Hall of Fame 2011
Richard Eslinger (posthumous) (EAWR Class of 1946) – Gen. Eslinger had a very distinguished military career, serving both as an enlisted man and as an officer in both the US Navy and US Air Force. He served as a combat fighter pilot in the Korean War, flying F-86 Sabres (1st American “swept wing” fighter) and the Lockheed Shooting star (a “straight-wing” jet fighter).
Dick spent a long and distinguished 40-year career, training Air Force combat pilots and commanding fighter squadrons, most notably the 183rd Tactical Fighter Group based at the Air National Guard base in Springfield. Dick would go on to be Base Commander at that base for many years. Richard would attain the rank of Brigadier General in 1984, and is one of the most highly-decorated veterans from EAWR.
Paul Fritts (EAWR Class of 1955) – Mr. Fritts is a nationally respected banking consultant and expert witness who spent 34 years with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, rising through the ranks from a bank examiner in 1959, to become Executive Director in 1991. He has served the national and international banking community as a voting member of the prestigious Basel Committee on Banking; as a consultant to the World Bank, assisting third-world nations in banking practices, as well as operating a bank consulting business since his retirement from the FDIC.
Paul was an outstanding football player on EAWR’s only undefeated team in 1953, he was twice elected to the All-District team as a tackle and he also participated in basketball, track and Student Council. Mr. Fritts received a B.A. degree in Economics from Wichita State University and in 1996 was elected as one of its, “Graduates of Distinction”.
Jack Helmkamp (EAWR Class of 1965) – Mr. Helmkamp is the retired Chairman and CEO of the State Bank of Illinois in East Alton. During his professional career as a banker and continuing to this day, Jack has distinguished himself, by his active service with the United Way Partnership Foundation, the Lewis and Clark College Foundation, the Alton Memorial Hospital Foundation Board, and numerous other charitable boards and foundations.
Through Jack’s community leadership, the new School of Nursing Building at L&C College is a thriving reality. He also was instrumental in spearheading the building of the East Alton Ice Arena. Jack is a recipient of the Bane Humanitarian Award from Governor Edgar for his lifetime of work on behalf of the United Way. While at EAWR, Jack was active in a wide array of activities and sports, including Golf, Basketball, Student Council, Coronation, Choir, German Club, and Stage & Stammer, and was elected Class President. He is a graduate of Purdue University, with a degree in Industrial Management.
Dr. Ashley Hill (EAWR Class of 1986) – Dr. Hill has already enjoyed a very distinguished career in the field of pediatric pathology, serving as a professor, researcher and author both at Washington University School of Medicine and at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, where she currently serves as Chief of the Division of Pathology. Ashley is acknowledged by her peers as an expert in pleuropulmonary blastoma (PPB), a rare childhood lung tumor.
While at EAWR, Dr. Hill was very involved in sports and activities such as: Coronation Maid and a member of the National Honor Society and Student Council. She also excelled in athletics, being named All-Mississippi Valley Conference in Tennis, Basketball and Softball. Further, she was an outstanding student as evidenced by her attaining the title of Valedictorian. Dr. Hill is a graduate of Northwestern University and the Washington University School of Medicine.
Virginia Kirkpatrick (EAWR Class of 1946) – Mrs. Kirkpatrick has distinguished herself with her long and tireless career in serving humanity, through her founding, organizing, and leadership of Operation Blessing, which is the leading conduit for collecting and distributing all sorts of foodstuffs, clothing, school supplies and other essentials to less-fortunate families in the Wood River area. Her efforts towards service have led her to receive many prestigious awards and recognition, including a St. Louis “Woman of Achievement” Award in 2008; and over 15 separate awards from local, state, and national organizations and elected officials.
Under Virginia’s hands-on guidance, Operation Blessing has grown to an organization with a 100,000 sq. ft. facility and is a large beneficiary of the Riverbend United Way giving. Operation Blessing has over 60 volunteers and serves over 25,000 people per year. She also was a member of the Madison County Advisory Board, where she served for 28 years.
Dr. Stephen Korbet (EAWR Class of 1971) – Dr. Korbet is currently the Lester and Muriel Anixter Professor of Nephrology at Rush Medical College and Chief of the Nephrology Division of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He has been an award-winning researcher in the field of nephrology and actually holds two patents for a dialysis device. He has authored or co-authored over 100 professional journal articles and book chapters and has received numerous awards, including being selected as a “Best Doctor in America” for many years as well as a “Chicago’s Top Doctors” by Chicago Magazine.
Steve is also on the Editorial Board of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. While at EAWR, Steve was an outstanding student and athlete, excelling in football and wrestling, as well as track. He was a summa cum laude graduate of Millikin University (1975) and a graduate of Rush Medical College (1979).
Richard Stegemeier (EAWR Class of 1946) – Dick is the highly-respected former CEO and Chairman of the UNOCAL (Union 76 Oil Co. of California). After graduation from UM-Rolla in 1950 and obtaining his M.S. from Texas A&M, Dick began his 45 career as a petroleum engineer with UNOCAL, eventually rising through the ranks to be named CEO in 1988. Mr. Stegemeier successfully led his corporation through a hostile takeover attempt and turned around the corporation’s financial picture during his tenure as CEO.
Dick has served and continues to serve on numerous business and charitable boards, and is Professor and Researcher at Missouri University of Science & Technology, his alma mater. He has received many professional awards, including the American Petroleum Institute’s “Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement” in 1998. His career at EAWR was equally impressive: He graduated as Valedictorian; was Senior Class President; lettered all four years in baseball and was captain of the baseball team that played in the 1946 IHSA State Finals, where he was named All-State 3rd baseman.
James Towey (posthumous) (EAWR Class of 1934) – James Towey is best remembered as a self-made man who rose through the ranks to lead Olin as its President and CEO in the 1970’s. Under his direction, James led a corporation which owned 60 manufacturing plants in 25 states and 11 foreign countries. During his long and distinguished career at Olin, he also served as an accountant, controller, and Chief Financial Officer, among many other positions.
Mr. Towey served the community as a board member of the Alton Manufacturing Association, Monticello College, and the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce. In his name, Olin Corporation and his family established the James Towey Chair in Strategic Management at the University of Illinois, his alma mater, with an endowment of $1.2 Million to the University. James was also presented an Honorary Doctorate by Morehead State University and was also appointed by President Nixon to the U.S. Assay Commission. While a student at EAWR, James was honored as the Valedictorian of his class, was a cheerleader, and played on the basketball and football teams.