Nazi-Camp Escapee, NASA Scientist and More Inducted in LTHS Hall of Fame

Rounding out the 2012 class inducted into the Hall on Friday are a chart-topping songwriter, a prominent economic journalist and a pioneering radiologist.

Lyons Township High School inducted its 2012 Hall of Fame class at a banquet at La Grange Country Club on Friday: an illustrious and eclectic quintet including a pilot who escaped a German WWII prison camp, a NASA rocket scientist with six patents and the author of a 1967 no. 1-charting hit song.

“It’s so enjoyable seeing five such special people being inducted into the Hall of Fame,” said Hall committee member Jay Cozza (LT 1975), who emceed the event. “You learn so much, because there really are special alumni. They’re at the top. They did as much as they could in their fields to get in the Hall of Fame.”

Three of the alumni—guitarist and songwriter James Holvay, radiologst Luke Sewall and economic journalist David L. Warsh—attended the ceremony, while decorated pilot Lee Russell was represented by a brigadier general, and Cozza himself spoke for rocket scientist Salvatore J. Grisaffe. 

The 2012 inductees are: 

Lee Russell (Class of 1940): A decorated pilot who flew in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, and a commercial pilot for United in peacetime. During his service in Germany, he was shot down and interred in a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp, from which he would plot and execute a successful escape. Russell also graduated from Northwestern University and later served in Strategic Air Command He retired in 1985, having won three Distinguished Flying Crosses and six other air medals. 

Salvatore J. Grisaffe (Class of 1952): A NASA rocket scientist who joined the organization in its earliest days and went on to work there for 39 years studying space propulsion and electronics technology, publishing over 70 technical papers and garnering six patents. Grisaffe holds a bachelor’s degree from Illinois and a master’s from the Case Institute of Technology and is the recipient of numerous accolades, including the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.  He retired from NASA in 1995 and from the Ohio Aerospace Institute in 2002.

James Holvay (Class of 1963): A guitarist and songwriter who composed four top-10 hits for the 60’s sunshine-pop band The Buckinghams, including no.-1 chart-topper “Kind of a Drag,” which has been played over two million times on the radio. Holvay has also played with The Supemes, Tom Jones, The Chicagoans, Del Shannon and Gene Pitney, as well as on Dick Clark’s “Caravan of Stars” tour and with his own Chicago horn band, The MOB. After 20 years in music, Holbey moved into work as a corporate executive. 

Dr. Luke Sewall (Class of 1980): A prominent radiologist and the founder of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, a group devoted to treating numerous conditions through less-invasive, less-painful and less-expensive radiology methods. Sewall performed the first-ever fibroid embolization done on a gorilla, and treats aortic aneurysms with his personal design of covered stent. He was also a two-time Academic All-American defensive back for the University of Illinois, is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and serves on the Board of Directors on Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital.

David L. Warsh (Class of 1962): A prolific economic journalist, a two-time winner of the prestigious Gerald Loeb award for financial journalism and the author of three well-received books on economics. Warsh has written for a wealth of publications, first as a war correspondent for Pacific Stars and Stripes and Newsweek, then covering business and economics for the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, eventually becoming a Boston Globe columnist. He is a graduate of Harvard University and currently writes for EconomicPrincipals.com.

The Lyons Township High School Alumni Association has been inducting LT alumni into the school’s Hall of Fame annually since 1993, taking nominations from the community and narrowing down honorees. Each member is honored with a plaque in the hall outside the Reber Center Auditorium.


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