The 2007 Senior Illinoisans Hall of Fame Inductees are:
Community Service - Betty Estes
Betty Estes (Pontiac) has spent the past decade and a half working to spread the word about the community she loves and lives in. Estes started the city’s Tourism Department from the ground up, becoming the first Tourism Director for the city of Pontiac. Every visitor that came to Pontiac received the royal treatment, where the red carpet would literally be rolled out when guests arrived. This treatment gained attention, even overseas, and Estes went on to develop the “Red Carpet Corridor” which is a cooperative effort by communities along Route 66 from Joliet to Towanda. She spearheaded the idea of opening a museum to bring in more tourists to Pontiac, and in 2005, the Route 66 Museum and Hall of Fame was opened in the city’s former fire station. Estes wanted to honor all Veterans who have bravely and honorably served this country, so she spearheaded the Livingston County War Museum, which opened in 2006. She even convinced the City of Pontiac to purchase a trolley that is in service today, to transport visitors around the city. Today, tens of thousands of people visit Pontiac, due to Estes’ dream and hard work.
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Education - Carole Rita Nolan
Carole Rita Nolan (Arlington Heights) has lived a career of dedicated public service by applying her gifts of teaching and leading to promote quality education in Illinois. Nolan earned degrees in education from DePaul University in Chicago in the 1950s but she never quit studying and learning herself. She even attended Oxford University in England in 1999. Early in her career, Nolan taught science at Northeastern University and has been an Adjunct Professor of Communications at DePaul University. Nolan was the Director of Telecommunication and Broadcasting for the Chicago Public Schools, designing and producing hundreds of hours of educational television programs. Most notably, Nolan established Public Radio Educational Broadcasting in Chicago in 1971. Today, WBEZ Chicago is the premier public education station in the nation with a 50,000 watt transmitter atop the John Hancock Building to reach nine million listeners. As President, General Manager and CEO of WBEZ, Nolan opened a state-of-the-art facility on Navy Pier and conducted a $7 million capitol campaign to make it happen. Nolan serves on many boards and remains an active volunteer in causes affecting teachers, children, hospice, seniors, neighborhood groups, libraries and more.
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Work Force - Bob Blazier
Bob Blazier (Crystal Lake) has provided over four decades of business leadership throughout Illinois, working to ensure the quality of life and protection for tens of thousands of senior citizens. He has served as Executive Director of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce and chaired the McHenry County Political Action Committee that successfully educated residents to vote for and pass a tax used to establish a senior center in Crystal Lake. Thousands of county residents have participated in activities and companionship programming at the senior center, while thousands seniors have been helped by the caseworkers and services available at the facility. In 1959, he established The Elm City Center in Jacksonville which helped patients who had been released with no job skills after a 30-year-stay in the State Hospital. Blazier has provided business strategies and acumen from 1996 to 2006 as the Board Chairman for the Fitness and Rehabilitation Center for seniors recovering from surgery and illness. The Crystal Lake City Council even proclaimed “Bob Blazier Day” in 1996 and 2007, as a way to recognize Blazier’s attributes and accomplishments.
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Performance & Graphic Arts - Eugene B. Redmond
Eugene B. Redmond (Fairview Heights) has been a patron and an anchor serving his community, nation and world through the arts. Retired from Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville, Professor Edmond was dedicated to teaching English, Literature, Poetry and African-American Cultural history. Currently serving as chair of the creative writing committee and the editor of the several publications, Redmond has authored and edited more than 25 volumes of poetry, and plays for theatre and television. In 1976 Redmond was named Poet Laureate’ of East St. Louis. He has been a writer in residence at California State University, University of Wisconsin, University of Lagos, Nigeria, Southern University at Baton Rouge, and today, he still leads the charge in improving community relations and the arts through his charitable services.
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For more information on the Senior Illinois Hall of Fame, contact the Illinois Department on Aging Senior HelpLine.