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Gifts, event honor legacy of Lincoln

April  08, 2013

On Saturday, April 13, six individuals with Quad-Cities connections will be honored at Augustana College with the State of Illinois’ highest award, the Order of Lincoln. As the Quad Cities prepares to roll out the red carpet, the honorees are receiving an assortment of locally themed gifts.

Kai Swanson, the executive assistant to the president at Augustana College, and Lu Ann Schieferdecker, owner of Lu Ann Specialties, have partnered with the Lincoln Academy to prepare a special sampling of regional gifts for the 2013 laureates. The collections are assembled by clients at Abilities Plus, a not-for-profit organization located in Kewanee, that serves individuals with developmental disabilities.

Schieferdecker explained the process and honor of making the baskets. “All of the items were selected because they represent the contributions made by people from a part of Illinois where President Lincoln spent his early years riding the judicial circuit,” she said. “My involvement was a particular honor because I graduated from Augustana and the mission of my business is to promote local products through our gift collections.”

Each basket includes a John Deere toy tractor; the book The Elemental Prairie, illustrated by George Olson ’58 of Woodhull; Old Arthur’s BBQ Sauce from Kewanee; Magic Popcorn from Country Corners near Alpha; Lagomarcino’s hot fudge sauce made in Moline; a DVD about the Rock Island Arsenal; Boetje’s Mustard from Rock Island; Swedish-style rusks from Jacobson’s home bakery in Galva; and a coffee mug from Augustana College.

The laureates will receive their gift baskets prior to the convocation April 13 at 6 p.m. in Centennial Hall (3703 7th Ave.), Rock Island. The convocation is free and open to the public.

“These six persons have two things in common,” Swanson noted. “First, each is an extraordinary individual whose leadership is recognized far beyond our state and region. Second, all have in common some tie to our Quad-Cities community. Because of that, these collections prepared by LuAnn Schieferdecker have as much to do with welcoming the laureates home as promoting the bounty of our community.”

The 2013 laureates are:

Brenda Barnes is the former CEO of Sara Lee, one of Illinois’ great corporate citizens. Listed in the 1990s among Forbes’ Most Powerful Women in the World, she is a 1975 graduate of Augustana, former chair of the Augustana College Board of Trustees, and holder of an honorary doctorate from the college. Prior to her leadership at Sara Lee, Barnes served as CEO of Pepsi-Cola North America.

Dr. William Hammer, who holds the Fritiof Fryxell Chair in Geology at Augustana College, discovered Cryolophosaurus ellioti, the first carnivorous dinosaur unearthed in Antarctica. His 1991 discovery advanced scientific understanding of tectonic shift and evolutionary biology, particularly of large-scale carnivorous theropods. Due largely to Dr. Hammer’s work, a mountain in Antarctica was named Mount Augustana in 2008.

Timothy Johnson, M.D., is the former medical editor for ABC News, and author of Finding God in the Questions, a memoir of his journey both as a nationally recognized journalist and an ordained minister in the Covenant Church. He graduated from Augustana in 1958. As an undergraduate, Dr. Johnson won the National Collegiate Oratory Championship.

Bob Lane joined Deere & Company, an Illinois-based global corporation, in 1982. He was president and CEO from 2000 to 2009, during which time he made tremendous contributions both to the company’s performance and to the economic landscape of Illinois. During his 28 years at Deere, Lane held positions of increasing responsibility across a variety of domestic and foreign units. Lane’s years at Deere & Company followed a career in banking.

Bob Ontiveros is the founder of Group O Companies, one of the largest Hispanic-owned businesses in Illinois. Beginning with Bi-State Packaging, established in Milan, Ill., Ontiveros grew his business to include operations across the United States, Mexico and Puerto Rico, with a broadened focus that includes supply chain management, marketing and logistics, in addition to packaging. He led the establishment of both the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Valley and the Greater Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Chad Pregracke was 23 when he founded Living Lands & Waters in 1998. Today, the organization has grown to include a fleet of river vessels with crews that work in and along the Mississippi, Illinois and Ohio rivers, as well as many of their tributaries. Since the project’s inception, more than 60,000 volunteers have collected more than six million pounds of debris from our nation’s greatest rivers. In June 2002, Pregracke received the nation’s prestigious Jefferson Award for Public Service.

The list of prominent Illinoisans who have received The Order of Lincoln award in past years includes Jack Benny, Paul Harvey, Gwendolyn Brooks, LeRoy Neiman, President Ronald W. Reagan, Mike Royko, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Paul Simon and Walter Payton.

This year’s Lincoln Academy event will be hosted by Steve Bahls, president of Augustana College, and Sam Allen, chairman and CEO of Deere & Company. Following the convocation, a private dinner will be held in Wallenberg Hall inside the Denkmann Memorial Building on campus. Tickets are required for the dinner, and can be purchased by calling the Lincoln Academy’s office in Springfield, (217) 785-5030.

About the Lincoln Academy: A not-for-profit, non-partisan corporation, the Lincoln Academy was established in 1964 to recognize the outstanding contributions made by Illinois citizens toward the social, cultural and technological progress of mankind and thereby to encourage greater dedication to such progress by all citizens of Illinois. The first investiture of laureates was held in 1965 on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, Feb. 12. The event has been held in locations across the state every year.

Sam Schlouch
Director, Public Relations and Arts Promotion
(309) 794-7833
samschlouch@augustana.edu