Scholarship Honorees

In 2014 the family of Ryan Roach (see photo at right) asked The Partnership to help them honor this Class of 2005 GHS graduate and talented Christian musician who died tragically in 2013. We are humbled to have been chosen by Ryan’s family as well as many others to honor and memorialize those they love. Within the scope of our mission and policies, we are pleased to work with individuals and families to establish such scholarships. Below is a recap of every scholarship we’ve offered. Those preceded by an asterisk are active and can be added to; those not marked are no longer offered.

Below is a list of our scholarship honorees.

ANONYMOUS AGRICULTURAL SCHOLARSHIP established by a local couple to encourage students in their pursuit of careers in production agriculture.

ANONYMOUS MEDICAL SCHOLARSHIP established by a local couple to encourage students in their pursuit of careers in medicine whether as researchers, nurses, dentists, or physicians.

BENLD ROTARY CLUB SCHOLARSHIP by local members of this international service organization whose motto is “Service above self.” 

MICHAEL BERTOLINO MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP awarded in loving memory of this member of the GHS Class of 2000.  He died at the age of 14 in 1996 as a result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident on a dirt bike trail near Benld.  He was an outstanding young scholar and athlete.

*DR. D. ROSS AND ROSEMARY BILLITER SCHOLARSHIP in gratitude “to the people of this area who have supported my medical practice,” says Dr. Billiter, who retired recently after nearly 50 years as a general surgeon at St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield.  “This gift is an acknowledgment of our appreciation and an investment in the future of our area.  We also hope that it will encourage others who are doing estate planning to include The Partnership and other academic programs in their plans.” 

*RICHARD BLEVINS MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by family and friends.  Richard, a lifelong resident of Gillespie, was a retired foreman from Olin and a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War.  He is remembered by his wife Lois and children as a caring husband, father, and grandfather.

*EMIL BORGINI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by anonymous donors.  He began in 1958 as a teacher of English, French, and history in Benld. He then taught and coached baseball, football, and basketball at Gillespie High School.  He was GHS principal for 20 years and later was district superintendent. 

ROSA BURKE COMMEMORATE YOUR FAVORITE TEACHER SCHOLARSHIP by colleagues and former students.  Rosa, who passed away at age 100 in 1997, taught eighth grade civics for 43 years in schools in and near Gillespie.  One of her students – Howard Keel, later a star of stage and screen – remembered her for bringing him lunch when his family was unable to provide one 

*CARROLL-KEUPPER SCHOLARSHIP established by the late Rosemary Keupper Valle and her sister Lillian Keupper in honor of their families who have been involved in medicine, world health, and banking/finance.  Their grandfather Anthony Carroll, an early member of the Gillespie school board, initiated strong family support for the local school system and its students. 

RANDI MICHELLE CLARK MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by her family in loving memory of Randi, who passed away in childhood.  She would have graduated with the Gillespie High School Class of 2004.

*ELINOR DAVIES NURSING SCHOLARSHIP by friends and family – husband Larry and sons Mike and Tim and their families – in honor of Elinor who served many decades as school nurse in CUSD7 and was an active member of the Gillespie First United Methodist Church.

 DON DOBRINO COMMEMORATE YOUR FAVORITE TEACHER SCHOLARSHIP in honor of his 70th birthday and 40th year as a coach.  The former head football coach at GHS, athletic director and drivers education teacher also helped the Iowa Hawkeyes win the Rose Bowl in 1957 before he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

*CAROL ENRICO DE LUCCA MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP FOR A TOP GIRL GRADUATE by husband Greg, daughters Ashley and Allison, and friends.  This Benld native, a respected educator and counselor, had a consulting business that helped students pursue their goals through higher education.   

*ANDREW EASTON, SR. MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by friends and a family filled with teachers.  A lifelong educator and football coach, he was a devoted mentor to scores of youngsters. "He’d have loved helping the young get their educations," say wife Florence and children.

 LAWRENCE ENRICI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by friends and family.   He and his wife Minette, known for integrity, dependability, and hard work, hauled limestone, fertilizer, livestock, and grain for area farmers.

*JOSEPHINE FASSERO MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by friends and family. She married John Fassero of Benld and raised children Florence and John, Jr. “Though she couldn’t continue her own education, Mom prized education and would be pleased to help someone continue theirs,” says John, Jr.

 JEAN FITE MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP established by family and friends.  She taught more than 40 years in every Gillespie school after graduating from the University of Chicago. She concluded her career as GHS librarian and also worked to establish the GHS track and ball diamond.




ANNICE GOODNIGHT COMMEMORATE YOUR FAVORITE TEACHER SCHOLARSHIP who celebrated her 101st birthday in 2001, taught nearly 60 years from one-room schools to junior high classrooms.  After graduating from Big Brick School in 1918, she immediately began teaching at a one-room school in Enterprise.  A great-grand daughter of “Captain” James Pearson, who homesteaded in Macoupin County in 1848, her philosophy was to teach by example and to find the good in every student: “Sometimes you have to look deep, but the good is always there.”  She primarily taught general science to junior high students and was proud to have furnished most of the science equipment when the GMS building first opened.  After age 65 she worked regularly as a substitute teacher.  At 101 Mrs. Goodnight still lived on her own, attended church regularly as a charter member of the Pollyanna Sunday School Class, and maintained her teaching certificate “just in case.”

*DANNY GRIFFEL MEMORIAL AGRICULTURAL SCHOLARSHIP by family and friend.  Danny, a veteran of the Army who served during the Korean Conflict, was a local farmer. Agraduate of GHS, he was a member of the Shriners, Goodtimes Club, Gillespie Boat and Ski Club, Farm Bureau, and was past member of Zoning Board of Gillespie. He liked his mustangs and showing them. Danny enjoyed boating and motorcycles. His son Dave farms and serves on the CUSD7 school board.  His daughter Donna Easton is school nurse at B-GES.  Four of his grandchildren are Partnership scholars. 

*HICKS-RONALD FAMILY SCHOLARSHIP by John and Mary Hicks in memory of their parents Lloyd and Betty Hicks and John and Violet Ronald.  Both families have been highly active in their community and interested in encouraging young people to pursue trades.

ILLINOIS POWER SCHOLARSHIPS by The Partnership’s first corporate partner.  The company made a commitment to award two scholarships, one to a boy and one to a girl, annually for three years.

*JULIA KRAVANYA MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by family and friends.  She was born in Scotland in 1917 and married Anton Kravanya in Gillespie in 1942.  They raised a daughter Fran Slapak of South Carolina and a son Tony who operates Kravanya Funeral Homes with his wife Marilyn, his son Anthony, and his daughter Lynn.  She enjoyed her five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

 ANTON LEONE MEMORIAL BUSINESS SCHOLARSHIP by family and friends.  Anton Leone was a businessman in Benld for 77 years.  Although he had only an eighth grade education, he was a strong advocate of higher education and served on the Benld School Board.

IRMA BENEDETTI LEONE MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by friends and family.  Irma was wife of Benld businessman Anton Leone.  A member of PTA and Girl Scouts she raised four children in CUSD7 with a great respect for youth education. 

*JOSEPH and EILEEN LIBBRA MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by family.  Married 48 years, Joe and Eileen were hard working grain and livestock farmers. They raised four children – Mary, Trish, Joe and Carol – on the family farm, delighting in their accomplishments and nine grandchildren.

*JOHN and MARK MADDEN MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by family to lovingly honor this father and son.  Both played Miners’ football, graduated from GHS and St. Louis University Law School.  John was in private practice in Gillespie, was a county public defender, and Gillespie City Attorney for 43 years.  He died at 78 on 10 October 2009.  His son Mark lived half as long, dying suddenly at the age of 39 on 11 October 2005.  He was a trial attorney with Moser and Marshalak in St. Louis.

*HENRY MARCACCI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by friends and family.  Hank taught business in CUSD7 for 33 years and served as county superintendent of schools for eight years.  He and his wife Lucille raised seven children. Hank died at age 101 on January 25, 2011.

*JAMES MASTERSON MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by The Partnership honors our beloved colleague, steadfast supporter, generous friend, and spark plug of its Citizens’ Advisory Committee.

KENNETH “BUD” MCCORMACK MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by his family. This award is offered in loving tribute by his wife Marti and six children – Audrey, Julie, Patty, Mike, Mary Lee, and Katie – for a beloved and talented teacher of mathematics at GHS who imbued even non-mathematical students with understanding and love of the subject.

IRENE MCEVOY COMMEMORATE YOUR FAVORITE TEACHER SCHOLARSHIP by family and former students.  Miss McEvoy taught from 1920 to 1976 in area elementary schools, starting her career at Benld Elementary School for a salary of $100 a month.  She then taught in Mt. Clare before moving in 1937 to Big Brick in Gillespie where she taught until 1960.  A stint at a parochial school in Litchfield was followed by her final years teaching at Ss. Simon & Jude Catholic School in Gillespie.  She passed away in 1997 at the age of 95.

*DENIS MCGRADY, SR. MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by his children.  Denis graduated from the University of Illinois Commerce and Law program, returned to Gillespie to raise nine children -- Barb, Brian, Charlie, Connie, Denis, Doug, Margaret, Mikey, and Murray -- and to practice law for almost 50 years.  In addition to valuing education, Denis loved roses and trees, his garden becoming a destination for GHS botany field trips. 

RICHARD MENO MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by family and friends.  Known as much for his love of music and participation in the Music Men and many local municipal bands, Dick was a graduate of GHS and St. Louis University Law School, He practiced in Macoupin County with Denby Meno Bloomer & Denby, imbuing his two children with a love of music and of education.

*LANA ODORIZZI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by Anonymous, friends, and family.  Mrs. O, as most of her students called her, was a beloved elementary school P.E. teacher and middle- and high school volleyball coach for 13 years in CUSD7.  She also coached softball, track, soccer, little league, gymnastics and taught fitness and swimming to hundreds of local children.

*BETTY OLIVE MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP because of the high value she placed on education.  Known for her “green thumb” and prolific flower and vegetable gardens, this native of Alhambra cherished a lifelong dream of becoming a nurse.  She focused instead on raising her children – Judy, Kay, Pam, Patti, and Randy, all graduates of CUSD7 – on the farm.

ART OLSON COMMEMORATE YOUR FAVORITE TEACHER SCHOLARSHIP by family.  A beloved and respected educator, he taught Latin, English, French, literature, grammar, and physical education in Benld High School and then Benld Junior High School from 1952 through 1980.  He also coached football, basketball, and track.  He passed away in January 2000.  

WENDY OTTERSBURG MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP offered annually by her loving family to honor this cheerful, courageous, and civic-minded wife and mother of two former Partnership scholars, Jody and Jayme.

EVELYN PINTAR COMMEMORATE YOUR FAVORITE TEACHER MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by family and friends.  Evelyn began her career in 1929 after graduating from high school in 1928.  She taught first, second, fourth, and seventh grades in Mt. Clare, Sawyerville, and Benld for 45 years, sometimes being paid in vouchers to local stores.  She was known for her beautiful hand writing and sent hundreds of pen pals handmade cards, usually including a dime.  As her health declined, many sent the original cards back to her – including the dime.  When she died, she donated her body to Washington University Medical School to improve the understanding of polio which afflicted her when she was three years old.         

CATHERINE ROSE PREVEDELL MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by her husband Robert and four children – Bob, Toni, Patti, and Pam.  Beloved for her lively charm and warm hospitality, this life-long student of all things beautiful created many lovely gardens and quilts.  

ROBERT MICHAEL PREVEDELL MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by family and friends. Robert lived 94 years as a farmer in Macoupin County. Beloved by all for his dignity, good nature, integrity, and generosity of spirit, he was also a skilled woodworker, known for his birdhouses and furniture; a veteran house mover; a self­ taught musician (accordion, harmonica, and organ); prolific gardener; student of Native American culture and local history; and a charming storyteller with a razor sharp memory. He was proud of and devoted to his late wife Catherine, his four children (Bob, Toni, Pat, and Pam), seven grandchildren, and eight and a half great-grandchildren.

*RICK RICHARDS MEMORIAL AG SCHOLARSHIP by family.  This GHS graduate and local farmer is remembered fondly for his kindness and generosity to his family – wife Barb and daughter Lisa – and many friends.

*RYAN ROACH MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by family and friends.  Ryan, a 2005 GHS graduate, lost his life in a tragic accident in 2013.  A talented musician as well as an EMT, he was widely known locally as “DJ 2 Time”. He had just signed with a professional DJ company, but his passion was playing with Harvest Ministry where he’s remembered as “loving to lead and willing to serve.” 

KENNETH ROBERTSON MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP offered by loving family members to honor this respected citizen who was police chief of Gillespie for more than 20 years.

*JAMES ROSENTRETER MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by his wife Judy and family: “Our dad spent his life helping others pursue educational and financial goals.  It’s fitting that dad is sharing his dream of a young person’s success.”   His sons are Rodney and Jerry, a GHS teacher; both of their wives – all mini-grant recipients – are teachers; his grandchildren are Partnership scholars.

KRISTA SCHAEFER MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP was organized and funded by her classmates, thanks largely to the efforts of her classmate Philip Troutwine.  Krista, who would have graduated IN 2002 tonight, died tragically late in 2001.

*W.E. SCHMIDT CHARITABLE FOUNDATION and LON D. AND LUCILLE BARTON SCHMIDT CHARITABLE FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIP William Schmidt, Sr., and his wife Florence raised five children in Gillespie.  He worked in a Gillespie bank for 20 years before joining the Columbia Quarry Company in 1932.  He remained active with the firm until his death in 1987. His son John Schmidt of Arizona is president of the Schmidt Foundation.  The John’s, and subsequently his sister Lucille’s foundations have chosen The Partnership to carry out their local investment in our children through many generous gifts over 22 years.

*TRAVIS SEMPLOWSKI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by his parents Ron and Tammie and sister Ashleigh, a Partnership scholar, and friends.  A graduate of GHS and member of Future Farmers of America, he was an automotive specialist when he died on 28 July 2009 at age 21.

 RUSSELL SEXTON MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP honors this teacher and coach of Gillespie’s Big Brick School.  He later taught physical education at GHS; was principal of Gillespie Grade School; and finished as principal at Benld Junior High School.

*TEBBE FAMILY FOUNDATION COMPUTER SCHOLARSHIP by Mark Tebbe, GHS Class of ‘79 and founder of Lante Corporation, and his parents Ralph and Rose Marie Tebbe of Sawyerville.  The family supports students interested in computer science and awards classroom mini-grants twice a year.

MADELINE AND ADOLPH TENIKAT COMMEMORATE YOUR FAVORITE TEACHER SCHOLARSHIP is funded by family to honor these teachers of mechanical arts and English who helped students excel and achieve.

*HELEN TIBURZI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by family and friends.  Helen and her husband “Mac” operated a small grocery in Sawyerville before she became chief cook in the Benld school cafeteria.  They raised five children - Jim, Dennis, Karen, Joan and Jill.  Jim taught in CUSD7 and Dennis is GHS principal. Several grandchildren are past Partnership scholars.

*MARJORIE & MATT TURCOL MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by family and friends.  Matt and Marge’s greatest joy was their family.  Marge is remembered by all for her generous and caring ways.  Matt was mayor of Benld and president of the CUSD7 school board.  Their daughter Susan is a frequent mini-grant recipient, their son-in-law Dennis was GHS principal, and their grandsons are Partnership scholars.

*UMWA Local 1613 SCHOLARSHIP represents coal miners, health care workers, truck drivers, manufacturing employees and public employees in our communities.  The union fights for safe workplaces, good wages and benefits and fair representation in workplaces.

*MICHAEL VALENTIMEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by friends and family is awarded in loving memory of this 1994 GHS graduate who lost his life in 1999 in a tragic accident.  Michael had completed an associate’s degree at Lewis and Clark Community College and was continuing his education at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

*MIKE AND PERINA VERTICCHIO SCHOLARSHIP.  This award was established to recognize their dedication and years of service to the Gillespie school district   Perina was an elementary teacher for many years and Mike was a teacher, coach, and administrator whose education career began as a literacy specialist during World War II.

AURELA WEIDNER COMMEMORATE YOUR FAVORITE TEACHER SCHOLARSHIP by friends and former students.  Miss Weidner graduated from high school in 1930 and began teaching at Rural School on the Standard City Road in 1931.  Her career took her to Dorchester, Oakland, other rural schools, and finally to Gillespie.  And while working, she earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.  “I knew when I was in the first grade that I wanted to be a teacher,” she said.  “Education is so important.  You’ve got to have it to get anywhere, especially today.”  Throughout her career she also assumed the care of her two blind aunts, was an avid gardener, and remained active in the Pollyanna Sunday School Class at the United Methodist Church.  Her bouquets of perennials and wildflowers were a feature on the altar every spring and summer.

PETE WYATT MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by family and friends.  A familiar and well-liked figure as custodian supervisor in CUSD7, Pete and his wife Eleanor, were the grandparents of two past Partnership scholars.

*LOIS ZANTER MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP by friends and family.  Lois was an elementary school teacher and librarian in CUSD7 for 29 years.  Devoted to education herself, she was proud that her daughter Gail Niehaus as well as grandchildren Casey Niehaus and Kara Strode are all also dedicated teachers.  Gail and Casey are past classroom mini-grant recipients.