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2022 Hall of Fame Inductees

Thee Inductees are:

  • Community Service: The late Martha Bowen of Chicago and David Risley, 70, of Rochester
  • Education: Phil Bratta, 79, of Davis Junction
  • Labor Force: The late Ernest White of Jacksonville
  • Performance/Graphic Arts: Robert Cearnal, 81, of Mascoutah

Community Service Category – Martha Bowen

Unable to have biological children of her own, Bowen served as a foster parent to at least 27 girls, raising them all on the west side of Chicago. She nurtured some of the most vulnerable children over a 30-year period, including those with severe behavioral and mental health needs due to a history of abuse. Bowen worked to build the girls’ self-esteem and instill moral responsibility and exhibited kindness and sympathy toward others throughout her lifetime.

Community Service Category – David Risley

A former career federal prosecutor and Director of Public Safety Policy in the Illinois Governor’s office, Risley founded and hosts a podcast called “Justice Voices.” His podcast amplifies the stories and voices of people with lived experiences with crime and the criminal justice system, including topics such as reentry to community life after prison, the prison experience, restorative justice, effective policing, and community efforts to prevent and combat crime.

Education Category – Phil Bratta

Bratta is a retired high school biology teacher, chess coach and Master Gardener with the University of Illinois Extension serving Ogle County. Long after his retirement from Stillman Valley High School, Bratta has remained committed to the lives of the school’s students and staff, serving as a much-needed substitute teacher most weeks and attending many extracurricular and athletic events. He continues to coach IHSA chess, having guided his chess program to three 1A State Championships over a more than 40-year coaching career.

Bratta has also volunteered more than 1,500 hours to the Ogle County community through the University of Illinois Extension office’s Master Gardener and Master Naturalist programs, which require ongoing training to maintain certification. As a Master Gardener, Bratta frequently volunteers to give presentations to Scout troops and at local libraries, engaging attendees with hands-on projects that showcase his knowledge of horticulture and gardening.

Labor Force Category – Ernest White

White’s 49-year career in the engineering and construction industries, including as the owner-operator of Alco White, Inc., hugely impacted the Jacksonville-area labor force, their skills, knowledge, and well-being in the community. Despite construction being seasonal in nature, White maintained full-time, year-round employees, whom he led and managed with integrity and a commitment to continuing education.

Extending his impact in the community, White also personally donated countless hours of manual labor, materials and knowledge to projects for the Jacksonville Jaycees, the Chamber of Commerce, the Springfield Area Home Builders Association, the Kiwanis Club, the Rotary Club, and Habitat for Humanity’s organizations within his operating area. His charitable contributions were a deciding factor in White’s selection for the Senior Illinoisan Hall of Fame.

Performance and/or Graphic Arts Category – Robert Cearnal

Cearnal became an educator in 1962 and continued until his retirement in 2000. In 1968, he joined the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America (now called the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS)). Over the years, Cearnal joined several quartets, having entertained audiences from Florida to Canada in his award-winning Male Delivery Quartet.

As a director, Cearnal organized the Senior Harmony Singers Chorus in Belleville, which he still directs every Monday. The chorus performs at long-term care facilities and retirement homes, up to as many as 30 times per year. Cearnal has also directed his High School Harmony Singers for local performances and renditions of the national anthem before high school basketball games and has spurred several boys to continue a lifetime of singing by joining the local BHS chapter. In total, Cearnal has brought at least 70 new members into his local BHS chapter.