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NOTEWORTHY ALUMNI OF WALLER/LINCOLN PARK HIGH SCHOOL

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Contents:


WILLIAM LEAVECK, Waller Class of January, 1954
Co-Founder of new Waller/LPHS Alumni Association in 2001
 
in Bill Leaveck's words, Alumni News, fall 2000
I grew up in a three-story flat on Lincoln Avenue near the intersection of Lincoln, Armitage and Sedgwick. I attended both Arnold and Lincoln Elementary schools, then four high school years at Waller. I later attended college in the evenings, working full time during the day, and graduated from Roosevelt University with a degree in English literature. I started work as a clerk for the Federal Government at the age of 19 and stayed for 39 years, [becoming] manager of the Social Security Administration. Shortly after high school, I joined the first Waller Alumni Association where I was President during 1961 and 1962. During the 1960's I also appeared with the Lincoln Park Players and Theater on the Lake in such varied productions as 'The Man Who Came to Dinner,' 'Auntie Mame,' and 'Death of a Salesman'. I retired in 1994 and began traveling all over the world: Bali, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Tahiti, Samoa and most of Western Europe. My favorite is France, through which I have traveled by car on several occasions. One of my proudest moments was when Wally Heistad and I became the first alumni to be appointed members of the board of Friends of Lincoln Park [following the 1999 school Centennial].
 
by Diane (Fritz) Peters (55), Alumni News, summer 2003
William Leaveck, one of the founders of the rejuvenated Alumni Association, passed away on February 28, 2003, after struggling for several years with heart disease. While many of his classmates had let memories of school days fade as they followed life's various paths, Bill Leaveck kept these memories alive. Although Bill and friend Karl traveled worldwide, Bill's heart remained in the neighborhood he settled in and loved best, a few miles from Waller High School.
Bill's passions included love of the fine arts, and he was an expert on the music of his era: big band and early rock and roll. He succumbed to heart disease before he could complete writing a book about the history of music, 1900-1960. He and Karl enjoyed watching movies produced in the early days of filmdom. His collection of old records would be considered valuable collectibles. Preservation of the past was important to him.
At the reunions that he enthusiastically planned, he recognized Waller's former beauty queens as still beautiful, and old friends seemed unchanged to him. The passing of his friends and classmates touched him deeply. Bill kept in touch with Waller's first homecoming queen, Bernice Schweichler, class of 1935, and made certain that she was honorably included in many of our events. "Keeping in touch" was Bill's talent. Former teachers and classmates were regularly treated to gourmet meals at his home and tours of his lovely city garden.
Bill was generous to a fault. He treated many to main floor seats at an evening at the opera. He faithfully visited his former teachers even as some resided in nursing homes years after their tenure. His home was filled with Waller memorabilia which he finally donated to his high school's archives rather than to the Chicago Historical Society.
Because of Bill's devotion to the past and to our alma mater, the Waller/Lincoln Park High School Alumni Association became a reality again. Bill's efforts invigorated his classmates to join him in establishing an organization that would help alumni locate each other, provide information about their alma mater, and offer financial assistance to the needy, deserving, college-bound students of our beloved high school.
Several of Bill's classmates expressed an interest in establishing a fund in his memory. In March 2003, the Board of the Alumni Association voted formal approval of this idea. The hope is to be able each year to contribute in some way to furthering the talents of Lincoln Park High School music students. Please send your contributions to the Bill Leaveck Memorial Fund, in care of the Alumni Association, LPHS, 2001 N. Orchard, Chicago, IL 60614. This money will go to help music students develop their talent and skills, in Bill's memory. It will be a fitting tribute to a man who devoted many of his last days to supporting our high school.

WALLY HEISTAD, Waller Class of June 1954)
Co-Founder of new Waller/LPHS Alumni Association in 2001
by Melanie Ann Apel, LPHS Class of 1986, Alumni News, summer 2004
 
Fifty years after he graduated from Waller High School, Wally Heistad still remembers a wonderful four years and the positive influence his teachers had on his life.
When asked what activities he was involved in while a student at Waller, his list was impressive. “I was in the Fire Marshall’s Program,” he began, explaining that his responsibility in this group was to help people leave the school during fire drills. Continuing, Wally said, “ I was on the honor roll my senior year, in ROTC all four years and 2nd lieutenant when I graduated; I played tuba in the band all four years, was in the NCO Club (Non-Commissioned Officers Club, a part of ROTC) and in the talent show; served as a hall guard and the Wallerian representative of my division, which means I sold the high school’s yearbook in homeroom, I was the English class clerk, History class officer, and in the German Club. During my senior year I was in the Senior Class Play, which was Arsenic and Old Lace, playing one of the main characters, a man named Teddy who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt.” One of his fondest memories of his years at Waller is of an event that occurred during the run of the play. “I was supposed to charge up a hill, which was really a staircase. I went too fast and my feet went up and out from under me and I knew I had ruined the whole play. I had to think of something to say, fast. So I said, ‘That damn hill’s getting steeper every day!’ ” With all of these extracurricular activities, it’s a wonder Wally had any time to actually attend his classes!
But attend classes he did. “I went into high school thinking about a career in aeronautical engineering,” Wally says, “but my math was not good enough, so I turned to English.” He gives credit to his English teachers, Ruth English, Stella Kern, and Lillian Herzer for “being instrumental in helping to become a history teacher.” Also influential in Wally’s teen years was his homeroom teacher (who taught shop class), Darwin “D.V.” Anderson. “He was a big influence,” Wally recalls, “He taught me how to be a man, how to be an adult, how to treat others. High school kids need to have role models of maturity. Boys’ role models should be male teachers and girls’ role models should be female teachers. Boys need decent adult male role models even if their own fathers are around…”
Another teacher Wally remembers with fondness is his band director, James Vandsburger. “He was quite a man,” Wally says of the teacher, who was a protégé of the conductor of the Chicago Symphony. “At the last school music festival before I graduated, Mr. Vandsburger had me lead the band in playing the Star Spangled Banner!” He goes on to say, “I had considered becoming a conductor myself, but I didn’t want to be a starving artist.”
Instead Wally attended Northern Illinois University and graduated in 1958 with a Bachelor of Science in Education (Social Studies Comprehensive Degree). He says that his teachers at Waller “laid a good foundation for going to college. I was very fortunate to have so many wonderful teachers. They were very good, very supportive. They really connected with the students. Anyone who graduated in the mid- to late-1950s was in really good shape for the future.”
About the school itself, Wally says, it was “one of the most integrated schools in the city, both economically and socially. There were few Hispanics in the city then, but we had a strong Hispanic representation at Waller, as well as an African-American population, and a Caucasian population that encompassed many different ethnic backgrounds. We had kids from Cabrini Green and rich kids who lived in high rises on Lake Shore Drive. It was a stimulating group of students. You grew to have a different perspective of what made for a good life. There were a number of teen gangs,” Wally says. But when asked what type of gangs, Wally says they are more the type one would find in the musical Grease than the gangs of today. “They were not as prone to weapons as the gangs of today are. And the school had good control of these kids,” so they were not much of a problem.
Wally is still in touch with a number of classmates. “Our classes were small,” he says, “Only about 1,000 or 1100 students attended Waller back then.”
Looking back at his years as a Waller student, Wally feels his time at the high school was well spent and that he was well prepared for the life that awaited him. We should all have such a wonderful experience!

Following his years at Waller and after receiving his B.S., in 1962 Wally received his Master’s Degree in History from Northwestern University. He later attended Magdalen College in Oxford, England, and in 1973 earned an advanced degree in TV Communications, Communications and English History/Literature. He returned to Chicago and taught in the Chicago Public Schools for 35 years, most of them at Von Steuben High School. In 1992, Wally received the “Educator of the Year” Award.
Although Wally officially retired in 1993, he continued to work as a Chicago Public Schools educational consultant, as a monitor for mentoring new teachers, as program coordinator for the Newberry Library and for UIC’s “Teachers as Scholars” program. He also developed Advanced Placement seminars on skills development in U.S. History for five years.

"Ace of Aces" EDWARD LESTER GIMBEL, Waller Class of 1934
by Rod Randall (Waller Class of 1960), Alumni News, summer 2007
 
Edward Lester Gimbel was born on December 18, 1916 and graduated from Waller High School in 1934. As a young boy, he always wanted to fly. As he grew up in the Depression era, he did not have many opportunities. He hated the various miscellaneous jobs he did have. At the age of 23, in 1940, he was rejected by the U.S. Army Air Force when he tried to enlist because he did not have the then required two years of college. In 1940, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) waived its requirement that pilots be university graduates. Thus, on October 9, 1940, he and two of his friends enlisted in the RCAF in Windsor, Canada.
Following is the exploits of Captain Edward “Buddy” Gimbel, whose war record in World War II is extraordinary.
After enlisting in the RCAF, Buddy had a two-month indoctrination period, followed by four months of training in Ottawa, Canada. He began his flying training on May 16, 1941 in a Fleet Finch aircraft. His first solo flight was on May 25. He also trained on a Harvard aircraft. He learned instrument flying, dual navigation and formation flying. His flying included night landings, aerobatics and air combat maneuvers. Before leaving Halifax, Nova Scotia on October 12, 1941 for Greenock, Scotland, he had completed four cross-country flights.
After spending some time in “good old London town,” Buddy was assigned to a combat group flying out of Gloucestershire, England, learning how to fly a Spitfire MK1 and a Miles Master plane. In early March 1942, he joined the 401 Squadron at Gravensend, Kent, England. He named his Spitfire “The Brat.” He began flying “sweeps” over London. Over the next ten months, his Squadron was moved to several different locations. He flew patrol over ships in the English Channel, and he escorted U.S. B-29 Flying Fortresses, Liberators and Bostons on bombing raids over France. He flew many missions over France where he downed several German planes and destroyed several supply trains. His Squadron lost many airmen, killed and missing in action. In October 1942, Buddy was given the new rank of Pilot Officer and was promoted to Flying Lieutenant.
In late January, 1943, Buddy was assigned to the 403 Squadron out of Kenley, Surrey, England. He had 76 missions during February 1943. On March 15, 1943, George 6th, King of England, personally pinned the British Distinguished Flying Cross medal on Captain Gimbel’s chest during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
On April 3, 1943, after a “hellava” dogfight over Rouen, France, where he shot down a German Folkwolf 190, one of six German Messerschmitt planes shot him “all to hell” at 18,000 feet and he bailed out at 10,000 feet. He landed in a French cornfield. He traveled South for days hiding in bombed out farmhouses and haystacks. A friendly family took him in and gave him clothing so that he looked like a Frenchman. He was taken to first one, then another house in Paris over the next month and a half. Looking like a Frenchman, he took walks around Paris at night. On June 1, 1943, the French Underground operatives dressed him as a Frenchman and put him on a train heading south, hidden in a mailbag in the baggage car. At the last stop before the Spanish/Andorra border, he was given a map and rations to trek to and over the Pyrenees Mountains, which were 60 miles away. In Andorra, he rode out of a town in a confiscated Gestapo car. After crossing the mountains, he was captured by the Spanish police who jailed him for 25 days before turning him over to the Spanish Air Force. Ten days later, he was turned over to the British Embassy and, after spending 16 days in Gibraltar, was flown back to London.
He flew back to Chicago and after a two and one half month furlough returned to the 403 Squadron. He was made Flight Commander “B” Flight of the 421 Squadron. He continued his missions with the group until he was transferred on June 13, 1944 from the RCAF to the U.S. Army Air Force. This ended three years and eight months of service in the RCAF. Buddy began flying a Mustang and he resumed escorting Flying Fortresses and Liberators on bombing runs over France and then Germany, as well as attacking ground and train targets. In January 1945, he was ordered to instruct pilots on fighter tactics in England. He returned to his Squadron in February 1945.
On April 16, 1945, his airplane was struck by anti-aircraft flak over Prague, Czechoslovakia after he had destroyed four aircraft on the ground. He was at a low altitude and had to climb back up to 10,000 feet to bail out. The parachute cord wrapped around his neck and caused him to lose consciousness. A Czech farmer found him and turned him over to the German Gestapo. He was held prisoner for just 15 days at the German concentration camp at Buhmerwald Castle as the U.S. 97th Infantry Division freed the captives on May 1, 1945. The Germans surrendered on May 8, 1945.
On May 28, 1945, he was awarded the American Distinguished Flying Cross medal. He was honorably discharged from military service on August 11, 1945. That month, he married, in Chicago, his long-time sweetheart Marion Martins.
Captain Gimbel had recorded downing 15 enemy aircraft (where an Ace was a pilot who downed 5 aircraft), captured one German plane, and had destroyed 30 German supply trains. He flew 224 training missions and 450 combat missions, logging 812 hours of combat flying time. Among the other medals awarded to Buddy were three purple hearts for wounds he had received.
Buddy passed away in 1977.
Note: The story of Captain Gimbel is recorded in a new book The Ace of Aces, authored by his younger “brother” Donald Carlson. (Buddy was actually Donald’s step-uncle.) Donald graduated from Lane Tech in 1948. He is a veteran of the Korean War. If you are interested in a copy of the book, contact Donald via e-mail at mardonil@sbcglobal.net. Donald and his wife Marietta have donated a copy of the book to Lincoln Park High School for its archives.

Illinois Secretary of State JESSE WHITE, Waller Class of June 1952
by Melanie Ann Apel, LPHS class of 1986, Alumni News, spring 2005
 
When he speaks, his words are strong, positive and eloquent, and one quickly understands how this man went from star athlete to effective, admired public official. Hard work, dedication, compassion and the desire to reach out to his fellow man are qualities that have carried Jesse White a long way.
Jesse White was elected the 37th Illinois Secretary of State in November 1998. While serving his first term, he created a “strong, independent Inspector General’s office, managed the largest distribution of new Illinois license plates” in Illinois history, fought for and won tougher DUI laws in the state, reformed Illinois’ commercial driver’s license program, and “created the office’s first online services.” It is no wonder, then, that Jesse White was re-elected in 2002, winning all 102 counties and nearly two-and-a-half million votes.
Jesse White was, by his own admission, a reluctant high school student. He was also, however, an eager athlete. So, during his sophomore year at Waller High School (now Lincoln Park High School), he joined both the baseball and basketball teams, quickly becoming captain of both teams and eventually “all-city” player in both as well.
“I wasn’t a very good student,” Jesse says. “But I loved sports and I loved the accolades I received, the applause from the audience. Playing sports inspired me to go to school. To play sports, I had to maintain a C average. That was the carrot dangling in front of me. Do well in school and I’d get to play sports. I loved sports.” It seemed like a good deal to Jesse White.
Eventually the combination of his athletic prowess and good grades earned him a scholarship to attend Alabama State College (now Alabama State University). White went to college during a significantly historic period. “Martin Luther King was my minister,” says Jesse, and Rosa Parks was there as well.
He graduated college in 1956. In June 1956, still a star athlete, Jesse contracted to play baseball with the Chicago Cubs. But four days after he began spring training, he was drafted and had to go to basic training. He went to jump school and learned to jump out of airplanes!
In 1959, Jesse White was able to begin his baseball career. He also became a teacher. He taught 2nd grade at Jenner Elementary School for five years, followed by 26 years as physical education instructor at Schiller School. Jesse continued to pair athletics and education, and the results continued to be excellent. He worked evenings as a physical education instructor for the Chicago Park District. It was during this time that the Jesse White Tumbling Team was born. It is a program aimed at providing a “positive alternative” for children who live in Cabrini-Green and Henry Horner public housing. “The Park District asked me to do a gym show,” says Jesse. Out of that show came the Tumbling Team. In the 46 years since, more than 10,000 kids have been part of it. This volunteer undertaking has helped these Chicago youth stay away from drugs, smoking, alcohol and gangs: it has helped many who were at-risk find and follow a path toward success. When asked if he is still in touch with any of his former tumblers, he says, “Yes, most of them!” Last year the team performed 1,050 shows. This year the team is scheduled to exceed that number. “We’ve tumbled for every team in the NBA, except the LA Lakers!”
Jesse White has exemplified the role of athlete, teacher and leader in government, serving as a role model for young African American boys and girls. Although he was not involved in any school politics or student body government while he attended Waller High School (in addition to sports he enjoyed playing drums in the high school band and orchestra), his current role as Secretary of State came naturally. An active member of his community with a name that was already well-known and synonymous with “positive,” Jesse was “drafted by the 42nd Ward Democratic Organization” to replace Robert L. Thompson in the Illinois General Assembly in 1974. “They were looking for an African American to replace Thompson,” says Jesse, who was known for working with youth, for having a clean reputation and for his upward mobility and desire to make a difference. He replaced Mr. Thompson as State Representative and served in the Illinois General Assembly until 1992, during which time he represented the “most culturally, economically, and racially diverse district” in the state. Jesse represented the 13th District, which included the 32nd, 42nd, 43rd, and 44th Wards. “I represented the Gold Coast to the Soul Coast,” he says about the geographical area that covered downtown Chicago’s ritzy Gold Coast to Cabrini-Green. “George Dunne was my mentor, and he encouraged me to run for office.” In 1992 Jesse was elected Cook County Recorder of Deeds; he was re-elected in 1996.
Jesse expresses his philosophy of life with the following: “All that I am, I owe to education. I encourage everyone to make [his/her] community a better place to live. Encourage your children, your grandchildren and your young neighbors to work hard and to be the best they can be. The way forward is through education.”
“Every day,” says Jesse, “do something good for someone. You got yours, now give something back: your money, your support, your involvement.”

1990 LPHS Graduate CHRIS WENDLAND
letter from Iraq, dated August 7, 2006, to Sree Yedavalli, class of 1989;
Alumni News, winter 2006.
 
Life is good. The Army is taking good care of me. My family and I will leave Fort Carson in summer 2008 so I can attend a 1-year school…probably in Norfolk, Virginia, to help me reach Lieutenant Colonel. I’ve been stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas (were I met my wife); Seoul, Korea (1 year); Germany (3 years and where my son was born), and now Fort Carson, Colorado.
We’ve lived in Colorado Springs since fall 2003. My wife is a Department of Veteran’s Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. By degree, she is a Mental Health Counselor (good for me), but for work she helps people go back to college and start new careers. She loves her work and so do I, since we work (geographically) close to each other.
My son is awesome and such a physical kid! He loves to swim, hike, climb, bike, [play] soccer, gymnastics, t-ball, you name it. He is always in motion. We take him on outdoor trips whenever I’m not training; he loves the mountains. We are currently working on [giving him a] sibling….
I'll be departing with the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division this fall for a one-year tour in Iraq. We are attached to the 1st Cavalry Division for the next year with operations in Baghdad. I will be on the Brigade staff (the Brigade has about 3,500 soldiers) and the staff directs the actions of those soldiers.
Specifically, I will be the Brigade Fire Support Coordinator. My primary responsibility is for about 150 Soldiers dispersed throughout the Brigade who will call artillery, mortar, rocket, helicopter, and Air Force aircraft munitions on select targets to support soldiers in harm’s way. My guys are forward observers and Combat Observation Lasing Teams who call for help and I work to get them the help they need while ensuring minimal civilian casualties or collateral damage to existing infrastructure.
If we aren't dropping bombs, I run a fusion cell made up of 50 personnel to include lawyers, Psychological Operations personnel, electronic-warfare personnel, public affairs personnel, and civil affairs personnel. I work with local Iraqi community leaders to identify what the community wants in terms of security, essential services, and community projects. When we do a project well, we attempt to inform both the Iraqi press/community and U.S. media of our successes via many media outlets. We also attempt to discredit the anti-Iraqi forces and their efforts to pump propaganda to the local Iraqi civilians and to the U.S. media. I also work a lot of consequence management, using the lawyers to provide claims to local Iraqis for damages.
Overall, I also work with the Brigade Commander to keep the unit on track during our year stay. I help plan intermediate objectives to focus the efforts of our 3,500 Soldiers and try to identify the right local Iraqi leaders to influence and the right projects to invest in, in order that Iraqi citizens take more ownership of their country and that Iraqi forces provide more security. We are the humble force that ensures all actions are accredited to the Iraqi Government. We stand in the shadows and watch to make sure things go well.
I am eager to make a difference in Baghdad...I wish I wasn't going to spend a year away from my family but we will make do like we always do. I already can't wait for the reunion with my family in October 2007. I visited Iraq in June, and it seems better than when I left it in 2003, but I’m definitely going to be busy for the entire year.
 
Chris sent this update on August 3, 2008:
I returned from my second tour to Iraq in December 2007 after a 15-month deployment serving as a Brigade Fires and Effects Coordinator for East Baghdad as well as a Battalion Operations/Executive Officer for an artillery battalion performing an infantry mission in the Karada Security District...one of the 10 Security Districts created in line with the Baghdad Security Plan commensurate with the "surge".
Currently I am a student at the National Defense University's Joint Forces Staff College enrolled in the Joint Advanced Warfighter's Course to obtain a M.S. in Strategic Campaign Planning. Upon conclusion of this 11-month program I will be assigned as a Joint planner on either the Joint Staff or with one of the Regional Combatant Commands.

1997 ALUMNUS MARC JEULAND, PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER--CORRESPONDS WITH LPHS CLASSES, Alumni News, summer 2003
(now Assistant Professor at Duke University--Check out his research website: http://sites.globalhealth.duke.edu/jeulandresearch )
 
For two years (2001-2003), teacher Erik Young’s Advanced Placement Human Geography class and also freshmen World Studies classes under teacher Richard Sauer undertook correspondence with this Peace Corps volunteer

Marc Jeuland lived in Mali (West Africa) from August 2001 to March 2004. He began his service after graduating from Swarthmore College with a degree in Environmental Engineering.
He served as water/sanitation engineer in Bamako, Mali’s capital city, where he helped local residents plan and construct a water treatment facility. On the edge of the encroaching Sahara Desert, water is a rare and precious resource in Mali. Clean water and proper management of waste is essential to public health, especially in addressing infant mortality. Beyond this, among other benefits, the project promised new sources of natural fertilizer to enrich the soil.
Marc undertook the project working with LPHS students through the Peace Corps World Wise Schools program, in which PC volunteers correspond with schools all over the U.S. to share experiences and educate students about conditions in other parts of the world. He especially wanted to work with Lincoln Park High School.
For the exchange, Mr. Young first asked Marc to address several topics with his Human Geography classes. The topics included the role of oral culture and “griots” in Malian society, the impact of European imperialism on Mali, the roles of women in Mali as well as current socio-economic issues there. Marc wrote letters on these topics and sent them via “snail mail” (requiring about three weeks for delivery) but also via faster e-mail. After reading the letters, the LPHS students responded to Marc’s commentaries with questions, and the exchange continued.
Marc shared many photographs that made explicit Mali’s physical environment, customs and lifestyle (dry landscape, style of rural homes and city buildings, clothing, hair styles, eating with one’s hands, etc.). He described many aspects of life that differ from ours: hot climate, food and living standards, Muslim religion, languages spoken (French plus many non-written ones such as Bambara).
The students had the opportunity to meet Marc in person in early January 2003, when he returned to Chicago for a short visit. He visited several LPHS classes then and shared more of his experiences face-to-face, showing pictures and typical craft souvenirs; he also played music CDs and dressed in Muslim ceremonial garb for the students.
According to Mr. Young and Mr. Sauer, having dialogue and real exposure to a person actually living in Mali made geography and history textbooks “come alive” for their students. Interacting with Marc helped them 1) learn about geography, ancient history and contemporary culture of West Africa, 2) begin to understand developing countries and the increasing gap between them and the West, 3) compare and contrast rural and urban lifestyles in Mali, 4) communicate and learn using modern tools of technology, 5) be exposed to travel and service options available via the Peace Corps and 6) see that there are more things going on in the world than just local and personal issues. The best part was the opportunity to connect with a young American who was himself trying to come to terms with the tremendous diversity and needs of people on our planet.
Marc now has a PhD degree in Environmental Engineering, from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. His research so far has led him to additional experiences working on Nile and Ganges River projects in Mozambique, Egypt, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Nepal and India.
 
1984 Grad Ken Dunkin, Illinois State Representative 2002-present
article by Katheryn Hayes (96), Alumni News, summer 2008