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Ottawa High names Hall of Fame inductees

Banquet scheduled Feb. 16

Six individuals and one team have been selected as 2019 inductees to the Ottawa Township High School Hall of Fame.

A banquet is scheduled Saturday, Feb. 16, to present and honor inductees. Additionally, inductees will be introduced at the Pirates basketball game the prior evening, Feb. 15.

The hall of fame was established in 2006 by the OTHS District 140 Educational Foundation. The focus of the hall of fame is to recognize excellence in achievement while a high school student, after leaving Ottawa, or a combination of both. Further, honorees may or may not have attended Ottawa but were significant and accomplished contributors to the school. Also considered are teams or groups.

The inductees for 2019 are as follows:

FRANK M. POLANCIC (Class of 1947)

After graduation from Ottawa High School, Polancic entered the workforce later to be drafted into the U.S. Army. During his service in the Korean War, he was a radio operator in the Signal Corps. After his honorable discharge from the service, he enrolled in and attended the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

Three years later, he was awarded a bachelor’s degree in finance and went to work for IBM in Chicago. He later left IBM and opened a toy store back in Ottawa that transformed to a sporting goods store. He successfully operated that business for more than 42 years. In addition, he served his community as a member of the Ottawa Elementary School Board for 37 years. He volunteered as a baseball manager for numerous teams, and served as a board member for the Ottawa police and fire boards, the Salvation Army, the Ottawa Industrial Development Board and as president of the Ottawa Lions Club. In honor of his service to the community and the school district, in 2012 the Ottawa Youth Football League and the Ottawa Elementary School District dedicated the Frank M. Polancic Field near Central Intermediate School.


(Class of 1956)

Williams was active during his time at Ottawa High School, serving on the student council for three years, in the OHS military program for four years reaching the rank of sergeant, track for four years, baseball for four years, football and basketball for one year, participated in the state music contest as a member of the choir and was in two school plays.

After graduation, he attended Illinois State University and earned an undergraduate degree in biology, also participating on the school’s wrestling team. He then attended the University of Illinois, where he completed medical school. He also earned a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University. He was then drafted into the U.S. Army, serving in Vietnam. He was in the Army for 24 years serving as commanding officer of the Gen. Leonard Wood Army Hospital, as deputy director and chief of medicine and at the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Science in Thailand and as commanding officer of infectious diseases, where he directed the research laboratory dedicated to developing medical defense against biological weapons. He has been a practicing pediatrician for 49 years. He also has completed a 58-day, 3,000-mile bicycle ride across the United States, and climbed both Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Mount Rainier in Washington.

JODI ORSINI BARTH (Class of 1967)

Ottawa High School 1967 graduate Orsini Barth has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement and investigations throughout the U.S. and Canada. In the late 1970s, she was one of the few who made the cut into the Illinois State Police elite CSI team, and became the first female ever to do so. As the first female crime scene investigator for the Illinois Department of Law Enforcement, she rose through the ranks of law enforcement to detective sergeant and detective division commander. She later transitioned to the private sector as a licensed private investigator and internal fraud investigator for a global insurance carrier. She is the author of a book, “CSI Old School,” describing her crime scene investigation experiences. In 1980, she received the Director’s Award of Honor, the second-highest award bestowed by the Department of Law Enforcement, for her work on the Monroe-Lampkin Interstate 57 case involving the death of two state troopers and three assailants, and was named Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 1985 by the Exchange Club of Bloomington.

THOMAS E. JOBST, Ed.D. (Class of 1969)

At Ottawa High School Jobst was the president of his junior class, battalion commander in the military program, on the student council, went to state in track and field, and was all-conference in varsity football for two years, in which the team had a 17-1 record. He continued both his education and football at Iowa Wesleyan College and then commenced a teaching, administration and coaching career. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in English education from Iowa Wesleyan, he received his Master of Arts in human development counseling from the University of Illinois in Springfield, a certificate of advanced studies in educational administration and foundations from Illinois State University, and his Ed.D. from Illinois State University.

As an employee of Ottawa High, he was the head football coach from 1990 to 1993 before moving to administration and serving as superintendent from 2002 to 2007. His coaching career, particularly in football, has been successful. In addition to Ottawa, he has coached at Fort Dodge Community Schools in Fort Dodge, Iowa; Hall High School in Spring Valley; New Berlin High School in New Berlin; Morrison High School in Morrison; and Marquette Academy in Ottawa. As a head coach, his teams have won 10 conference championships and have reached the playoffs 12 times — three times as quarterfinalists, two times as semifinalists and seven times completing the regular season undefeated. Jobst has been honored as the Three Rivers Conference Coach of the Year in 1986 and 1987; inducted to the Morrison High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009; twice coached in the Illinois Coaches Association East-West Shrine Game; and in 2016 was inducted into the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

TIMOTHY J. JOBST (Class of 1969)

At Ottawa High School, Jobst was a battalion commander in the military program, was on the student council, on the wrestling team, ran track, and was all-conference in varsity football, in which the team had a 17-1 record.

He continued his education and football play at Iowa Wesleyan College, receiving his bachelor’s degree there, followed by a Master of Arts degree from Illinois State University. At Iowa Wesleyan, in addition to earning varsity letters in football and being selected as first team all-conference in the Prairie College football conference, he also earned letters in wrestling and track.

He began a teaching and coaching career, serving at four Illinois schools before coming back to Ottawa High, Wedron Grade School, Hall High School, Kewanee Wethersfield and Marseilles High School. While at Wedron and Hall, he also served as the director of the Ottawa Youth Center. He was head football coach at Ottawa from 1993 to 2005, reaching the playoffs seven times, earning the conference championship three times, and finishing in the 1995 state quarterfinals. The 1995 Ottawa football team was previously inducted into the hall of fame. He continued to serve as athletic director from 1994 to 2006 and continued his coaching career as an assistant with his brother, Tom, at Marquette Academy, which has compiled an extraordinary record during their tenure there. Tim Jobst received the 2004 Educators Award from the La Salle County Regional Office of Education, and in 2008 was inducted into the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. In addition to his teaching, administration and coaching, Tim Jobst has been a successful business owner along with his wife Jane, first with the Ottawa Nautilus Fitness Center from 1978 to 1990, and then as franchise owners of Jimmy John’s from 1995 to the present.

DENNIS ‘DENNY’ BRUE (Class of 1970)

Brue was Ottawa High School’s first state champion athlete, capturing the state pole vaulting championship in 1970. At Ottawa he also played saxophone in the marching, jazz and concert bands. He then attended Illinois State University and there in 1971 was the Illinois collegiate state champion and set both indoor and outdoor records for ISU. In 1973, he was again the Illinois collegiate state champion and was the ISU Track and Field captain both in 1973 and 1974. In 1975 and 1976, he competed for the Chicago Track Club under Olympic coach Ted Haydon, and there vaulted 16 feet, 8 inches, to defeat 1972 Olympic bronze medal winner Jan Johnson. Brue shared his experiences as a teacher and coach, serving in 1975 and 1976 as teacher and head track coach at Eureka High School and in 1977 as teacher and pole vault coach at Sterling High School. He coached high school pole vaulters for 10 years, with 11 of his athletes placing in the state finals. In 1993, he was named Thomas Jefferson Teacher of the Year at the school in Decatur. He was also a successful basketball coach in Decatur. In addition, during his years teaching and coaching in the 1980s and ’90s, he ran his own construction company, building more than 100 structures and directing the building trades programs at Decatur public schools and the Heartland Building Trades Program at Richland Community College in Decatur.


The 1999 Ottawa High School Golf Team finished fifth in the IHSA, which is the best finish in Ottawa history for a golf team. The team finished a 16-0 undefeated dual meet season. They finished in first place at the Geneseo Invitational, the Streator, the Ottawa and the Minooka invitationals. They also finished first in the IHSA regional and second place at the IHSA sectional. They set a record for the lowest team round ever at Ottawa with a 139, and an individual record with a 4-under par 32. Team members were: seniors Jeremy DeBernardi, Jesse Cavanaugh, Kevin Ollom, Brian Brate, Saeed Ghafoor, David Schafer, Kevin Rooney and Jordan Goldman; juniors Shane Janzen and Eric Anderson; sophomore Bobby Sipula; and freshman Ross Haeberle. The team was guided by Head Coach Randy Bretag and Assistant Coach Kevin Leonhart.

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