CLINTON COUNTY WALK OF FAME: Clinton Hometown Pride Committee details honorees' achievements

Apr. 27—CLINTON — The City of Clinton Hometown Pride Committee has selected six individuals and one couple to be inducted into the Clinton County Walk of Fame as part of the 2022 class.

They will be honored at the 2022 Clinton County Walk of Fame induction dinner and ceremony Sept. 18, at Clinton's Eagle Point Lodge. The event will be open to the public and tickets will be available.

The 2022 Clinton County Walk of Fame honorees and their areas of achievement, as provided by the City of Clinton Walk of Fame Committee, are:

Julie Allesee, Humanitarian Acts

Allesee is a Clinton native, product of local schools, and lifelong champion of and contributor to the local area economy and quality of life. Her life-long leadership style exemplifies her commitment to hard work, dependability, volunteerism, business acumen, fairness, and kindness.

Allesee's professional career has included executive positions with A.C.Nielsen, Promotion Fulfillment Center, and her own party store business, Fun and Games. She also served as director of the Clinton Convention and Visitors Bureau, where she played an instrumental role in attracting state and federal funds to improve tourism infrastructure through Clinton's designation as an Iowa Great Place in 2006-2007, and again in 2019-2020, directly strengthening such community institutions as the Clinton Marina, Eagle Point Park, Sawmill Museum, Felix Adler Children's Discovery Center, and Way Finding tourism signage.

Additionally, she was named president and CEO of the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce on two separate occasions, served on the Iowa Tourism Council and the Vision Iowa Board, and served three terms as a City of Clinton councilwoman.

Allesee is a recipient of the Clinton YWCA Woman of Achievement Award, the Iowa Women's Foundation Ovation Award, and the Clinton Chamber's Community Leader of the Year Award, which was renamed in her honor. This year, a local street was renamed Allesee Way.

Frances and Robert Bickelhaupt, Humanitarian Acts

The late Robert Bickelhaupt and his wife, Frances, founded the Bickelhaupt Arboretum in 1970 by turning their own Clinton yard into a non-profit public garden. Today, the 15-plus acre, nationally recognized arboretum is a premiere attraction for the community of Clinton.

In the 1960s, the Bickelhaupts were retirees and avid walkers who were dismayed at the destruction of the beautiful trees in town due to Dutch Elm disease. With little or no horticultural knowledge, they decided that the tree devastation demanded action. Their response was to create an educational arboretum in their own backyard to share with the community.

In the words of Frances herself, who authored the book "A Private Couple Creates a Public Garden": "We wanted to have a worthwhile volunteer career that we could work on together. At the same time, we wanted to make a lasting contribution to the city and the world around it. (so) ... We made a decision to establish a public garden for eastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois that the public could experience and enjoy."

Today, the Bickelhaupt Arboretum continues to thrive as a living classroom for children and adults, a home to more than 2,000 named plant species, and an internationally recognized destination for horticulturalists. In 2014, the Bickelhaupt family donated the arboretum to Clinton Community College.

Marquis Childs, Professional Achievement

Childs was a renowned American journalist, syndicated columnist, author of books, novels, and plays, and a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in the category of "Distinguished Commentary," the first ever awarded.

He served at times as an adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Childs was born in Clinton in 1903, graduated from Lyons High School, and earned degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa, including a Lit D. from each.

He worked as a journalist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for many years, primarily writing features for its American Mercury magazine section. Other publications for which he wrote included, Harper's, The New York Times, and Saturday Evening Post magazine during World War II.

He was the author of several books, most notably "This is Your World" and "I Write from Washington". In 1962, as a contributing editor to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Childs' column became syndicated throughout the United States and Canada by United Features Syndicate. He appeared many times on national television, notably "Meet the Press," and he lectured throughout the United States.

On March 25, 1976, Childs returned to Clinton to give commencement addresses to Clinton High School/Clinton Community College, and Lyons High School, and was warmly received. He reminisced about his youth in Clinton, remembering ice skating on the frozen Mississippi River, road shows at the Clinton Theatre, and the good high school Lyons was, saying, "...and the people — I remember them. They were all characters — all with their own identities. They weren't rubbed into conformity by modern society." Childs died in 1960, and is buried in Clinton's Oakland Cemetery.

Karen Ericksen Schneider, Athletics

Clinton County has produced many fine athletes over the years who have gone on to represent their hometowns at the collegiate and professional levels. None, however, are more spectacular than the 5-foot, 6-inch woman from Wheatland, Karen Ericksen Schneider.

A 1958 graduate of Wheatland High School, the young Ericksen was named to the All-State Basketball teams in 1957 and 1958. She averaged 38.8 points per game and scored more than 3,000 career points, including her record-setting 63-point performance in the run-up to the state tournament.

During her appearance at the 1958 Iowa State Girls Basketball Tournament, she impressed scouts recruiting for the pioneering women's basketball team, the Texas Cowgirls. World famous from 1947-1977, the Texas Cowgirls toured with the Harlem Globetrotters Basketball Organization, putting on their show of basketball and comedy and delighting fans across North America.

They occasionally played before NBA games to help boost the crowds for the then-struggling league. They played against male teams made up of Major League Baseball players and pro football players and won 80% of their games. The Cowgirls team did it all dressed in western wear.

Ericksen played with the Cowgirls in 1958 and 1959, and soon became their leading scorer, averaging 20 points per game. Her specialty was shooting free throws. At her peak, she'd made 488 of 500 attempts (97.6%). During halftime shows, she dazzled crowds around the country with her free throw exhibitions, where she made as many as 77 consecutive shots while blindfolded. Despite her remarkable experience and top-tier talent, Ericksen did not boast of her athletic accomplishments when she returned to Wheatland, where she lived quietly until her death in 2022.

Dale Gardner, Professional Achievement

Gardner was a NASA astronaut and naval flight officer who flew two Space Shuttle missions. Gardner was born in Minnesota in 1948, and graduated as valedictorian from Savanna Community High School in Savanna, Illinois, in 1966. His mother lived in Clinton many years and Gardner was said to consider Clinton his home. He earned a bachelor of science degree in engineering physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1970, and upon graduation, entered into active duty with the U.S. Navy assigned to the Aviation Officer Candidate School at Pensacola, Florida.

He was commissioned an ensign and was selected as the most promising naval officer from his class. He graduated from Basic Naval Flight Officer training with the highest academic average ever achieved in the history of his squadron. He was awarded his Naval Flight Officer wings in 1971, and selected by NASA in 1978. He served as the astronaut project manager for flight software in the shuttle onboard computers leading up to the first space shuttle flight, in April 1981. He then served as a support crew astronaut for the fourth flight (STS-4). He flew as a mission specialist on STS -8 (1983) and STS-51A (1984).

Gardner logged a total of 337 hours in space and 225 orbits of Earth on these two flights. He logged more than 2,300 hours flying time in over 20 different types of aircraft and spacecraft. Prior to the Challenger shuttle accident, Gardner was chosen to be a member of the first shuttle mission to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, into a polar orbit. That flight and the Vandenberg launch capability itself were canceled after the accident.

In 1986, Gardner returned to his Navy duties and was assigned to the U.S. Space Command, Colorado Springs, Colorado. He served more than two years as the deputy chief, Space Control Operations Division in Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base and, after promotion to the rank of captain in 1989, became the command's deputy director for Space Control at Peterson Air Force Base.

His space control responsibilities included the surveillance and tracking of all man-made objects in Earth's orbit and the protection of U.S. and friendly space systems.

Gardner was awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal (1984, 1989, 1990); Distinguished Flying Cross (1989); Meritorious Unit Commendation (1976); Humanitarian Service Medal (1979); and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (1984). Other honors include the NASA Space Flight Medal (1983 and 1984); Master Space Badge (1989); and Lloyd's of London Meritorious Service Medal (1984). Gardner died in Colorado Springs in 2014.

David Hilmers, Professional Achievement

Hilmers is a former NASA astronaut who flew four Space Shuttle missions, is an electrical engineer and a physician, and is currently a professor at Baylor College of Medicine. Hilmers was born in Clinton in 1950, and graduated from Central DeWitt High School in 1968. After graduating from Cornell College with a B.A. in mathematics, he entered active duty with the United States Marine Corps, ultimately retiring with the rank of colonel. He completed Naval Flight Officer School, and was assigned to VMA (AW)-121 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, flying the A-6 Intruder as a bombardier-navigator.

In 1975, he became an air liaison officer with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, stationed with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. He also earned a master of science in electrical engineering and the degree of electrical engineer from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1978. He was selected by NASA in 1980.

A veteran of four space flights, he logged over 493 hours in space. He served as a mission specialist on STS-51J (October 3-7, 1985), STS-26 (September 29 to October 3, 1988), STS-36 (February 28 to March 4, 1990), and STS-42 (January 22-30,1992). Hilmers retired from NASA and the U.S. Marine Corp in 1992, and went on to complete medical school and residency in the combined Internal Medicine/Pediatrics program at Baylor College of Medicine.

He currently holds the rank of professor in the departments of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, the Center for Space Medicine, and Baylor Global Initiatives at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. In addition to his teaching and clinical duties, he is involved in research in global health and malnutrition in many countries.

He spends much of his spare time providing humanitarian medical care locally in Houston and in developing nations, including disaster relief efforts in Iraq, Peru, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Haiti, and in Liberia during the Ebola outbreak in 2014. He is the recipient of three NASA Exceptional Service Medals, three NASA Space Flight Medals, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Haley Space Flight Award for 1988, and the American Astronautical Society Flight Achievement Award for 1988. He was awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Wilhelm Koerner, Fine Arts

Wilhelm Henry David (W.H.D.) Koerner was a nationally recognized and highly successful artist, born in Germany in 1878, and brought by his parents to Clinton in 1881. He went through school in Clinton, where his considerable artistic talent was recognized and encouraged. After graduation he went to Chicago and worked as a court artist for the Chicago Tribune, while continuing his studies at the Art Institute. After marrying a Michigan woman who was also an artist, he continued to study and improve his artistic abilities as they moved to New York City, Delaware, and ultimately New Jersey. Some summers were spent on a ranch in Montana where Koerner would work as a ranch hand and also sketch, paint, and take photographs of the intriguing cowhands and scenes.

His paintings were so detailed and accurate that they were used by Hollywood for costumes and staging references in Westerns. John Wayne was a friend. Throughout the years, Koerner illustrated books and magazines stories for many well-known authors. Some of the more popular magazines in which his drawings appeared were Harpers, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, McCall's, Women's Home Companion, Red Book, and his long and lucrative association with the Saturday Evening Post, with which he was affiliated from 1910 to 1935.

During this period, he completed 1,311 illustrations and never missed a deadline. Koerner died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1938, just before his 59th birthday.

George W. Bush admired his work and had his painting "A Promise to Keep" on his office wall during the eight years he was governor of Texas, and then hanging on the wall in the Oval Office of the White House for the eight years he president.

Clinton County Walk of Fame 2022 inductees were selected due to their high level of achievement in their respective areas, their positive impact in their chosen fields, and their ties to Clinton County. They join honorees from 2021 who include Felix Adler, Artemus Lamb Gates, Henry Langrehr, Linda Luckstead, Frederick "Duke" Slater, Charles Toney, and Russell W. Volckmann.