Westville to honor graduates

WESTVILLE — A radiologist who introduced nuclear medicine to central Illinois, a real estate developer and entrepreneur, and an astrophysicist who pioneered a new technique to detect far-away supernovae are the first inductees to Westville High School's Wall of Fame.

Dr. Frank L. Lesko, Class of 1938; the late Lee A. Miglin, Class of 1941; and Jeffrey D. Cooke, Class of 1979, will officially be inducted at the high school's alumni banquet on June 8.

The banquet, which will be held at the Beef House in Covington, Ind., will begin with a meet-and-greet at 5:30 p.m., and dinner will follow at 6 p.m.

The Wall of Fame will be located in the school's main lobby. It will feature pictures and biographies of the inductees that will be etched in bronze.

"This is something we've wanted to do for a while," Principal Guy Goodlove said, adding the wall aims to promote pride in Westville and the local public school system, and provide role models for students.

Goodlove said the school hopes to induct two new members every year. Inductees will be selected by a committee of five alumni; however, they can be nominated by anyone. If nominees aren't selected, their names will remain on the list for future consideration, and they also may be renominated.

Goodlove said a diverse group of inductees will be sought. For the purpose of induction, alumni includes anyone who attended Westville High for at least one year.

Inductees may include people who no longer live in the community and have distinguished themselves with excellence nationally or internationally within in a particular field or service to humanity. They may also include people who have remained in the community who have distinguished themselves with excellence locally or regionally within a particular field or with service to humanity or have been actively involved in local community service.

"It's expected that inductees have demonstrated achievement or service above and beyond the responsibilities of their normal employment," Goodlove said.

Categories of achievement may include, but are not limited to: entertainment, arts or sports; service professions such as education, religion, politics, law, medicine, etc.; and distinguished service to the community served by the school district.

Here's a biographical summary of the first three inductees:

Dr. Frank L. Lesko

At Westville High, Lesko distinguished himself in the classroom, on the athletic field and in the community. He was the first Westville resident to become an Eagle Scout.

When his father died unexpectedly, he assumed the responsibility of providing for his mother and five younger siblings, while managing to become the first in his family to graduate from high school. He attended Millikin University on a football scholarship, then attended medical school at the University of Illinois in Chicago. After graduating in 1945, he joined the U.S. Army and served as a captain from 1953 to 1955.

In the military, Lesko received a Letter of Commendation for leading a rescue team up Mount Fuji, in Japan, and rendering first aid to an injured soldier. After completing his tour of duty, he did his residency in radiology at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis. He practiced as a radiologist at the old St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Danville and the Champaign Radiology Associates Ltd. and was the first physician to introduce nuclear medicine to central Illinois.

Lee Albert Miglin

In high school, Miglin received several honors in statewide competitions. After graduating, he attended the Gallagher School of Business, then enlisted in the U.S. Air Corps from 1943 to 1945. He went on to earn a journalism degree at the University of Illinois, where he was a member of and president of several honor societies.

After graduating from UI, he participated in several different business ventures before getting into real estate development. He began his career at Arthur Rubloff& Co. in Chicago and rose to vice president and later was elected to the board of directors. In 1982, he formed Miglin-Beitler Inc. with his partner, Paul Beitler, and developed high-rise office buildings including 181 and 200 W. Madison St., Oakbrook Terrace Tower and the President's Plaza near O'Hare International Airport.

A leader in his industry, Miglin was the first real estate developer to introduce public sculpture to private developments in Chicago. He also introduced the new concept now know as the business park, which combines office and warehouse spaces.

Miglin also supported the University of Chicago Hospital and the Museum of Science and Industry and made diverse charitable and cultural contributions locally and across the state.

Jeffrey Donald Cooke

Cooke was active in sports, band and many clubs including Spanish, drama, bowling and chess in high school. After graduating, he attended the University of Illinois and then moved to California to start a business. However, his passion for astronomy led him back to school, and he earned a bachelor's degree in astronomy from San Diego State University and a master's and Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, San Diego.

An internationally recognized scientist and astrophysicist, Cooke focused his research on the formation and evolution of galaxies and the detection and study of distant supernovae. Noted for developing innovative techniques and analysis methods, his work has helped in the understanding of the complicated process of galaxy formation in the distant universe and the role environment plays in their evolution into galaxies like the Milky Way.

Cooke pioneered a new technique to detect supernovae much farther than has been previously possible. Using this technique, he discovered the most distant supernovae known (events that occurred more than 12 billion years ago), and has made discoveries of a rare, extremely powerful, new type of supernova. His approach is the first able to detect the deaths of the first stars to have formed after the Big Bang.

In an email, Cooke — who currently works at the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University near Melbourne, Australia — said he has a lot of good high school memories. When he learned the school was establishing a Wall of Fame, he thought it would be a great way to recongize alumni for their contributions in their fields.

But "when I heard that I had been chosen to be included in the Wall of Fame, especially in its inaugural year, I was floored," Cooke wrote. "I know there are so many people who are deserving of the recognition, so I feel very honored."

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