The TCHS Alumni Association will be inducting three TCHS graduates at the Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon on Saturday, September 25 at 11:30 a.m. at the Douglas County Museum.
Johne Huber Dobbs
TCHS Class of 1971
Johne Dobbs grew up on a farm on Filson Road outside of Tuscola with her five siblings. This tribe learned about responsibility and hard work helping their parents, Suzanne and the late Bill Huber (Class of ‘41), The daily work kept them “down on the farm” caring for horses and cattle, mowing and putting up hay. Some of Johne’s early jobs as a teenager were babysitting neighbor kids ($.50 an hour), walking beans ($.50 an hour) and that right of passage for a teenager in Douglas County… a summer job detasseling for DeKalb at the minimum wage of $1.10 an hour. The years at TCHS were filled with many activities, from involvement in school clubs to cheerleading. She regrets that girls sports were not offered at the time because there were some great female athletes in those classes in the 1970’s. One sport outside of school that did involve girls was showing horses and the Huber girls began showing them throughout the Midwest. It was a great way to keep her family involved.
Upon her 1971 graduation, Johne headed to Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri with a major in business. One of her favorite classes was horse jumping at the college’s stables offered for PE. Johne then transferred to the University of Illinois majoring in marketing. She married Charlie Dobbs and they started a business at the historic Rice farm on Highway 36, east of Tuscola. They offered lessons, training, breeding, and hit the road to horse shows around the country. Son Travis (Class of ‘94) and daughter Courtney (‘98) were soon added to the team and grew up meeting people at horse shows as well as competing. They have both won AQHA World Championships. But like Johne, they had that solid small town atmosphere to come home and develop character and appreciation of their upbringing in Tuscola. During this time, Johne became involved with the Illinois Quarter Horse Association as the youth activities advisor from 1975 to 1977 and joined the IQHA board of directors in 1986. In the 90’s, Johne served on the Tuscola Chamber of Commerce board, taught seventh grade CCD classes at Forty Martyrs Church and served as president in 1997-98 of the TCHS booster club POW-WOWS. In 1992, a life changing opportunity came along as Johne received her state license and began a business of equine insurance affiliated with the The Hillard Agency, Inc in Tuscola. She built a book of buisness helping horsemen with coverage for their horses as well as farms and ranches located all over the country.
Leadership roles became more pronounced when Johne was elected a National Director to the American Quarter Horse Association in 1997. They began years of service on various committees which helped broaden her scope of governance within the Association, which is headquartered in Amarillo, Texas. Over the years, Johne was on the following committees: Marketing; Equine Research which awarded up to $450,000 per year in grants to further the health and welfare of horses of all breeds; Chaired the Nomination & Credentials committee from 2008-2010; and Chaired the Hall of Fame Selection committee from 2007-2009. There were other appointments to the 2005 AQHA Governance Task Force, which changed the direction of the annual convention to encourage younger adults to participate in the governance of the association and set the trajectory for the future.
The 2006 AQHA Equine Research Task Force took a hard look at the most important research programs in which to fund at the universities. Also in 2006, Johne was a part of the American Quarter Horse Foundation capital campaign as the chair of special gifts. From 2005-2009 she was coordinator of marketing and promotion of the stallion programs for the National Snaffle Bit Association. Another big task was chairing the effort to hold the AQHA 4aHorse Test Ride at the biennial Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois. At the 2005 and 2007 events, there were over 400 horseback rides given over a three-day period. American Quarter Horses were provided for attendees to ride to promote the breed to the agriculture industry.
In 2010, Johne was elected from the floor to the AQHA executive committee at the annual convention. This committee is comprised of five dedicated directors who guide the governance of the association of 270,000 members worldwide. Johne was the second woman to be elected to the office of the association that was founded in 1940. She likes to say she was the first mother elected to the committee which brought a different perspective to the group’s meetings. She was elected to lead AQHA as president in 2013. There were lots of flights to Amarillo for the meetings over a four-year period. She spent two weeks in July 2013 in a federal courtroom in Amarillo as the association was defending itself in a lawsuit against the organization for the right to register cloned horses. The AQHA rules, bylaws, and attorneys eventually prevailed and clones are not allowed into the breed’s registry.
The experience as president of the world’s largest breed registry was very fulfilling and interesting for Johne. There was a lot of traveling, including a trip to the European Championships in Kreuth, Germany accompanied by her sister, Jami Owen. In September of that year, Johne attended the Hunt Family’s Annual Horse Sale in Rapid City, South Dakota where the family presented her with a beautiful quilt in the Lakota Indian Tradition of welcoming special visitors. The bond between people who share the love for the horse is universal. The end of her AQHA presidential term brought big changes in 2014. Johne was offered a position with Andreini and Company, a broker in the top 50 in the nation of privately held companies. Johne took the opportunity to move to North Carolina where her daughter works with her in the insurance business. The move brought another chance to volunteer by helping with Victory Farm, a non-profit therapeutic riding program that helps disabled riders. This very rewarding program has improved the mobility of children so much that some who were wheelchair-bound are now able to walk.
Johne continues her association work as a past president of AQHA and serves on the Youth Committee. In 2016, Johne was inducted in the Illinois Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame. It was a great honor when she was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Quarter Horse during their convention in Ft. Worth, Texas in 2019. She is currently the president of the National Snaffle Bit Association with a membership of 10,000. She enjoys the insurance business and gets to meet and talk to people all over the country. However, her proudest achievement is raising her children Travis and Courtney, who along with their spouses Johanna Dobbs and Josh Clagg are raising her grandchildren in the world of horses. Cooper (18) and Dylan (16) are involved in showing horses in AQHA competition and National High School Rodeo Association. Carly (12) and Quincy (10) Clagg love to ride their horses at their North Carolina farm, Quincy has been bitten by the “horse crazy bug” and shows in small fry classes. It’s an activity that teaches more than just riding, it is a microcosm of life that teaches many lessons and prepares a child as they move into adulthood.
Johne commented, “This is such an honor that caught me off guard when Marci Shoemaker called with the news of the TCHS Hall of Fame selections. I am so grateful to return to my beloved hometown to see so many wonderful and supportive people. I cherish my upbringing in this town…I always proudly say…I’m a farm girl from Tuscola, Illinois! Thank you very much.”
Dr. Jill Holden
TCHS Class of 1980
Dr. Jill Holden says, “Tempus fugit! A phrase I’ve loved since learning it in Miss Cox’s Latin Class. It is an appropriate phrase to describe the forty years since graduating from Tuscola High School!
Forty years! Childhood and high school are such anchors to shaping who I became and how I’ve lived my life.
My parents moved to Tuscola two kids before I was born. They were both the products of small towns in Minnesota, and I think they looked for that to raise their family.
I’m the fifth of six kids. We all graduated from Tuscola High School and then we all graduated from the University of Illinois. My parents moved when I was in college to Overland Park, Kansas, sort of severing that tie to our hometown without having Tuscola be the place to return to during college breaks or vacations home in later years. And then life got busy, so finding time to get back to Central Illinois, was rare. I eventually settled down with my husband, Dan Goon, to live and work and raise our family in a suburb of Chicago. Still, though, I refer to myself as a small town girl.
I always gravitated to the sciences and math in school, and thought strongly about pursuing medicine at the outset of college, but definitely vacillated over those four years. Earning a B.S. at the U of I in 1984, medicine then won my pursuit and I followed my parents to Kansas City and earned my medical degree at Kansas University Medical Center in 1988.
Post graduate medical education took me to the University of Colorado Health Services Center in Denver where I completed a four-year residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1992, being appointed one of two “Chief” residents in my fourth year. Denver was a beautiful place to live and explore in my time off…not a lot of time off in those days. I met my husband while in medical school in Kansas City, where he was pursuing a PhD in Toxicology, and we married during my residency.
Dan’s career took us to the Chicago area, knowing my career would most likely keep us there as I settled into a private practice OB/Gyne group in Lake Forest. Two grown children and twenty-eight years later, it has been a really good life and a really good and busy career. That would have been enough for me, but those small town roots, moral upbringing and a sense of wanting to do what is right usually led me to speaking up and finding I was pretty good at problem solving. So, when our community hospital needed a Chairman of the Department of OB/Gyne for a two-year term, I stepped into that role in 1999.
Following that term, I learned how to “just say no.” I was very busy in my practice, but always the most important part of my life was my family and I declined any further leadership positions while Kelsey and Kevin were in school. I sort of traded the medical/hospital positions for those of Soccer Team Mom and personal guidance counselor to my kids. We all make choices though I never really consciously sought to be in leadership positions. I did continue to serve on multiple committees at our community hospital, still speaking up as I always had as a kid. Our community hospital was purchased by Northwestern Medicine about a dozen years ago. The assimilation into their fold was gradual for the first few years. Then it was like a steam roller. Medicine was growing and becoming more complex and more corporate and our community hospital was replaced by a beautiful state of the art regional new hospital with a brand new electronic record system. I sort of thought physicians were sometimes left out of the discussions that were once theirs to make. It was tough for many practicing private practitioners, and even employed physician practices changed quickly. Physician burnout is a phrase widely discussed in these days. So, I threw my name in the hat for the elected positions of Medical Staff Leadership with the desire to sit at the table and have my voice heard during the changes and possibly smoothing some of the transitions that were coming so quickly. Probably from my roots, I strongly wanted there to continue to be a medical “community” that made up this Regional Medical Center. I have served two years as the Secretary-Treasurer, two years as Vice Chief and now have just finished two years as Chief of Medical Staff at the North Region of Northwestern Medicine.
I honestly never considered my gender in any of the choices I made and never considered that my gender would limit me in any way, but my election was the first for women in medicine in our hospital. I’m thrilled if I can or have been a role model for women in medicine wanting to pursue leadership positions. I know there are so many professionals, men and women, who are probably much more qualified to take on these roles than I was…having the desire to lead…having further degrees, like Executive or Healthcare or Management of IT MBAs. For me, it was wanting to make a difference and to be in the position to help problem solve and help smooth the transitions in medicine for physicians. These next two years, I will be the advisor to our elected medical staff officers. After that, as I look towards retirement, I’d like to be involved in the discussions about healthcare in rural America. System based care thrives in metropolitan areas, but I think there is still much to improve on how Tuscola and every other small town is going to get benefits and access to world class care provided by systems.”
Jane Harris McNeil
TCHS Class of 1961
For a girl from a small town, she has had a very interesting and adventuresome life. After graduating from SIU Carbondale, she taught accounting in senior high schools in and around St. Louis for five years. In the early 1970’s, she moved to Nashville, TN and went into commercial banking where she became the first female commercial lending officer in the state and specialized in lending to small and medium enterprises. She moved back to St. Louis in 1979 and continued in commercial banking and met her husband Kent at a graduate banking school in 1980. On September 3, 2021, they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.
In the early ‘90s, they both lost their jobs in corporate America when their companies were sold. That is when the real adventures began. They are the personification of “when one door closes, another opens.” From 1994-2013, they both worked internationally as financial consultants in developing countries on projects funded by the United States Agency for International Development, World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. All of their projects were focused on economic development in countries in transition from communism/socialism to free enterprise and capitalism and from a command to a demand economy. Jane’s primary focus was in teaching owners and managers of private enterprises how to prepare financial statements and reports that would enable them to manage their small and medium businesses profitably and how to effectively represent their businesses as a credible applicant for a loan from a commercial bank. A tangential goal of each of the projects in which she was involved was to train lending personnel in local banks to evaluate a business’ financial statements and performance so they could make sound lending decisions and appropriately structure credit facilities, thus supporting the development and expansion of a free economy. While living out of the country for the better part of 20 years in Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, BosniaHerzegovinia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Egypt and Kosovo, they took advantage of opportunities to travel extensively in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe. They have been to 70 countries, either for work or pleasure. One of the greatest challenges she had was in Cyprus where she had to learn to drive on the left side of the road from the right side of the car and manually shift gears with her left hand! In addition to working and traveling internationally, she also had fulfillment in volunteering to improve living conditions and saving lives at a state-run orphanage in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. She was one of a few expatriate women who were apprised of the deplorable conditions in the orphanage named Detski Dom Duva (Children’s Home number 2) where the children were dying at the rate of one a week. As difficult as it was to be on the premises, they could not turn away. They took over one wing that housed 100 of the youngest children, many of whom were physically impaired and bedridden. They were living in filth, including their own excrement; had no food or attendants from 4:00 p.m. Friday until 8:00 a.m. Monday. They raised over $250,000 in cash and kind, most of which was cash, and set out to save lives. They hired workers, replaced rotted floors, threw out the soiled and broken beds and provided new ones, hired a doctor and additional caregivers so the children were cared for 24/7 and teachers so they could be educated, arranged for dental care, provided vitamins and minerals and greatly improved nutrition and toys. Within three months of the beginning of their intervention, no children were dying. As painful as it was in the beginning, she regards this as the most rewarding and meaningful thing she has ever done. During extended periods of time in the US, Jane worked on FDIC receiverships of failed US banks. Jane and Kent both enjoyed international travel and living; but after so many years, they became homesick and returned to their home in St. Louis. While she is retired from work for pay, Jane keeps very busy volunteering with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra education outreach program for students from K-12 and her church as treasurer and auditor. Jane describes her life as having been and continuing to be rewarding, enjoyable and, most of all, FUN. When asked of all the countries she has been in which is her favorite, without hesitation she says the United States of America.