Nov. 19—DANVILLE — Dr. Kim Kidwell, agricultural research and wheat breeding, and Dennis B. Fay, U.S. Air Force refueling pilot and USAF Vice Chief of Staff selection as Air Force One Presidential Advance Agent, will be the 59th and 60th members of Danville High School's Wall of Fame.
Mark Bacys, chairperson of the DHS Wall of Fame Committee, announced the 2022 inductees of the DHS Wall of Fame at Wednesday night's Danville District 118 School Board meeting.
The committee selected Kidwell and Fay from nominations submitted.
The DHS Wall of Fame was initiated in 1991. Its purposes are to promote pride in Danville as well as Danville School District No. 118 and to provide positive role models for DHS students.
Formal induction ceremonies of the two honorees will be scheduled likely in May.
Dr. Kimberlee Kidwell graduated from DHS in 1981. She was valedictorian of her class and a member of the DHS girls' basketball team. After graduation Kim went to the University of Illinois where she wanted to become a sports broadcaster. An inspirational professor changed her course of study, and she earned a B.S. in Genetics and Development in (1985) and a B.S. in Agricultural Science (1986).
Dr. Kidwell then went to the University of Wisconsin to earn a M.S. in Plant Breeding and Genetics in 1989 and a Ph.D. in 1992.
From 1994 until 2016 at Washington State University, she was a professor of Crop Science. Dr. Kidwell became Washington State's first female full-time professor, Executive Associate Dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences; Founding Director of the Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership.
Her groundbreaking work in wheat genetics has resulted in her introduction of several spring wheat varieties which have had a major impact on Washington state agriculture. In addition, her life's work has become dedicated to creating a safe and ample food supply and a desire to help feed the world.
In 2016 Dr. Kidwell was named the first female Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois and served in that role until 2021. In 2021, Dr. Kidwell was named the first Associate Chancellor for Strategic Partnership and Initiatives for the U of I. In this role that she still holds today, she is focusing on high priority initiatives with multiple stakeholders. Her concentration will be on the next 150 strategic plan and campus investments along with the Illinois Network and Discovery Partners Institute. Her priorities will include development of new public-private partnerships in data-driven agriculture and personalized nutrition and the establishment of a more robust state support network for rural and health and nutrition.
While having a highly awarded and impressive resume, her accomplishments are only surpassed by her kindness and commitment to others. Her friends and colleagues are often impressed with her ability to relate to everyone, saying that she has the rare talent of making every person she meets feel mattered and seen.
Dr. Kidwell said the most important thing she learned while at DHS was to "to dare to dream and that I could do extraordinary things."
Bacys said, "well, she certainly did, and we are honored to have Dr. Kimberlee Kidwell become the 59th member of the DHS Wall of Fame."
Dennis B. Fay was a 1969 graduate from DHS. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from the United States Air Force Academy and later a master's degree from the University of Texas A&M Commerce.
Captain Fay began his military career at Undergraduate Pilot Training. He was given the Commander's Superior Flying Performance Award for excellence in airmanship. He went on to fly as a KC·l35A Tanker pilot where he twice received the highest recognition award as a Distinguish Graduate in flight qualification training.
He flew many sorties in support of global Tanker Task Force operations and numerous Higher Headquarters operational missions. Captain Fay was handpicked to become an Aircraft Commander for a newly formed elite KC-l0A squadron in 1982.
He made strides to achieve flight status as an instructor pilot and shortly thereafter moved on to become an evaluator pilot. Captain Fay was asked to become Chief of KC-10 Operations for the Director of Operations Training Division at 15th Air Force. He served as a member of the Support Battle Staff and coordinated and assisted in directing all KC-10 Operations within the entire Pacific Operations.
More significant accomplishments included the operational planning for Tanker air Refueling support for the Bl·B bomber's first world record flight and aiding the establishment of the initial integration of the KC—10 into the SR·71 Blackbird's air refueling support operations. His later years were spent at the Command staff level where he served at Headquarters Strategic Air Command and Air Mobility Command (AMC).
Captain Fay wrote and authored several military policies and procedures throughout his career. He wrote the initial design structure for SAC's instructional systems development for the KC·135A's first Inertial Navigation System. Due to his knowledge and experience with understanding both airlift and air refueling operations, he was a key instrument in the rewrite of the Strategic Air Command/Military Airlift Command joint operating policies.
Captain Fay also wrote several revisions to the KC-10 aircraft Cold Weather procedures still used by aircrews to date. He worked to design and develop KC·IO instructional courseware for training scenarios for Air Force aircrews.
He volunteered to organize and fly Air Force Academy cadet orientation KC-135 flights. He also stepped up and participated in Operation Air Force, a KC-10 summer orientation program for cadets. Fay lives north of Indianapolis.