The Joliet Junior College Alumni Association honored four individuals with awards acknowledging their achievements at the annual Alumni Brunch on Sunday, May 20 at the JJC Main Campus.
Beulah Hoffer ’32 and Philip Nelson ’78 each received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award; Curtis Hieggelke, Ph.D. received the Susan H. Wood Hall of Fame Award; and Douglas Foss ’66 received the Faculty Prestige Award.
“We are so pleased to be able to honor and showcase the success stories of these amazing individuals,” said Amanda Quinn, alumni relations and annual funds manager. “They all truly represent the very best of JJC and are wonderful examples of the success that can be achieved here.”
Professor Emeritus Beulah G. Hoffer had a teaching career that spanned from 1934 to 1974, the majority of which was spent as the chairman of the Women’s Physical Education Department at both Joliet Township High School and JJC. During the Great Depression and World War II, Beulah recalls being grateful to have a job as a substitute teacher at JJC making $5 per day. Born and raised in Joliet, she was a Joliet resident for 88 years. After graduating from JTHS in 1930, Hoffer transferred to the University of Illinois where she completed a bachelor’s degree in physical education, followed by a master’s degree from Northwestern University. She also completed 16 hours toward a Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University. She and her husband Charles M. Hoffer have two sons, Mark and Charles. On July 3, 2012, Hoffer will celebrate her 100th birthday.
Phillip Nelson is the 14th president of the Illinois Farm Bureau. He is president of the companies that make up Country Financial, Illinois Agricultural Service Company and the IAA Foundation. A 1976 graduate of JJC’s Agricultural Production program, Nelson has been very active in community and agricultural organizations through his career. His accomplishments include state FFA Star Farmer of Illinois in 1977; American Farm Bureau Federation’s National Outstanding Young Farmer in 1984; President of the LaSalle County Farm Bureau from 1993 to 1999; and serving on two USDA advisory committees. In addition to his associate degree from JJC, Nelson earned an American FFA degree in 1978, graduated from the Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow Program in 1982, and completed the Illinois Ag Leadership Program in 1984. He and his wife Carmen operate a fourth-generation grain and livestock farm near Seneca, Ill. They have a son, Kendall, and a daughter, Rachel.
Professor Emeritus Curtis Hieggelke began his more than 30 years of teaching at JJC in 1971 when he came to teach physics. In addition to teaching, Hieggelke also had a significant impact on the college through the 13 National Science Foundation grants he obtained for JJC together with other professors, which totaled more than $2 million. These grants offered opportunities for 1,304 physics teachers to attend physics professional development workshops, produced four new student workbooks, developed an assessment tool for electricity and magnetism, and provided funds for the state-of-the-art computer and video equipment for JJC’s physics classes. Born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota, Hieggelke holds a bachelor’s degree from Concordia College and a master’s degree and doctoral degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Hieggelke and his wife Estelle have four sons: Brian, Brent, Jason and Justin.
Douglas Foss is an associate professor of agriculture at JJC, a position he has held since 2002. Born and raised in the Joliet area, Foss lives on a farm where he raises grain and swine. After earning his associate degree in agriculture from JJC in 1966, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Iowa State in 1969. In addition to his teaching and farming careers, he has held various local, state and national positions in committees and agricultural associations. He helped to organize the Grundy County Corn Growers, and during his tenure with the National and Illinois Corn Marketing Boards, he assisted in obtaining federal funding for the Corn Genome Mapping initiative and traveled to Asia on a trade mission with the Meat Export Federation. Foss and his wife Yvonne have four children: Dee Anne, Brian, Anita and Kari.