Six Geneseo graduates have been named “Distinguished Alumni” and will be honored during the Academic Scholar Night on Monday, March 11.
The Academic Scholar Night, which starts at 7 p.m. in the high school’s Concert Hall, also will honor current GHS students who are National Honor Society members, National Technical Honor Society members, Illinois State Scholars and AP Scholars.
Those honored as 2019 Distinguished Alumni are:
John Edwards Jr.
Class of 1967
John Edwards Jr., of Geneseo, is president of JF Edwards Construction Company. The Geneseo business is an outside electric construction company specializing in underground installation.
The company has worked on most Illinois airport lighting systems and automatic weather observation systems. They’ve done similar work in Iowa and Wisconsin.
JF Edwards Construction Company installed expressway lighting on the Eisenhower, the Dan Ryan and Stevenson in addition to working on the Illinois tollway system.
Edwards Construction recently became involved in the wind industry on 10 different projects in Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa and Indiana and has wired more than 330 wind towers. Edwards and the company have given back to the school district and to the community in numerous avenues.
Class of 1971
Susan Hinrichsen, of Galena, was appointed an assistant executive director for the Illinois High School Association and said her time with the IHSA “is one of her greatest accomplishments.”
She was the administrator for boys and girls’ volleyball, boys’ and girls’ golf, boys’ and girls’ bowling and girls’ badminton.
Prior to her tenure with the IHSA she was an educator and coach from 1972-1992 at Rochester High School, Peoria Heights High School, Davenport Wood Junior High, Davenport Central High School, Davenport North School and the University of California San Diego.
Class of 1940
The late Don Klavohn was the founder of Klavohn Furniture Store, in downtown Geneseo. He owned and operated the store for 56 years. One of Klavohn’s objectives was to make Geneseo an attractive place to live, own a home and raise a family.
He was influential in the developing the off-street parking lots to the east and west of the downtown shopping district.
Klavohn was proud to be a businessman in Geneseo and it was his wish that the pride in the development and tradition of Geneseo continue for years to come.
Janet Klavohn will accept the award on behalf of her father.
Class of 1953
George Kutsunis, of Geneseo, is board chairman of GWK Enterprises/Four Seasons. He opened the former Merry Go Round store in 1962 in Geneseo after having served in the United States Army.
GWK Enterprises operates Four Seasons women’s apparel stores in Geneseo as well as six other stores in Iowa and Illinois; and the Four Seasons Outlet and Pegasus Fine Gifts in Geneseo.
Katie Kutsunis-Andrios, president of GWK Enterprises, will accept the award on behalf of her father, George Kutsunis.
Sen. Sue (Schipper) Rezin
Class of 1980
Susan (Schipper) Rezin, of Morris, was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 2010 and then appointed to the Illinois State Senate.
She currently serves as the minority spokesperson on the Senate Energy and Public Utilities and Senate Revenue committees.
Sen. Todd Sieben
Class of 1963
Todd Sieben, of Geneseo, was an officer in the United States Navy, serving in Vietnam. He then became owner and vice president of Sieben Hybrids, a family seed business and operated a 400-acre livestock farm.
In 1986, he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives and, in 1992, was elected to the Illinois Senate.
In 2003 Sieben was appointed assistant Republican leader. He retired from the senate in 2007.
In 2008, Sieben became a lobbyist for the ethanol industry.
At the 2019 Academic Scholar Night, three of the honorees — Hinrichsen, Rezin and Sieben — will address the audience.
Principal Travis Mackey and guidance counselor Linda Van Der Leest said “there are so many deserving alumni that we decided to begin recognizing those people this year.”
They invited three members of the community to serve with them on the board of directors for Distinguished Alumni Awards. Recipients will be presented plaques of recognition, which were purchased with funds from a grant from the PTA.
The award is the highest honor bestowed on a graduate and is given to alumni who have reached the pinnacle of their careers and have brought credit to themselves and to the Geneseo School District through distinguished accomplishments in the areas of business or professional life; community affairs at local, state or national levels; or exceptional accomplishments in a chosen field.
“We have chosen to showcase the distinguished alumni at the Academic Scholar Night because Travis and I believe the alumni have so much to offer to our students,” Van Der Leest said. “Their experiences, their wealth of knowledge and a bit of history about how they were so influential in Geneseo and beyond.”