The City of Whiting is small, and the School City of Whiting is even smaller.
Yet I'm proud to say that there are many notables who come from my small hometown and most of them are graduates of our public school system. Some stay and some leave to do big things elsewhere, but I've been reminded by people, over and over again, of that old adage that you can take the boy (or girl) out of Whiting, but you can never take Whiting out of the boy.
Ten years ago, the school city established the James J. Buckley Wall of Fame to recognize the many Whiting graduates who have overachieved in their accomplishments and success in areas of academics, athletics and civil accomplishments.
Both Jim Buckley and his wife were Whiting High School graduates and Mr. Buckley was a teacher, football coach, counselor and later, a school board member for many years, at his alma mater.
Each year, those selected for the Wall of Fame are part of a very special induction ceremony and reception. Jim Buckley passed away last year, so this year's reception June 1 at the Whiting Knights of Columbus Hall will be dedicated to his memory. Tickets are $30 and available by phoning the administration complex at (219) 659-0656.
Not many local high schools can boast of having a graduate who went on to receive the Nobel Prize, but Whiting High takes pride in Ferid Murad, who is also on the Wall of Fame. In researching Murad when he won his Nobel Prize, I was delighted to find out that he was not the valedictorian of his class - but he had been chosen "Best Dressed Senior."
Our latest Binhammer Award for Volunteerism recipient, Ann Devoy, also has her picture up on the Wall of Fame, as does athlete Al Pilarcik, who played for the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox. Pilarcik was also inducted into the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Buckley Wall of Fame also includes Dr. Joe Kopcha, a gynecologist and surgeon, and a former Chicago Bear All-Pro guard.
As of this year, the Buckley Wall of Fame boasts 55 Whiting graduates who went on to be physicians, physicists, doctors, writers, military heroes, educators, and artists.
This year's three recipients include Ray Justak, class of 1942, a lawyer who was recognized by three different governors with Indiana's high award, the Sagamore of the Wabash; Ramon Roman, class of 1953, who was instrumental in encouraging many WHS students to attend Indiana State University, where he mentored them as the admissions counselor and associate athletic director; and Donna Caferata, class of 1982, who joins her father, Andy Yanas, a 2006 inductee. Caferata received numerous high school awards, pursued a banking career and was known for her involvement in many Whiting organizations.
Whiting High may be small, but its graduates go on to do big things.