North Central College - Naperville, IL

H. William Rumsfeld

Class Year: 
1949

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 1999

Bill Rumsfeld entered North Central College in 1943, but his military service in World War II interrupted his education. He returned to the College and completed his bachelor’s degree in 1949. He earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin and completed a medical degree from the University of Texas SW Medical School and had a private practice until his retirement in 1994. Dr. Rumsfeld received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Texas in 1992 and again in 1993. He also published 21 articles in the field of biochemistry

Deceased.


Helen “Herbie” Gamertsfelder Naumann

Class Year: 
1946

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 1999

Herbie Naumann’s major life “passion” has been in art—teaching figure drawing at North Central and exhibiting her figure compositions in solo, group and juried shows. She has also organized and managed art workshops. In 2002 Naumann hung her 16th solo exhibition of figure drawings at the Crossville Art Council in Crossville, Tenn. Over the years, her drawings have graced many North Central mailings and publications. She was a member of Community United Methodist Church in Naperville and was active in the Sunday school program. She is currently a member of the Fairfield Glade Art Guild. She and her husband, William Naumann, Ph.D, North Central professor of religious studies emeritus, created the Naumann-Gamersfelder Japanese Scholarship at North Central College.


Donald "Don" R. Pletcher

Class Year: 
1965

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2000

Don Pletcher comes from a family with a long association with North Central College. Pletcher’s mother, Irene Thornton Pletcher, is a 1941 graduate, and his father, the late Donald L. Pletcher, was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1968-98. In 1998, Pletcher honored his parents with a naming gift for the President’s office/suite in the College’s newly renovated Old Main building. Pletcher is chairman and CEO of Damon Corporation in Elkhart, Ind., the sixth largest recreational vehicle corporation in the nation. Previously, he was chairman and CEO of Lincoln Investments, Inc. He has served on the board of directors of the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association and is active in his community, including service on the 2010 Coalition Development Group to revitalize downtown Elkhart.


John W. Kalas

Class Year: 
1955

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2000

John Kalas began his career as assistant professor of philosophy and religion at Lake Forest College and was later named director of special projects for VISTA/OEO in Washington, D.C. Kalas has also served as director of extension services at Mary Holmes College; vice president at Bacone College; and vice president with Douglas Trout Associates in Washington D.C. He joined the Research Foundation for the State University of New York (SUNY) in 1974 as deputy director of the Washington Office. He became director of the Washington Office and later served as director of research and development and associate vice president for planning. In 1989, Kalas became acting provost and academic vice president at SUNY, Potsdam and served as associate provost for research and development.


Floyd A. Thompson

Class Year: 
1950

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2000

Community service has been a large part of Floyd Thompson’s life. He has been a member of the Naperville YMCA board of directors where he served as president for three years. He also volunteered with Wayside Cross Ministries, the American Legion, the College’s Alumni Association and has been part of the Naperville Post Office Citizens Advisory Committee for the past eleven years. He served as director of admission for North Central from 1950-64 and was one of six founders of the Association of College Admissions Counselors. He served as the first and second president of the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC) and was a national parliamentarian of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). He has received service awards from the Mayor of Naperville and the YMCA, a Citizen Award from the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, and a Citizen of the Year Award from the American Legion.

Deceased.


Dwight L. Freshley

Class Year: 
1950

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2000

Dwight L. Freshley is professor of speech emeritus at the University of Georgia. In 1995, he traveled to Beijing, China, to serve as a visiting professor at Renmin University. He was the first person to serve in all three top positions in the Southern Speech Association—editor of The Southern Speech Journal, executive director of the Association, and later president. Over the years he has received numerous awards for his outstanding service and was featured on Spotlight Program as the former president of Southern States Communication Association in 2004. He has co-authored and co-edited five books and book chapters and over 20 articles. Freshley still serves as chair of the past presidents of Southern States Communication and co-chair of the placement center for the National Communication Association.


Robert "Bob" E. Koehler

Class Year: 
1940

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2000

Robert “Bob” E. Koehler ’40 grew up in Naperville and graduated summa cum laude from North Central College in 1940 at the age of 19 with degrees in sociology and commerce. He passed the CPA exam and began his career with Arthur Andersen and Company. In 1962 Koehler became the chief financial officer for Marriott Corporation where he remained until his retirement as senior vice-president in 1984. He has been active in local and national community service, having served on the Mayor’s Committee on Economic Development in Washington, D.C.; as a school board member in Bensenville and Naperville; as a village trustee for Bensenville; and as a member of the Naperville Planning Commission from 1957-1962.


Esther T. Benjamin

Class Year: 
1990

Alumni Recognition Award Winner 2000

Esther Benjamin was appointed White House Fellow In 1999.  She has focused on international priorities and worked with Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman. During the humanitarian crisis in Somalia, Benjamin was appointed United Nations humanitarian affairs officer, the youngest person ever named to this position. After returning from Somalia, she worked on a joint project of the World Bank and the Brookings Institution, contributing macroeconomic analysis of the World Bank’s policies over the past 50 years. The outcome was The World Bank: Its First Half Century (Brookings Institution, 1997). Benjamin has served on the board of directors of the National Urban Coalition since 1995 and on the board of the Society for International Development. She is a founding member of the Good Samaritan Fund and a member of the Council in Foreign Relations.


Barbara Wildemuth

Class Year: 
1971

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2001

Barbara Wildemuth is currently an assistant professor for the School of Information and Library Services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C. She has been awarded many special honors, such as a Certificate of Appreciation for service. She received five research grants, wrote numerous articles and spoke at several presentations. In 2002, Wildemuth was named associate dean for undergraduate programs at the School of Information and Library Science at Chapel Hill and was appointed to the honorary advisory board of the University’s Health Information Project in 2003. Wildemuth was a recipient of the Vannevar Bush Award for Best Paper at the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries that same year. Most recently, she was named the University of North Carolina’s Frances Carroll McColl Professor.


William "Bill" Davis

Class Year: 
1971

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2001

Bill Davis graduated from North Central College with degrees in psychology, sociology and anthropology. He is the north region director for the Department of Licensing and Adoptions for ChildServ. The agency is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and matches foster homes with foster children. His drive for understanding has taken him to International Conferences of the National Association of Black Social Workers held in Brazil (1986), Venezuela (1988) and Puerto Rico (1995). He received the Social Action Award from the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers in 1992 for his role in facilitating public discourse on the potential harmful consequences of trans-racial adoption as well as the discrimination faced by African-American families wanting to foster and adopt African–American children.


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