Three Westville High School alums will be honored Saturday as the first inductees of the new Westville Wall of Fame during the annual Westville High School alumni banquet.
Westville High School Principal Guy Goodlove said he hatched the idea to create a wall of fame for Westville after learning of similar tributes in Danville and Villa Grove.
“I read in the paper that Danville High School has a wall of fame, and when we were at Villa Grove for a game, I noticed they had a wall of fame, too,” he said.
“I thought, ‘How neat would it be if Westville had a wall of fame,’” he said. “It creates pride in the high school and pride in the community.”
Those nominated for the honor needed to be Westville High School alumni with at least one year of attendance at the high school or employees of the Westville school district, Goodlove said.
A committee selected the three individuals for this year’s honor from nominations received from other alumni, family members and people in the community.
“The nominations were certainly of high quality, and the committee had a difficult time selecting,” he said, adding that two new honorees will be inducted every year to the tribute wall.
All three of the individuals selected for induction have distinguished themselves as the cream of the crop within their respective profession and are recognized as such, either locally, statewide, nationally or internationally.
The three represent the qualities that Westville High School aspires for all students to strive for: a dedication to excellence in education, a desire to serve their community and a proven record of success.
The three individuals who will be inducted into the Westville Wall of Fame for 2013 are: Jeffrey D. Cooke, Class of 1979; Dr. Frank L. Lesko, Class of 1938; and the late Lee Albert Miglin, Class of 1941.
Cooke is an internationally recognized scientist and astrophysicist. After high school and attending the University of Illinois, he moved to California to start a business.
His passion for astronomy, however, motivated him to return to college to pursue a career in astrophysical research. He graduated from San Diego State University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in astronomy. He earned his Master of Science and doctorate degrees in physics from the University of California, San Diego, in 2001 and 2005, respectively.
Cooke’s research focuses on the formation and evolution of galaxies and the detection and study of distant supernovae. He has used the world’s largest telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope, for his observations. Cooke’s work has helped people to understand the complicated process of galaxy formation in the distant universe and role environment plays in their evolution into galaxies, such as the Milky Way.
Cooke pioneered a new technique to detect supernovae much farther than has been previously possible. Using this technique, Cooke has discovered the most distant supernovae known — events that occurred more than 12 billion years ago — and has made discoveries of a rare, extremely powerful, new type of supernova. His approach is the first able to detect the deaths of the very first stars to have formed after the Big Bang. Cooke’s work has helped scientists better understand the early universe and the framework that eventually formed the diverse set of galaxies, stars and planets around us today.
Dr. Frank Lesko
Lesko graduated in 1938 from Westville High School, where he distinguished himself in the classroom, on the athletic field and in the community. He was the first in Westville to earn the Boy Scouts’ coveted rank of Eagle Scout.
Lesko came from a poor family. His father died unexpectedly and left a young wife with six children to raise. Lesko assumed the responsibility to provide for his mother and younger siblings and, at the same time, managed to continue his education and graduate from high school, being the first in his family to graduate. Lesko attended Millikin University on a football scholarship, graduated in 1942, and then moved on to medical school at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Upon his graduation from medical school in 1945, he entered the Army where he served as a captain from 1953-33.
While serving in the military, Lesko distinguished himself by leading an eight-man rescue team up Mt. Fuji in Japan on what would be a seven-hour assent. When the rescue party reached the injured soldier, only two members of the rescue party remained with Lesko. After rendering first aid to the injured soldier, Lesko led the party successfully down the mountain. His heroism and leadership were recognized in a letter of commendation.
After completing his tour of duty with the Army, Lesko completed a three-year residency in radiology at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis, where he achieved excellence in the field of medicine, and was the first physician to introduce nuclear medicine in central Illinois.
Lee Miglin was born of immigrant parents in 1924 in Westville. He graduated in 1941 from Westville High School where he received several honors in statewide competitions. He attended Gallagher School of Business before enlisting and serving in the U.S. Air Corps from 1943-45. Upon completion of his enlistment, he entered the University of Illinois and graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism. While at U of I, he was a member and president of several honor societies, including Phi Kappa Tau, Alpha Delta Sigma and Chi Gamma Iota.
Miglin participated in several different business ventures before deciding on entering the field of real estate development.
In 1982, Miglin formed his own company, Miglin-Beitler, Inc., with his partner Paul Beitler. From this company, Miglin would become one of the giants in real estate development in Chicago and was instrumental in changing the skyline of the city. He developed several distinguished high-rise office buildings in Chicago.
Miglin always was at the forefront of his industry, leading the way to new and innovative concepts to meet the expanding demands of the Chicago real estate market. He was the first real estate developer to introduce public sculpture to private developments in Chicago. He also introduced a new concept now known as the business park, where office and warehouse spaces are combined.
He died in 1996.