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This year's East Alton - Wood River Oiler Hall of Fame class includes members of the military, an attorney, community volunteer, athletic trainer, and a fallen firefighter. The Hall of Fame was created by the East Alton Wood Ricer High School Board of Education in 2009 to recognize the accomplishments of past grads on an every-other-year basis.
The induction ceremony is normally held in October, and if the pandemic precautions allow, that is the plan again this year. Dr. John Pearson, East Alton - Wood River High School District Superintendent tells The Big Z the selection panel looks at each nominee's "body of work."
Click here for Pearson's comments
2021 inductees are: Command Sergeant Major Phillip Barber, John Barnerd, Kent Biggerstaff, Ula Brazier, Norris Dorsey, Jake Ringering William Tiley, and Lt. Col. Jason Whipple (Retired).
Command Sergeant Major Phillip Barber (Class of 1989) has enjoyed a distinguished career in the US Army, currently serving as the Senior Enlisted Army National Guard Advisor to the Deputy General of Operations, 1st United States Army. His rank is the highest enlisted rank in the U.S. Army.
Sergeant Major Barber’s military awards include: Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal and numerous others. Plus, he holds the following Badges: Basic Parachutist, Pathfinder, Air Assault, and Combat Infantryman.
John Barnerd (Class of 1992) is a highly successful attorney with the Simmons-Conroy Law Firm, one of the nation’s leading firms, which specializes in helping plaintiffs with medical conditions related to asbestos exposure and mesothelioma against large corporations and which has won record verdicts. Mr. Barnerd has been recognized by Super Lawyers magazine as a “Rising Star” 2008 – 2012; Best Lawyers: “Best Lawyers in America,” 2020-2021, in the area of Plaintiffs’ Mass Tort Litigation; and - in 2010, Chicago Lawyers Magazine recognized him as a top 40 Under 40 Illinois Attorney.
Kent Biggerstaff (Class of 1965) has been one of the nation’s leading professional athletic trainers. Kent, a longtime Major League Baseball Athletic Trainer, began his athletic training career in 1967 and spent 36 years in professional baseball. During this time, he worked for the New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers and spent his last 23 years in the Major Leagues as Head Athletic Trainer for the Pittsburgh Pirates. During this tenure as a professional baseball athletic trainer, he earned many honors including selection as the All Star Athletic Trainer in the National League in 1990, 1994 and 2002. Kent was also selected as the Athletic Trainer for the 1996 Major League All Star Tour of Japan and was named 2002 Major League Athletic Trainer of the Year.
Ula Brazier (Class of 1931 - posthumous award) was a tireless community volunteer who balanced her life as a homemaker with many neighborhood and community service experiences. Ula was the “neighborhood mom” who opened her house and yard to all of the neighborhood kids; drove kids who needed a ride to Vacation Bible School; transported neighborhood children to the State Fairgrounds in Springfield; and worked hard to make the East Alton Library a reality. One of her crowning achievements was being elected to the EAWR Board of Education, in 1959, where she served for ten years. In 1965, Ula was elected by the Board as its President - the first woman ever in the history of the school district.
Norris Dorsey (Class of 1950) is one of the most beloved and respected teachers and coaches in the history of EAWR. Countless alumni - many of whom have gone on to greater athletic and career successes - speak of the fatherly and character-building influence that Coach Dorsey had on their athletic performance, as well as their adult lives. Norris is best known as one of the best high school baseball coaches in the area. to coaching basketball and football in assistant roles, he was best known as the Head Baseball Coach from 1965-1982. During his tenure as Head Baseball Coach, Norris won three conference championships, three District championships and a Regional Championship, when EAWR played in the Southwestern Conference and, after 1971, the Mississippi Valley Conference. His varsity baseball teams compiled winning records in 15 of the 17 seasons in which he coached. His success led to the school board naming its baseball diamond, “Norris Dorsey Field
Jake Ringering (Class of 2000 - posthumous award) was a career firefighter for the Villages of East Alton (2001 - 2010) and Godfrey (2010-2019). With the Godfrey Fire Protection District, Jake had attained the rank of Captain on May 1, 2014. He was also the technical rescue officer, respiratory protection officer and a lead instructor for the department. On Tuesday, March 5, 2019, Captain Ringering - in response to a residence fire - was killed in the line of duty.
William Tiley (Class of 1957) has spent a lifetime in engineering and tech. His career began in aircraft maintenance in the US Air Force where he became the youngest Master Instructor on record in training recruits. During the Vietnam War, he was awarded a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service medals, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with a Silver Star. After his military career (1985) he worked as a civilian engineer and pilot with the Caterpillar Corporation in San Antonio. In 1997, he started an aviation engineering company called Job Aire that employs 250 people and where he invented three mechanical devices for passenger carrying aircraft.
Lt. Col. Jason Whipple (Retired) (Class of 1994). Lt. Colonel Whipple - a 1998 West Point graduate - had a distinguished career and service record with the U.S. Army from 1998 - 2019. During his Army career, he led troops in various capacities, including his latest stint as an Asst. Professor of Mechanical Engineering at West Point. After his active duty career in the Army, Jason continued his engineering career as a Science and Engineering Project Manager at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM, where he and his family live currently. While at EAWR, he was also voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by his classmates along with another Oiler Alumni Hall-of-Famer, Dr. Laura (Pulaski) Hill.