John Dunham, Class of 1928
In 1943, John Dunham took the reins of the Dunham Company, founded in 1913 by his father, Thomas Dunham. During John’s tenure which from 1943 to 1994, Dunham Company became Equipto, and became an industry innovator of steel shelving for retail, medical, automotive, education, and government market sectors. Under John’s leadership, Equipto expanded to include plants that, along with shelving, produced steel mezzanines, high density storage, and other specialty storage units. With Aurora as the national headquarters, Equipto went global doing business in Central and South America, Canada, Mexico, Asia, and the Middle East. Aurora, however, was home base and the community flourished under his generosity. His lasting impact would be to leave his neighbors a safer and more prosperous community. His Dunham Fund has grown to support all aspects of the Fox Valley Community through its grants to non-profits including the Quad County Urban League - Dunham Educational/Vocational Training Center, John C. Dunham STEM School on Aurora University campus, Waubonsee Community College Early College Academy, A+ Foundation for West Aurora Schools, West Aurora High School - Renovated Science Lab, Fred Rogers East Aurora Magnet School, Benavides STEAM Academy, Paramount Theatre - Broadway Series, and the John C. Dunham Pavilion at RiverEdge Park. John Dunham through his hard work, optimism, and generosity remains a force whose name is synonymous with Aurora and his successes.
William Murphy, Class of 1938
Following graduation from West High in 1938, William C. (Bill) Murphy received a full scholarship to Harvard University from which he graduated in 1942, the year he also began his service in the U.S. Navy as a supply officer aboard the escort carrier U.S.S. Corregidor during WWII. After leaving active duty, Bill entered Harvard Law School, and was admitted to the bar in 1949. He returned to Aurora to practice law in the firm of Reid, Murphy, Ochsenschlager & Hupp, one of the largest and most successful law firms in suburban Chicago. He was a member of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), the American Bar Association (ABA), the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA), the American Law Institute, the Kane County Bar Association (KCBA) (President 1972-1973), and American College of Trial Lawyers. Regarded as one of the best trial lawyers in Illinois, his skill, eloquence, and creativity were models for two generations. His notable cases included People v. Isaacs (1969), Vendo Company v. Stoner, Vaughan v. Westphal, and Molitor v. Kaneland Community School District. The latter was a landmark lawsuit, which abolished the doctrine of sovereign immunity in Illinois and allowed individuals to sue government entities for negligent conduct, in essence expanding the protection of children throughout the State of Illinois who rode buses to and from school every day.
Nancy Ochsenschlager, Class of 1957
Nancy is hailed nationally as the “Mother of Cultural Festivals” for her career as Associate Producer for events which celebrate diversity and support humanitarian and philanthropic goals. In 1982, she became the Associate Producer for The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival ”a cultural feast in which thousands of musicians, cooks and craftspeople welcome 400,000 visitors each year.” For 30+ years, Nancy was responsible for this large, 10 day fair with food booths, arts and crafts booths, and multiple stages featuring indigenous music styles and evening concert series featuring such diverse notables as Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Charlie Wilson, Public Enemy, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and gospel, Cajun, zydeco, R&B, African, Latin, Caribbean, and folk music. Nancy coordinated President Bill Clinton’s Inaugural events, organized the Saratoga and Bermuda Jazz Festivals, and was the mobilizing force behind many musical groups touring Europe. Nancy’s lifetime of embracing cultural differences led to her ‘retirement’ in Guatemala and the non-profit Amigos de Santa Cruz Foundation. The Foundation includes a vocational school with a culinary institute and restaurant, artisan shop, classes in carpentry, plumbing, iron work, sewing, and weaving, providing scholarships for higher education, sex education classes and Youth Corps work. In outlying villages, Nancy works with mothers and children on women’s empowerment and training to build the knowledge, resources and confidence to provide a healthier life.
Roy Solfisburg, III, Class of 1961
Roy J. Solfisburg III, Class of 1961, created structures that combined utility and awe. As the Senior Managing and Designer Partner at Holabird and Root, a premier architectural firm, he distinguished himself as an architect known for his performing arts centers, corporate buildings, hospital architecture and residential designs. Some of his notable designs are captured in Northwestern University’s McGaw Memorial Hall renovations, the Saenger Theatre in Pensacola, Florida (whose four-year restoration project elevated it to the National Register of Historic Places), and the Casa Cameleon, the Solfisburg vacation home on Florida’s Sanibel Island (featured in Architectural Digest). Other structures for which Roy is responsible include the Green Center for Performing Arts DePauw University, the Fine and Performing Arts Center Moraine Valley Community College, the Teamsters Union headquarters in Washington DC, the Kemper Insurance Company headquarters in Libertyville, IL, The Prudential Mid-America Building in Merrillville, IN, and the Lucent Technologies structure in Naperville, IL. Roy’s honors include the American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Honor Award, the Florida Governor’s Award, 100 Top Architects in the World - Architectural Digest (1991, 1992), and Fellow of AIA, Roy, as an advocate for female architects, increased their number at Holabird & Root from one, when he began at the firm, to one-third of the staff when he retired. Amond the many community organizations Roy assisted with leadership, financial support, and architectural needs were the Chicago Human Rights Campaign, the Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of Chicago, and the Chicago Architectural Assistance Center round out Roy’s ability to assist these organizations in their architectural and leadership needs.
Dave Theno, Class of 1968
It’s about saving lives. Remain unrelenting in your passion for food safety. Never forget to have that deep concern for people who are victims of illness.
With these three goals, Dr. David M. Theno, Class of 1968, encouraged food companies to make food safe for customers. In 1993, Jack In the Box became the face of a deadly outbreak of E coli, killing four and injuring hundreds in the Pacific Northwest. Dave was recruited to investigate and determine what could be done to stop it from happening again. His strategy and commitment to food safety not only changed the company, but Dave’s solutions transformed the entire food industry. His suggestions for new guidelines, stricter rules, and concern for consumers persuaded the USDA and the FDA to endorse HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point). This industry-changing move became the fundamental safety program for meat inspection. Dave ushered in the modern era of food safety. He worked to advance collaboration between the scientific community and the meat industry to solve food safety issues. His mission was to promote micro-testing and other preventive interventions across the food industry, receiving the Food Safety Hero Award; The National Science Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award; California Environmental Health Association’s Mark Nottingham award; The Nation’s Restaurant News’ “Top 50 Players” and Innovator of the Year” for defining a new standard for food safety.
John Cordogan, Class of 1973
John G. Cordogan, AIA (American Institute of Architects), West Aurora class of 1973, has established one of the largest and most successful architecture/engineering firms in the greater Chicago area, Cordogan Clark & Associates. Crain’s Chicago Business ranked Cordogan Clark as one of the twenty largest architectural firms in the city. The firm’s extensive portfolio consists of educational, cultural, hospitality, municipal, recreational, and residential projects. John’s work is included in the permanent collection of the Chicago History Museum, and the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design. He has garnered recognition and awards for numerous projects, here are but a few:
Greenman Elementary School
2004-2005 National Grand Prize: “Learning by Design”
2006 Grand Prize: National School Boards Association Architecture Competition
Herget Middle School
2007 Grand Prize Winner: National School Boards Association Architecture Competition
41st & 43rd Street Pedestrian Bridge, Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
International Design Competition Winner
John Dunham Partnership School
LEED Platinum Award: US Green Building Council
2015 Gold Citation: School and University
Florida Turnpike Gateway Project: National Design/ Build Competition winner
John’s international impact includes a 1997 collaboration with artists the Zhou Brothers in conjunction with the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The project entailed handling the structuring and programming of the Timegate Monument bringing the timelessness of the Chinese culture to the Olympics. Cordogan Clark also incorporated a new urban transportation center for Wuxi City in China.
John serves on the boards of the Waubonsee Community College Foundation; and Plum Landing Retirement Center. In 2008, John was inducted into the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame for building, design, and construction.
Leslie Roney Johnston, Class of 1990
The global apparel industry employs over 150 million people whose jobs are to create fashion. The reality of the industry, however, is that cotton farmers often handle dangerous pesticides and factory workers often make clothes in dangerous conditions. Leslie Johnston, Class of 1990, Executive Director of C&A Foundation, believes that the apparel industry has the power to change. Leslie leads a team of 53 people across 10 countries to improve lives of people within the industry. Providing financial support, expertise, and access to the foundation’s network of brands, retailers, and civil society actors, Leslie and her team work to create dignified work, improve working conditions, and accelerate the sustainability journey of those businesses which are the industry’s backbone.
Leslie’s impact is seen through:
¥ Transitioning smallholder farmers to organic cotton. Conventionally, grown cotton requires harmful pesticides and fertilizer. ‘Going organic’ is better. Smallholder farmers, however, lack the technical knowledge for organic cultivation. Leslie connects these farmers with training and access to markets to improve their income.
¥ Eradicating forced and child labor. The global apparel industry is highly decentralized, often with very little transparency. Forced or bonded labor is often a part of these operations. Leslie supports raising awareness – particularly in countries such as India and Brazil - by overseeing partnerships with organizations such as the Freedom Fund, which works with local communities to help prevent the proliferation of trafficked labor.
¥ Improving working conditions in factories. One of the reasons for poor working conditions is how brands and retailers place their orders. Leslie created a new platform, Better Buying, letting factories rate their buyers and catalyzing buyers to develop fairer practices.
¥ Creating a multi-stakeholder innovation platform, Fashion for Good, which nurtures new approaches for the industry (such as waterless dying or leasing clothes).
Leslie has also advised several organizations on their strategies as a member of the Aspen Institute’s ANDE Executive Committee and TechnoServe’s Global Advisory Council. She serves as a Board Member of GoodWeave International (US), the Organic Cotton Accelerator (NL), Fashion for Good (NL), Cotton Connect (UK), and the COFRA Foundation (CH).
Hall of Honor
The Hall of Honor program’s goals are to honor distinguished alumni for their achievements and national / international impact and to raise the self-expectations of West Aurora students with the realization that the distinguished alumni grew up in their neighborhoods and attended their schools.
The A+ Foundation continues to seek distinguished alumni to add to its Hall of Honor. If you would like to nominate someone, please fill out the online nomination form or contact Ingrid Roney, email@example.com.