The Legends of Rock Island is an honor group affiliated with the Rock Island-Milan Education Foundation for Rock Island High School Alumni who have made significant contributions to furthering the mission of the Rock Island-Milan School District.

Legend Award winner Dr. Paula Arnell, Founders Circle winner Vic Boblett, and Gina Lawrence and Julie Zarletanes accepting the award for their uncle Gary Payton, Legend award winner

The 2012 Rock Island Legend Award winners were:

Dr. Paula Youngberg Arnell, class of ’56 – A graduate of Augustana College and the University of Iowa College of Medicine; co-founder of both Metropolitan Laboratory and the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center; founder of The Women’s Connection and a founding member of the Quad City Breast Center.

Don Nelson, class of ’58 – A two-time All-American at the University of Iowa; played in the NBA and won five national championships with the Boston Celtics; coached 30-plus seasons and has the most wins of all-time for any coach in the NBA; inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Gary Payton, class of ’66 – A graduate of the US Air Force Academy and Purdue University; spent 23 years as an Air Force officer as a pilot, instructor pilot, spacecraft operations director, and space technology manager; flew on the 1985 Space Shuttle Discovery; currently a Distinguished Visiting Professor in Engineering Sciences at the US Air Force Academy.

Download Legends nomination form
Eligibility criteria include:

  • Graduate of Rock Island High School
  • Significant service or leadership to Rock Island-Milan schools or to District #41
  • Achievements in the individual’s profession
  • Service to the community
  • Achievement of excellence in a worthy field of endeavor

The class of honorees will be reviewed by the previous years’ Legends award recipients and approved by the Board of Directors of the Rock Island-Milan Education Foundation.

Awardees will be honored at an awards ceremony, receive a plaque, and have their name added to a plaque inside Rock Island High School.

Nominations must be received by June 3, 2013.


Past Winners:

William Appier ’43
Gary Bender ‘66
Joel Brunsvold ’60
Herbert Carmen ‘86
Stan Coin ’47
James Collins ’64
Dr. James Davis ’61
Mark DeBarr ’69
Dr. Milton Glick ‘55
Stanley Goldman ‘38
Dr. Theodore Grevas ‘42
Kevin Guthrie ‘73
John Hass ’59
Franz Helpenstell ’51
Ruth Evelyn Katz ’34
Stu Lefstein ’51
Gary Miner ’54
Peg Nothdorf ‘51
Marty Rich ’50
Stu Thoms ’52
William Whisler ‘14   Steve M. Wilson ’64
Stewart Winstein