ALTON — The Alton School District has announced the 2014 recipients of the Alton High School Distinguished Alumni Award.
This year is the inaugural launch for the new accolade that recognizes outstanding Alton High School alumni.
To be recognized, nominees must have contributed significantly to their community, achieved exceptional lifetime achievements, and/or exhibited extraordinary leadership. The Distinguished Alumni Award only recognizes Alton High School graduates.
A community-based committee solicited nominations earlier this year and selected recipients in April. The committee’s goal is to impart a central message that dreams are achievable when the individual has a determined work ethic, behaves with integrity and demonstrates strength of character.
The 2014 Distinguished Alumni award recipients will be honored Wednesday, May 21, at a 6:30 p.m. reception hosted at the Alton High School Commons.
The 2014 recipients are:
Gray, a 1953 graduate of Alton High School, holds many distinguished “firsts.” In 1966, he was the first African-American hired in the Light Oil Division of Amoco Oil Co. By 1969, Gray was elected as the first African-American union president in Amoco’s history. Through his concerted efforts and in conjunction with Amoco, the United Way reached the goal of raising the first “Million Dollars” in its history in the late 1970s.
Gray has been recognized by many prestigious organizations for his civic work. Three years in a row, he was awarded the “Yes I Can” award with Amoco from the St. Louis Urban League. He has also been acknowledged for his exemplary work with the Alton community through the NAACP. Through their collaborative effort and under Gray’s leadership, they have distributed more than 1,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to children during the past years. Gray’s influence and hard work along with other community members contributed to the passing of a bond issue that resulted in the building of Alton High School.
Gray is probably best-known for his work as an advocate for equity for all people in the workplace. The effects of Gray’s work will be felt for years to come.
Rodney Caffey is a 1988 graduate of Alton High School. He earned his law degree from Oklahoma City University, has been a civil attorney since 2003 and has established his own law firm.
Caffey has been involved in many civic and community organizations. He serves on the Oklahoma City University School of Law Board of Directors, the Madison County Bar Association, the Mound City Bar Association, the Missouri Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association, among others. Closer to home, Caffey serves on the Alton Boys and Girls Club Board of Directors. He is also a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and participates in ministry through the Greater St. James Baptist Church.
Caffey is a member of the 100 Black Men of Alton, the NAACP and Habitat for Humanity. He continues to give back to his community through mentoring of students at Alton High School and Marquette High School.
Caffey graduated from Alton High School in 1991. He earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology at Illinois State University in 1996. He followed up by earning his master’s degree in history education from ISU in 2000. He is currently a doctoral candidate in education administration at ISU.
Caffey has served the children of Peoria for the past 16 years in several positions as teacher, assistant principal and principal. He has participated in a multitude of civic organizations such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America, NAACP, March of Dimes and Habitat for Humanity,
Caffey has also received numerous awards. In 2006, he received the Principal of the Year Award in Peoria and in 2009, he was named the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Human Relations award recipient for the town of Normal for his civic and community involvement.
After his graduation from AHS in 1994, Caffey earned his bachelor of science degree in finance from Illinois State University and he completed the coursework for his master of business administration degree from Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis.
Caffey was appointed to serve as the community coordinator for the city of Alton in 2001. In 2005, he was appointed to serve as the deputy director of development and housing. In 2013, Caffey was appointed as director of development and housing for Alton.
Caffey is an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Big Brother/Big Sisters, Lewis and Clark Community Careers Training Program Advisory Board and the Alton Main Street Economic Gardening Committee. He spends his “free” time coaching Alton Renegades Youth Football and gives ministry through the Greater St. James Baptist Church.
Tom W. Caffey
Caffey graduated from Alton High School in 1959. He earned his bachelor of arts degree in sociology from SIUE. He and his wife, Vernetta Caffey, are the proud parents of Rodney, Gregory and Brandon Caffey.
Caffey worked as a teacher in the Alton Alternative Education Program. He also served four years in the U.S. Navy on the USS Eaton. He is retired from Shell Oil Co.
Caffey was always conscious of the youngsters who did not have a positive role model in their life and made a special effort to reach out to those youth. He coached the Alton boys tackle football teams for 15 years. In 2009, Tom and Vernetta Caffey established “The Right Track” foundation, which awards a yearly scholarship of $500 to a scholar-athlete. He also has mentored many young people throughout the years.
Caffey is distinguished on many levels. He participates as a member of the NAACP and the Coalition of Concerned Citizens. He is the Past Master of the Dunbar Masonic Lodge and a Past Patron of the Bright Hope Chapter. He is a former Board Member for the Aging for Madison and St. Clair counties. He is also the former Human Rights Commissioner for the city of Alton. Through his exemplary life of perseverance, determination, integrity and service, Caffey has benefited youth and his community.
Bock graduated from Alton High School in 1980. He joined the Navy, where he served as a firefighter until 1985. He participated in the U.S. Air Force Reserves as a firefighter working at Scott Air Force Base. Bock began taking fire safety classes while still in the Reserves in 1984 at LCCC. He earned his associate’s degree from LCCC and a bachelor’s degree from Greenville College in organizational leadership. Bock completed coursework to practice as a paramedic and earned his Professional Emergency Manager Certification.
Previously, he was a member of the Illinois Emergency Management Team and continues to participate on the Madison County Emergency Management Team. Beyond his community service, Bock served the nation in Operation Desert Storm between 1991 and 1992.
Bock served in the Alton Fire Department for 23 years. He began his career with the AFD in 1988 and moved into a position of engineer in 1992. He became captain of the AFD in 1995 and chief in 2008. He retired from AFD in 2013.
He is working as associate director of safety programs at Lewis and Clark Community College, where he trains people in the area of Occupational Safety Health Administration regulations.
Denby graduated from Alton High School in 1955. He earned his bachelor of science degree in education from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He started his professional career in the Alton District as an English teacher at West Junior High School. He then returned to SIUE, where he completed his master of arts degree in English and later his doctorate from University of Illinois in Champaign. Denby taught 22 years at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. Upon his retirement from University of Missouri, he took a position at SIUE, where he continued his career for another 14 years. Denby retired from that position in 2006.
Denby has been highly involved in community youth organizations such as the Teen March of Dimes, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.
While working at the university level, Denby acted as accreditation consultant of curriculum for multiple districts and frequently served as an evaluating member of the North Central Association of Colleges.
Denby was recognized by the Alton Jaycees as Outstanding Young Educator of the year in 1965. He received the Chancellor’s “Excellence in Teaching” Award from the University of Missouri at Kansas in 1988. In 1977, he was awarded the Boy Scouts Vigil Honor Recipient as “Devoted Humble Mentor.”
Le-Flore-Porter is a 1989 graduate of Alton High School. Upon graduation from AHS, Le-Flore-Porter attended University of Illinois, where she received her bachelor of science elementary education in 1996. She completed the coursework for her master’s degree in education administration from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2005.
Le-Flore-Porter was hired as an assistant principal at East Middle School in 2006. She then moved to the current Alton Middle School, where she continued her work as an assistant principal. In the fall of 2013, she was named principal of Lewis and Clark Elementary School.
During her time, she has been highly involved with all facets of the educational program.She has worked with the organization of the district-wide science fair, traveled with middle and high school cheerleaders, and assisted with supervision of the athletic events.
Le-Flore-Porter has received numerous recognitions during recent years for her community work and her commitment to youth.