Hillsboro Education Foundational Distinguished Alumni winners and presenters, from the left, are presenter Roy Hertel and award winner William Reynolds, presenter Mike Plunkett and winner William Cobetto, master of ceremonies Earl Meier, winner Lemar Hartman and presenter Barbara Adams, and winner John Paden and presenter John Downs.
Four men with military service, including a Major General, a Brigadier General, a Lieutenant Colonel, and a U.S. Navy veteran who was at Pearl Harbor, earned Distinguished Alumni awards from the Hillsboro Educational Foundation during their annual banquet Thursday, June 26, at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Taylor Springs.
In addition, First Community Bank presented its Golden Apple award to Carol Vollintine, who retired at the end of the school year as an elementary school art teacher.
"Carol was nominated by 50 people," Tom Gooding of First Community Bank said in presenting the award.
A member of the class of 1983 and a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, Reynolds is currently president of Professional Service Solution, an internal operations consulting firm in Pensacola, FL.
After graduating from Hillsboro High School, he earned a degree from Greenville College, a law degree from DePaul University, and served as a prosecutor in the Marine Corps. He earned a master's degree in public administration from Harvard in 2000 and joined the staff of U.S. Senator Arlen Specter where he eventually became chief of staff.
Reynolds credited high school teachers such as Barb Hewitt, Roger Reeves, Ron Deabenderfer, and Sandra Moody for teaching him the value of being a good citizen, and Roy Hertel, from whom he worked as a teenager in the Montgomery County Circuit Clerk's office and who introduced him at the banquet.
"The life lessons and the political lessons I learned from you I carried through my career," Reynold said. "Mr. Hertel, you are still the best public servant I have ever known."
"It leaves me speechless," Paden said. "We've got schools out of this world, we've got great churches, excellent people, doctors who can stand with any medical personnel–it's an honor to be from Hillsboro."
Mayor John Downs, who introduced Paden, said the award winner began his education in a rural one-room school. He earned his degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 1956, and in 30 years with the Soil Conservation Service, worked to establish Glenn Shoals Lake in Hillsboro and worked in the development of Lake Lou Yaeger in Litchfield.
He was one of those whose efforts led to the Hillsboro Veterans Memorial, and commended the late Bernard Rappe for his leadership in that project.
He worked with fellow award winner Lemar Hartman to restore the McCord Cemetery, between Schram City and Irving, and Paden now serves as president of the McCord Cemetery Association, a board he helped reorganize that had last met in 1939.
"Growing up, I wanted to be like General Paden," Cobetto said.
He is responsible for 3000 military and 900 civilian personnel at the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield, 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, and the 126th Air Refueling Wing at Scott Air Force Base in Belleville.
Cobetto said he appreciates the role his community in Taylor Springs and Hillsboro played in his upbringing after his father passed.
"I was very fortunate to grow up in this community," he said, "because I had all of you here to raise me."
Growing up in his family's bar in Taylor Springs, he said he was always captivated listening to veterans talk about their service, "and never once did I hear anyone complain about their service to their country," he added.
After graduating from high school in 1980, he earned his degree from Parks College in 1980 and his commission from the Academy of Military Science in Knoxville, TN, in 1985.
Cobetto said he works in the building where former Adjutant General Randy Thomas–also a former teacher at Hillsboro High School–began a wall with photos of the Illinois Guard men and women who have fallen since the war on terror began on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Every day, I walk past that wall and it inspires me to give 200 percent to make sure their sacrifice wasn't in vain," he said.
"I joined the Navy on Dec. 30, 1940," Hartman said before describing pulling into Pearl Harbor on Dec. 6, 1941, the day before it was attacked by the Japanese.
When general quarters was sounded, Hartman, a radioman, ran to his post.
"The sky was full of Japanese planes," he said, adding that they were flying so low he could plainly see the pilots. He vividly recalled one Japanese pilot, hands clasped above his head.
"I saw the Arizona and battleship row get slaughtered by the Japanese," he recalled. "It was a mess, and I was scared."
He went on to serve at Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Saipan, and Tinian.
As a civilian, he worked for Phillips Petroleum for 28 years before retiring. He served on the Irving Village Board for 12 years, and was the leadership behind establishing the Irving Area Historical Museum in the former bank building in Irving.
He has published a book about his military experience, worked to restore and preserve McCord Cemetery, and continues to be active in the museum.
"I'm looking forward to the future," concluded Hartman, who will turn 91 years old on July 7 next week.
In addition to Adams, awards were presented by foundation directors Gene White, Alan Pretnar, and Lora Dean.