The Hall of Honor is a celebration of exemplary alumni and friends of Batavia Public School District 101 who have distinguished themselves in their professional and/or personal lives since high school. This is our 3rd year. This year, and all future years, there will/can be 6 alumni, 1 staff and 1 community member honored. Tickets are available now for the October 5th Hall of Honor event. Please come and celebrate with us!
Michael J. Fisher (1993): Michael J. Fisher was the epitome of “student athlete” during his time at Batavia High School and again at the University of Virginia. As a freshman at BHS, Fisher led the soccer team to the Elite 8 in State Playoffs, a feat that had not been accomplished for more than 70 years. Fisher has received the highest honors that any athlete can achieve in high school: All-American and winner of the Gatorade Circle of Champions - Boys Soccer, of which there is only one selected annually in the United States. In college, he was the recipient of the Hermann Trophy, in both 1995 and 1996. Accompanying Fisher’s athletic success, he graduated valedictorian of his class at Batavia High School, received a full scholarship to UVA, completed a residency and fellowship at Duke University, and is now a partner at Delaney Radiologists in Wilmington, N.C.
Roy C. Bailey Jr. (1966)
In high school, Roy C. Bailey Jr. was a member of the band all four years and was a drum major for multiple years. After high school, he attended the University of Michigan, Northern Illinois University, and Aurora University. He became a police officer in Batavia in 1970, and remained with the department until Christmas of 1975. Bailey then began working in the food retail industry, where he has worked for over 40 years. He married Jeanne Kosik on May 21, 1976. The couple has two children, Stephen and Brittany. During the time his children were in middle and high school, Bailey was a parent volunteer with the Marching Band. He has shown great pride in Batavia musicians and athletes for more than 30 years, attending concerts and games to show his support. He has also been involved with the Batavia ACCESS Toy Drive for more than 30 years. After the passing of his parents, Roy Sr. and Mildred, Bailey rose to the occasion of following in their footsteps by becoming the voice of the ACCESS Toy Drive. Every fall and winter, Bailey can been found picking up toys, speaking at various meetings, and delivering smiles to the children of Batavia. He has a profound love for the City of Batavia and all of its citizens. One of his favorite sayings is, “Once a Batavian, Always a Batavian.” Bailey stands true to this motto, as he gives back to Batavia whenever he can.
Pat Bergeson (1979)
Guitarist and harmonica player Pat Bergeson has written, toured, and recorded with many of his musical heroes. Beginning at Batavia High School and then the University of Illinois, he moved on to New York City and earned a Jazz Studies degree at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. After playing in New York for 10 years, he moved to Nashville upon the request of Chet Atkins who heard him on a demo tape. Atkins invited him to play on his album "Sneakin' Around" with Jerry Reed, and later featured Bergeson’s guitar and compositions on his 1994 releases "Read My Licks" and "Simpatico" with Chet Atkins and Suzy Bogguss. Bergeson continued to tour and record with Atkins for several years. Bergeson has played on many Grammy Award-winning records, and has appeared on many movie soundtracks. He is known for his session work with a variety of artists, including Lyle Lovett, Dolly Parton, Peter Frampton, Chrissie Hynde, and many others. Bergeson is currently active in Nashville as a session musician, and touring with multiple bands.
Corey Williams (1992)
A four-year starter on the Batavia High School Basketball Team and National Honor Society member, Corey Williams was a standout student athlete. While at BHS, Williams broke the all-time scoring record previously held by NBA legend Dan Issel while leading the Bulldogs to four conference titles along with three All-State selections. Williams was a key player on the 1991 Bulldog team, which reached the Illinois State Semi-Finals for the first time since 1915. In 1992, Williams accepted an athletic scholarship to the University of Arizona where he played four years for Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Lute Olson. As a key player, Williams helped the Arizona Wildcats earn two Pac-10 titles, an NCAA Sweet 16, and a trip to the 1994 NCAA Final Four. In 1996, Williams graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. After graduating college, Williams went on to have a successful 12-year professional basketball career playing in countries all over the world. Williams began a TV broadcasting career in 2009 when he was chosen to be the color analyst for the University of Arizona’s Men’s Basketball broadcasts. Williams currently resides in Tucson, Arizona, and works for ESPN, Fox Sports, and the Pac-12 network as a college basketball analyst. He is also the vice president of the Crest Insurance Group, and founder and executive director of SPL Sports Inc., which is a non-profit organization focused on providing free sports and fitness programs to Arizona youths.
Francis Alberovsky (1935) deceased 1941
Francis Alberovsky was the son of former Batavia Police Chief Severin Alberovsky, and a lifelong Batavian until he entered the U.S. Navy shortly after high school graduation. He completed one enlistment and then re-enlisted. In his second term, he served as a Boilermaker First Class with the rank of Petty Officer First Class aboard the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. He was killed in the surprise attack on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941. He is one of the 1,102 Navy sailors and Marines entombed in the hull of the ship. His name is listed eighth on the USS Arizona Memorial. Alberovsky received several posthumous awards, including the Purple Heart, American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the WWII Victory Medal. Alberovsky’s half brother, Albert Painsipp, also received a number of decorations for his heroic military work as a U.S. Army Corporal in World War I. Painsipp was one of the first officers of the Batavia American Legion Post 504.
Thomas L. Schmitz (1958) deceased 2013
Thomas L. Schmitz lived in Batavia his entire life. He attended Blaine Street Elementary School and Grace McWayne Elementary School in his early years and graduated from Batavia High School in 1958 where he enjoyed playing baseball, basketball, and football. He attended the University of Illinois and Monmouth College. Schmitz had a fulfilled life devoted to public service. While his two sons were young, he served as a Boy Scouts troop leader, coached Batavia Boys Baseball, and was an active member of The Congregational Church of Batavia where he served as treasurer for many years. He began his community service by serving on the Batavia Board of Zoning Appeals for 17 years. He then served on the Batavia School Board from 1987 to 1993 and was elected alderman in 1999. He stayed in that position until 2011. Schmitz was employed at Fermi National Accelerator for 30 years. He appreciated the Batavia community and wanted to give back to this special town through his volunteerism. Schmitz’s Swedish grandparents settled in Batavia and his mother graduated from Batavia High School. Schmitz and his wife Nancy, also a graduate of BHS, raised two Batavia High School graduates, Tim (1984) and Scott (1986).
John Heath grew up in Aurora, graduating from Aurora West High School in 1970. Active in band, choir, orchestra, art, and theatre throughout high school, these activities and their teachers, laid the groundwork for his life as a music educator. At the University of Illinois, he earned bachelor’s degrees in Music Education and Tuba Performance, and later a master’s degree in Music Education. Heath started his teaching career as the high school band director in Highland, Ill., near St. Louis. While in Highland, he was also conductor of the Highland Municipal Band and the principal tuba and section bassist with the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra.
In the fall of 1990, Heath came to the 80 members of the Batavia High School band as their new director. In the next 22 years, he would see those 80 students turn into over 265 students. During those years, Heath and his students had many memorable experiences, including concerts, tours, musicals, hoagie sales, halftime shows, and Homecoming dance routines. Each experience enriched the lives of his students. During his career, Heath has received the ILMEA Distinguished Service Award, Kane County Regional Superintendents Award, Illinois State Board of Education “Those Who Excel” Award, Chicagoland Outstanding Music Educator Award, was a seven-time recipient of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, and is past president of the ILMEA. Currently, Heath is a visiting assistant professor at Northern Illinois University, and conductor of the Batavia Community Band and the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp International Wind Ensemble.
Richard Johnson (deceased 1983)
Born and raised in rural Kane County, Richard Johnson was a fixture in area community service. Johnson was possessed with conscientious commitment and congeniality, speaking frankly about things in which he believed—especially on behalf of youth. Through his election to the BPS101 Board of Education in 1961, he secured first-time representation for the District’s rural families. He served with and led the Board for nine years through major changes in the District, including the financing, negotiations, design and construction of the new high school on west Main Street in 1965, replacing the old school built in 1914. In 1963, he was on the Board during the search, vetting, and hiring of a new superintendent of schools to replace the much-admired J. B. Nelson, who had served in that role for nearly 40 years. During this period, he also served on the Board of the University of Illinois/Kane County Extension that oversaw youth programs including 4-H. In later years, he was the Tax Assessor of Blackberry Township and served as president of the Kane County Board of Tax Assessors at the time of his death. Johnson passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in June 1983. At that time, the family chose the Music Department of BPS101 as a recipient of donations in his honor, as he was convinced of the importance of the arts curriculum. Four generations of the Johnson family have attended or are currently attending Batavia Public Schools.
Ellen Skrimont Diffengaugh (1934)
Ruby Dubis (1970)
Lori Anderson Gregorski (1986)
Richard W. Hansen (1955)
George Von Hoff (1940)
Dennis Piron (1983)
Batavia High School Alumni
Lori Anderson Gregorski (1986): Lori Anderson Gregorski graduated from Eastern Illinois University and began her career in media sales for Shaw Newspapers ( Kendall County Record , K ane County Chronicle, K ane County Business Journal and the Northwest Herald ) and Paddock Publications ( Daily Herald) . She was an active member of Bethany Lutheran Church and a member of the adult choir. In
2004, Gregorski had an opportunity with Cox Ohio Publishing and moved to Dayton, Ohio. There, she served on the board of directors for the Ronald McDonald House and Coffman YMCA. During the economic downturn, she began running and became actively involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Team IN Training” program. Through this program, she completed multiple half and full marathons while raising money for the organization. During this time, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. While MS slowed her down, she continued to work to raise awareness of MS and raise money for both the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. In 2015, she was honored with The Joel Kahn Award of Courage by the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National MS Society. This award is given to a person living with MS who works tirelessly to change the world for others affected by MS. She recently made a career change and accepted a position with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as the Senior Development Manager. Gregorski continues to encourage others to share their stories and hopes to one day complete the Chicago Marathon—the race she was training for when diagnosed with MS. Gregorski and her husband, Tony, have two children, Shelby and AJ. They live in Springboro, Ohio.
Richard W. Hansen (1955): In 1940, Richard Hansen’s grandfather, W.C. Furnas, moved his family to Batavia and founded the Furnas Electric Company. Hansen attended Batavia schools from kindergarten through high school. He graduated from Purdue University and after graduation served in the U.S. Naval Reserves from 1961 to 1964 as Lieutenant Junior Grade on the USS Cimarron and at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. Hansen returned to Batavia and, in 1966, began his career at Furnas Electric Company, which at that time was a $10 million manufacturing company of special electrical motor control equipment. In 1972, he became president and in 1977, he became Chairman and CEO and served in that position until the company was purchased by Siemens Energy & Automation of Georgia in 1996. During those years, the company grew from $10 million to $140 million and was recognized within the industry most notably for its many product innovations, some of which set industry standards in motor control centers, electronic motor start devices and electronic overload relays. Hansen was a founding member of the Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence and his family’s Foundation, now known as the HansenFurnas Foundation, has awarded more than $6 million for charitable causes and educational scholarships for local students. Hansen also served 20 years on the board of directors of the Experimental Aircraft Aviation Foundation, focusing on teaching youth about aviation and was a member of the Illinois Math & Science Academy Development Committee. He and his wife, Joanne, have two children, Scott and Lisa, who attended Batavia schools.
Ellen Skirmont Diffenbaugh (1934) deceased 1986: In the 1940s, Ellen Diffenbaugh was part of a team o f l a b o r a t o r y t e c h n i c i a n s t h a t w o r k e d f o r t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f C h i c a g o o n t h e M a n h a t t a n P r o j e c t . T h e Manhattan Project was a research and development project led by the United States that produced the first nuclear weapons during World War II. During those years, Diffenbaugh was sent to set up the lab as the chief medical technologist at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the Atomic Bomb was constructed. The lab was responsible for keeping track of the effects of radiation on the scientists. After leaving the project, she spent 15 years as chief of the medical and technical department at Argonne National Laboratory. She also worked parttime at Skokie Valley Community Hospital and was a volunteer at RushPresbyterianSt. Luke's Medical Center. Diffenbaugh was born and raised in Batavia. Her first language was Lithuanian and she did not learn English until she started school. After graduating
from Batavia High School, she received her undergraduate degree at Valparaiso University in 1938 and completed her medical technology training in St. Louis.
George Von Hoff (1940) deceased 2010: George Von Hoff started his academic career at Louise White Elementary School in Batavia. During his years at Batavia High School, he was on the track, basketball, and football teams, and was known as the “Flying Dutchman.” Upon high school graduation in 1940, Von Hoff joined the U.S. Navy where, in May 1942, he survived the sinking of the USS Lexington during the Battle of the Coral Sea. He retired as a Chief Petty Officer after 20 years of service and returned to Batavia in 1960 to raise his family. He served as Recreational Director of Parks, Superintendent of Parks, and the first Superintendent of the Batavia Park District. He was also a school bus driver both on a daily basis and for the athletic teams. After a lifetime of supporting Batavia sports, Von Hoff was named “Booster of the Year” in 2001 and “Fan of the Year” in 2003. An active member of Bethany Lutheran Church, he volunteered for Meals on Wheels, Hesed House, ushered, and was a Sunday school teacher for 55 years. The Loyalty Day Parade and the Bethany float, which he worked on, encompassed Von Hoff’s love for God, America, Batavia, and children. On his 80th birthday, Mayor Jeff Schielke presented Von Hoff with a proclamation honoring him as a “Batavia Treasure.” Throughout Batavia, you will see tributes honoring his name, including Von Hoff Drive, at Bethany Lutheran’s gym, on a Quarry Park bench, and at the Memorial Park tennis courts. He is also included in the books, “Historic Batavia” and “Fox Valley Veterans: A Salute to Hometown Heroism.” Von Hoff and his wife Anne raised four Batavia High School graduates: Bruce (1962), Byron (1966), Burt (1970), and Barry (1972).
Dennis Piron (1983): During his years as a student at Batavia High School, Dennis Piron participated in football (AllConference), track (Conference Champion and state qualifier in 400 meters), basketball, and baseball. After high school, he attended North Central College and participated in football and track all four years. At North Central College, he was a fouryear letter winner in football, and a twotime AllAmerican and sixtime national qualifier in track and field. He graduated in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. From 1990 to 1999, he owned and operated the Westbank Health and Fitness Center in downtown Batavia. During this time, he was also coaching football and girls and boys track and field at Batavia High School, and earning his teaching degree. In 2000, he received his Master of Arts in Teaching from National Lewis University and type 75 certificate through Aurora University. His teaching career began in the Math Department at Batavia High School, and, nearly two decades later, he is still part of this successful department. Piron is currently Batavia High School’s head football and boys track coach. Under his leadership, the Bulldogs varsity football team has qualified for the IHSA State Playoffs four years in a row, won the IHSA Class 6A title in 2013, and has yet to lose a conference game. Since coaching girls and boys track and field in 1990, his teams have produced 17 conference championships, two sectional champions, four state champions, and more than 100 state qualifiers. Piron has also made a significant impact on the Batavia Community through his development of Batavia Youth Football and Batavia Jr. Bulldog Football Summer Camp with former head BHS football coach, Mike Gaspari. Piron established the 5thGrade Track Meet with 300 students competing at Batavia High School every year, the Les Hodge Track Meet, Coach D Invite, Coach Heimsath Invite, Coach Anderson Track Meet, the “Dog Pound” student section, youth track summer camps, speed camps, and coaching clinics. Piron is a member of the Batavia Rotary Club and past president, and currently serves on the IHSA’s Advisory
C o u n c i l o n P l a y e r S a f e t y . H e a n d h i s w i f e J o a n n e l i v e i n B a t a v i a w i t h t h e i r t h r e e c h i l d r e n , P e y t o n ( a t t e n d s North Central College), Alexandra, and Tyler.
Rudy Dubis (1970): S ince the day Rudy Dubis graduated high school, he has been a fulltime Bulldog. Dubis began his service in 1970 when he was a senior in high school and was asked to announce at a basketball game. He has continued to announce basketball games, and also became the announcer for BHS football games. His nowfamous phrase, “Home of the Battlin’ Bulldogs,” is loudly and proudly stated with vigor when welcoming everyone to games. He has announced for six different athletic directors, six head basketball coaches, and seven High School principals during his tenure as announcer. The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association inducted Dubis into its Hall of Fame in 1998 as a “Friend of Basketball,” illustrating his statewide recognition. In addition to his outstanding record of service and loyalty to Batavia High School, Dubis has actively participated in the Batavia Access Toy Committee for 16 years and was the official Santa for the City of Batavia for 10 years. He continues to play Santa on Christmas Eve, delivering toys to many houses in Batavia, and has done so for more than 40 years.
Marilyn Horbus: S ince joining BPS101 in 1976, Marilyn Horbus has provided speech and language services to students in grades preschool 8 and is considered the foundation of Batavia’s special education services. Her commitment to serving students and their families, along with her vast knowledge in speech and language development, has been instrumental in developing the Early Childhood Program at BPS101. Shortly after coming to BPS101, she helped develop the Early Childhood Screening process, which is still in place today. She and her fellow colleagues were also instrumental in starting classroom inclusion for the District, giving special education students the support they need while they learn alongside their general education peers. She is currently the Early Intervention Transition Coordinator for BPS101, which includes screening infants and toddlers, referring them for services as needed, and supporting families as their children with special needs transition to the District’s Early Childhood program. Her passion and caring spirit for people is demonstrated through her current work as a Fox Valley literacy volunteer, story time volunteer at the Batavia Apartments, Batavia Public Library Born to Read committee member, volunteer support at Early Childhood Center Parent Education Nights, and church volunteer. During her past 40 years of service to BPS101, Horbus h as led by example during unprecedented district growth, the introduction of numerous special education rules and regulations, and greater accountability relative to student performance and parent communication. She is a pillar of this school community and embodies all of the attributes of an outstanding educator with her vision, integrity, expertise, parent involvement, and genuine concern for children. Horbus earned her bachelor’s degree in Education/Speech Correction and master’s degree in Speech Pathology from Northern Illinois University. She has two daughters, Susan and Joann, who are both Batavia High School graduates. Horbus and her husband Bob reside in Batavia.
L a u r a B e r n a b e i : T h e D i r e c t o r o f C h i l d r e n ’ s M i n i s t r y a t t h e C o n g r e g a t i o n a l C h u r c h o f B a t a v i a , L a u r a Bernabei goes above and beyond her job description to serve the city of Batavia. Most recently, she has played a key role in two programs (HalfDay Afternoon Childcare and CHIP IN Batavia’s gently used
prom dress sale) that have helped bring joy to local students and ease the financial burden for parents. Knowing the demands of working parents, Bernabei threw her heart into the HalfDay Afternoon Childcare Program, which provides free childcare for BPS101 students in grades K5 on half days of school. This program was founded by the Batavia Ministerial Association in alliance with BPS101. For the annual Prom Dress Program, Bernabei was instrumental in convincing the Congregational Church of Batavia to house and help coordinate CHIP IN Batavia’s annual gently used prom dress sale to help local students in need. Bernabei has been an active member of the Batavia Bulldog Boosters and Music Buffs for several years and was the parent volunteer liaison for the BHS Color Guard and Winter Guard for four years. Bernabei graduated from Valparaiso University with a bachelor’s degree in social work. For 12 years after college, she worked in hospitals in Indiana and Southern California as a medical social worker in pediatric, obstetrics, and neonatal units. She and her husband Chuck have lived in Batavia for the last 17 years, and their children, Katie, Nick, and Erika, all attended Batavia schools.
Kenneth A. “Ken” Anderson (1967)
Robert A. “Bob” Dahlstrom (1957)
James L. “Jim” Hanson (deceased 2015)
Daniel P. “Dan” Issel (1966)
Donald E. Kramer (1976)
Robert F. “Bob” Peterson (1948)
James J. “Jim” Roberts (1976)
Craig G. Sager, Sr. (1969)
Jeffery D. “Jeff” Schielke (1967)
Timothy L. “Tim” Schmitz (1984)
Lisa M. Palese
Marilyn G. Robinson (deceased 2010)
Leslie G. “Les” Hodge (deceased 1999)
Gene A. Tyrer (deceased 1992)
About the Inductees
Batavia High School Alumni
Kenneth A. “Ken” Anderson (1967): Kenneth A. “Ken” Anderson was a playing member of the 1965, 1966, and 1967 Batavia High School basketball teams, which were undefeated in Little 7 Conference play. Anderson graduated from Augustana College where he was a starting quarterback on the Division III football team as well as a starter for the varsity basketball team for three years. In 1971, Anderson was drafted into the NFL by the Cincinnati Bengals, and became one of the most accurate short-range passers in the league. He was also the starting quarterback in Super Bowl XVI against the San Francisco 49ers. After playing professional football, Anderson went on to become a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals, wide receivers coach and quarterbacks coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and a quarterbacks coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. In addition, Anderson earned a law degree from Northern Kentucky University. He and his wife, Cristy, currently live in Hilton Head, S.C.
Robert A. “Bob” Dahlstrom (1957): The son of Swedish immigrants who settled in Batavia in 1907, Robert A. “Bob” Dahlstrom, attended Batavia Public Schools from grades K-12. During his school years, Dahlstrom helped his father with the family dairy farm. In 1958, Dahlstrom was asked by his mailman if he’d like to be a postal sub, which turned into a rural mail carrier job that lasted 41 years. In 1962, Dahlstrom joined the Army Reserves and served on weekends and in summer camps until July 1968. He married Lois Downen, a 1964 graduate of Batavia High School. The couple’s two daughters, Amy and Brenda, are also BHS grads. A pillar of Batavia, Dahlstrom is an active volunteer at The Batavia Plain Dirt Gardeners, Faith Christian Academy in Geneva, and his church, Christ Community in St. Charles. Since retiring from the post office, Dahlstrom started a business titled, “What about Bob?” Through this business, Dahlstrom provides snowplowing and lawn maintenance for community members and says his greatest pleasure is helping people whenever and however he can. An avid gardener, Dahlstrom also supplies neighbors and local businesses with fresh flowers and vegetables, and has hosted several Batavia Garden Walks along with his wife, Lois.
James L. “Jim” Hanson (1943): In 1955, after teaching English and History in Florida, James L. “Jim” Hanson moved back to Batavia and took a position as a junior high school teacher in the West Aurora School District. Later in his career, he served three terms as the Kane County Regional School Superintendent, was elected alderman in 1961. He served as a Batavia alderman for 16 years. Hanson also served as the chair of Batavia’s Planning, Zoning and Annexation Committee and on the Board of the Batavia Historical Society. In 2013, Hanson was honored by the Batavia Chamber of Commerce as Citizen of the Year.
Daniel P. “Dan” Issel (1966): An All-American basketball player at Batavia High School (one of only two players at BHS to have a number retired), Daniel P. “Dan” Issel went on to become a two-time All-American basketball player at University of Kentucky. Issel was drafted into the American Basketball Association by the Kentucky Colonels, and was named Rookie of the Year in 1970. In 1971, he was named ABA’s All-Star Game Most Valuable Player. His career points total remains the highest among University of Kentucky men's players. Issel was in the ABA for six years playing in six All-Star games, and was later traded to the Denver Nuggets, where he played for an additional nine years. Right after retiring from his 1984-1985 season, Issel received the NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for his outstanding service to the community. In 1993, Issel was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Donald E. Kramer (1976): For more than 30 years, Donald E. Kramer has served Batavia and Kane County as a deputy, sergeant, lieutenant, and sheriff. Kramer is also the past president of the Geneva Rotary Club (named Rotarian of the year in 2003), deacon of Fox Valley Presbyterian Church, participant of Rebuilding Aurora, member of Geneva Academic Foundation, distinguished alumnus from Waubonsee Community College, and past president of Triad (police, elder services, and seniors). For the last ten years, Kramer has helped secure vocational opportunities and scholarships for high school students and taught a multitude of Kane County youth how to drive safely. Kramer remains the Batavia High School record holder for shot put (56 feet, one inch) after more than 35 years.
Robert F. “Bob” Peterson (1948): After graduating from Purdue University, Robert F. “Bob” Peterson successfully ran his family-owned business, Batavia Foundry, employing many workers and contributing to the economic growth of the city. A lifelong resident and supporter of Batavia, Peterson was also a Batavia Public School District 101 Board Member for 15 years, president of the Board for seven years, and was named Batavia Citizen of Year in 2011, along with his wife, Suzanne, who is also a BHS graduate. Peterson is currently an active member of the Hansen/Furnas Foundation, Batavia Historical Society, and Batavia United Methodist Church, and delivers Meals on Wheels to the home-bound.
James J. “Jim” Roberts (1976): Social Studies teacher and basketball coach at Batavia High School for 27 years, James J. “Jim” Roberts had a team record of 455 wins and 267 losses. In addition to this phenomenal win-loss record under Roberts’ leadership, the BHS Boys Basketball program earned 10 conference championships, nine regional championships, two sectional championships, one super-sectional title, two super-sectional appearances, and one Elite 8 appearance. Roberts was also responsible for instituting special events associated with the Batavia Boys Basketball program, including The Famous Sleeve Uniforms, the Wild Bunch Cheering Section, and the Night of Hoops Shootout, which has brought many of the top teams and most highly respected programs in the state of Illinois to play at Batavia. Roberts was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2011 and retired from BPS101 in 2013. He currently resides in Batavia with his wife, Sylvia.
Craig G. Sager, Sr. (1969): In a world of 7-footers dressed in the latest fashions from the hottest designers, Craig G. Sager still manages to find a way to stand out from the crowd. A graduate of Northwestern University, Sager is known as “America’s Sideline Reporter,” and from his courtside perch at NBA and now NCAA Tournament games, he carefully and skillfully asks all the right questions in the heat of the moment. Sager joined Turner Broadcasting System in March of 1981 and soon solidified his reputation as an NBA insider. Now in his 34th season with the cable giant, his in-game interviews are well-crafted if not always well-received, and he is considered one of the best in the business when he must go off-the-cuff. While he is widely recognized in basketball for his NBA work, Sager has also covered USA Basketball during the FIBA World Championships, Pan-American Games, and Summer Olympics. Sager has covered the World Series, NFL football, Notre Dame football, college bowl games, tennis, skiing, and golf. He is also a featured voice on the NBA2K video series, proving that he is capable in any arena of sport. Before joining Turner Sports, Sager co-anchored CNN Sports Tonight and was the recipient of a CableACE Award in 1985. Sager began his career as a reporter for WXLT in Sarasota, Florida. He famously interviewed Hank Aaron as he rounded third after swatting his 715th home run.
Jeffery D. “Jeff” Schielke (1967): Jeffery D. “Jeff” Schielke is a 6th-generation resident of Batavia, Ill., and the longest-serving mayor in Batavia history, currently serving his 35th consecutive year. He has served as chairman of the Kane County Council of Mayors since 1985. In 1996, Mayor Schielke began service as chairman of the Chicago Area Transportation Study Executive Council of Mayors for the six county metropolitan region, which surrounds and includes the City of Chicago. In 1999, Mayor Schielke was chosen to assume the position as vice chairman of the Chicago Area Transportation Study Policy Committee. In 2002, Mayor Schielke was appointed a Director of PACE. For a one-year term running from 2007-2008, Mayor Schielke served as Chairman of the Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus, an organization of which he is a founding member. He was also chairman of the committee that wrote the original student government constitution at Waubonsee Community College, where he enrolled in the fall of 1967. Having been involved with the Batavia High School yearbook and student newspaper, he was similarly responsible for starting the Waubonsee student newspaper, Insight, which still flourishes today. After Waubonsee, Schielke enrolled at Aurora University. Following active duty in the National Guard and his eight-year-long role as a reporter and editor for the Batavia Herald, he earned his bachelor’s degree. Meanwhile, his interest in politics led him to run for mayor of Batavia — a position he has held since 1981. In 2005 Mayor Schielke was named “Citizen of the Year” by the community, which is the first time the award has been given to a person while holding public office. Schielke lives in Batavia with his wife, Linda, who is a retired assistant superintendent of schools in Bloomingdale, Ill.
Timothy L. “Tim” Schmitz (1984): Timothy L. “Tim” Schmitz is a fourth-generation resident of Batavia. He follows a long line of family members who attended Batavia High. Schmitz served on the Batavia Plan Commission, as an alderman and was a policy analyst for the Illinois House of Representatives. He received his dual degree in Public Administration and Political Science from Augustana College in 1988 where he met his wife, Julianne. The couple resides in Batavia with their children, Alex (Augustana College) and Ryan (Loyola University). Schmitz remains a Batavia paid-on-call firefighter and emergency medical technician, a position he has held since 1984. He is a recipient of the Red Cross’ Hometown Heroes Award and in 2005 was also honored to receive the Batavia Fireman of the Year award. Elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1999, Schmitz was one of the youngest elected members. He quickly progressed through the ranks by joining the leadership team as assistant republican leader from 2002-2009. In 2009, Schmitz was appointed deputy republican leader. After 16 years of service, Schmitz retired from the Illinois General Assembly in January of 2015.
Lisa M. Palese: With 18 years of service as a special education teacher at H.C. Storm and Rotolo Middle School and four years as a Special Education Administrator, Lisa M. Palese is currently the Director of Student Services and Homeless Liaison. Palese is a student-centered leader who works hard to meet the needs of all students. Her work as a teacher and leader within BPS101 highlights her commitment to students in need, especially homeless students and those with special needs. Through her position and work with the Batavia Special Needs Parent Group and CHIP IN Batavia, Palese has impacted countless students.
Marilyn G. Robinson (deceased 2010): For 22 years, Marilyn G. Robinson taught Business Education at Batavia High School. Following her retirement in 1988, Robinson served as secretary to the Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence and was as a volunteer historian for the Batavia Historical Society and member of its Board of Directors. Robinson also coordinated the Batavia Public Library’s Writers Workshop for 17 years, helping a number of fledgling authors get their works published. Her many freelance writing projects included historical columns for the Windmill Herald, a Batavia newspaper. After the Windmill Herald ceased publication, Robinson wrote weekly historical columns for the Kane County Chronicle for four years. In 1989, she wrote Little Town in a Big Woods, a children's history of Batavia, now in its third edition. BPS101 teachers use the book today in their classrooms. Robinson has written several other local history books, including The Sidewalks of Elburn. For her many contributions to Batavia she was named Citizen of the Year in 1995.
Leslie G. “Les” Hodge (deceased 1999): Born in Waltonville, Ill., Leslie G. “Les” Hodge served as a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant during World War II in the South Pacific and was a volunteer firefighter with the Batavia Fire Department for 16 years, retiring as a lieutenant in 1970. In 1989, Hodge retired as a plant manager after working 43 years at Dunbar Kapple manufacturing. During his time at Dunbar Kapple, Hodge volunteered to cover a game for a local paper. He had no idea then that he would become a sports legend and that his sports writing would last 41 years. Hodge covered an estimated 10,000-plus sporting events for the Batavia Herald and the Kane County Chronicle, wrote more than 2,000 “Bulldog Beat” columns, and was a founding member of the Batavia Athletics Booster Club. He covered many local athletes who went on to professional careers, including Dan Issel and Ken Anderson. Hodge interviewed world-class athletes such as Chicago Cub Hall of Famer Billy Williams and Olympic marathon champion Joan Benoit Samuelson. In 1989, Hodge was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame for his work as a tri-city high school basketball writer. In addition, Hodge announced track and field meets, hosted a Saturday morning weekly sports talk show that covered all sports throughout the Fox Valley, and provided color commentary for Bulldog basketball games on AM1480 (formerly WGSB). The “Les Hodge Track and Field Meet” is named in his honor and is still a current event. Hodge and his wife, Melba, raised four Batavia High School graduates: Janis Graffagna (1974), Gerald Hodge (1977), Gregg Hodge (1979), and Sandra Wagner (1982).
Gene A. Tyrer (deceased 1992): Gene A. Tyrer spent nearly a decade on the BPS101 Board of Education, starting in 1980. Born in 1927 and a child of the Great Depression, the St. Louis native was a graduating valedictorian from the University of Missouri before becoming a chemical engineer. In 1971, Tyrer earned a U.S. patent for co-inventing fireproof electrical cable, which ensures constant power to smoke alarms, exhaust fans and emergency lighting, among other uses. One year later, Tyrer and his wife Sharon (Morris) came to Batavia with high school daughter Debbie (Campbell), 7th-grade daughter Julie (Birkeneder), 4th-grade son Tom, and toddler Amy (Nelson). During his time on the Board of Education, Tyrer helped raise community awareness and political support for bond issues to create Rotolo Middle School and expand H.C. Storm, Louise White, and J.B. Nelson elementary schools, while also creating Batavia’s first anti-drug and alcohol awareness programs. Tyrer spent his latter career as a vice president for Gary-Wheaton Bank of Batavia (currently J.P. Morgan Chase). During his final days, he created a scholarship program for students interested in learning a trade.
Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence
P.O. Box 1003
Batavia, IL 60510