses and even instructor pilot certifications. He has always had a passion for being a pilot's pilot.
Doug Barnette - Class of 1988
Sports Marketing and Management, Businessman, Philanthropist
Doug attended Danville High School from 1984 to 1987. A transfer led his family out of Danville his senior year, but it wasn't long before he returned to his roots. In his professional career, Doug has been invited to the White House and has celebrated in Victory Lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Doug has quickly risen to the top of the sports management business. Doug’s successful career in sports management has primarily come in motorsports with NASCAR and lndyCar programs.
Since 1996, he has taken his one-man management and marketing company from a client list that started with former Carolina Panther, Mike Minter, to a client list of NFL players, basketball coaches, race car drivers, and Fortune 500 companies. Prior to his leap into the world of sports marketing and management, Doug spent his entire life around basketball, including a professional career that included a tour with the Harlem Globetrotters, playing for the opposing team, the Washington Generals. He also served as a paratrooper in the United States Army following high school, serving in Central America and Operation Desert Storm as an airborne medic.
Because of his business success, Doug turned to active philanthropy to give back to Danville. Doug serves on the board of Crime Stoppers, is a regular supporter of Danville area youth sports programs, Danville High School Athletics, Danville Police Department K-9 Officer Program, and Rape Crisis Center to name a few.
Doug is an example for future students to see that when you dream big dreams, you can accomplish big things. Doug enjoys running marathons and ultramarathons, often traveling around the world to compete in these events. When not running or working, Doug loves spending time with his wife Teresa, and their children JD, DJ, and Lauren.
Mike Small - Class of 1984
Professional Golfer, University of Illinois Golf Coach
Mike has distinguished himself as a player, coach, and leader in the golf industry. Mike was a member of the 1981 Danville High School state championship golf team and went on to the University of Illinois to continue his golf career, where he was a member of the 1988 Big Ten Championship team. That year, he finished 2nd individually in the Big 10. Mike graduated from the University of Illinois in 1988. He went on to a successful career in professional golf, including five years on the PGA Tour, then returned to the University of Illinois to coach the Fighting Illini in 2000.
Mike Small continues to compete on a limited basis in PGA tour events. Small was inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame in October 2013. Considered by many to be the greatest golfer the state of Illinois has ever produced, Small became the youngest man to ever be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. In the summers of 2007 and 2011, he was the low club professional at the PGA Championships and shared the award stand with its champions (Tiger Woods and Keegan Bradley). Mike Small has brought national recognition to the Illinois golf program in his 19 years at the helm of the program. The 2015 Dave Williams National Coach of the Year has guided the Illini to Big Ten Championship titles in 10 of the last 11 seasons and coached two NCAA individual champions in that span. Under Small’s direction, the Illini program has seen consistent success as his teams have not only continued to achieve greatness at the conference level, but on the national level as well. His teams have advanced to the NCAA Championship in each of the last 12 seasons and in 14 of Small’s 19 seasons. The Illini have won five NCAA Regional titles. Not only that, but the Orange and Blue have finished among the top five teams in the nation in five of the last seven seasons, highlighted by an NCAA Runner-Up finish in 2013.
Small was again recognized for his coaching success in 2016 as he was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame. Small has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year, a conference record 11 times in his career and has also been named Midwest Regional Coach of the Year 9 times. Small has continued his professional career while coaching, most recently making his debut on the PGA TOUR Champions. Since 2000, he is a three-time PGA of America National Champion, a three-time PGA Professional National Player of the Year, a 12- time Illinois Professional Golf Champion, four-time Illinois Open Champion and has participated in 13 major championships. Small has appeared in several PGA TOUR Champions events, earning three top 10 finishes. He was named the 2017 OMEGA Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year.
In addition to success on the course, Small’s players have also had academic success. His players have earned 53 Academic All-Big Ten honors. Small provides the Illini with the unique combination of a respected teacher/coach and a current playing professional wrapped up in one man that has lifted Illinois, a cold weather school, into a national contender.
When not on the course, Mike enjoys time with his wife Ann and two sons, Will and Wyatt.
Raymond G. Prata, D.V.M. - Class of 1961
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons
Dr. Raymond Prata was raised in Danville, Illinois and graduated from Danville High School in 1961. Following graduation from DePauw University in 1965, he attended the University of Illinois Veterinary School, graduating in 1969 with M.S. and D.V.M degrees.
Following graduation, Prata completed a one-year internship and a three-year surgical residency at The Animal Medical Center (AMC) in New York City. During this period, he also served as a visiting professor of neurosurgery and orthopedics at Cornell Veterinary School for a four-month period. He was appointed to the surgical staff and soon thereafter headed up a neurosurgical and orthopedic service. He became a Board Certified Surgeon and Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) in 1975. Soon after, he was made Chairman of the Residency Review Board of the ACVS, which establishes the qualifications of a candidate to sit for the board examination. From 1981-1984 he was Head of Surgery at the AMC. Dr. Prata then practiced in two large referral hospitals; Oradell Animal Hospital in New Jersey for 23 years, and Veterinary Emergency Referral Group in Brooklyn, New York for nine years. He has received awards, including Veterinarian of the Year in New York and New Jersey.
Dr. Prata’s career in neurology, neuroradiology, neurosurgery and orthopedics was nurtured through his training at human institutions, including New York University (NYU) and Hospital for Joint Diseases (HJD) made possible by an externship at these universities during a one-year sabbatical from the AMC. Consequently, he was granted a position of Adjunct Professor of Neurosurgery at NYU. He remained active in Grand Rounds and the operating theater at this institution for the remainder of his tenure at the AMC. As a result of this exposure, Dr. Prata made tremendous strides in revolutionizing diagnostic protocols, surgical techniques, surgical instrumentation and surgical procedures heretofore not performed or reported in veterinary literature. Noteworthy of the many advances was the identification of benign brain tumors in cats (meningiomas), which he successfully operated and reported in publications and lectures. Likewise, protocols for the surgical treatment of numerous spinal disorders including herniated discs, spinal tumors and spinal fractures were advanced, as well as the application of bone plating to repair fractured bones. Prata helped promote a new surgical technique developed by a colleague for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, by performing the surgical technique in workshops and lectures around the country. The procedure, Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA), is now recognized by most as the gold standard for repair of ACL tears in dogs.
Dr. Prata was a national and international lecturer in neurology, neurosurgery, and orthopedics and the author of over 40 publications. He was also chairman of the annual Neurosurgery Forum of the ACVS for five years. Dr. Prata has trained over 350 interns and more than 60 surgical residents in the course of his 47-year career as a veterinary surgeon.
He has been married for 43 years to Yvonne, is the proud father of Steven, Jessica and son-in-law Lukasz, and the doting grandfather of Stephanie Cora Cianciara. Now retired, he enjoys maintaining his property, traveling, fly fishing, riding his Harley and spending quality time with his family.
Mike Hulvey - Class of 1983
Chief Operating Officer for Neuhoff Communications
“As you walk these hallways, know that anything is possible. You have an obligation to dream big, to see the future and make it so. If you took the time to read this, then keep working, don’t stop, and never give up. You’re from Danville High School, just look around, you can do anything!”
Mike Hulvey attended Liberty Grade School, North Ridge Middle School and graduated from Danville High School in 1983. During his time at Danville High School, Mike found his love and passion for broadcasting while a member of the DHS Radio Staff. Mike started his career in broadcasting at the age of 14 with a part time sports job at WITY while also producing a weekend program with the DHS Radio Staff on WDAN.
As the Chief Operating Officer for Neuhoff Communications, Mike has overseen 23 radio stations in Illinois and Indiana along with 3 network television stations in Idaho, plus a number of stand-alone digital products.
Mike understood that the media, and especially radio, is best when focused on locally. He emphasized the radio station’s participation in special events, local sports, community leadership, and often led his team through hours of on-air announcing from marquee activities, constantly shining a spotlight on the local community.
Today, he is known around the country as a high-energy, motivational, dedicated and passionate leader in the broadcast industry. Former CBS Radio COO, Scott Herman, says Hulvey is “One of the most positive people I’ve ever met. His love for radio is infectious, and every time I’m with him I leave feeling really good about the future of our business.”
Almost 25 years ago, in an effort to give students interested in radio opportunities he never had, Mike co-created the Sports Media Camp for Kids held at Danville Area Community College. For one week each summer, Mike gave campers, aged 8-18, the chance to learn how to broadcast sporting events, to be a public address announcer, a sports writer, or a television sports anchor. Recognized by national publications as one of the first of its kind, this program is now replicated around the country. Due to their start in this program, many area kids are now working in broadcasting or related industries.
He has promoted the community at every opportunity. He has served tirelessly at the local, state, national and international level. Mike has twice chaired the national radio convention, served as an officer of the Radio Advertising Bureau and president of the International Broadcasters Idea Bank.
Building his life around believing in the good of his family, friends, and in serving his community. Mike’s impact is impossible to measure.
Mike has spent a lifetime encouraging those around him to “March Forth and Be Positive”, which also happens to be his birthday and blood type.
Vicki Haugen -, Class of 1975
Economic and Workforce Developer
The President/CEO of Vermilion Advantage, Vicki (Taylor) Haugen, has been selected for induction to the Danville High School Wall of Fame. The 1975 DHS graduate has spent the past 34 years in service to economic and workforce development in Vermilion County.
The DHS Wall of Fame committee selected Haugen as the sole member of the 2017 Class. The submissions on her behalf highlighted a number of her accomplishments in support of the nomination. Haugen has seen thousands of local jobs created or retained during her leadership of both the Economic Development Corporation (1986 to 2002) and Vermilion Advantage (2002 to present). She has led local efforts to create workforce development projects that have impacted thousands of Vermilion County students as they prepare for the workforce.
The work led by Vicki Haugen in both economic and workforce development has drawn acclaim from regional, state, national and international sources. A number of these programs have served as best practices for other communities and organizations. In her three decades of leadership, Vicki Haugen has changed the economic face of Vermilion County as no other individual person has.
Established in 1991, the Danville High School Wall of Fame is designed to promote pride in Danville, District 118 and provide role models for students. Vicki Haugen became the 54th member of the Danville High School Wall of Fame. She will be honored at an upcoming special event at the Dick Van Dyke Auditorium at Danville High School.
Mark Denman, Class of 1971
Educator and Community Volunteer
Mark Denman retired as Superintendent of Danville Community Consolidated School District 118 on June 30, 2015, after more than 40 years of service with the city schools. A 1971 graduate of Danville High School, he is the son of the late Wayne and Marjorie Denman, both also career educators with District 118. As a student at DHS, Denman was an editor for the student newspaper, Maroon & White.
Employed as a seventh grade teacher at East Park Jr. High School in January, 1975, he taught there until 1983. As a teacher, he was involved in transforming the district’s junior high schools into middle schools. As a principal for 21 years, he served at all levels of the school district – Daniel School (1983-1987), East Park School (1987-1994), North Ridge Middle School (1994-2001), and Danville High School (2001-2004). With his staff at East Park, he was instrumental in landing an Urban Education Grant for East Park in 1990, effectively pioneering one of the first broad-based after-school programs that was a model for other state schools. At Danville High School, the graduation and attendance rates showed strong improvement during his tenure. He is a follower of the axiom of first asking, “What is best for students?” He has successfully implemented dozens of initiatives over four decades to better serve the needs of students and to better support staff. In 2004, he was promoted to Associate Superintendent of Schools to oversee instruction at all levels in the city's schools. Denman served as Superintendent of School District 118 from 2009-2015. Highlights of his tenure include:
- $38 million of construction and facility improvements at South View Middle School, North Ridge Middle School, and East Park School
- Restructuring of academic programs, assessments, and delivery of instruction
- Awarding of the $6 million School Improvement Grant to DHS to raise student achievement
- Instructional coaches at all levels
- Improved maintenance and updating of facilities
- Standardized technology in all classrooms
- Development of and accountability for the school district’s strategic plan
- Completion of the DHS athletic complex, Wayland-Young Field, on DHS’ north campus
- Beautifying and increasing the size of the DHS campus, including the purchase and razing of neighboring abandoned structures
- Preservation of District 118 history, including the authoring of the 150th anniversary school district history in 2012 and the historical displays at DHS, purchase and updating of the former Holy Family School into the establishment of the Kenneth D. Bailey Academy as the consolidated home of the district’s alternative programming
- In tough financial times, successfully maintaining the District’s financial position while maintaining programming
Active in the community, he is vice-president of the Crosspoint Human Services board, past president of the Rotary Club of Danville, member of the Presence Hospital community leadership board, member of the Vermilion Museum Society board, and past member of the boards of the Danville Boys and Girls Club, United Way of the Danville Area, Danville Public School Foundation, and Vermilion Advantage.
Mark Denman feels that his greatest accomplishment was simply serving others and supporting them to succeed in meeting their goals. For those considering a career in education, he emphasizes that a teacher needs to possess not only curricular knowledge, but a big heart for kids; “the successful teacher effectively supports student achievement not only through relevant, rigorous, and research-based instruction, but also through establishing a meaningful connection with the boys and girls.”
On his retirement, the school board changed the name of East Park School to Mark Denman School in honor of his service. In showing his appreciation for the students and staff of the District, Denman commissioned and presented as a gift the statuary grouping located on the west lawn of DHS which shares this message with students: “Young people of Danville and Tilton – In the spot you stand, thousands have stood before. By the footprints you leave, generations to come will follow. Go forward, and through your acts and deeds, make our community proud.”
Inducted November, 2015.
John P. Meyer (1920-2013) Class of 1937
Elected Official, Lawyer, Judge, Community Leader
Judge John P. Meyer was a lifelong resident of Danville. At DHS, Meyer was a member of the Wranglers Club, Dramatic Club, secretary of the Boys’ Athletic Association, Booster Club, and senior song committee. He participated in football, basketball, and track. He attended the University of Notre Dame, earning a bachelor of science degree in commerce. He later received a doctor of law degree from the Notre Dame Law School. During World War II, Judge Meyer served with the 14th Armored Division as an Artillery Forward Observer. He was awarded both the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for gallantry in action. He served as an adjutant general of the 14th Armored Division since his discharge. 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 for 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
Romadelle McNair Austin, Class of 1941
A native of Danville, Romadelle McNair Austin 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 the officers in whatever manner was needed to house the females. As the 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 I 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 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 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 on the Laura Lee Fellowship House and the Center for Children’s Services Board.
Scott Eisenhauer, Class of 1982
Danville Mayor and Community Volunteer
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 five years before becoming the Assistant Director 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, local pageants, and community events. He continues to announce games for WDAN-AM and the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Men's National Basketball Tournament. Eisenhauer is an instructor for the Sports Broadcasting summer camp at DACC. Due to his decision early in life to dedicate 1000 hours yearly to volunteer service, he was named one of Illinois' 10 Outstanding Young People by the Jaycees in 2000 for his significant community service. He is honored to be placed on the Wall of Fame at South View Middle School, DACC Athletic Hall of Fame, and is a DACC distinguished alum.
In 2003, he was elected Mayor of the City of Danville. He eliminated the $3 million city deficit, developed a plan for neighborhood revitalization that would remove dilapidated or condemned structures and renovate buildings of historic significance and potential, supported neighborhood associations, teamed up with the school district to enhance the area adjacent to the DHS campus, established the Mayor's Youth Council, made the city government accessible online, improved the city's infrastructure, 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 of their projects, such as the 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.
Carl B. Fliermans, Ph. D. (Class of 1962)
Carl B. Fliermans attended Roselawn School and graduated from DHS in 1962. At DHS, he was a member of Maroon & White, the Dramatic Club, A Cappella Choir, and the golf 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 case of the late bloomer, but along the way, a few people took the time to believe in me and give encouragement. Two people in my early years were my champions, my grandmothers and my scoutmaster, Albert Greene of Troop 19.” He earned his undergraduate degree in biology at Asbury College, his master’s degree in soil microbiology from the University of Kentucky, and his doctorate in microbiology from Indiana University in 1972. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health at the University of Minnesota from 1972-1974. He began his 30 year association with the Westinghouse Savannah River Company/Savannah River National Laboratory in 1974. From 1974-2004, he advanced from microbial ecologist to microbial ecologist advisory scientist, the position he held at retirement. He has served as an adjunct research professor in biology at the University of South Carolina (Aiken) since 1980 and in toxicology at Clemson since 1990. He was senior vice-president and chief scientist of Environment America from 1989-1990. Since 1978, he has been President/CEO of Ecological Microbes Unlimited of Augusta, GA, and also, since 2004, a partner and microbial ecologist.
Dr. Fliermans is a noted microbiologist. He has published over 100 scientific publications, filed numerous patents, and earned many awards in the field of environmental and microbial ecology. One of his main areas of expertise is in the ecology of the bacterium that causes Legionnaires’ Disease; he was the first to define the environmental habitats where the bacterium lives and was the first to isolate the bacterium from its natural environments. His seminal research paved the way for the understanding of the disease, the successful treatment of the facilities that harbor the bacterium, and the definition of guidelines for the safe treatment of water systems for the Cooling Tower Institute and the American Society for Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers. His basic work in this area has been distinguished by being responsible for promoting the awareness of the bacterium and of mechanisms for its survival, growth, dissemination, and removal. His work has been useful in the saving of many lives. He has served as an expert witness for numerous cases throughout the nation for both the defense and the plaintiffs. His career of three decades at the Savannah River National Laboratory has earned him numerous awards and his work has been funded for over $100 million by both private and public institutions. His research has taken him to over 47 nations with the basic research in the microbiology of landmine detection, designing probes in the search for extraterrestrial life for the Mars probe, defining the existence of life in extreme environments of high temperature and high radiation fields, and probing for the presence of microbiological life thousands of meters below the earth’s surface.
Dr. Fliermans has this advice for current DHS students: “Choose something that you love and devote yourself to it. Go as far as you can go in your education, because the higher one goes, the more autonomy and freedom one can achieve. Don’t restrict yourself to working 8 hours/day, because that will restrict what you can do and what you can be. Work hard and wherever you are, be all there. Enjoy life. You get only one and that purpose is to glorify God Who made you and enjoy Him now and forever.”
John Stevenson, Jr. (Class of 1955)
Business and Industry Leader and Innovator
John Stevenson attended Washington Grade School and graduated from DHS in 1955.
At DHS, he earned nine athletic letters in baseball, basketball, and cross country and was a key player on eight teams that won district and state titles. Baseball team captain, an editor of Maroon & White, class officer, and honor student, he compiled a strong record at DHS before he continued his studies at the University of Illinois where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and was a member of the varsity baseball and basketball teams. He was a member of the Naval Reserve from 1954 through 1963 and served on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Bennington and participated in the Korean War Conflict.
A leader and innovator in business and industry, Stevenson rose to the position of Vice-President and Director of Marketing for AT&T Consumer Products after serving in a variety of positions of increasing responsibility at Illinois Bell and AT&T from 1962 to 1985. He introduced AT&T into the retail marketing world, opening the first retail phone center in the Chicago area's Woodfield Mall, which was followed by the opening of 800 additional stores across the nation. He was selected as one of five officers to be in the presidential potential officer class. He served at AT&T until 1985 when he was asked by the President of the University of Illinois to head a new industrial program. Stevenson served from 1985 until 2007 as corporate officer of the National Center of Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the U of I. He worked to meet and exceed the Center’s mission to “Improve the Competitiveness of American Industry.” He developed the market plan for the program, obtained the approval of university administration and the director, and introduced and supported a comprehensive partnership program to teach corporations the value of supercomputing. He successfully marketed the program to over 20 corporations in 13 business sectors and managed the partnerships for 20 years. Each of the participating corporations succeeded in making major competitive 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. He was recognized as improving the way American industry does research.
In 1988, Stevenson met then-U.S. Senator Al Gore at a press conference at the National Center of Supercomputing. Stevenson developed a relationship with Gore which led him to help get two major bills passed in Congress, the 1988 National High Performance Computer Act and the 1992 Information Infrastructure and Technology Act which, along with the Center’s introduction of MOSAIC software in 1993, contributed to the opening of the internet. Gore shared, “The magnitude of Mr. Stevenson’s contributions towards the passage of these bills was tremendous. The combination of high-level corporate experience and personal leadership style that he brought to the NCSA helped create the type of systemic impact that forever changed and improved the way both corporations 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 the fundamentals that have proven to be the drivers in my accomplishments. I referred to the principles they taught me throughout my life and especially in the tough business challenges I faced. They proved to be right over and over. I am deeply indebted to DHS. In fact, I am trying to teach my children the same principles.”
Robert E. Jones (Class of 1956)
Businessman and Politician
1956 graduate of DHS, has been a life resident of the Danville area. At DHS, he served on the Student Council and was a member of both the Projector Club and the Wrestling team. First working, then managing local restaurants and stores, Jones purchased the Colonial Parkway Restaurant in 1970, a popular establishment he operated until 1994. He has owned and operated a Dairy Queen in Danville since 1982. He opened the new Dairy Queen on E. Main Street in 2003.
Not only a successful Danville businessman, Jones has served the public in a variety of elected political offices. After serving as Vermilion County Treasurer from 1978-1987, Jones was elected as Mayor of Danville in 1987, an office he held for 16 years over four terms. Jones was the first mayor elected under the new aldermanic form of government. During his administration, he held economic summits, the new Danville Public Library was built, the Vermilion County War Museum was established in the former library building, the Winter Avenue Soccer Complex and AMBUCS Playground for Everyone were opened, and Danville Stadium was renovated. McLane Midwest, Auto Zone, and Alcoa located in the city during his tenure as mayor and the Lynch area was further developed.
An active 33rd Degree Mason, Jones is a life member and past master of Anchor Lodge #980. His active and sustained support was instrumental in the establishment of the Masonic Learning Center for dyslexic children. Jones described the center as his passion; “in studying dyslexia, I realized I must have been dyslexic.” Jones is also a longtime member of the Lions Club. The City of Danville named City Hall in his honor after he ended his tenure as Mayor.
Mr. Jones was surprised by his induction and stated that it was “quite an honor” that left him “speechless”. Jones added, “It’s beyond words…I’ve been very, very blessed throughout my life.”
Julius W. Hegeler - Class of 1946
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 attended Roselawn School in grades 1-8. At Danville High School, he particularly loved manual arts classes and took as many as he could, including drafting and mechanical drawing. Mr. Hegeler stated that one of the best pieces of advice he ever received came from Mr. James Hawkins, his drafting teacher at DHS: “It’s better to be quiet and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” He graduated from DHS in 1946. He attended University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for three years, then transferred to Millikin University in Decatur. He studied industrial management, mechanical drawing, and business and earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Millikin in 1950. Hegeler joined the Air Force and became a fighter pilot, flying in 70 combat missions, including the final mission of the Korean War. He served with distinction, earning the Air Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster and the coveted Distinguished Flying Cross. Shortly after his discharge from the Air Force, Julius W. Hegeler II, with his brother, Edward, and three other partners co-founded Peterson Filling and Packaging. The company employed as many as 1,000 workers in Vermilion County. The Julius W. Hegeler II Foundation has donated millions of dollars to support numerous local agencies for special events and projects focusing on historic preservation, healthcare, the arts, and most importantly, improving the lives of children through opportunities for growth and learning that they might not otherwise have been given. He has actively and conscientiously served on many boards. Through his hard work and generosity, Julius W. Hegeler II has made an indelible mark on Vermilion County and has benefited all of its citizens.
Myrtle Louise Johnson Robinson - Class of 1933
Trailblazing Teacher, Traveler, Philanthropist
Louise Johnson attended grade school in Danville and graduated from DHS in June, 1933. She earned her teaching certificate at Indiana State Teachers’ College in what was then a two-year program, as was typical for that time. She was just 18 years old when she started teaching at Jackson School in 1935. She was one of the two first African-American teachers in the Danville school district and the first to hold a teaching certificate. According to news reports, she was told by then superintendent, Clarence Vance, “I’ll hire you as an experiment. If you do well, I’ll hire other [African-American teachers].” Within a few years, several African-American certified teachers were hired to teach in the Danville schools. Miss Johnson taught first and second grades at Jackson School from 1935 to 1943. She was known as a strict teacher with high standards and high expectations from her students. She personally financed many experiences for students, including trips to Chicago. After moving to New Jersey, Myrtle Louise Johnson Robinson completed the coursework for a doctorate degree at Seton Hall College and taught for many years. She was an adventuresome worldwide traveler; Egypt, Hong Kong, Africa, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil were among her destinations. She and her sister, Vivian Goins, established the George and Nolia Johnson Scholarship that helped many students attend college. David Fields, who later became superintendent of Danville School District 118, said, “I remember her very fondly. We just thought she was so pretty. She was a snazzy dresser. We knew that she cared about our learning and being motivated. She was a tremendous lady... She was always very upbeat and friendly and she really cared. She was just an outstanding teacher.”
Dr. Ronald Gillum (Class of 1956)
Physician and Humanitarian
Ronald Gillum has lived the American Dream. He grew up in a family that was loving, but he had to cope with poverty and other difficulties at home. He was bright, hardworking, and motivated by the thought, “I'm not going to live like this.” He built a life that was successful personally, professionally, and financially. He cites many mentors, tutors, and people who cared for helping him along the way.
Ron Gillum attended Garfield and Daniel Elementary Schools in grades 1-8. He was an avid reader and checked out and read several books from the public library every week. While at Danville High School, he was senior class president, best boy citizen, participated in the science and drama clubs, and was news editor for the Maroon and White. He was co-valedictorian at his graduation.
When young Ron was in third grade, he became very ill and missed three weeks of school. During that time, he received daily visits from Dr. Walt Lance. Ron was so impressed by the doctor’s gentleness and concern that he decided that he wanted to become a physician like Dr. Lance. He financed most of his college education through scholarships and a variety of jobs. He served in the military from 1969-1972 and spent 23 months in Ethiopia doing research on relapsing fever. He then transferred to Washington, D.C., where he prepared his research findings for publication.
He has published over 30 articles in national medical journals and has written several medical technical manuals. He completed over 125 lab inspections for accreditation in Oklahoma and surrounding states and has helped train physicians studying to become pathologists. He has held memberships and offices in several local, state, and national medical professional associations. Until his retirement, he served as Chief of Clinical Pathology Labs at University Hospitals, Oklahoma Children’s Memorial Hospital, and the Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Dr. Gillum has maintained close ties with his former DHS classmates. He compiled and maintains a data base of contact information for members of the Class of 1956 and sponsored a project to archive past issues of the Maroon and White in digital format. He has generously contributed to the Danville Public Schools Foundation in an effort to help keep students throughout the district in school in appreciation of the education he received and in memory of the teachers who were instrumental in his life.
“There are three major blessings from my time at Danville High School. The courses I took prepared me for a career with teachers who became role models and guides for life. Classmates became and remain friends and filled the moments of loneliness and even despair during my difficult days.”
Dr. Gillum offers this advice for students: “Evaluate your strengths and set goals for yourself without thinking about reasons you cannot achieve them. Then work hard toward those goals and have faith that if you keep working, something will fall into place and you will be able to do what you want to do. You may have to evaluate what you really can do and make adjustments along the way. If you enjoy what you do, life is much more pleasant.
Ms. Nina Cottrell - Class of 1964
"Smart," "killer instincts, acerbic wit, stunning presence," "street-savvy,""perfectionist," "charming and disarming"... these are the words associates use to describe DHS graduate Nina Cottrell. Through a combination of hard work and strategic self-education, she became a leader in her field. She rose from secretary to CEO of the 45,000 member Council of Residential Specialists, a non-profit affiliate of the National Association of Realtors that offers training and certification for real estate agents. CRS is an international organization that seeks to enhance the professional competency of its members and provide them with education and tools to help them better serve their clients. As a young child, Ms. Cottrell attended Washington Grade School. Bobby Short, who later became a renowned musician and one of the first inductees into the DHS Wall of Fame, babysat for Nina and her four siblings. Cottrell says that she was a tomboy who never attended prom, but started to bloom while in high school. After graduating from DHS in 1964, she worked in Chicago as a model and in other office jobs. At age 26, she accepted a position as secretary for CRS. She stayed with the same employer for over 35 years, rising to the very top through hard work. Although she did not choose to pursue a college degree, she has been a lifelong learner.
She actively sought mentors who could teach her what she needed to learn. She says, "I was like a sponge. I asked questions and took related courses along the way that would help me in any area I felt I had a weakness. I targeted what I considered my weaknesses because I always knew that I had to compete with people who had more formal education." She also cites her extraordinary work ethic to explain her success. "I worked hard, checked facts, and went beyond what was expected. There are no entitlements, no shortcuts. You have to work for it. "She has loved her work and the opportunities for world travel it has afforded her. "When I moved to Chicago and took this job, I had the exposure of being around a lot of people who traveled and dressed nicely. I wanted to live my life like that. I knew I would have to work hard to make the money to experience all that." When asked what advice she would give to young people today, she stated, "When anyone goes out into the world, they have to know what they want out of life and realize that if they want it, they're going to have to work for it. They have to plot their path, draft their goals, and make a plan. There are so many things that will distract you. You have to know how to get back on that road, and see the path you want to go down."
Dr. John W. D. Kay - Class of 1956
John Kay attended Lincoln Grade School and graduated from Danville High School in 1956. He played tennis for four years at DHS and was captain of the tennis team during his senior year. He also worked on the Maroon & White, serving as editorial page editor his senior year. He was active in Christian youth activities. He earned his B.S. in chemistry at the University of Illinois, Urbana, in 1960 and completed his doctorate in biochemistry at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, in 1964. During his lengthy and distinguished career, he worked as a research/development immuno-biochemist developing and improving tests to diagnose infectious agents such as hepatitis B, rubella, Group A Strep, and N. gonorrhea. His most famous pioneering work came in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The first cases of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) in the United States were diagnosed in 1981. In 1984, HIV was identified as the cause of AIDS.
Within three months of receiving the viral materials, Dr. Kay’s team developed a test to identify the presence of the antibody to HIV in blood; this effort pushed all manufacturers to develop tests as soon as possible. This was vitally important as the nation struggled to protect the supply of blood that was available for transfusions. Within six months of introduction of the first test, he led a team that developed a test that was 300 times more sensitive than his original test, far more accurate than other tests on the market, and allowed the identification of HIV-positive patients 10-14 days earlier than the initial tests.
A major challenge faced by Dr. Kay’s team was to develop tests that would be both accurate and simple to read and could be used on various body fluids. Ease of obtaining test results is important for rapid diagnosis and disease control. His group developed tests for HIV in which adding a liquid to a processed sample resulted in a color change as a final indicator that HIV infection was detected. This was an important breakthrough, particularly in third world countries where special equipment may not be available. Dr. Kay is a devout Christian and his faith has impacted his life, in and out of his profession. “When you take faith into the workplace, it’s amazing what will happen. Faith in the Living God will affect your work. You pray to understand what’s right and then the Lord enables a solution to the problems. ”Dr. Kay learned a valuable lesson at DHS that he has carried throughout his life. At his father’s insistence, he studied Latin. After a lackluster first semester he transferred to a different class. His new teacher had students conjugate verbs competitively; this exercise caught his imagination and inspired him to work much harder. “I accepted the challenge to learn well so I could do well. It’s the opposite of the culture of doing as little as you can. Putting in effort and activating your energy, not just showing up, makes the work more interesting. It’s so much better in the long run of life.”
Steven F. Eckert - Class of 1970
Over the past three decades, Steve Eckert has made life in our country safer by bringing issues to the public’s attention. His reports have earned TV journalism’s top honors. In addition to his Emmy awards, he has earned the Peabody, DuPont-Columbia, Edward R. Murrow, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), RFK, Sigma Delta Chi, and National Headliner Awards.
Eckert’s stories have done much more than win awards. They’ve revealed wrong doing, exposed hidden dangers, and prompted changes in local, state, and federal laws. His hour long investigation of counterfeit medicine in America, entitled “Bitter Pills,” was judged the best TV investigative report on any network in 2006 by Investigative Reporters and Editors. It marked the fourth time that Eckert’s investigations have won the prestigious IRE Award. A national consumer group stated this Eckert investigative news production “…has done the nation a tremendous service.” That report earned him the 2007 Emmy Award for Investigative Reporting. Other investigations produced by Steve Eckert have changed lives, resulted in legislation, and earned national awards as well. Following are just a few examples of his work: Within days after Eckert’s hidden cameras captured outdated eggs being repacked and re-dated as if they were fresh, the USDA issued emergency rules. Within weeks, Congress passed new legislation and within months, the President signed a new law to protect public health (This production entitled “Shell Game” won several news awards).
He revealed fatal flaws in both the local 911 system and the Child Protection network, forcing major reorganizations in both systems (Edward R. Murrow & DuPont-Columbia Awards). Just four days after Eckert exposed “secret pardons” for convicted criminals, including child molesters, the Minnesota Legislature abolished the system (Murrow & Headliner Awards). Steve Eckert graduated from DHS in 1970. He attended Liberty Elementary School and North Ridge Junior High School. While a student at DHS, he was an editor for the Maroon & White and participated in the Radio Club. His first newscasts were at WDAN radio. He later became student news director at WPRB, the college radio station at Princeton University. He worked in radio for two years, then switched to television. He has produced national investigative stories and newsmaker 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…marching in the band at half-time of Viking football games…and helping revive the DHS debate team and nearly going to state finals in our second year. Looking back, two of my English teachers – John Sanders and John Watkins – stand out. They challenged us, expanded our horizons, and helped give us the confidence to keep exploring.”
Dr. James Westwater - Class of 1937
Dr. James Westwater was involved in swimming and the D Association when he was a student at Danville High School. An outstanding student, Westwater earned a competitive scholarship to attend the University of Illinois where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1941. Westwater was the first post graduate student to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware in 1948. Returning to the University of Illinois that fall, Westwater began his 40 year association with the university that culminated with his retirement 40 years later in 1988 as Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering. His research and study in the field of heat transfer in chemical engineering earned Westwater international recognition as well as benefiting both industry and the general population. Dr. Westwater’s work focused on “the processes that occur in the boiling of liquids and dropwise condensation. He pioneered in the use of high speed photography, linking the camera to the microscope to study these processes. In 1955, he produced the first film made at the U of I using these processes. In succeeding years, he perfected the equipment so that by 1966 he could take pictures at the speed of 6,000 frames per second.” Honored by the university by having a chemical engineering chair endowed in his honor, Westwater remained as an honored member of the U of I faculty emertitus until his death on March 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.
Greg Meidel - Ex 1971
Robert Gregory Meidel attended Roselawn, Edison, North Ridge Junior High School, and Danville High School until he moved to California with his mother at the start of his senior year in the fall of 1970. When informed of his induction, Meidel reacted: “I’m thrilled to be honored by DHS. It’s a fabulous institution. Whatever success I’ve enjoyed in the entertainment industry was the result of my passion for arts, primarily television, which started with a field trip to the local TV station while attending DHS!“ Relating to his academic career in Danville, Meidel stated,“I’ll never forget my first grade teacher, Mrs. Yeazel. She was so sweet and insisted that I practice my A, B, C’s! I have fond memories of Mrs. Tobin at Edison, Mr. Black at North Ridge, and the one and only queen of all music classes, Miss Wolff at DHS!” Popular and well-liked by his classmates, Meidel earned a host of friends in Danville with his easy-going and friendly manner. Through a determined and tireless work ethnic as well as a keen sense of both business and people skills, Greg Meidel has risen to the top of the television profession, serving as President of Programming (Domestic Television) of Paramount Pictures of Hollywood, overseeing all programming and development activities for the entertainment conglomerate. Among the shows his division produces and 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 as President, COO and partner of Massive Media Group, a technology driven company focusing on providing digital rights management for the convergence of content and technology over the internet. He also served as Chairman and CEO of Universal Television Group (1996-1998), President and COO of Twentieth Century Television (1992-1995), as well as a variety of increasingly responsible management positions at Paramount (1979-1992). Looking back at his years at DHS, Meidel remarked, “DHS is a remarkable high school. My memories are ones with great friends, a solid education, and a school and faculty that let you pursue 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 any university, career, or future endeavor… DHS is always a topic of conversation when I run into Dick and Jerry Van Dyke, Irving Azoff (when I need Eagles tickets!), and Gene Hackman.” When asked what he misses most about his home town, Meidel responded, “Danville is a special place. I miss friends, water skiing on Lake Vermilion, and Steak & Shake!” Greg Meidel resides in Hollywood with his wife, Nancy.
Dwight Lucas - Class of 1968
Dwight Lucas has been a major force toward helping improve the lives of families in our community and the surrounding counties since the early 1970s. As police community relations advisor in the early 1970s, he, along with Dorsey Boyd, started the Dustbowl basketball tournament. This event has grown from a small gathering in Carver Park to an event now played at the Civic Center, with crowds numbering in the thousands and teams coming from as far away as California.
He is currently CEO of the East Central Illinois Community Action Agency, directing and coordinating programs and developing services to help move families toward self-sufficiency through a variety of efforts, including energy assistance, weatherization programs and small business loans. The Community Action Agency also offers a variety of programs to help prepare students for college such as tutoring, guidance counseling, campus visits and scholarships. Dwight Lucas directs initiatives that touch lives all the way from preschoolers attending Head Start to senior citizens. His agency provides emergency services for any family in need. The Community Action 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 Action Professionals. This rigorous program, offered to executives of community action agencies, requires collection of letters of reference, a written thesis on management systems and program history, and completion of a 6-8 hour written test.
Not content with merely changing lives locally, Lucas has taken a leadership role at the state and national levels. He is Board Chair of the Illinois Community Action Association that provides membership services including training, technical assistance and resource information to 36 community action agencies. He also sits on the board of the six state regional association.
In 2001, Dwight added further responsibilities to an already busy life when he became Executive Director of Laura Lee Fellowship House. During his tenure Laura Lee experienced a 50% increase in membership and 250% increase in building usage. He spearheaded and successfully completed a capital building campaign to raise over one-half million dollars to construct an annex to Laura Lee which will increase its program space by more than 50%.
Dwight was raised in public housing. As a child, he spent many happy hours at Laura Lee Fellowship House. After serving in the military, he worked hard to support his family and complete his education so he could offer a better life to his wife and children. "Danville has been good to me and my family. I never would have 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 looked after you. I have been blessed and feel I have a responsibility to give back. You have to do the best you can."
Matthew Woodring Stover - Class of 1980
Matthew Woodring Stover is a successful author of science fiction/fantasy novels, seven of which have been published to date. His novels are Iron Darn (1997), Jericho Moon (a sequel to Iron Dawn, published in 1998), Heroes Die (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 the Sith (2005). A new novel, Caine Black Knife in 2006. One of his books, Revenge of the Sith, was on the New York Times bestseller list for 10 weeks and has sold over 600,000 hardcover copies to date.
Matthew Stover attended Roselawn Elementary school and North Ridge Junior High. Although a member of the DHS Class of 1980, Stover took early graduation in August 1979. Two of his former teachers, Barbara Cullen and Joyce Brown (Alexander) encouraged him to pursue writing as a career. Matthew Stover says, "Mrs. Brown was a lovely woman who taught an interesting class and took my writing seriously. She looked at what I produced in class and said I should consider pursuing that." He also cited DHS social studies teacher Bob Kay for igniting an interest in history that he still pursues today. Another source of inspiration was his mother, Barbara Stover, a rhetoric professor at DCC, who provided help, support and encouragement and was "a major sculptor of my life." He regularly read her Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine which printed stories written by previously unpublished authors and helped him see that authors develop over time, they don't just "spring full-grown from the 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 to stay up all night to finish, but it'll stay with them so that they'll read it again in six months to find more in it. What you get out of a novel depends on what you bring to it. If you read the same novel at age 17, 25 or 35, it's a different novel because you are different. I want my stories to be a collaboration between the story on the page and the reader's imagination. I want to be a catalyst for something in the reader's mind.
Matthew Stover says his life was uniquely influenced by growing up in Danville because it provided "an intersection of a rural and urban childhood." There were many industries in town, but also a working farm close to his home. "I had the ability to walk out of my house and go someplace where all I could see was trees." He says that this varied background shows up in his writing "all the time. You never really get away from anything, no matter where you go."
Kim Crockett - Class of 1975
Kim Crockett stands on the shoulders of giants. A 1975 DHS graduate, she understands that as a beneficiary of opportunity, comes great responsibility. “I am indebted to the generations before me. Their perseverance and courage under intolerable conditions made the impossible, possible. ”Ms. Crockett enjoyed a 20-year journalism career where she rose from consumer reporter to editorial writer, from two time Pulitzer Prize winner to newsroom manager. Her favorite assignment was lead reporter for Nelson Mandela’s 1990 visit to Miami. Her greatest adventure was sailing around the world. Her most defining moment was integrating an all white neighborhood in 1969. Her greatest achievement remains in the future. Growing up in Danville in the 1960s and 1970s, Ms. Crockett credits her family, Second Baptist Church and Danville High School for nurturing her self confidence and sense of adventure. At Danville High School, Ms. Crockett received one of the highest honors bestowed on a graduating senior: Best Girl Citizen. She served as News Editor and Features Editor of the Maroon and White newspaper. As a member of the inaugural Girls Tennis team in 1974, she earned athletic letters in her junior and seniory ears and qualified for state competition in doubles. In her senior year she was elected captain of the tennis team, shared Most Valuable honors and earned the High Scholastic award. Ms. Crockett also co-chaired the Human Relations Club and was chairman of the Improvement on Education Committee of District 118. Today Ms. Crockett is Director of Public Relations for the Arizona Education Association.
Margaret Jones Dugdale - Class of ex 1980
Margaret Jones Dugdale is an accomplished professional violinist who regularly returns to Danville to share her talent. She attended DHS in the late 1970s. A founding member of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, she has also 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, Perry Como, Natalie Cole, Ray Charles, Bernadette Peters, Josh Groban, and The Moody Blues. While living in New York, she performed on Broadway in the revival production of Peter Pan and the Tony Award-winning Swan Lake. She spent four years touring the world with Mikhail Baryshnikov, performing with him as an onstage soloist, as well as with the White Oak Chamber Ensemble. She resides in Indianapolis where, in addition to her work with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and studio recording, she is in great demand as a soloist and chamber player with various ensembles. She also teaches privately and is on the faculty of the Chamber Music Institute at the University of Indianapolis. Ms. Dugdale returns to Danville frequently each year to perform as Concert master of the Danville Symphony Orchestra. She says it is very meaningful for her to play at Danville High School again. “It’s where I began; with the DSO, right on that stage.” While in Danville, she has held master classes throughout District 118 to work with individual students and groups of young musicians. Ms. Dugdale stated, “I had so much support and opportunity as a young person. Danville played a large part in my success as a musician. It is wonderful to be able to come home and give back some of what was so generously given to me.”
Glen Murphy - Class of 1938
Community Health and Athletics Advocate
Glen Murphy spent his entire adult life serving others, particularly the youth of Danville. In his career with the YMCA, he organized activities such as games, sports, and camping trips to keep young people engaged in healthy behaviors. While a student at Danville High School, he excelled at softball, baseball, and tennis. He held after school jobs delivering newspapers 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 dedicated October 15, 1972. He encouraged noon time volleyball games and many other activities to promote adult fitness. He was active in his church, United Fund, the Red Vests, and Golden K. He also directed a camp for children with cognitive disabilities. He lived his life according to the YMCA creed: God first, other people second, me third. He died in December, 2003, at the age of 83.
William "Pee Wee" Summers - Class of 1961
William Summers was an outstanding athlete at Danville High School in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. His brother gave him the nickname “Pee Wee” when he was born prematurely. His father earned $30 per week working as a janitor at the Fischer Theater to support the family that included four children. Pee Wee remembers going to work with his father to help him clean up.
Summers graduated from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education. He was the first African American to graduate from the college. He credits his parents, relatives, friends, local teachers, business people, and organizations for offering support and encouragement so he could go to college. After graduating from the University of Kansas where he earned a master’s degree in social work, Mr. Summers became the Director of Employment and Training for Kansas City and Wyandotte County, Kansas. He moved to Florida where he was the marketing consultant for Sunshine Athletics and helped oversee programs which had over 20,000 registered athletes. He owned his own business which hired officials for Orange County and all the high schools in the Central Florida Officials Association of Orlando, Florida. He worked for the Amateur Athletic Union as the senior sports manager where he administered a nationwide program that encompassed over 100,000 members. He has officiated high school, junior college, NAIA, and NCAA football, basketball and baseball throughout the United States. He has even traveled abroad as an international official for sporting events in different countries. In 2004, he was named Executive Director of the Danville Boys and Girls Club. His emphasis is on teaching responsibility and respect. His goal is to improve all club member’s academics and to have them graduate from high school. “The basis for everything I have ever achieved in life began with the strong foundation laid out for me while attending Danville High School,” said Mr. Summers.
John Swisher - Class of 1947
In the mid-1950s, DHS graduate John Swisher was a young man with a dream. He and his wife borrowed $25,000 from their parents and started a hog feed business which grew into a company that had $278 million in sales in 2003. He stated, “I never thought it would be this big. When you start down the path, you can’t see much but as you keep going, you can see more. Now my vision is big.” Many of his innovative business ideas later became the industry standards and many of his former competitors are no longer in the feed business. His company employs a highly educated sales force and engages in research to continually improve their products. He said, “I changed an industry; changed how feed is marketed. Then we got more into research and developed proprietary products.” At the time of his induction at age 75, Mr. Swisher was still very actively involved in the day to day operation of his business. Reflecting on his career, he stated, “It’s a noble thing to improve the food supply.” John Swisher graduated from DHS in 1947, having lettered in football, basketball and track. He was class president in his junior year and worked on the staff of the Maroon and White. He credits his teachers for helping prepare him for success. “I didn’t appreciate them then. Only after time, you look back and realize these were extraordinary people.” He recalls that successful alumni were brought in each year to talk to high school students. “Each one of these people centered their thoughts on hard work and ethics. Here I sit today and I would say the same thing. I don’t know how you get anywhere without hard work. I don’t know how you have a civilization without ethics.” He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in 1951 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in Animal Science from Purdue University in 2000.
Dr. L. W. "Bill" Tanner - Class of 1937
Dr. L. W. "Bill" Tanner has the distinction of having delivered and cared for many of the citizens of our community. He graduated from Danville High School in 1937. While a student at DHS, he played violin with the orchestra and trumpet with the band. He was on the swim team for four years. He was editor-in-chief of the Medley and was inducted into the National Honor Society. He credits the excellent teaching staff for helping him get off to a good start in life. He earned his medical degree at the University of Illinois. During World War II, he served with distinction as battalion surgeon with the fleet Marines in the Pacific, including the battle at Iwo Jima. In 1974, he was named head of the Family Practice Department in the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of Illinois and directed the residency training program in Danville during the ten years of its existence. A number of physicians who trained in that program remained in Danville to practice medicine. He was medical director of the health clinic at the Danville Correctional Center, which became the first prison health clinic in the country to receive accreditation from the American Hospital Association. He was named First Citizen of Danville in 1967 and has taken leadership roles in the YMCA, United Way, and the Vermilion County Medical Society. He has been very active in the Piankeshaw Council of the Boy Scouts of America and earned the Silver 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 Presbyterian Church as well as his own home. Dr. Tanner and his wife, Dr. Megan Tanner, are parents of previous Wall of Fame inductee, astronaut Joe Tanner.
Irving Azoff - Class of 1966
Music and Entertainment
Irving Azoff is prominent in music and entertainment. He is the longtime personal manager of the Eagles, who were inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. He also manages the careers of Grammy Award winners Don Henley, Christina Aguilera, Glenn Frey, Seal, John Fogerty, and Paula Cole, as well as 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.
Dr. E. N. Hetherington - Class of 1941
Dr. Edward N. "Pete" Hetherington is a local physician who practiced medicine in Danville from 1955 to 1992. In addition to maintaining a large private practice, he was instrumental in the formation of the Vermilion County Board of Health and served as medical director of the Vermilion County Health Department for many years. Under his guidance, the Health Department began providing vaccinations, created the Family Planning Clinic, and initiated an inspection process for local eating establishments, among other accomplishments.
Molly Melching - Class of 1967
Molly Melching has lived in Senegal for the past 28 years. She has written and published books for Senegalese children adapted to their culture and environment. She and her team use songs, stories, proverbs, theater, and other oral African traditions to entertain and teach children. Their radio program teaches families across a wide area with messages on health and environment. She created the non-governmental organization Tostan, which means "breakthrough" in the Wolof language. Its mission is to provide communities with skills necessary for positive socioeconomic transformation, including democracy, human rights, leadership, and problem-solving as well as literacy, math, health, and management skills. This program has been adopted on an experimental basis in other African countries, including the Sudan, Burkina, Faso, Mali and Guinea. Her programs have helped reduce maternal and infant health mortality rates and implement successful and sustainable income-generating activities for rural women. Through Tostan, remarkable progress has been made to end the centuries-old tradition of female genital cutting, which is still practiced in many countries and has caused much suffering and death among millions of African girls and women throughout the centuries. Melching was awarded the University of Illinois Alumni Humanitarian Prize in 1999 and the Sargent Shriver Distinguished Award for Humanitarian Service in 2002.
P. Kevin Strader - Class of 1973
P.Kevin Strader is a writer of books and programs for children. At Danville High School, Mr. Strader showed a penchant for drama and comedy. Though some of this passion made it to the auditorium via the drama club—most of 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 until he was asked to emcee the annual campus talent show. The showbiz bug stuck to him like a tick to the hide of a gnarly old dog. After college, Mr. Strader moved to New York City to try his hand at stand-upcomedy, bravely taking to the stage with ideas that were funnier on paper. This experience taught him a valuable less: he was funnier on paper. Kevin began penning sketches and short plays for a very talented group of actors with the theatrical group Alarm Dog Rep. His odd brand of social satire and existential high jinx met with a steady following but precious little material reward. Upon the birth of his son, Mr. Strader sought a diaper-buying writing opportunity that his son could never point to and say "Daddy, why are you hurting the world?" He landed a job at the educational entertainment hothouse, 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 praise from parents, peers and the Educational Press Association. Mr. Strader left Sesame Workshop to accept a writing position on a breakthrough new TV show hatching at Nick, Jr.: Blue's Clues. Doors in children's television opened wider. He has since gone on to write over 50 television programs 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 first season of Tellyvision: the Sesame Street Radio Show, books for Disney Publishing, a Sesame Street International Live Show and various CD-ROMs. For his efforts on one particularly satisfying TV program, Jim Henson's Bear in the Big Blue House, Mr. Strader has earned four Emmy nominations. Kevin wishes to thank his family of eleven fun-seeking, irony-loving brothers and sisters and especially his son, for their eternal inspiration. He wishes to thank his loving wife for making nearly all of the above possible.
Reginald A. Weaver - Classof 1957
Educator and National Union President
In July 2002, Reg Weaver was elected president of the National Education Association, the country’s largest professional employee organization representing 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 and president of the Illinois Education Association. Weaver was encouraged by his teachers to take science courses and join the public speaking club. He declined, thinking “Black kids don’t do that.” However, when he got to college, he studied science and became a science teacher. Public speaking became a significant part of his duties as a teacher activist. As NEA president, Weaver worked to ensure thate very student will have a safe environment in which to learn and qualified teachers in every classroom.
Douglas J. Mathisen, M.D. - Class of 1966
Dr. Mathisen graduated from DHS in 1966 and went on to become one of the most-respected thoracic surgeons in the nation. He is a professor of surgery and thoracic surgery at Harvard Medical School. He has authored over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts and written over 100 textbook chapters. He has been a visiting surgeon and guest speaker in countries all over the world. While at DHS Doug Mathisen was an outstanding athlete, lettering in baseball and basketball.
Scott Shaw - Class of 1981
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 Scott ShawThePlain 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 - Class of 1970
At the time of his induction to the Wall of Fame, Dan Olmsted was Washington Bureau Chief of United Press International (UPI), working on an investigative project about severe side effects and deaths associated with an anti-malaria drug. Before joining UPI in 1999, he was senior editor of USA Weekend, the 22-million circulation magazine that appears in 600 U.S. newspapers. As the cover story editor, he commissioned an investigation of the murder of a Vietnamese immigrant in Florida that won first place in the Asian-American Journalists Association awards. He was an original staff member and assistant national editor at USA Today. He worked for the Danville Commercial-News and won the Illinois AssociatedPress award for public service reporting. He graduated from DHS in 1970 and was editor of the Maroon and White. He is a 1974 graduate of Yale University.
Dr. David L. Fields - Class of 1953
Dr. David L. Fields ended a 41 year career serving the children of Danville when he retired from the Danville District #118 Schools on June 30, 2001. Beginning in the fall of 1960 as a history teacherat Danville High School, he served as a teacher, a coach, and an administrator over the course of his years of service. His other positions included North Ridge social studies teacher, Dean of Boys at DHS, Title I Director, Principal of Northeast Elementary and East Park Middle Schools, Assistant Superintendent, and for the ast 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 integral part of the District’s success over four decades. Perhapsh is greatest accomplishments included the focus that he placed on academics, the collaborative partnerships he built with the District’s employee groups and the community, and his leadership in moving the District from a $9 million deficit to solid financial footing. His child-focused decision-making, professionalism, successful planning for the long-term, and modesty all contributed to the positive impact he made. Besides his educational contributions, Dr. Fields has made nearly a lifelong commitment to the Laura Lee Fellowship House, either as the executive director or as a member of the Board of Directors. A community-minded citizen, he has served as chair of the United Way and has worked with the Danville Housing Authority, as well as numerous other groups and endeavors in the community. A member of the Class of 1953, Dr. Fields attended the Danville Schools for 12 years as well as working in the District for 41 years. District #118 and its children are the beneficiaries of the sustained commitment of Dr. David L. Fields to maintain and improve the high quality of education availablein Danville.
LaVada Fields Thornton - Class of 1934
LaVada Fields Thornton was a District #118 teacher who retired in 1985 after 18 years of service. Graduating from Danville Area Community College and Eastern Illinois University after her family was grown, Mrs. Thornton realized a lifelong dream. Her pleasure in teaching and being around children was immediately observed by those with whom she interacted. Later, she earned her Masters Degree from Illinois State 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 she tutored four afternoons each week. She also taught GED classes for Danville Area Community College at the Fair Oaks Housing Complex. She taught others until her death in 1999. Mrs. Thornton was selected as Outstanding Woman of 1971 by The Commercial-News. In 1992, she was honored as Layman of the Year at the Lincoln-Douglass-King Banquet at the Allen Chapel AME Church of which she was a life-long member. A life member of the PTA, she was also an active member of Altrusa International, Vermilion County Retired Teachers Association, American Association of University Women, Delta Kappa Gamma, and the O.W.L. Club. A 1934 graduate of Danville High School, she demonstrated a love of music since she was a child, serving as a church pianist since the age of nine. Mrs. Thornton’s positive and cheerful outlook and effective instructional skills nurtured many Danville children through the years.
Honorable William B. Black - Class of 1959
Civic Leader and Legislator
The Honorable William B. Black, a 1959 graduate of Danville High School, was elected to the Illinois General Assembly from the 105th District in November, 1986, after serving since February, 1986, at which time he was appointed to fill a vacancy. He earned his undergraduate degree at William Jewell College and his graduate degree from the University of Illinois. An educator for 22 years, Mr. Black taught at North Ridge Junior High School and was a counselor at Danville High School. He later served as an administrator at Danville Area Community College. He was a member of the Vermilion County Board from 1976 to 1986 and served as its chairperson in 1982-1983. Active in civic activities, Mr. Black was a past president of the Danville Jaycees and Danville South Rotary. His many activities have included service on the Danville Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, Vermilion County Red Cross, Boys Scouts, Director of YMCA Youth Center, Danville Junior Achievement Board, and the Salvation Army. He was the recipient of the Danville Distinguished Service Award in 1972. His family has owned and operated a small businessin Danville for over 60 years. He was active in the formation of the Danville Area Economic Development Corporation, now known as Vermilion Advantage. He was named the Outstanding Freshman Legislator in 1987 and was one of 10 outstanding state legislators named in 1991 by the NRLA. Representative Black was named Republican floor leader in 1991 and is currently Assistant Minority Leader in the House. 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 and children. So successfully has he served his district that Representative Black has run unopposed in several elections. A man who believes in serving others, open government, and free expression, Representative Black has compiled a long and distinguished career in the service of others.
Rear Admiral Joseph Taylor - Class of 1923
Joseph Taylor, a 1923 graduate of Danville High School, achieved the 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 in aviation and became a flier after graduation from the academy. Commander of a torpedo plane squadron on the aircraft carrier Yorktown early in World War II, his squadron sank a Japanese seaplane carrier in March, 1942, an accomplishment that earned him his first Navy Cross. Two months later, he was awarded his second Navy Cross during the Battle 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 through the clouds and scored two direct hits on the carrier. As second in command, he assumed charge from the disabled captain and directed the 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 Battle of the Coral Sea, he wrote, “There is one thing I am surely thankful for. I brought every one of my pilots back with me after the raid."
Dr. Robert F. Lash - Class of 1943
Physician and Emergency Medicine Trailblazer
Dr. Robert F. Lash, a 1943 graduate of Danville High School, distinguished himself in the area of emergency medicine. “A watchdog for disaster,” is how one long-time colleague described Dr. Lash’s role in the Knoxville, Tennessee, area. A tireless worker, Dr. Lash could be found at the site of any major wreck or disaster calmly assessing the options, then going into action. Dr. Lash’s medical career spanned four decades before his death on April 29, 1992. Dr. Lash graduated from the George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, D.C., in 1949. He then served in the U.S. Navy. Locating in Knoxville, Tennessee, Dr. Lash served as chair personand professor of the Department of Family Practice, director of the Family Practice Residency Program and the Emergency and Outpatient Departments, chief of staff, and from 1984 until his death, as director of Aeromedical Services (LIFESTAR). LIFESTAR, designed and named by Dr. Lash, is an acronym for Life, Shock, and Trauma Aeromedical Rescue. LIFESTAR was one of the first air ambulances. Dr. Lash became nationally known as an expert in toxicology, aerospace medicine, hypothermic injuries, snake bites, and scuba diving injuries. He investigated more than 140 aircraft accidents and delivered more than 200 lectures on medical aviation and accident investigation. After his death in 1992, the Knoxville, Tennessee, community raised in excess of $100,000 to fund the Lash Endowment of the University of Tennessee Medical Center at Knoxville in his honor. A representative of 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.
Joe Tanner - Class of 1968
Born January 21, 1950 in Danville, Joe attended both North Ridge Middle School and DHS. During his days at DHS, 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 education at the University of Illinois, where he received his bachelor's degree (1973) in mechanical engineering. He then began flying planes for the Navy and served in active duty for six years. Joe joined the staff at NASA in 1984, moving his way up the ranks and eventually becoming Deputy 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 Applications and Science 3 (ATLAS-3) mission. This was the first of many spacemissions for him.
Theodore R. Gilliland - Class of 1921
Scientist and Radio Tech Pioneer
Gilliland contributed significant research to the development of radio communication — ground to ground and ground to air. His study centered on gases ionized by 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 designated and (2) the escape of signals through the atmosphere when they did not hit an ionized layer. He developed a continuous ionosphere record in 1932, and his recorder's initial photographs in 1933 were considered the world's first. These are now on permanent display at the National Bureau of Standards' Museum. The Carnegie Institute, the British Radio Research Board, the Australian Radio Research Board and Harvard University adopted the principle on which the machine worked. In 1934, Gilliland solved problems that American Airlines, Inc., was having with ground to air communications on the Chicago to Newark flight. This research was a major contribution to pioneering airline safety (his study was published in two professional publications). His radio technology contributed three achievements to WWII: the atomic bomb, radar, and the proximity fuse. He established a research station in Puerto Rico in 1949 and served as a consultant to Cornell University on the development of a radio telescope, a giant reflector suspended between mountains near Arecibo. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Washington Academy of Sciences.
Edward R. Telling - Class of 1937
Telling served as the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of the Sears Roebuck Company from 1978-85. He was a former retail, insurance, real estate and financial services executive. In 1946, he was a manager trainee at the Danville store. He was named manager of the Danville store in 1956. He later became the Rockford store manager before becoming manager of the Sears Midwestern zone. In 1965, he became general manager of the New York metropolitan area. In 1968, he was named administrative assistant to the vice-president of the Eastern territory. In 1969, he became the elected vice-president for the Eastern territory and a director. In 1974, he was named vice-president of the Midwest territory. In 1975, he became the executive vice-president for the Midwest. In 1976, he was named senior executive vice-president in charge of centralizing retail operations. In 1978, he was named the tenth Chairman of the Board 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 formation of the Sears World Trade and the 1985 testing of Discover credit card.
Kenneth D. Bailey - Class of 1930
Congressional Medal of Honor Winner
Major Kenneth Bailey served in the Marines during World War II and was the winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor presented posthumously by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He attended Oaklawn School, was active in football, swimming, Glee Club, student council, and yearbook at DHS. After graduation from DHS, he attended the University of Illinois. On June 17, 1945, a battleship was commissioned, the USS Kenneth D. Bailey, in the Federal Shipyards of Port Neward, New Jersey. Personal valor, leadership, and a fighting spirit were attributes for which he received the highest honor his country could bestow.
Dick Van Dyke - Class of 1944
Comedian and Actor
After graduating from DHS, Van Dyke became a comedian and actor in television, movies, and Broadway shows. While in high school, he appeared in school plays and civic theater productions. He appeared in the Merry Mates and Eric and Van pantomime acts. His television credits include "The Music 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 appearances on national TV shows (1958). He made his Broadway debut in "The Girls Against the Boys" in 1959. He appeared in both the Broadway and motion picture versions of "Bye Bye Birdie" (1960-1961). The weekly comedy show, "The Dick Van Dyke Show" appeared on television from 1961-1966 on CBS. The "New Dick Van Dyke Show" ran from 1971-1974. His motion picture credits include "What A Way To Go" (1964), "Mary Poppins" (1965), "Divorce American Style" (1967), "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (1968). He wrote "Faith, Hope, and Hilarity" in 1970. He received the Theater World Award in 1960, The Antonette Perry Award for best actor in a musical comedy in 1960, and Emmy Awards for comedy in 1962, 1964, and 1965.
Jerry Van Dyke - Class of 1951
Jerry Van Dyke was a nightclub, movie, and television entertainer. A 1948 trip to Hollywood with his parents convinced Jerry to become a comedian. Following his high school graduation, Jerry formed his own group, "Jolly Frauds." He played in nightclubs throughout the Midwest with his record/pantomime act. He attended the University of Illinois and Eastern Illinois University, winning awards in swimming, tennis and basketball. Following college, he joined the Air Force and won an international competition for emcee of "The Tops in Blue," a service entertainment troupe. After the service, he returned to nightclub performances and was invited to appear at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall in 1964 to perform at the Elite Eight basketball tournament. In 1965 he had his own television series, "My Mother the Car." In 1967, he was in the "Accidental Family" television series on NBC. He had several movie appearances, including "The Courtship of Eddie's Father." He joined Bobby Short, Donald O'Connor, Gene Hackman, and his brother Dick in May, 1988 in a gala fund-raising effort for the restoration of Danville's Fischer Theater. His most successful TV series to date was "Coach." Jerry prefers the nightclub circuit. "The clubs have always been my meat," said Jerry.
Gene Hackman became an actor in movies, television, and Broadway. In 1971, he became the only actor in the business to receive four major awards in one year. In that year, he won the Academy Awards "Oscar" for Best Actor, the Hollywood Foreign Press "Golden Globe Award, "the New York Times Film Critics Award, and the National Association of Theater Owners Award. He won this award again in 1974. He won the "Star of the Year Award" for his role in "The French Connection." Gene has over 30 films to his credit, with many shot in locations around the globe. Hackman attended Oaklawn School. Both his father and grandfather were journalists. "I learned in school I couldn't write," said Hackman. Instead, he acted in high school plays. Lying about his age, he joined the US Marine Corps at 16 and became a radio operator. After discharge, he moved from radio to television on small-town stations all over the country. He returned to the West Coast to study at the Pasadena Playhouse. He and Dustin Hoffman were considered the two students least likely to succeed. He had his first starring role on Broadway in "Any Wednesday." His hobbies include flying and film collecting. In 1988, he returned to Danville for a gala fundraiser for the Fischer Theater, an event held at the Hegeler Mansion.
Bobby Short - Class of 1942
Entertainer and Author
Bobby Short was a singing pianist even as a child. After high school, he appeared in nightclubs both in the USA and overseas. Although he gave concerts in major cities, his home base was the Hotel Carlyle in New York City. His recordings include "Krazy for Gershwin," "Live at the Cafe Carlyle," "Short Celebrates Rodgers and Hart," and "Guess Who's in Town." He had TV appearances in "The Next Generation" and the mini-series "Roots" in 1979. He made a White House appearance in 1970 for President Nixon honoring the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. In 1987, he performed for Illinois Governor Jim Thompson's Inaugural Ball. He wrote "Black and White Baby" in 1971.
Lou Mervis - Class of 1952
He served as Chief Executive Officer and President of Mervis Industries (10 divisions). In 1966, he received the Jaycee Distinguished Service Award. In 1979, he received the "First Citizen Award" from the American Business Club. He served as general chairman of the United Way campaign in 1977. In 1988, he was the recipient of the first Excellence in Leadership award from Leadership Danville. He was named chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education in 1991 after serving as a member of the Board for ten years. He is a past member of the Illinois Human Relations Commission, a former chairman of the Illinois Board of Anti-Defamation League, a member of Governor Jim Thompson's transition team (final term and Governor Jim Edgar's (first term). He was a member of the District 118 Board of Education for six years, serving as president for three years. He has served as Director of the Chamber of Commerce, as three-term president of Congregation Israel, as chairman of the Zoning Commission and the Danville Planning Commission, on the Board of Director for Danville Little League (sponsoring a girls' team for ten years), as a member of the Schlarman Foundation, as a member of the Greater Danville Development Corporation, as a member of the Palmer National Bank Board of Directors, and as a founding member of the Danville Area Economic Development Corporation. He was active with the Gifted Children's Program of Vermilion County. In 1991, U.S. Congressman Terry Bruce said, "Few have been as important to Danville as Lou Mervis. He is untiring in his efforts for the Danville community."
Florance Walton Taylor - Class of 1916
Florence Walton Taylor began her career writing short stories for children, which she sold to newspapers. Her first book, With Fife and Drums, was published in 1936. She had the most unusual honor of having her first book published by the first publisher to whom she sent a copy. The book was published by the Albert Whitman Company in Chicago. She also published two additional children's books: Vermilion Clay was the story of the old salt works in Vermilion County. Towpath Andy was a story about the Wabash and Erie Canals. After several years of research and work, she learned that her first adult book, Salt Streak, would be published by Fleming Revell Company of New York.
Mary Alice Buchanan - Class of 1937
Humanitarian and Educator
After graduating from Danville High School, Mary Alice Buchanan attended Danville Area Community College. She was instrumental in the conception of Project Head Start, both locally and at the state level. She was a teacher, parent coordinator, and director of the local Head Start from 1973 to the present. She was vice-president and a member of the Board of Directors for the Illinois Head Start Association. She was named in Black Women in the Midwest. She was the Illinois representative to the White House for the 25th anniversary celebration of Project Head Start. She was a member of the Illinois Head Start and Day Care Association. She was named "Woman of Achievement" by the American Association of University Women, was the 1973 Commercial-News "Woman of the Year," the East Central Illinois Community Action Program "Employee of the Year," recipient of the Illinois Head Start Association Parent Award in 1975, and the Minority Educator 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 someone to look to for help and guidance.
Harvey Skadden - Class of 1910
Harvey Skadden designed St. James United Methodist Church in 1927. The design was inspired by Gothic cathedrals in France that he saw during his Army service in World War I. The technical name for the St. James layout is English perpendicular Gothic. Additional church designs include the first Vermilion Heights Methodist Church, the Bowman Avenue Methodist Church, the 43rd Avenue Presbyterian Church in 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, and Catlin and Bismarck Grade Schools. Many homes in Maywood and North Vermilion were also designed by him. He was a partner in several architectural firms, a member of the American Savings & Loan Board 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 Piankeshaw Council of the National Secretaries Association.
Robert Wright - Class of 1934
Journalist and Historian
Robert Wright (Class of 1934) was a journalist and historian. He served as the City Editor of the Danville Commercial-News from 1949-1958. He began his career with the Commercial-News in 1939 as a reporter, assistant telegraph editor, and night editor. As a reporter, he covered City Hall and the hospital and was responsible for features and general assignments. Following military service in 1943 and 1944, he returned to the Commercial-News as a general assignment reporter,feature writer, and the Saturday night local side desk man. He was acting City Editor from 1944-1949. From 1949-1958, he served as City Editor. He also served as correspondent for the Chicago Sun Times, the Chicago Daily News, and the Associated Press. He was the editorial page editor from 1960-1978. He was a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Conference of Editorial Writers, and the Illinois Associated PressTelegraph Editors Association. He received awards from the Illinois Press Association, the George Washington medal and an Honor Certificate from the Freedom Foundation, Valley Forge. He received a first place rating for an individual column in the Illinois Associated Press competition, as well as several awards and citations from the Illinois Department, American Legion. He held board memberships on the Vermilion County Museum Society, the Red Mask Players, the Travelers Aid Society, Laura Lee, the Salvation Army, and the Danville Public Library. He was the author of Danville: A Pictorial Story (first edition, 1987; second edition, 1988) with credits to photographers Rich Stefaniak and Chuck Cannady of the Commercial-News.
Dr. David Morrison - Class of 1958
Astronomer and Astrophysicist
Dr. David Morrison (Class of 1958) was an astronomer and astrophysicist. While in high school, he was selected to represent the USA Amateur Astronomers in the South 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, a member of the support teams for Mariner 10, Voyager, Galileo, and Comet Rendezvous missions for NASA. He was Deputy Administrator for Space Science for NASA in 1981, and chairman of the NASA Solar System Exploration committee. He was author, co-author or editor of the following books: Frontiers of Astronomy, Satellites of Jupiter, Voyage to Saturn, Voyages to Jupiter, Comic Catastrophe, as well as the textbooks The Planetary System, The Exploration of the Universe, and Realm of the Universe. He authored over 100 articles for science journals, including a monthly column for Mercury magazine. He served as the Chief of Space Science Division of the NASA AMES Research Center in Mountain View, California. Asteroid #2410 is named for him.
Albert "Pete"Derrickson - Class of 1941
Civil Rights Activist, Laborer, and Counselor
He was instrumental in effecting many changes involving the human and civil rights of local and regional citizens, including the desegregation of public schools, playgrounds, pools, public housing, local bowling, public theaters, and seating arrangements. He was instrumental in the change of local government from commission to aldermanic. He served as president of the local NAACP, was a charter member of the Community Rehabilitation Committee and Home Opportunities Made Equal. He was an elected officer for 30 years with Local 579 of the United Auto Workers International. He served on the following: City of Danville Human Relations Commission, Police and Fire Commission Board, City of Danville Zoning Board, Danville Township Trustee, and Deputy Registrar. He was a Golden Gloves boxer, a World War Veteran, and an arbitrator/counselor for many individuals of all races.
Dr. Marvin Edwards - Class of 1961
Educator and Author
Dr. Marvin Edwards (Class of 1961), received his BS from Eastern Illinois University, his MS from Chicago State University in 1969, and his EdD from Northern Illinois University in 1974. He was the first African-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-related subjects and has been cited or featured in numerous publications by other authors around the country. He has received awards and honors, including the EIU Distinguished Alumnus, Outstanding Texan, Outstanding Service Award, the NIU Outstanding Young Alumni, Executive Educator 100 List (100 of North America's top Executive Educators), Those Who Excel, Outstanding Citizen, and Outstanding Young Educator in 1975. He was General Superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District with 135,000 students, 194 schools, and 15,000 employees.