Highland News Leader

Highland hall of fame class: Scientist, educator, entrepreneur, pitcher

The Highland Illinois Area Schools Alumni Association (HIASAA) has announced its hall of fame induction class for 2016. Upper left is Bruce Case. Upper right is Erwin H. Weder. Lower right is Tom Ulmet, and lower left is Jake Odorizzi.
The Highland Illinois Area Schools Alumni Association (HIASAA) has announced its hall of fame induction class for 2016. Upper left is Bruce Case. Upper right is Erwin H. Weder. Lower right is Tom Ulmet, and lower left is Jake Odorizzi. Courtesy images

Highland Illinois Area Schools Alumni Association (HIASAA) has announced its 2016 hall of fame induction class.

Bruce Case, a widely recognized international technical expert on magnetic recording tape and discs, is this year’s inductee in the arts and sciences.

Erwin H. Weder, the founder of Highland Supply Corp., was named to the business hall of fame.

Tom Ulmet, who created international education programs in countries all around the world, was named to the hall of fame in the career public service category.

Jake Odorizzi, a starting pitcher with the Tampa Bays Rays, will enter the hall of fame’s sports wing.

HIASAA members selected these four men from a field of 15 candidates during voting, which took place from May 1-31.

Any alumni of any school within the boundaries of the Highland School District or any employees of these schools can become a HIASAA member. You need not have graduated from school, just attended. Membership dues are $10 per year, $40 for a 5-year membership, or $100 for a lifetime membership. All memberships are from Jan. 1 to December 31 of each year. For more information, go to highlandilalumni.com.

Arts and Sciences: Bruce Case

Bruce Case graduated from St. Paul High School in 1952. He attended Louisiana State University and earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering, graduating first in his class of 60 engineers in 1961. He served in the Air Force Security Service in the ’50s.

From 1962 to 1991, Case spent his career with DuPont. Case was a widely recognized international technical expert on magnetic recording tape and discs. He invented the DuPont Mylar 92DB polyester film for the new 3480 IBM Data Cartridge. He also invented the DuPont Mylar 50KB polyester film for music audio cassettes and worked with major tape producers around the world (Capital Records, RCA, Philips, 3M, Memorex, BASF, Fuji, Sony, Hitachi-Maxell and TDK).

Another invention of his was DuPont Mylar 300 PB polyester film for micro floppy discs, working with IBM, Verbatim Fuji, Sony, BASF and others to insure DuPont sole supplier position for early years in the life of the product. He was awarded two patents for process improvements in the manufacturing of polyester film and one patent for improved shotgun shell primer while assigned to Remington Arms, a DuPont subsidiary. As technical adviser to Technicolor Corporation of Hollywood, he solved serious quality problems they were having with their VHS movie tape.

Bruce was awarded the DuPont Marketing Excellence Award in 1987 and the Chuck Yeager Aerospace Education Award for providing plane rides for high school students as part of “Young Eagles” education program.

Bruce retired as a DuPont Fellow, the highest science and engineering level in the company. Less than 0.1 percent of DuPont scientists and engineers are awarded this high level of accomplishment.

Bruce received his private pilot’s license and has been a Search and Rescue pilot for the Civil Air Patrol. Just recently Bruce can add “author” to his many achievements, publishing a novel entitled Ladybug.

Public Service: Tom Ulmet

Tom Ulmet graduated from Highland High School in 1960. He received his B.A. from Monmouth College, an M.A. from Middlebury College and an master’s of education from St. Lawrence University. He has made significant contributions to international education during his career.

Ulmet began his career in international education as director of the St. Lawrence University Study Abroad program in Vienna in 1973. He served as director of guidance in the American School in London and as principal of the International School of Zurich in Switzerland. He returned to the U.S. to serve as director of educational programs at the Duke University Talent Identification Program.

In 2001, Ulmet moved to China becoming superintendent of Yew Chung International Schools (YCIS). Finishing a 14-year tenure there, he had supported the development of YCIS in several cities in China, where each was part of the Cambridge Award for Excellence in Education. He led these schools through joint school accreditation. During his distinguished career he created international programs in Austria, Costa Rica, England, Germany, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Switzerland, Peoples’ Republic of China, Scotland, and Wales.

He currently serves as executive director of the Association of China and Mongolia International Schools, which are serving educational needs of 70 schools with 57,000 international students, and 7,000 teachers from around the world. He also serves as inspector of international schools for the Ministry of Education in Dubai.

He has served on several boards for international schools and organizations, received several awards, and has spoken at several conferences. He and his family have been involved in several charitable activities. Among these are communication between government and ex-patriot community in Shanghai during the SARS epidemic; point of contact for missing persons in the Thailand tsunami; launched first relief efforts for the Sichan earthquake and the tsunami in Japan.

Sports: Jake Odorizzi

Jake Odorizzi graduated from Highland High School in 2008. His senior year, he led the HHS baseball team to the 2008 state championship. As a pitcher, he was 14-0 with a 0.08 ERA. His senior year, he batted .422 with 15 homeruns. He holds numerous Highland High School baseball records.

In 2008, Odorizzi was the Gatorade Player of the Year, USA Today National Player of the Year, and received the Louisville Slugger Award. He was also named an All-State pitcher and shortstop and was the Prep Baseball Player of the Year. He was named All-State in football as well.

Odorizzi was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers with the 32nd overall pick in the 2008 Major League Baseball draft. He made his major league debut in 2012 with the Kansas City Royals.

As of 2015, his MLB stats were 20 wins and 24 losses with a 3.77 ERA and 350 strikeouts. His WHIP (walks plus hits per inning) was 1.22.

Odorizzi is currently a starting pitcher with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Business: Erwin H. Weder

Erwin H. Weder was born on Deck’s Prairie in 1904 and attended Highland High School. During World War II, Weder served as a captain in the Illinois Militia Air Corps, where he was a flight instructor.

He worked at several jobs in the 1920s and early ’30s, gaining valuable skills that would later serve him in his business endeavors.

In 1937, Weder founded Highland Supply Corp. The company started as a wholesale floral supply company, but moved to manufacturing. He developed more than 8,000 products and held more than 400 patents. Highland Supply Corp. is recognized as the premier supplier of floral packaging in the floral industry. The Wholesale Florist and Florist Supplier Association posthumously awarded Edwin the Leland T. Kintzele Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the industry.

Through the efforts of Weder and his son, Don, the company pioneered the use of water-based inks, replacing solvent inks. They received numerous awards, including the Illinois Governor’s Award and awards from the Environmental Protection Agency for this work.

Erwin Weder was also responsible for founding numerous other business entities, including Highland Manufacturing and Sales Co., which produces Easter grass for baskets. He established a cattle, horse, and buffalo ranch in Montana that became home to more than 650 head of bison. He founded a 90-acre business park in California, where buildings are leased to a variety of tenants. He formed a company to farm rural properties in Illinois. Today, production and/or warehousing entities resulting from his endeavors operate in Illinois, California, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Montana, Texas, Canada, and Mexico. Headquarters for the diverse group of companies remains in Highland.

Erwin Weder was also a preservationist and an environmentalist. He is responsible for planting more than 100,000 trees and preserved thousands of acres of timberland. He and his wife, Louise, restored the one-room country Giger School to its original condition and the Deck Cemetery. In 1987, Erwin founded the Erwin H. Weder Family Deck’s Prairie Historical, Educational and Research Foundation, which established a museum in the historic Schott Brewery Building. In Hobart, Okla., a facility housing the Great Plains Youth and Family Services Inc. is named the Erwin H. Weder Building in his honor.

He was a founding member of the Highland Manufacturers Association.

Erwin Weder died on Nov. 1, 1987 at age 82.

Tickets for induction breakfast

The breakfast for the Highland Illinois Area Schools Alumni Association induction ceremony will be the weekend of the Highland High School Homecoming, Saturday, Oct. 1 at the Highland High School Bulldog Square at 9 a.m. Tickets for the breakfast are $8 and can be obtained by contacting Homer Rusteberg at 722 Broadway in Highland or calling 654-7537.

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