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Springfield Public Schools Hall of Fame has Three Inductees

The Springfield Public Schools Hall of Fame now has three new inductees. KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more…

The inductees, all graduates of Springfield Public Schools, have diverse backgrounds. General John Ashcroft, who graduated from Hillcrest High School in 1960, served as U.S. Attorney General under President George W. Bush from 2001-2005. He served as Missouri’s U.S. Senator from 1995-2001 and was Missouri’s governor from 1985-1993.Larry Young, who graduated from Hillcrest High School in 1972, worked for Pepsi for 30 years, retired and then came out of retirement to serve as president and CEO for Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. In September 2010, he was named Executive of the Year by Beverage Industry magazine. The third inductee is Rabbi Walter Jacob who graduated from Springfield High School (now Central High School) in 1947.Jacob came to the U.S. from Germany with his family in 1939 when he was nine-years-old to escape the Nazi persecution of Jews. He says his father spent time in the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany before being released…

"In that period, they still released after awhile, so, after six weeks, he was released."

When the Jacobs arrived in the U.S., Walter Jacobs’ father eventually ended up in Springfield where he served as the rabbi of the Jewish community here and taught history at Drury College. The younger Jacob attended Jarrett and then Central. He says the Jewish community in Springfield at the time was small but thriving…

"Very well integrated into the general community, and my father was very active in the interreligious council of Springfield and so got to meet all the ministers, worked a great deal with ministers of all the demoninations, and the Jewish community was very much part of the general community."

Jacob comes from a family that produced 15 generations of rabbis, and, in his senior year of college, he decided to become a rabbi, too.He’s accomplished a lot in his life. He played an important role in re-establishing Reform Judaism in Germany, and he’s the author, editor or translator of 39 books and numerous essays. But he says he’s most proud of helping (along with his wife) establish the first group home in Western Pennsylvania…and of being the founding president of rabbinic seminary Abraham Geiger College, where, two years ago, he ordained the first rabbis in Germany since the Holocaust…

"It was very special, and the good thing was it was so well accepted by the broad German population. The entire ceremony, over an hour, was nationally televised."

Jacob says it’s a great honor to be inducted into the Springfield Public Schools Hall of Fame, but being the modest man that he is, he says it’s undeserved.The SPS Hall of Fame was created this year to honor alumni who have demonstrated a commitment to serving their community, distinguished themselves in their profession and advocated for public education.