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Six Illinoisans to earn state's highest award

February  12, 2013

Clockwise from top left, Brenda Barnes, William Hammer, Timothy Johnson, Chad Pregracke, Robert Ontiveros and Robert Lane.

Six people with ties to the Quad Cities will receive their state's highest honor, the Order of Lincoln, on April 13 when the Lincoln Academy of Illinois conducts its 49th annual convocation at Augustana College.

The convocation will begin at 6 p.m. at Centennial Hall, 3703 7th Ave., Rock Island. It will be followed by a dinner at Wallenberg Hall inside the Denkmann Memorial Building on campus. The event will be hosted by Steve Bahls, president of Augustana, and Sam Allen, chairman and CEO of Deere & Company.

The Lincoln Academy last held this event in the Quad Cities 40 years ago.

2013 laureates

Brenda Barnes is the former CEO of Sara Lee, one of Illinois' great corporate citizens. Listed in the 1990s among Forbes' Most Powerful Women in the World, she is a 1975 graduate of Augustana, former chair of the college's board and holder of an honorary doctorate from the college. Prior to her leadership at Sara Lee, Barnes served as CEO of Pepsi-Cola North America.

Dr. William Hammer, who holds the Fritiof Fryxell Chair in Geology at Augustana College, discovered Cryolophosaurus ellioti, the first carnivorous dinosaur unearthed in Antarctica. His 1991 discovery advanced scientific understanding of tectonic shift and evolutionary biology, particularly of large-scale carnivorous theropods. Due largely to Dr. Hammer's work, a mountain in Antarctica was named Mount Augustana in 2008.

Timothy Johnson, M.D., is the former medical editor for ABC News, and author of Finding God in the Questions, a memoir of his journey both as a nationally recognized journalist and an ordained minister in the Covenant Church. He graduated from Augustana in 1958. As an undergraduate, Dr. Johnson won the National Collegiate Oratory Championship.

Bob Lane joined Deere & Company, an Illinois-based global corporation, in 1982. He was president and CEO from 2000 to 2009, during which time he made tremendous contributions both to the company's performance and to the economic landscape of Illinois. During his 28 years at Deere, Lane held positions of increasing responsibility across a variety of domestic and foreign units. Lane's years at Deere & Company followed a career in banking.

Bob Ontiveros is the founder of Group O Companies, one of the largest Hispanic-owned businesses in Illinois. Beginning with Bi-State Packaging, established in Milan, Ill., Ontiveros grew his business to include operations across the United States, Mexico and Puerto Rico, with a broadened focus that includes supply chain management, marketing and logistics in addition to packaging. He led the establishment of both the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Valley and the Greater Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Chad Pregracke was 23 in 1998 when he founded Living Lands & Waters. Today, the organization has grown to include a fleet of river vessels with crews that work along the Mississippi, Illinois and Ohio rivers, as well as many of their tributaries. Since the project's inception, more than 60,000 volunteers have collected more than six million pounds of debris from our nation's greatest rivers. In June 2002, Pregracke received the nation's prestigious Jefferson Award for Public Service.

The list of prominent Illinoisans who have received The Order of Lincoln award in past years includes Jack Benny, Paul Harvey, Gwendolyn Brooks, LeRoy Neiman, President Ronald W. Reagan, Mike Royko, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Paul Simon and Walter Payton.

Lincoln forum

In conjunction with the convocation at Augustana, Western Illinois University-Quad Cities, 3300 River Drive, Moline, will host a free public forum on Abraham Lincoln's life and legacy beginning at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 6.

Featuring Dr. Timothy Roberts of WIU, Dr. Bruce LeBlanc of Black Hawk College, and Dr. Stephen Warren of Augustana College, the program will offer insight on our 16th president.

Dr. Roberts is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Humanities grants, Dr. LeBlanc co-authored Everday Sociology, and Dr. Warren has been a featured scholar on the PBS series American Experience.

About the Lincoln Academy: A not-for-profit, non-partisan corporation, the Lincoln Academy was established in 1964 to recognize the outstanding contributions made by Illinois citizens toward the social, cultural and technological progress of mankind and thereby to encourage greater dedication to such progress by all citizens of Illinois. The first investiture of laureates was held in 1965 on Abraham Lincoln's birthday, Feb. 12. The event has been held in locations across the state every year.

About Augustana: Founded in 1860, Augustana College is a selective four-year residential college of the liberal arts and sciences. Augustana is recognized for the innovative program Augie Choice, which provides each student up to $2,000 to pursue a high-impact learning experience such as study abroad, an internship or research with a professor. Current students and alumni include 141 Academic All-Americans, a Nobel laureate, 12 college presidents and other distinguished leaders. The college enrolls 2,500 students and is located along one of the world's most important waterways, the Mississippi River, in a community that reflects the diversity of the United States.

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833