Mt. Pulaski
Distinguished Alumni and Citizens Awards

June 30, 2011(Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum)

The following is the text that was read:

The list of nominees was an impressive group of individuals.  They are all listed in your program this evening.  The nominations were for individuals who had or have accomplished and achieved tremendous things–and often without public acknowledgement.

The award winners were selected by an independent panel of individuals who are also community activists.  Needless to say, the selection of the recipients was not an easy task, as every person on this entire list of nominees was deserving.

Without further delay–let’s present the awards.





1.   Mt.  Pulaski is encircled by rich, black farmland.  Ours is a community steeped in our agricultural heritage.  It is only fitting that we begin our awards with an individual who made an impact on agriculture.  He was recipient of the 1996 Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts Governor Award for Conservation farm family of the year.  He spent many years involved with soil and water conservation and served on numerous Soil and Water boards.  Education was also paramount to him and he served many years on various local school boards.  He overcame physical adversity after losing an arm in a farm accident.  The community lost a leader on December 6, 2010, when he died–just one day short of his 83rd birthday.

The first alumni award goes to…Edward Allspach.

The award will be accepted by Ed’s son, George Allspach.

2.   The next recipient is a graduate who went far from home to make his mark in the world.  After obtaining a degree from the University of Illinois and graduate studies at Southern Methodist University–he spent 31 years with Boeing Aircraft as a manager in the Defense and Space group, making many trips to Cape Canaveral (now known as Cape Kennedy).  He has served as mayor of Mercer Island, Washington, and he followed that with sixteen years in the Washington State Legislature, being unanimously elected Speaker Pro Tempore for his last two years.  He has received many awards for engineering and his political leadership but probably none as impressive as the Distinguished Alumnus Award from his alma mater, the University of Illinois College of Engineering

With great pride we welcome back Jim Horn as one of our distinguished alumni.  He will be accepting the award this evening.

3.   Our next recipient is a long-ago 1898 graduate of Mt. Pulaski High school–but his name is spoken every day in our community.  His occupation was the publishing field–he became circulation manager for the Christian Herald, McCall’s and Today which was later known as Today’s Housewife.  His longest publishing career was with Financial World, where he ended his career as director of the corporation in 1949.  He and his wife created a trust for the establishment of a health care facility in Mt. Pulaski.  After a hospital proved impractical, a nursing home was built and began operation in 1973.  He did not live to see the completion of the nursing home, as he died in 1968, but it is known today as the Henry and Jane Vonderlieth Living Center.  We Pulaskians all know the blessings this superior facility has brought to our community.

This award winner is Henry Vonderlieth.  Jo Hillard, Vonderlieth Living Center Administrator and Tom Cross, Vonderlieth Living Center Board of Trustees member, will be accepting the award.

4. The fourth distinguished alumnus has been recognized by numerous academic and other organizations. He has a PhD from Indiana University, Masters from the University of Illinois and a bachelors from Western Illinois University.  He is currently a Senior Fulbright Scholar for Information and Telecommunications.  He has been named one of the top 25 consultants in the world by Consulting Magazine.  He was the first technology officer at the Marriott Corporation.  He has advised 50 of the world’s leading corporations.  He is a senior fellow at the Wharton School of Business and has been on the faculty of numerous universities.  This short introduction fails to do justice to his accomplishments but we are proud to call him a fellow alumnus.

This individual is Richard Schroth.   We are delighted that he is joining us tonight to accept the award.  

5.  Our final alumni award winner was raised by immigrant parents.  He was appointed to West Point in 1944 and graduated in 1948.  He has a Master’s of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from the University of Chicago.  One of his main contributions was in electronic intelligence and electronic monitoring.  He held offices in the Pentagon and NSA, and was Vice-Commander of the Electronic Systems Divisionserving as program monitor of the Air Force's Scientific and Technical Intelligence Program.   During his career, he was awarded the Defense Superior Award and the Legion of Merit with an Oak Leaf Cluster, among numerous others.  After serving all across the globe, he retired from military service in 1977 as a full Colonel.  He returned to Mt. Pulaski with his wife, Rosalie, in 2005 and has become an active member of the community–Mt. Pulaski Rotary Club, the 175th Jubilee Committee, Mt. Pulaski Township Historical Society and a Board of Trustees Member of Lincoln College.  
Our last–but not least–alumni award winner is Waldo Bertoni.  He will accept the award personally.





1.    This first award winner is the reason for all the 175th festivities.  Without their vision we would not be celebrating tonight.  The first individual in this group award helped build the Mt. Pulaski Court House in 1847 and was elected county recorder in 1848.  He was our town's first merchant, establishing a superb trading post that was frequented by hundreds from miles around.  He became a friend of Abraham Lincoln and frequently enjoyed his visits for over-night stays at his home when the Illinois 8th Judicial Circuit arrived to perform trial work in our courthouse.  He sired 14 children and lived to be six months shy of 100.

The second individual served as Justice of the Peace from 1839 until his death in 1865– serving as the local authority on legal issues.  He was friendly with the Indians and helped to avoid skirmishes between the settlers and the Indians.  He owned much of the land on which the Mt. Pulaski Township was established, allowing it to be placed into a Mt. Pulaski Township Development Company for sale to individuals who would make up our new town.  He knew Abraham Lincoln as both a friendly defense attorney as well as an adversarial plaintiff attorney in our local courts of Postville and Mt. Pulaski.  He married twice and had seven children total.

The third individual was educated in England to be a physician.  He immigrated to the Springfield area in the early 1830's.   In Mt. Pulaski, he practiced medicine before pulling up stakes and moving to Linn, Kansas in 1858.  He rode to the Sangamo Land Office to file our town's papers on July 5th, 1836.

The above individuals are Jabez Capps, George Washington Turley and Dr. Barton Robinson –the founders of our fine community. 

Descendants Barbara Theobald & Sharon Stone-Cook will accept for George Washington Turley and  descendant Roger Capps will accept for Jabez Capps.  This award bust will be on permanent display in the Mt. Pulaski Township Historical Society Museum.

2.   Our next distinguished citizen was the founder and president of Bank of Scroggin and Son, which is now known as the Farmers Bank.  With limited education–schooled in a log school–he came to Logan County with his parents when this county was still prairie and forest.  He built the business block which included the Scroggin Opera House and the Scroggin Hotel, which became the center of social activity for 50 years.  He helped established our first town's electric plant, our first telephone company, and our first local coal mine–among other interests–providing necessary capital for much of Mt. Pulaski’s development and improvements.  In his late nineties, he traveled to Florida to invest in land development.  As the nomination stated, “his was a life which I think portrays an important period of American history and the vital energy in small town which worked to make this nation what it is.”

This citizen award winner is Leonard K Scroggin and the award with be accepted by Steve Martin –one of his many descendants.


3.   Our small community has been blessed over the years with many charitable individuals.  Our next award winner is best remembered for his charity.  He had a vision–a vision to improve and enhance the lives of the youth of Mt. Pulaski.  Upon his death in 1941, his entire estate of 265 acres was left to the town of Mt. Pulaski. Throughout the years, the income from his gift has provided this community with swimming pools, playgrounds, a skating rink, band uniforms, scouting programs, funding for the fire departments and rescue squads and the list goes on and on.  To this day–70 years after his death–Mt. Pulaski continues to benefit from his generosity.  To date, over three million dollars have been donated to community activities and programs.

This award recipient is Clarence Tomlinson.  To accept the award on his behalf are the current trustees of the Tomlinson Trust–Ed Schaffenacker, Pat Pryzkopanski and Kent Brooker.

4.   The 1995, film “Mr. Holland’s Opus” depicted a much-loved and much-respected high school band instructor. The Mt. Pulaski students who graduated between 1959 and 1993 experienced such a person. This individual was tireless in his commitment to Mt. Pulaski.  Virtually any community event involved the musical talents of this individual and or his students–Memorial Day parades, July 4th band concerts, and the fall festival parades–included the high school marching band.  His students were consistent winners at band competitions.  In 1976 he was named the Lincoln Courier Man of the Month and in 1981 he received the alumni achievement award from his alma mater, Western Illinois University.  The impact he had on his students is evidenced by the student who nominated him–forty years after graduating from high school.  This award recipient needs no further introduction for we all know and respect him…Claus Tanner.

We are proud to present this award to Claus Tanner tonight.

5.   Our final award this evening was the first president and organizer of the Mt. Pulaski Rotary Club in 1936. He was also an organizer of the 100th Birthday of Mt. Pulaski in 1936.  And, he co-chaired the 125th Mt. Pulaski Celebration in 1961.  For over 35 years, he was the owner and publisher of the Mt. Pulaski Times News.  On his 75th birthday, the community recognized his many years of dedication to the town of Mt. Pulaski with two days of celebration.  His weekly article, “Reflections”, was widely read, showing remarkable insight into current activities when reviewed today.  His frequent phrase was: “show me it’s good for Mt.  Pulaski and I’m for it.”  It is our pleasure to name Harry J. Wible a distinguished citizen of Mt. Pulaski–40 years after his death, his legacy continues.

His daughter, Jean Martin, will accept the award.

We congratulate all our winners and nominees tonight.