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  2001 Press Releases  

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CONTACT: Jan Costello
Phone: 217-785-9020, TTY: 1-800-252-8966

August 3, 2001

Senior Illinoisans Hall of Fame Inductees Named

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Department on Aging Director Margo E. Schreiber has announced the names of five inductees into the Senior Illinoisans Hall of Fame. They will be inducted in a ceremony to be held at 11 a.m. on "Senior Day," Monday, August 13th, at the State Fair Senior Center Auditorium, also known as the Illinois Theatre.

"These individuals are national gems," said Schreiber. "What they have accomplished and continue to do is remarkable. They are truly deserving of our deepest respect and gratitude."

Inductees were selected for achievement in the areas of community service, education, performing arts and the work force. They are:

Ruth Easton, 103, of Mattoon – The honoree in the Community Service Category, has devoted nine decades of her life to volunteering. She is still working for the American Red Cross, and has since 1917 when the Mattoon chapter was founded. She has participated in nearly every program the relief organization has offered – home services, office work, hospital aid, disaster relief, blood drives and more. Easton also volunteers in nursing homes and for veterans, and makes home-made gifts for those in need. Despite personal tragedies – losing a five-month-old daughter to pneumonia, losing her first husband to inadequate medical care overseas, losing a son to cancer, and caring for her second husband until his death – Easton always found time to help others. "Volunteering grows to be a part of you," she says.

James McNabb Bumgarner, 81, of Hennepin – The honoree in the Labor Force Category is a retired judge and decorated veteran. He served as a pilot in World War II. Upon return from war, Bumgarner graduated from the University of Illinois Law School. He was recalled to active duty and served in the Air Force from 1951-1974, including a tour of duty in Japan and later in Vietnam. In Vietnam, Bumgarner supervised criminal and civil law. He was appointed circuit judge in 1979, returning to private practice in 1995. In addition to continuing to practice law after a lengthy judicial and military career, Bumgarner continues to improve the quality of life for others through volunteer work with dozens of organizations. He is held in high esteem for his contributions to the law profession as well as his tireless service to the community.

Dr. Joe L. Mini, 78, of Peru. Dr. Mini is one of two honorees in the Education Category. He is the son of an Italian immigrant coal miner and has dedicated his life to education. He spent 35 years in Illinois public schools as a teacher, coach, principal, superintendent, author, consultant, administrator and more. He earned his Doctorate of Education from Illinois State University in 1966. He taught at schools in Aurora, Oglesby, Dimmick and Peru and served as Regional Superintendent of LaSalle County Schools for twenty years. He is the author of two books on education, "Let Children be Children," and "Marty Goes to Kindergarten." He developed the Joseph J. Hohner Scholarship Fund, which has provided financial assistance to several thousand LaSalle County students since 1977. He developed LEASE (LaSalle County Educational Alliance for Special Education), formed the LaSalle County Schools Film Co-op, developed the Truants Alternative Program in LaSalle County, and started the Lighted Way Developmental Center and served as its president. Dr. Mini is known throughout the state for his commitment to education and public service.

Dr. Edmund Rooney, 76, of Oak Lawn is also a winner in the Education Category. He is a distinguished journalist, educator and strong advocate for the First Amendment. He won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting. His career in journalism began in 1941 when he served as a reporter for the military newspaper Stars and Stripes during World War II. He also worked at Chicago Daily News. In 1957, he won the Pulitzer Prize for a 1956 series of stories exposing misappropriation of funds by state auditor Orville Hodge. From 1963 to 1993 he was a Journalism Professor at Loyola University in Chicago, where he earned his doctorate in 1992. Dr. Rooney, who is the father of three journalists, inspired generations of students to reach for excellence in journalism and defend the publicís right to know. He is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame.

Alice M. Purdes, 70, of Madison. The honoree in the Performance/Graphic Arts Category earned bachelorís and masterís degrees from Illinois State University, a certificate from the Sorbonne in Paris and a doctorate from Florida State University. She was the first female doctorate holder in the Metro East area and spent more than 40 years educating others. Forty-one of those years were in the Venice, Illinois school system as director of music, elementary teacher, vocal music director, literacy programs coordinator and chairperson of Venice Technical Centerís language arts department. Throughout her career, Dr. Purdes traveled extensively and inspired her students by exposing them to music and musical instruments from every corner of the world. She is a member of the St. Louis Council on World Affairs and is regularly asked by the State Department to entertain foreign guests. She is also a great athlete, having won gold and silver medals in the National Senior Olympics.

Walgreens Drugstores sponsor the Hall of Fame. Inductees were selected by a team of judges representing Illinois Aging Network agencies and organizations.



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For an application or more information about the 13th Annual Ms. Illinois American Classic Woman Pageant, call the Illinois Department on Agingís Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 (Voice and TTY).

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