Thursday, December 17, 2009

Harvey Najim

Harvey Najim, Bob Wicks, CE Welch

From 5th to 8th grade, I ran a paper route in Leland Grove, and on many a cold morning Champ Davis and I folded State Journals in the garage of another Butler classmate, Harvey Najim. Harvey was quick and funny; but while we read the comics, he scanned the financial news. We should have followed his lead.

Today Harvey is a wealthy Texan, the chairman and CEO of Sirius Computer Solutions, which sells IBM mid-range computers to corporations across the USA. The kid who grew up on Bates Avenue collects antique cars, owns a lake house, and flies to meetings in his private plane.

Lately, Harvey's life has shifted from business to service. "I want all kids to have the same opportunities as mine," he says. In 2006 he donated $75 million to create the Harvey E. Najim Family Foundation, which supports children's charities in San Antonio. Grants range from small to large; in just two years, the Foundation has disbursed over $21 million. BusinessWeek lists our classmate among the Fifty Top American Givers.

The Foundation's work centers on prevention of abuse or neglect, childhood diseases from cancer to autism to Down's syndrome, and educational opportunity. San Antonio has the highest school drop-out rate in the USA, a statistic Harvey wants to change.

Behind his generosity is the surprising news that he flunked out of college. After finishing SHS, he began in pre-med at Washington U, then moved on to Kansas U, but still couldn't settle down. Finally he turned to Wichita State, majored in math, and earned his degree in 1964. 

With an ROTC commission, he served in the data-processing unit of Brook Army Medical Center, in Fort Sam Houston. After military life he worked for Boeing and then IBM in Atlanta, Dallas, and San Antonio. In 1980 he formed Star Data Systems, which in 1997 became Sirius Computer Solutions, named for the brightest star.

Harvey's father was born in Beirut, now the capitol of Lebanon. In 1918 he emigrated to Springfield and joined his brother to run the Lincoln Candy Company, distributors of candy and tobacco in central Illinois. Harvey's mother was from Wichita, home of a Lebanese community since the 1890s. Their marriage produced four boys, of which Harvey is the eldest. In his own family life, he raised two daughters and now enjoys three grandchildren.

Philanthropy energizes Harvey. He pins notes from children on his office wall, visits neighborhood centers, and gives pep talks to kids on the importance of education. The math is simple, he says: education brings earnings, which make for a better quality of life. His politics are practical and progressive. His thoughts on President Obama: "He's smart, articulate, and he knows it’s the right thing to help the less fortunate."

Sounds much like Harvey. The honors he has received to date: Lifetime Achievement from IBM and VARBusiness, Friend of San Antonio Youth, San Antonio Business Hall of Fame, and soon he may join a university board of trustees. If anyone from '58 deserves to be in our SHS Hall of Fame, it's Harvey Najim, and I hope that our Reunion Committee will nominate him.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

Veterans Day is our most solemn holiday,
honoring all those who have served America
in peace and war, to keep us from harm.
We also remember our forty-eight classmates
who are proud veterans of the US armed forces.
Thank you. We will never forget.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Discover the Web

Ever wish you could surf the Web with ease and dispatch,
discovering new sites like a true cybernaut?
Take a look at StumbleUpon.
Just make a random pick,
or choose a topic that attracts you.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Man vs Food

As I pay the fuel bill and eye my woodpile on this brisk fall eve, Champ Davis sends a brief seasonal note:

The Travel Channel will feature the Den Chili Parlor on "Man vs. Food" on Wed Oct 7 at 9 pm. Also the horseshoe sandwich at another Springfield restaurant! The preview referred to Firebrand Chili as "evil"!

Ah, chili (or chilli): nothing better than a spicy, steamy pot bubbling on the stove as cold weather returns. Check the  Travel Channel for your local schedule; mine says Fri Oct 9 at 8 pm for the Springfield show.

More evidence of spreading fame: the October issue of Gourmet magazine has a feature on horseshoe sandwiches and recommends three local restaurants.

To encourage discussion, here's a recipe for Springfield Chili at a site called Cooking Light. If you have other memories and recipes, send us a comment!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Past in Color

Do you recall poring over the pages of magazines (Life, Look, National Geographic) and learning to see the world? Two articles on the web sites of popular news magazines show stunning color pictures of the past.
Newsweek has a slide show, In Revolutionary Color, depicting Russia in 1907-1925. The portraits are so vivid they still seem to be living people. 
Time has a slide show, The FSA and the Dawn of Kodachrome, showing color scenes of rural workers and labor migrants in the 1930s. You may glimpse parts of Illinois, before your time.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

End of Summer

Labor Day brings the end of summer, the start of school. 
Here's a film on this rite of passage by Jeff Scher, a painter and writer.
For me, September always seems the best month to travel.
Are you going anywhere?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

State Fair Film


The State Fair went by quickly this summer.
In keeping with these hard times,
Admission was $3.00, and many attractions were free.
If you missed it, there's a nice quick film
On the '58 web site: look under Video.
And for a view of the annual Butter Cow, click here.
This one munches grass beside a book-reading Abe Lincoln.
(thanks to Judi Dunkel Headrick for the tip)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blogger or Facebook?

We've been on Blogger for four years. I just made some changes to the interface, adding the "slide show" in the upper right corner. We also now have a Follower page, for those of you who want to show your reader loyalty.
But I'm beginning to wonder if we might do better over on FaceBook. Some of you may have signed in there to stay in touch with friends or family. (Anne and I have a presence there as Dana Hand, to promote our first novel.)
FaceBook is an easier way for me (and you) to write brief notes about our lives, memories, and reunion plans. It lets you stay in touch with close friends, relatives, and colleagues. Writing comments and sharing pictures or videos is a snap.
I enjoy writing the blog, but it's a lot of work and there aren't many comments. The site gets much traffic, but most viewers "lurk" and don't say anything. Facebook is far easier to navigate, add comments, and share pictures. We all get to contribute.
So I've created a trial Group page called SHS Class of 1958. Please stop by and sign on as a Fan. You won't get any spam, and it could be much more fun for all of us. (Reunion Committee, post all of your notes there!)
PS: Never fear, we won't abandon Blogger.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Isabelle Blazis

Isabelle Blazis

SPRINGFIELD - Isabelle Blazis, 95, of Springfield died at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009, at Lewis Memorial Christian Village.

Isabelle was born Nov. 10, 1913, in New Baden, the daughter of William and Ann Zitchaukus Luishes. She married John A. Blazis; he preceded her in death in 1991.
Isabelle was a homemaker and a devoted wife and mother. She was a member of Christ the King Parish and also belonged to the Lithuanian-American Club. Isabelle enjoyed crocheting, quilting, gardening, and reading.
She was also preceded in death by her son, Robert Blazis in 2001; her parents; three sisters, Catherine Luishes, Margaret Zia and Anna Kuzmisky; and one brother, William Luishes.
She is survived by her son, John Blazis Jr. of Springfield and Punta Gorda, Fla.; four grandchildren, Michael Blazis of Chatham, Denise Blazis-Mataya of Petersburg, Stephen (wife, Jennifer) Blazis of Chatham, and Mark (wife, Sue) Blazis of LaGrange; three great-grandchildren, Sydney, Vincent and Isabelle; one niece; and one nephew.
Family will receive friends from 10 a.m. until the time of Mass at 11 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 14, 2009, at Christ the King Parish, 1930 Barberry, Springfield, with Rev. Msgr. David S. Lantz celebrant. Burial will follow at Calvary Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to Christ the King, 1930 Barberry Dr., Springfield, IL 62704.
The family of Isabelle Blazis is being served by Kirlin-Egan and Butler Funeral Home, 900 S. 6th St., Springfield.
Please visit Isabelle's online life story at to offer your condolences.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Getting Older

We hear a lot of bad news about old age, and the most annoying is that we are a drag on the younger generation. You know: they will have to support us and, God forbid, listen to our moldy stories about the good old days when Cokes were a nickel.
The US Census bureau says that by 2020 elders will outnumber the young, world-wide. Bad news? Not at all, according to this article. Longer lives also bring to the world better education, greater wealth, less disease or war, and happier lives. And green technology to improve the health of our planet.
Growing older? Rejoice.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Memories of Pop

(Click to enlarge)
When you were growing up, what did you call a soft drink? Pop? Coke? Soda? Champ Davis once told me that in southern Illinois, a Coke was Dope. In New England, the favored name is Tonic.

Check out this map in the Boston Globe. Springfield lies on the Pop/Soda line, north and south. Wisconsin has a similar division, but east-west. The usage is regional (North, South, West), following historic patterns of migration and settlement. 

Ah, the many good memories of Pop. If you drank it on site, five cents a bottle; otherwise, an extra penny for the return.  All the bright colors of Nehi: orange, grape, strawberry, lemon; the tangy sweet of root beer (A&W, Dad's, Hires); the varieties of cola (RC, Pepsi) or lemon-lime (7-Up, Bubble-Up), and one odd favorite of mine, Squirt.

In small grocery stores, the "vending machine" was a metal ice chest full of cold water. Plunge your hand down into that dark pool, groping for a bottle. Bring them up, one after another, until you have your prize: ginger ale, Coke, grape Nehi. Nothing better on a hot summer day. Do you have Pop memories?

Saturday, July 04, 2009


Wherever you are today,
Happy 4th of July,
Independence Day,
May you have a safe and sane holiday!
PS: Enjoy this card from Libbie.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

SHS Organ

The Barton Theatre Organ in the SHS auditorium is a source of great musical fun to the community. I believe the organ once sat downtown in the Orpheum theatre. Early in the 1990s, it moved to SHS and was restored. (Locals, please comment if I'm wrong.)
Today it's used for school programs and public concerts, the latter often featuring Mark Gifford, an expert on church and silent film music. You may catch Mark on July 3-4 in Pittsfield and Springfield, and again on Dec 6 and 26 for carol concerts in Springfield.
Our Video channel has a brief film of Mark performing at SHS. For the memory-challenged, check out Music.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Tom Brosch '58 had an early Dad's Day present this year. His wife, Bev Francisco Brosch '60 invited her Chi O pledge sisters from the U of I ('64) for a weekend in Gatlinburg and the Smokies. 

Festivities included dinners, wine tastings, riverside lunch in Sevierville, a mountain drive, two hikes, and a picnic.

Tom served as host and designated driver. Here he tipples with the Springfield contingent, left to right: Louisa Pedigo Snyder, Marlene Barlick Burton, Tom, Bev, and Sue Lanich Jackson.

If you have photos of recent events, please send them in.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Taco Salad

Jo Ankeny Lindamood and Bonnie Bruce Baker recently met for lunch in sunny Phoenix. Bonnie was visiting her mother, and Jo has become a resident of Arizona. A welcome relief, she says, after many winters in Ohio. Addresses are in our class directory. (If you have recent photos, please send them in.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

John Harrison

John Harrison '58 died on June 11, 2009, in a home hospice after his diagnosis last fall with lung cancer.
In Springfield, John attended Butler grade school, where he showed an early talent for art and writing. At SHS he edited the Capitoline and wrote for the Senator Speaks. He was a member of Jr. Choir, Wranglers, and played varsity tennis all four years.
He attended Carleton College, earning a B.A. in European History in 1962. During his Army service, he was a Russian interpreter and later taught Islamic art in Turkey. In 1966-72 he worked on MA and PhD degrees at UCLA in the fields of Russian history, Islamic politics, and Islamic art.
In later years we lost track of John, though he remained close with Stephen and Joann Grove Dilts, who knew him at Carlton and named one of their sons for him.
Before his final illness, John worked for many years in the travel section of AAA and volunteered almost daily at an animal shelter, The Lange Foundation. John was 69 and is survived by his older sister, Diane.
Memorial donations may be made in John’s name to: The Lange Foundation, 2106 S. Sepulveda Blvd. West Los Angeles, CA 90025, 310-473-5585. Thanks to Stephen Dilts and Judy Vicars Van Hagen for the information.

Saturday, June 06, 2009


A brief tribute to D-Day and the greatest generation.
This picture is the favorite of their children.
Nelson & Mary Howarth, in California, in late 1943.
He is about to ship out for combat duty in the Pacific.
She will go home to care for three kids, all under seven.
Since they married during the Depression,
This time together was their only honeymoon.
Their generation made so many sacrifices
So that we and others would live and prosper.
On this day of tribute, we salute them.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mary Howarth

Mary Watson Howarth, 94, formerly of Springfield, died Saturday, May 30 in Nashville, Tennessee. The wife of former Mayor Nelson Howarth, she served as first lady of Springfield for twelve years (1955-59, 1963-71), when the city made great advances in race relations, urban renewal, and modern planning. In addition to being a full-time mother, Mrs. Howarth was an officer of several community organizations in Springfield, a skilled social hostess, and a tireless political campaigner. 
Born Mary Watson Prindiville on September 8, 1914, she was descended from Irish families who emigrated to Chicago in the 1840s and remained a proud fourth-generation Chicagoan to the end of her life.  She graduated from Wheaton High School and attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, and business school in Chicago. After working in law and insurance offices, she married Nelson Howarth on March 2, 1935, in Chicago.

The Howarths moved permanently to Springfield in 1941, where Mrs. Howarth raised a family of five children, including three under the age of seven, during the years her husband served as a naval officer in the Pacific in World War II.  After the war, two more children were born in Springfield, and beginning in 1950, Mrs. Howarth assisted her husband over the course of a 25-year political career and six mayoral campaigns.  
When the Howarths retired from politics in 1975, Mrs. Howarth went back to work as a legal secretary in her husband’s law office until his retirement in 1989. Throughout their fifty-six year marriage, and in the 18 years since his death, she remained her family's foundation and inspiration.  
In 2002 she moved to Nashville, where her vibrant spirit, sharp wit, practical wisdom, and personal strength drew to her many new friends.  The Howarth family wishes to acknowledge the extraordinary caretakers and staff of The Health Center at Richland Place for their loving care of Mrs. Howarth in her final years and Alive Hospice for their kind assistance at her death.
She was preceded in death by her parents, William Aloysius Prindiville and Gertrude Mary Shepherd, and by two sisters, Ruth Prindiville Ahern and Susan Prindiville Bichl. She is survived by her five children, Susan Howarth Eastman of Alton; William Louis Howarth of Princeton, NJ; David Nelson Howarth of Cortez, CO; Lydia Howarth of Nashville, TN; and Jo Howarth Noonan of Atlanta, GA; also by thirteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held in Nashville in mid-June. Burial and a family service will be in August at Homewood Memorial Gardens, Homewood, IL. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Mary and Nelson Howarth Scholarship at the University of Illinois in Springfield.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Summer of '45

(l-r) Alan Kennedy, Bobby Denton, CE Welch, Ginger West.

CE Welch sent this picture from his family albums.
Check out the abs, and the shades on Alan.
The date is 1945 or 1946, perhaps the summer after kindergarten.
CE lived on Fayette, Ginger behind him on Williams Boulevard.
Bobby was Feitshans '59, Ginger SHS '59.
Sadly, she died in an auto crash in 1957.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

Centuries ago a family arose near Courcy, a village in Normandy, France. Later they emigrated to Ireland and then the USA, settling in the Midwest. By 1944, a young descendant named Robert Ahern, Jr. was flying a P-38 fighter-bomber out of High Wycomb, England, toward Alençon in Normandy.

The date was April 23, six weeks before D-Day, the Allied invasion of Europe. Robert was on a strafing mission, looking to knock out German defenses. He made a pass over Alençon to warn civilians of his intent; on a second pass, he was shot down and killed by anti-aircraft fire.

Today he rests in one of the military graves at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. The place is 54 miles from Courcy, where his family began.

Robert was my cousin, gone before I could know him. On May 19 I visited his grave for the first time. It's a peaceful spot, on a bluff above Omaha Beach, where so many died in 1944. All the graves face westward, toward the USA.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Bressmer Fire

May 2, 1948

Some of you may recall the John Bressmer store downtown.
First escalators in Springfield. Departments on each floor.
Ladies wearing white gloves, shopping on Wednesdays.
Then lunch at Maldener's and a matinee at the Lincoln.
Sixty years ago this month, the store burned down.
I stood there with my Dad, watching this scene.
Later they rebuilt the store. 
It remained on East Adams until 1980.
A full story, with more pictures, here.

Thanks to Judi Dunkel Headrick for the tip.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Monica Maisenbacher

Monica Maisenbacher
Monica Maisenbacher, 40, of Round Rock, Texas, died Saturday, April 25, 2009, after a prolonged illness.

She is survived by her daughter, Erin Morgan Maisenbacher of Springfield; her mother, Marcia Ruzes Maisenbacher of Round Rock, Texas; and her sister, Vivion Maisenbacher of Chicago; as well as her sister, Susan Robinson, nephew, Zachary Thomas, and her grandmother, Marietta Ruzes, all of Springfield in addition to many close cousins and friends. She was preceded in death by her father, Gerald Maisenbacher.

Monica graduated from Southeast High School and was an EEG technician.

A gathering for family and friends to remember her and celebrate her life will be held this summer in Springfield at a family reunion.

Friends of Marcia Maisenbacher '58 may write her at the address in our class directory.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Roy Barnett Retires

Roy Barnett '58 is retiring today as chief of the Chatham, Illinois, police department. After serving twenty years as a Springfield police officer, Roy took the Chatham post in February, 1988.

At the time he thought it would be a temporary job, but every succeeding mayor reappointed him. During his years in office the village doubled in population, from six to twelve thousand residents.

A widower, Roy looks forward to traveling and spending time with his four daughters, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

A story about his retirement appears in today's SJR and a film at this link, but the film may not be there long.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Jo Meiers Leggett

Jo Meiers Leggett died on April 15, 2009 after a long struggle with cancer. An accomplished photographer and editor-publisher, she lived near Alamo Square in San Francisco.

Jo was a natural leader in the Class of '58, engaged in a range of activities from cheerleading and student council to class offices and both homecoming and prom courts.

After college she married and settled in Pittsburgh, where she chaired the board of an alternative open school and raised two children, Cameron and Catherine.

She studied photography in Pittsburgh and began to teach, exhibit, and win prizes, especially for her studies of animals and flowers. She also served as director of development for the Western Pennsylvania Family Center.

Moving to San Francisco in 1989, Jo became the publisher of photo metro, a large format magazine devoted to b/w art photography. She encouraged photographers, sponsored their work, and brought them wider public attention.

She also sold her own pictures to museums in Pittsburgh, San Diego, Austin, Brussels, and Paris. Her writing appears in two books, Our Mothers and Our Grandmothers, both available from Amazon.

Although Jo was never able to attend a reunion, she took a great interest in class news and had a large store of memories about growing up in Springfield. Her home was the former Day family house at Fourth and Canedy.

An archive of Jo's works resides at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas-Austin. Tributes to Jo are posted at the Benham Gallery. An obituary is now in the SJR.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dream the Dream

If you think life is over before it's over,
heed the story of Susan Boyle from West Lothian, Scotland.
It's a small village near Edinburgh. 
She is 47 and single, with a dream of becoming a singer.
Watch this video to see what happened on April 11, 2009.
To see the lyrics, click on (more info) in the upper right.
Thanks to Judi Dunkel Headrick for the tip.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Happy Spring, Solstice, Passover, Easter. 
Easter, what an odd word. 
In most languages, the name of this 
spring festival descends from the 
Hebrew word for Passover: Pesach.

Pascha: Greek
Pascha: Latin 
Pascua: Spanish
Pasqua: Italian
Pascoa: Portuguese
Pasen: Dutch
Paske: Danish
Paske: Norwegian
Pask: Swedish

Even the Welsh, Cornish, and Bretons
say Pasg or Pask.
Only the English have Easter.
It comes from Anglo-Saxon
and names a goddess, Eastre
who appears every April
to warm the skies and
make the flowers bloom.

Whatever your beliefs
Or how you say it,
It's a good time to celebrate
the return of life and light
after a long, dark season.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Cub Scouts

Last night I received an e-mail titled "Hi Billy!" No one has called me that for 50 years, so I figured it was from a sister. No, it's from my 91-year-old Cub Scout den mother, Virginia Newell.

Since I imagine few of our vintage have a den mother who writes e-mails, I'll pay her tribute and also remember a great organization for boys. (The picture above is from June, 1950)

Virginia is the mother of Bob Newell '58. She lives today in Rockford, Illinois, still able to drive and live independently. Bob tells me that "Ginny" owes her vigor to much hiking and biking in her later years.

The Cubs operate in packs and dens for boys aged 7 to 11. Our den met often at the Newell home, where both parents set up projects to keep us engaged and non-destructive: tie racks, wood-burnings, and other crafts. I vividly recall building a crystal-radio set under Mr. Newell's supervision. Outmoded technology, but I used it in 1951-52 to track city and national elections.

Later my mother, Mary Howarth, held den meetings at our house. She specialized in taking us on trips. We visited Sangamon Dairy, Ray's Chilli and Chips, and the City Jail. I believe she was trying to help us avoid delinquency. (At 95, she may still have that hope.)

I can't remember all the boys in our den: Bob Newell, John Stone, Bill Ice...and then my list runs out. Perhaps others can fill in the blanks with a comment or two?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Girls' Basketball

Two weeks ago, Sylvia Staley attended the Illinois State Girls' Basketball tournament at ISU, in Bloomington. She was there to cheer on the SHS girls' team, which qualified to play for the first time in history. 

Sylvia found one of her SHS buttons and wore it proudly. The Lady Senators entered the the tournament with an 18-game winning streak. Alas, they lost to Freeport, played a consolation game, and settled for fourth place.

Sylvia felt they played well, displayed good sportsmanship, and received much encouragement from team members and the coach. After the game, she spoke with the coach, Brad Scheffler. 

Brad is third in a Scheffler-SHS dynasty: his father is Mark Scheffler, former principal, and his grandfather is Herb Scheffler, the varsity basketball coach when we were freshmen.

The SJR site has a story and short film of coach and players at the Freeport game. Thanks to Sylvia for the news and her support of SHS girls!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Paddy Day

Top 'o the day t' you. Thanks to 
Judi Dunkel Headrick for the note, above,
And to Harriett Smith Sidoli for
this little charmer of an animated card.

Did you notice that the O'bamas
perpetuated a Chicago tradition
by tossing green dye 
in the White House fountain? 

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lois Body

On March 23, 2009, Miss Lois Body will turn 95. To put her life in perspective: in 1914, the year she was born, Charley Chaplin made his film debut, and Babe Ruth played his first game for the Red Sox. All of Europe fell into the first World War, the Panama Canal opened, and the last known passenger pigeon died in Cincinnati.

She's lived through seventeen U.S. Presidents, one Great Depression, and countless recessions. During her 30-year career at SHS, she taught thousands of students, marked endless sets of papers and exams, and somehow always managed to be alert, cheerful, and supportive, even of her least committed charges.

Today she lives in a resident home in Watseka, near her birthplace, a farm in nearby Woodland. Her life has diminished, but she still enjoys receiving notes and cards, which the staff reads to her. If you could please take a moment to write her, that would say that many '58s remember her well.

Address: Miss Lois Body, Iroquois Resident Home, 200 East Fairman, Watseka, IL 60970.