2014 Recipients Career Briefs

Career Briefs

District Employees Bernard Eagleton, Gail Lathrop, Gus and Mary Sliva,  and Larry Miller and ERHS alumni Terry Bruce (Class of 1962) and Dr. Michael Murray (Class of 1955) and Dan Borah (Class of 1964).   (Presented in the same order below.)  Tiger Pride Alumni Association Director, Clarence Smith provided the content for the briefs below unless otherwise noted.



Bernard Eagleton taught many generations of Richland County students beginning his career in a one-room school in 1934 for $400 a year.  He went on to teach many youth for 17 years at Central School where he also coached basketball.  He retired from his teaching career in 1975 after teaching English at ERHS for 14 years.  He then became the County Superintendent of Schools before retiring from that position. He then worked for Country Mutual Life Insurance Co. until 2005 as a crop adjuster.   At age 100, he amazed all with his recall of students, stories, and sharp wit.  He thanked the audience and TAC for the honor and ended by quoting some scripture that had guided him throughout his life.



Gail Lathrop was a Social Science teacher at Beecher City from 1950 to 1954 and from 1955 to 1958 at East Richland High School. He was ERHS guidance director from 1958 to 1959 and East Richland Community Unit District guidance director in 1960. He was principal at ERHS from 1961 to 1965. He was academic dean at Olney Community College from 1965 to 1968. He was vice president and Dean of Instruction from 1968 to 1969 at Olney Central College, president from 1969 to 1975 and instructor of American History Political Science and Sociology from 1975 to 1985. He was mayor of Olney from 1977 to 1989. He was chairman of the Richland Memorial Hospital Board of Directors from December 1996 to September 2002.

Superintendent Holt also praised Mr. Lathrop:  

The impact of Gail Lathrop has been tremendous!  As we reflect on his ten years at ERHS and his years of leadership at the College and the Community – how lucky we were.    As those who knew him say – he was the right person at the right time!   He was a people person and one that was well loved by all.   He was a favorite with students and had them at the center as evidenced by the fact that at the dedication of the Classatorium the student body gave Mr. Lathrop a standing ovation!   Today we honor him for putting students first, for listening to them, for encouraging them in public service and for accepting their challenge to run for Mayor – for being a wonderful man as well as educator ------  Thank you for this honor for this great man!



What an honor it is to accept this award on behalf of the East Richland School District and the Sliva family.  (Superintendent Holt's Praise)

Gus and Mary Sliva are legends at this school as evidenced by the renaming of the Classatorium to the Sliva Auditorium.   They are well recognized by Boards of Education spanning 8 decades!  

Gus and Mary were loved to death and beyond!  They were the mother/father figures for everyone.   Gus was just out of college and wasn’t much older than his students.   Mary came into the district later and they expanded the music program to include vocal as well as instrumental music.  Gus had to go to war and the community mourned his leaving.   They also rejoiced at his homecoming!  

Mr. Hillis was in 8th grade when Gus left to go to war.  Harry was playing the trombone and had no idea that Gus Sliva even knew who he was.    In high school Harry wanted to play the snare drums so when Gus returned there was Harry playing the snare drum and Gus asked – What are you doing?   You are a trombone player!   Harry mentioned that Gus Sliva was a stickler for discipline but kids loved him!  Interesting how that happens-------

Every now and then a figure or figures come upon the scene and set a new standard of excellence.   Examples might be Michael Jordan in basketball and perhaps Babe Ruth in baseball or now many across the country might say Derek Jeter.    That is exactly what Gus and Mary Sliva did!   They set a new standard!

When I asked Nancy Deimel to summarize why she loved the Sliva’s so much – through tears in her eyes she explained that they set high standards, recognized your potential and cheered you on to be all that you could be!   Many of you in your comments on- line expressed the fun of being in their class, the hard work, the extra work and yet everyone wanted to be there because everyone was so engaged and Gus and Mary were so engaging!  

Earlier this morning I was at the City Park because our music department performed!  The High School Band played selections from their half time show featuring music from The Hunger Games, then the High School choir, then the sixth grade choir, then the seventh/eighth grade choir and last but not least the middle school show choir.    I am so proud of each of these groups and their instructors and I know that Gus and Mary are looking down from the front row cheering them on.  For indeed – we will not ever have another Gus and Mary but we will continue the work, the music, the joy!

Gus and Mary Sliva made a difference in the lives of children and today as adults we celebrate the fact that even though they are not with us we honor, we thank and we celebrate the memories.  

Therefore, on behalf of the Sliva family and the East Richland School District it is my honor to accept this award honoring Gus and Mary Sliva.



Larry Miller (Class of 1967) taught history, coached basketball and cross country, and was an administrator at ERHS from 1976 to 2004.  He was a favorite of his students and players.  His positive influence on many young men and women earned him a Lifetime Achievement award.  Larry thanked the group for the honor and accepted the award on behalf of all teachers who serve their students in many ways every day.


Terry Bruce (Class 1962) graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1966, and from the University of Illinois Law School in Urbana in 1969.[1] He was admitted to the bar in 1969.  He served as member of the Illinois State Senate from 1971 to 1984, and assistant majority leader from 1975 to 1984. He was elected as a Democrat to the Ninety-ninth and to the three succeeding Congresses and served as United States Representative for the nineteenth district of Illinois from January 3, 1985–January 3, 1993. Bruce is currently the chief executive officer of Illinois Eastern Community Colleges (IECC) with colleges in Olney, Fairfield, Robinson, and Mt. Carmel. It was noted that when he served in the Illinois Sentate, he sponsored the bill that gave teachers the right to collective bargaining.   Terry thanked everyone for the honor.



Dr. Michael Murray (Class of 1955) was honored for his dedication to the citizens of Olney for treating their medical needs.  Dr. Murray graduated from the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine in 1962, interned at the Medical College of Wisconsin Affiliated Hospitals 1962-1963, and did his residency Medical College of Wisconsin Affiliated Hospitals, Internal Medicine, 1963–1966.  Dr. Murray then returned to his home town to practice medicine and was highly regarded as an excellent doctor. He returned to give back to his community when he could have gone elsewhere.  He also served on the East Richland Board of Education.  Dr. Murray has retired from active practice but is still highly regarded.  Dr. Murray accepted the award and thanked TAC and TPAA for the honor.  



 Lt. Daniel Verner Borah, JR. (Class of 1964), age 31, was the pilot of a Vought Attack Aircraft Corsair II (A-7B) on a strike against North Vietnamese troops entrenched in bunkers northwest of Quang Tri, South Vietnam when his aircraft was shot down by anti-aircraft fire. His wingman radioed for him to take evasive action, then almost immediately saw the Corsair burst into flames. The FAC saw Borah eject safely from the aircraft and descend in a good parachute. His wingman established emergency radio contact with the downed pilot for 10-15 seconds after he safely landed on the ground. During his last voice contact, Dan Borah radioed: "Gomer…all around…" While search and rescue (SAR) efforts commenced immediately, no further contact could be established with him over the next two days. On 26 September SAR operations were terminated. Shortly thereafter, intelligence reports were received by our government confirming that NVA soldiers removed Lt. Borah's parachute from a tree within 30 minutes of his landing on the ground. At the time SAR efforts were terminated, Daniel V. Borah, Jr. was listed Missing in Action. Based on the USG's own intelligence records dating from the date of incident, there is no question Dan Borah was captured alive and held prisoner by communist forces. The real question today is: Is he still surviving in spite of the USG's claims to the contrary? Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Fighter pilots were called upon to fly in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.

While the USG considers Dan Borah to be "remains returned," his family does not.  The Class of 64 has never forgotten Dan and honor him at each reunion. The Class of 64 attendees observed a moment of silence in his honor.  Dan’s sister Julie Borah Bunn and brother Jim Borah accepted the award.