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SPOTLIGHT ON JTHS ALUMNI

 
’08       Merritt Giffin*                                           Olympic Silver Medalist discus throw /
London 1908 games
’18       Edwin Way Teale*                                    Author of more than 30 books / literary
naturalist / photographer / received the Pulitzer Prize in ’65 for ‘Wandering through  Winter” (first nature writing to have been so honored)
’22       Vera C. Stellwagen Smith*                    Former JTHS & JJC English teacher / 
Registrar at Joliet Junior College / community philanthropist and JTHS benefactor
’24       Arthur G. Smith*                                      Philanthropist and community benefactor along
with his wife,Vera, for whom the Central campus educational annex was named.
’26       Katherine Dunham*                                 Renowned dancer/choreographer/educator
                                                                                Known as the “mother of modern dance /
                                                                                Recognized internationally for her contri-
                                                                                bution to dance and to the arts
’27       Andrew Barber*                                       Founder of the Union National Bank (First
                                                                                Midwest Bank)/ Noted philanthropist and
                                                                                community benefactor
’27       Warren Wood*                                          Composed JT loyalty song / Illinois Speaker
                                                                                of the House
’29       Vivian McMaster*                                    Crowned Miss Joliet and Miss Illinois in 1928
while a senior in high school
’30       Lois Delander*                                         1st “Miss Joliet” (1927) / 1st “Miss Illinois”
(1927) / 1st “Miss America”from Illinois / Longest reigning Miss America ’27-‘33
’31       Clayton “Toots” Schorie*                      Professional musician with a career that spanned
more than 80 years performing with countless entertainers such as Frank Sinatra, Andy  Williams, Bobby Vinton / taught private lessons for 69 years to over 2,000 students
’31       Charles S. Peters*                                   Distinguished Director of the Joliet Grade School
 Band
’31       Jack Sonntag*                                           Prolific film & television producer/director working with major stars and producing major
TV shows and movies throughout his long career
’32       Larry Parks*                                             Actor / Academy Award-nominated as Best
Actor for his role in the 1946 film “The Al Jolson Story”/ His leading ladies included Rita   Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor, Ellen Drew /
Married to actress, Betty Garrett
’33       Billie Butler*                                              Renowned sharpshooter & grandniece of
famous sharpshooters and performers, Frank Butler and his wife, Annie Oakley
’35       Frank Perconte                                        Member of the 506th Regiment’s Easy Company
of the 101st Airborne Division / member of the famous “Band of Brothers”(first paratroopers to descend onto the beaches of Normandy, France D-Day the 6th of June 1944)
’35       Ensign Edward Webb                              “On Eternal Patrol” aboard the USS Arizona /
Gosselin*                                              Ship went down at Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941
’35       John Hudak*                                             Artist / Known nationally for his watercolors          
‘36       Dr. John Houbolt                                      NASA scientist / Developer of the lunar landing
module enabling the U.S. astronauts of Apollo 11 to reach the moon for man’s first walk on   July 20, 1969.
’36       Audrey Totter                                          Actress / radio, television and film star
appearing in over 40 films / guests appearances on television shows such as “Alfred  Hitchcock Presents,” “Wagon Train,” “Medical Center”
’36       Vivian Ziech*                                             As a junior in 1935, gave JTHS the Steelman
name in a winning essay.
’38       Robert A. Crombie*                                 Owner & operator of Crombie Dairy / Inventor
                                                                                of testing device for the pasteurization of milk /
                                                                                Recipient of many awards for his contributions
and service to the food industry
’39       Bob Cary*                                                  Author and illustrator of six books / Senior
                                                                                Editor of the Ely, MN newspaper, the “Ely
Echo” / former outdoor writer for the Herald
News, Chicago Daily News and WJOL
’39       Dorothy Mavrich                                      Community activist credited with saving Joliet’s
Rialto Square Theatre from demolition in the 70’s / concert pianist / piano teacher / author
’39       George Munroe                                       Rhodes Scholar / noted New York Attorney
present at the Nuremberg Trials / Former CEO & President of the Phelps-Dodge Corporation /
Former Chairman of the board Dartmouth University / Trustee of New York Metropolitan
Museum of Art
’41       Paul Lambrecht                                       Co-founder with partner of Brown & Lambrecht
                                                                                Earthmovers / community benefactor
’42       Laverne “Bitz” Brown                            Entrepreneur / co-founder of Brown &
Lambrecht Earthmovers / Married to Dorothy
Maxwell Brown ’41 / together they are major community benefactors and models of generosity
’43       D. LeRoy Shepherd*                                President of Joliet Federal Savings / retiring
as CEO of Amerifed Bank / professional musician with area bands including the American Legion Band, JJC Community Band, JJC Jazz Band, JTHS Alumni Band
’44       Honorable John Cirricione                    Noted Will County Attorney / Retired Judge /
professional musician
’45       The Rev. Roger Kaffer*                           Auxiliary Bishop of the Joliet Diocese / Former
                                                                                Principal of Providence High School
’45       Beverly Long Feehan                              Miss Illinois of 1945
’45       Juliet King                                                 Internationally known vocalist
‘45       Honorable William Penn                         Noted Will County Circuit Judge / Attorney /
professional musician
’46       Florine Klatt Cain                                     Senior Test Engineer for Lockheed Missile
                                                                                Space Program / aeronautical engineer
responsible for the full-scale mock up of a X7A3 “flying cell” test missile
’47       Don Ladas                                                 Career spanning over 50 years in sports
reporting broadcasting over 5,000 games in a variety of sports activities and events / enshrined in seven halls of fame
’47       Ron Nelson                                               Foremost composer of original band literature /
                                                                                Retired professor at Brown University / Former
                                                                                Chairman of Brown Department of Music              
’47       Brenton Wadsworth                               Founder of Wadsworth Golf Construction
                                                                                Companies / builder of championship golf
courses worldwide / philanthropist / major
benefactor to his alma mater and to the JTHS Foundation
‘48       Jack Goeken                                            Entrepreneur / pioneer in the telecommunications
                                                                                industry / inventor / founder of MCI
which challenged the AT&T monopoly / developed Airfone / founder of FTD
Mercury Network in the floral industry / Goeken
Group creates health, safety and security products
’48       Robert Novak*                                          Nationally-known columnist and television
journalist / contributing editor for major
publications / political expert / major benefactor to his alma mater
’49       Honorable George E.                               Distinguished career in public service / Will
            Sangmeister*                                           County State’s Attorney / Illinois State Senator /
United States Congressman
’49       Dr. Thomas Streitz                                  Joliet dentist / volunteer on medical missions
providing dental services in third world countries / recipient of numerous awards and honors in the dental profession and in the community / member Board of Education District 204
’51       Honorable Ray Bolden                            Retired Judge of the 12th Judicial Court
’51       John Leach                                               Business leader / Joliet home builder (5,000
homes in 17 subdivisions)/Will County historian & preservationist / community benefactor
’51       Phyllis Reynolds Naylor                          Author / “Walker’s Crossing was her 100th book/
Winner of the highly prestigious Newberry Award / her “Shiloh trilogy series is ranked No. 7 National Education Association’s Children’s Top 100 book list
’52       Kay Gottlieb                                              Stage name Kathryn Hays. Over 35 years in the
role of Kim Hughes on “As The World Turns”/Guest starring roles on more than 50 television shows /Soloist with several light opera companies /Former wife of actor, Glenn Ford
’52       David Bennett                                           “On Eternal Patrol” aboard the USS Scorpion /
            Lloyd*                                                         Nuclear submarine “presumed lost at sea” June 2, 1968
’55       Klint DeGeus                                             Business leader/prominent community
philanthropist and benefactor to his alma mater
’55       Morton Kondracke                                  Award-winning columnist / journalist / political
                                                                                pundit / television commentator / Executive
Editor of the Washington D.C. Capitol Hill newspaper, “Roll Call” / best selling author
’55       Honorable Harry D.                                  Attorney / Senior Federal Judge United States
            Leinenweber                                           District Court for Northern District Illinois
’55       Hon. Martin Rudman                               Former Will County States Attorney / Judge llinois Supreme Court 5th District
’55       Joseph Shetina                                       Joliet City Councilman / real estate appraiser
’55       Dr. James Stukel                                     Retired President of the University of Illinois
’55       Dr. Andrew Sorenson                            Retired President of the University of South Carolina
and former President of the University
of Alabama
’56       Russell Dagon                                          Principal clarinetist with the Milwaukee
Symphony Orchestra ’69-’99 /Professor of Clarinet at Northwestern University from 1988 until 2005 retirement
’56       Dr. Daniel Gutierrez                                 Joliet physician specializing in internal medicine/
Founding Director of the Will County Community Health Center / Chairman of the Board Silver Cross Hospital
’58       James Agazzi                                           Television production designer / Art Director for
series “Hart to Hart” and “Moonlighting” / Set designer for television game shows / Film producer / Emmy winning art director
’60       Robert Sterling                                         Joliet and Will County historian without peer /
JJC history teaching career of over 33 years /
Author of several pictorial history books of
Will County and Joliet
’60       Leonard Altieri                                         Founder of Altieri & Associates Entertainment
                                                                                Services of Atlanta auditioning and contracting
                                                                                musicians for Broadway shows, symphony
                                                                                orchestras, recording studios / professional
                                                                                violist playing with the Atlanta Symphony
                                                                                and Atlanta Pops orchestras
’62       Ted Lega                                                   Director of Bands JTCentral ’69-’02 / His
                                                                                symphonic, swing and marching bands were
recipients of countless awards and honors / Recognized in ’87 as the Outstanding Chicagoland Music Educator and in ’95 elected to the American Bandmasters Association joining his predecessors Mr. McAllister and Mr. Houseknecht.
*Deceased

 

 

JOLIET TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES
NAMED AMONG THE “100 ATHLETES OF THE CENTURY”
IN THE CENTENNIAL YEAR OF 2001

 

CLASS                        ATHLETE                                  ACHIEVEMENT:

’49                               Charles Baldon                      All-State Football / 5th in state in 440
’48                               Walt Beich                               All-State Football 1ST team
’32                               Augie Belzner                        State Champion / pole vault
’45                               Stan Bjekich                           All-State Football 1st team
’52                               Labron Boykin                       All-State Football
’57                              Charlie Brown                         Basketball / Cross Country / Track
                                                                                      Basketball at Bradley University and Creighton
                                                                                      UPI All American 1st team
’42                               Ian Crabb State                      Champion swimmer / 100-yd. Backstroke
’48                               Earl D’Amico                           Undefeated State Champion Wrestler
’49                               Ted Faynik (Wild Bill              State Champion Wrestler / Professional 
                                    Savage)                                    Wrestler
’62                               Lou Gale                                  All-State Football / Baseball
’44                               Bernie Gerl                             Professional baseball / Catcher for the St. Louis 
                                                                                     Cardinals
’36                               Vic Getson                             All-State Basketball
’08                               Merritt Giffin                          State Champion in discus and 880 / U.S. 
                                                                                     Olympic Silver Medalist Shot Put / London 1908
’16                               Earl Gilfallin                            State Champion /120 High Hurdles / 800 Relay
’57                               Ken Glasgow                         H.S. stand out Baseball pitcher / Basketball
’48                               Don Govoni                            Undefeated State Champion Wrestler / two-time 
                                                                                     NCAA All American Wrestler / Hall of Fame / 
                                                                                     Football
’42                               Ralph Gruben                        All-State Football
’16                               Russell Hargreaves             State Champion 50-yd. Dash / 800 relay
’04                               Harry Hohisel                        World Champion Wrestler both Amateur and 
                                                                                     Professional Undefeated
’55                               Dan Imrie                               Multiple sport athlete, sixth in state for mile / 
                                                                                     second in state Cross Country
’57                              Mike McBride                         Baseball H.S. All-American / Basketball
                                                                                     Athlete of the Year
’16                              Bill Jacobs                              State Champion 440-yd. Dash / 800 relay
’40                              Lois Janeke-Gregory           Championship bowler / golf and softball athlete
’34                              Don Jones                              State Champion Tennis singles / All-State
                                                                                     Basketball
’56                             Jerry Keigher                          H. S. Baseball / Basketball standout
’36                             Bill Lenich                                All-State Football
’37                             Ben Macuk                               All-State Basketball
’45                             Eugene “Goo” Martin            All-State Football

’57                             Mike McBride                         Baseball / Basketball / High School Baseball
                                                                                    All-American
’06                             Dwight McNally                      State Champion 440 yd. Dash
’39                            George Munroe                      Multiple athlete / Basketball / Tennis / college
                                                                                    basketball at Dartmouth, professional basketball with the St. Louis Bombers and
               Boston Celtics
’25                            Borgia Orlovich                       State Champion 440 yd. Dash
’47                            Virginia Tezak Papesh          All-American / Girls’ Professional Baseball 
                                                                                    League / Played for the “Racine Belles / Listed in baseball’s Hall of Fame Cooperstown, NY /                                                                             depicted in movie “League of Their Own”
’49                           Jim Rawley                               All-State Football
’29                           Ernest “Pug” Rentner            All-State / All-Conference in Basketball and 
                                                                                    Football / 12 letters for shot put, discus, high 
                                                                                    jump, basketball / All-American halfback 
                                                                                    at Northwestern University
’44                           Dave Shapiro                            State Champion Wrestler / NCAA Champion 
                                                                                    heavyweight wrestler at University of Illinois
’54                           Bob Sims                                   Football All-State / All-Conference / Honorable Mention All-American Halfback
’64                           Dale Spier                                  Baseball / Basketball / Minor league player
                                                                                    with N.Y. Yankees and San Francisco Giants
’54                           Mickey Spiezio                         Professional bowler / state bowling champion
                                                                                     3 national PBA titles / two Olympic Gold Medals 
                                                                                    one Bronze Medal / Member Illinois Bowling 
                                                                                    Hall of Fame/ ABC World Champion
’59                           Eddie Spiezio                            Major League third baseman with San Diego
                                                                                     Padres, St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox / Owns two World Series rings
’38                           Mary Jane Sporar                     Bowling columnist for over 50 years / inducted 
                                                                                     into four bowling halls of fame / earned over 70 titles in swimming and diving from the YMCA and AAU
’32                           Bob Stephen                             State Champion in shot put / All-State Football
’64                           Bill Sudakis                                H.S. two-time All-Conference baseball / H.S.
                                                                                     basketball standout / Major League third 
                                                                                     baseman and catcher with Los Angeles Dodgers, N.Y. Mets, Texas Rangers, N.Y. Yankees, 
                                                                                     Cleveland Indians and the California Angels /
                                                                                     Professional bowler in the off seasons
’48                          Roger Swank                             All-State 440-yard dash & 880-yard relay /
                                                                                    Three Big Ten titles in the mile relay U of I /
                                                                                    played football University of Illinois
’64                          Billy Boy Thompson                 Boxer / Amateur Heavyweight champion 
                                                                                    capturing both CYO & State crowns ’66 through ’72 /In 1970, voted #1 heavyweight amateur in                                                                                 United States / Football at JJC playing defensive end & made All-conference team
’53                           Ike Trice                                    State Heavyweight Wrestling Champion / Track
                                                                                    All-Conference in Football
’45                          Jim Valek                                   All-State Football / University of Illinois 
                                                                                    Football Coach / American Football League Coach
’56                          Larry Waddell                            Baseball / Basketball / ’56 Athlete of the Year
’63                          Jim Walser                                 All-State Football
’40                          Frank Wardley                           All-State Football / Basketball
’33                          Jay Wardley                               All-State Basketball / Football
’63                          Bill Wehrspann                         H.S. Triple sport standout in baseball / 
                                                                                    basketball / football / Big Ten football University of Wisconsin
’64                          John Williams                           All-State Football / State Champion
                                                                                    Wrestler
’64                          Charlie “Choo Choo”              All-State Football / All-American High School 
                               Winters                                      Football / University of Nebraska Football

In addition to the above athletes, over 400 JTHS athletes were named to the roster of “2001 Distinguished Athletes of the Century.”

 

 

                                                                                                       JTHS INDUCTEES
                                                                               TO THE JOLIET AREA SPORTS HALL OF FAME

Class of 2003 – induction June 12, 2003


• Don Ladas – JT ‘47
When it comes to Joliet area sports, Don Ladas is the authority. Since 1950, Ladas has been a media fixture on the scene, first as a sportswriter for the Herald News from 1950-54, and over the past 50 years as a sportscaster for WJOL Radio. From high school and college baseball, basketball, and football to wrestling, bowling, boxing, golf, billiards, and archery, Ladas has broadcast well over 5,000 games and events during that time. He is enshrined in seven halls of fame, most notably the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, Illinois Sportscasters, Joliet Junior College, State of Illinois Bowling and Will County Bowling. He also has been recognized as “Man of the Year” by several area organizations.

• Ernest “Pug” Rentner – JT ‘29
The first four-year letter winner at JT in each of three sports (football, basketball and track), Rentner became one of the most feared backs of his time at Northwestern University in the days when college athletes only had three seasons of eligibility. He was known as a “triple threat halfback” who led his team to back-to-back Big Ten titles in 1930 and 1931. One of the top vote getters along with Otto Graham to NU’s all-time football team and a College Football Hall of Fame recipient, Rentner went on to play professionally for four seasons with the Boston Redskins and Chicago Bears.

• Eddie Spiezio – JT ‘59
One might be able to describe Spiezio’s 24-year baseball career as magical. No matter what level of ball he played from Little League to Pony League, and from college to the Major Leagues, Spiezio and his teams found success as evidenced by their seven World Series berths. In ’64, when he was a first year major leaguer and member of the St. Louis Cardinals there was the title matchup with the New York Yankees followed in 1967 with a St. Louis championship against Boston. In 1968, Spiezio and the Cardinals were back in the Series but were denied a second straight title by Detroit. In his nine-year major league career, the third baseman also played for the San Diego Padres and the Chicago White Sox.

Class of 2004 –induction June 17, 2004
• Merritt Giffin – JT ‘08
The first athlete to bring international acclaim to the Joliet area, Merritt Giffin did so with his performance in the discus throw at the 1908 Olympics in London. His throw of 133-6 ¾ earned him the Silver Medal for the United States. The showing for Giffin closed out a dominating senior season for the JT football captain, who earlier that year claimed his third straight state high school title in the event, while placing fourth in both the 880-yard run and shot put. Giffin also excelled in the hammer throw, setting school records similar to the ones he set in the shot put and discus. In New York competition in 1906, he set a national high school record and in 1908 set a world record while a student at the University of Illinois.

• Bill Sudakis – JT ‘64
At JT, Sudakis was a multi-talented athlete who was a three-year All-Conference selection and senior-year All-State pick with the Steelmen. He played eight consecutive seasons in the Major Leagues, being called up by the Dodgers in 1968. He homered in his first major league game and one week later hit his first major league grand slam. Sudakis had the ability to play anywhere – first base, third base, catcher and the outfield. His teams included the Mets, Rangers, Yankees, Angels, and Indians. In 530 career games, Sudakis, a switch hitter, collected 362 hits and 214 runs batted in, while batting .234. While at JT, Sudakis also excelled in basketball where he was a two-time All-Conference choice.

• Billy Boy Thompson – JT ‘64
One of the most dominating amateur boxers of his day, Billy Boy Thompson
took up the sport after graduation in the spring of the year training at the Peter Claver Center. Six months later, he captured his first CYO title. Thompson went on to capture five other CYO crowns, five Illinois Golden Glove titles, and three state heavyweight championships in a career that spanned 10 years. Described as “having the best right hand in America” by the Chicago Tribune, Thompson was voted the No. 1 amateur boxer in America at the heavyweight level by the Amateur Boxing Association in 1970 after claiming the National Gold Glove Championship that year. Two years earlier, Thompson left an equally lasting impression with George Foreman, whom Thompson knocked down in the first round of their 1968 Olympic Trials. Thompson was an All-Conference defensive end in football at JJC. He had numerous opportunities to turn pro as a boxer; however, he hung up his gloves in 1973 after winning 110 of his 125 matches, 95 by knockout. Had he turned pro, it is generally regarded that Thompson would have been a contender for the heavyweight crown.

• Jim Valek – JT ‘45
From player to coach to management, Jim Valek covered the gamut in a football career that spanned more than 50 years. Valek was a two-way starter for the Steelmen earning All-State recognition in 1944. At the University of Illinois, he went to the Rose Bowl with the team in 1947 and beat UCLA 45-14. In 1948, Valek was named the team’s MVP and earned an invitation to the Blue/Gray Game as an end. Spanning 18 years, Valek was an Assistant Coach for Wichita, West Point, Illinois and South Carolina. He was named the head coach at Illinois in 1967 and remained there through 1970. All but two of his final 25 seasons was spent in the professional ranks, starting in personnel with Dallas, where he was part of two Super Bowl teams. He was an assistant coach and general manager with New England ’74-‘80; helped start up the New Jersey Generals of the USFL in ‘83, and then went to the European League in ’88. His last head coaching assignment was with the New York Knights of the Arena Football League in ’89 before retiring in 1995.

Class of 2005 – induction June 23, 2005
• Roger Swank – JT ‘48
Considered a pioneer in the sports of track and cross country, Roger Swank started girls’ cross country at JT West before the IHSA sanctioned it. The same was true for the boys and girls cross country at the elementary school level. As a runner himself, Swank was an All-Stater in the 440-yard dash and the 880-yard relay for JT prior to earning three Big Ten titles in the mile relay at the University of Illinois. As a coach at JT West, Swank’s teams went a combined 318-54 in boys and girls track and cross country with an unprecedented 28 league crowns in 18 years. He also guided 10 individual state champs and one national titlist. At the collegiate level, Swank took two University of St. Francis teams to district titles.

 Class of 2008 – Induction August 1 2008
• Mary Jane Sporar – JT ‘38
For more than 56 years, Mary Jane Sporar was vitally involved in the local bowling community. She began her writing career at the Joliet Herald News in the 1950s, the same time bowling popularity took off. Sporar founded two bowling councils (Illinois and Joliet Area) and both the Joliet Area Bowling Hall of Fame and the Awards Dinner. She served in the leadership capacity of numerous organizations and also helped bring Joliet bowling to the airwaves with her radio and cable television coverage of tournaments and news. Sporar earned membership in four halls of fame: Bowling Writers Association of America, Midwest Bowling Association, Illinois and Joliet Area Women’s Bowling Association, and the Will County/Joliet Hall of Pride. In addition to her love for bowling, she was an established swimmer and diver claiming over 70 titles from the YMCA and AAU. She also taught aquatics for the YMCA, the Red Cross and for JT.

 
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