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updated: 12/28/2010 11:05 AM

DuPage County's faces in the news in 2010

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  • Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, 24, formerly of Wheaton and a 2002 graduate of Wheaton North High School was killed in action Jan. 25 while conducting combat operations near Barikowt, Afghanistan. He was a green beret.

    Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, 24, formerly of Wheaton and a 2002 graduate of Wheaton North High School was killed in action Jan. 25 while conducting combat operations near Barikowt, Afghanistan. He was a green beret.

  • Kendall Ciesemier

    Kendall Ciesemier

  • Kenneth Popejoy

    Kenneth Popejoy

  • Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr.

    Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr.

  • Lt. Matthew Spartz of Lombard

    Lt. Matthew Spartz of Lombard

  • Mary Cipolla

    Mary Cipolla

  • Dan Tani

    Dan Tani

  • Sean Payton

    Sean Payton

  • MerrieBeth Cox

    MerrieBeth Cox

Daily Herald report

Try to paint the Faces of DuPage County and you'll quickly discover you need a wide canvas and a broad brush.

How else to include even some of those who made a difference over the past 365 days? How else to celebrate those who made us proud and to wince at those who didn't?

Explore the faces on these pages and you'll discover heroes and maybe even a few villains. There's a Medal of Honor recipient and Olympic medalists. There are college presidents and college students. There's a Super Bowl-winning coach from Naperville and another man from the same town who spends much of his time living on the streets. There are municipal leaders who left under mysterious circumstances and others who arrived with great acclaim. There's even a Roselle resident who became one of the first women selected to serve on a U.S. submarine.

Try to paint the Faces of DuPage County and you'll learn it's an ever-changing tableau of hope, inspiration and, occasionally, disappointment.

And here's the best part: You get to do it all over again next year.

Staff Sgt. Robert Miller

The Wheaton North graduate was posthumously awarded the nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions in Afghanistan in 2008. President Obama presented the award to Miller's parents, Phil and Maureen, on Oct. 6 at the White House.

Kendall Ciesemier

The Wheaton North High School senior began raising money for Africa when she was just 11. In June, she got the chance to visit Zambia and South Africa and it inspired her to try to raise $1 million and convince 30 high schools each to donate $5,000 to her Kids Caring 4 Kids campaign.

Evan Lysacek

The Naperville native scored 167.3 points in the men's figure skating free program in February to overtake defending champ Evgeni Plushenko for his first Olympic gold medal. The Neuqua Valley High School grad, who finished fourth in the Turin Olympics, was feted in March with Evan Lysacek Day in Naperville. He also went on to finish second in TV's "Dancing With the Stars."

Keith Giagnorio

He's the owner of an Italian restaurant, a Lombard village trustee and a former park district president, but all that pales next to this: He built a miniature Wiffle ball stadium on a vacant lot he owns next to his house. It's called Pasta Park and it includes an electronic scoreboard, salvaged bleachers and more.

Autumn Henze

The 19-year-old Sugar Grove woman and her boyfriend, DeAndre Milan, had been talking for months about how cool it would be if their son was born on Oct. 10, 2010. Imagine their surprise when Nathaniel David Henze Milan arrived naturally at 10:10 p.m. on 10/10/10.

Philip Ryken

The 1988 graduate of Wheaton College long had wanted to return to the town where he grew up. In February, he learned he would get the chance when the college's board of trustees hired him as the school's eighth president. The senior pastor at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, he replaced the retiring Duane Litfin on July 1.

Kyle Wright

The 22-year-old soldier from Romeoville was killed in January in Afghanistan when his vehicle rolled over a 250-pound roadside bomb. A 2006 graduate of Romeoville High School, he quickly became fluent in Arabic and served with the Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

Mallory Holding

The 22-year-old Episcopal Church missionary from Glen Ellyn was feared missing when a large earthquake rocked Haiti. But after two harrowing days living on the edge, Holding was brought home safe and sound by the Air Force.

Kenneth Popejoy

The DuPage circuit judge pleaded guilty to misdemeanor reckless driving after a June incident in which authorities said he struck a parked car and then fled, ignoring stop signs and narrowly missing a teenage jogger while speeding from Glen Ellyn to his home in Wheaton.

Michael Ventrella

The Glenbard North High School graduate began his run on TV's "The Biggest Loser" weighing 526 pounds. By the time the show ended, he had lost 264 pounds to win $250,000 and the title of "The Biggest Loser."

Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr.

The Wheaton speed skater finished ninth in the ladies' 3,000-meter event at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. She was the top American finisher. "Being in the top 10 was my ultimate goal," she said. "I achieved that and I'm more than happy."

Robert Berlin

The 48-year-old Clarendon Hills resident was sworn in Dec. 14 as DuPage County's new state's attorney, replacing Joe Bikrett, who became an appellate court judge. Berlin, whose appointment was approved in a 17-0 county board vote, immediately pledged to continue to protect the public and the rights of victims.

Lt. Matthew Spartz

The lifelong Lombard resident sent regular dispatches during the year from his deployment with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. Spartz was wounded during a firefight in November that claimed the lives of six American troops in the Pech Valley.

Jenny Youngwith

The Carol Stream girl's parents sued Special Olympics Illinois and Community High School District 94 after Jenny wasn't permitted to be on the basketball court during the Special Olympics with her service dog and oxygen tank. By year's end, it looked like officials would find a way for Jenny to play.

Scott Huber

The 60-year-old "street protester" who has been living on downtown Naperville streets for nearly a decade found himself in court several times for violating a city ordinance aimed at forcing him to find another place to sleep.

Amy Cawley

She grew up reading everything she could get her hands on and never lost the passion. In February, she was named executive director of the Roselle Public Library District after seven years as a children's librarian at the same facility.

Dick Locher

Naperville's Century Walk Corp. dedicated its 35th piece of outdoor public art in April -- a sculpture of comic strip crime fighter Dick Tracy. Longtime Naperville resident Dick Locher drew the Tracy strip for 26 years beginning in 1983. The cost of the sculpture: $150,000.

Lauren Smith, Angie Snodgrass and Grace Heimerl

The three North Central College actresses demonstrated the adage the show must go on. The school's performance of "The Phantom of the Opera" in November took a strange turn when Snodgrass, singing the lead role of Christine, lost her voice. The role was double-cast, but Heimerl, the second Christine, also was under the weather and unable to perform. Enter Smith, who had unsuccessfully tried out for the role and who selflessly sang the difficult part offstage while Snodgrass lip-synced on stage.

Walter Johnson

The longtime Naperville resident and Heritage YMCA Group vice president of resource development got a new gig in late April when he was named executive director of the B.R. Ryall YMCA in Glen Ellyn. He replaced Ed Knapp, who had held the post since 1990.

Lynne Panega

An administrator in Lake Park High School District 108 since 2004, she was named superintendent in June to replace John Butts, who had stepped down with roughly two years remaining on his contract. An associate superintendent for curriculum since 2008, she had been serving as the district's interim chief since Butts' surprise departure.

Richard McClow

It was like a scene out of an adventure movie: 79-year-old veteran boater sailing alone from Florida to the Bahamas comes up missing. Turns out the Naperville man made a tactical error, his boat got flipped and crushed on the rocks and he was stranded on an island for several days before being rescued by a passing fisherman.

Mary Cipolla

The Roselle woman was 89 when she was diagnosed with cancer and underwent extensive surgery. In early August she celebrated her 100th birthday.

Ron Logeman

The longtime Lisle High School principal -- he ran the show for 26 years -- retired at the end of June. He was replaced by Pete Sullivan, who had served as an assistant superintendent in Lockport.

Heidi Lapin

The Roselle Park District director stepped down at the end of March with no immediate explanation. She was one of the youngest directors in the state when she was appointed to the post in 2008. She was replaced by current director Rob Ward this fall.

Pete Morano

The Aurora man was driving east on Butterfield Road just past Eola Road in early January when a chunk of ice flew off an approaching truck and shattered his windshield. Morano suffered several broken bones around his left eye and nose and faced the possibility of permanently losing sight in his injured eye.

Dan Tani

The astronaut, who once served on the International Space Station, returned to his native Lombard in January to talk to students about what it's like in space -- you can't spit out your toothpaste -- and to encourage them to pursue their dreams.

Dillon Fong and Juan Estrada

Fong, a scientist at Argonne Laboratory in Lemont, and Estrada, a scientist at Fermilab, were awarded the highest honor given by the federal government in their fields in early November. Fong, who grew up in Aurora and now lives in Elmhurst, works in the materials sciences division at Argonne. Estrada, who lives in Aurora, is studying the makeup of the universe.

William Carroll

The president of Benedictine University in Lisle found himself in the middle of a firestorm in November after it was revealed a lesbian administrator at the school's Springfield campus had left her job -- some said she was forced -- after placing a wedding announcement in a Springfield newspaper. During his tenure at Benedictine, Carroll has stressed the need for diversity and tolerance.

Brooke Meyer

The 16-year-old Naperville girl fell short in August of becoming the youngest of 18 women from across the country to make the 2010 USA Baseball Women's National Team. The team invited a total of 32 women, ages 16-37, to try out for the team to compete in the women's baseball World Cup in Venezuela.

Casey Berner

The Naperville teen won a national photo competition sponsored by Canon for a picture he took at a Naperville Central-Naperville North football game. He received two tickets to the Super Bowl and will have his photo displayed for a year at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Sean Payton

The Naperville native coached the New Orleans Saints to the first Super Bowl title in the team's history. His daring call for an onside kick to open the second half was one of the game's turning points.

Gary Schneider

The Wheaton man and his father, Jerry, spent more than a year making a perfect copy of the iconic station wagon from the 1983 movie "National Lampoon's Vacation." The car was used in a Super Bowl commercial.

Molly Schaus

She learned to skate while growing up in Naperville and immediately took to ice hockey. Her devotion and commitment to the sport paid off with a spot as a backup goalie on the U.S. Olympic hockey team that won the silver medal at Vancouver. Naperville honored her with her own day in early April.

Jack Rooney

The Wheaton man retired in May after 10 years as president and CEO of U.S. Cellular, the fifth-largest wireless provider in the nation with about 6 million customers in 26 states. "I've challenged people and I let them work," he said. "I've had a great run."

Leslie Stermetz

By day the Addison woman is an executive with an Elmhurst company with holdings valued at more than $2 billion. But underneath her business attire beats the heart of a 16-year-old music fan -- and one who absolutely loves former "American Idol" Adam Lambert. Stermetz has more than 500 photos of the singer and regularly travels around the country to catch his act.

Bob Martin

The embattled general manager of the DuPage Water Commission resigned in March after months of speculation about his future with the agency. Martin's days were numbered after the commission was informed in late 2009 that $19 million of its reserve funds accidentally were spent by a former financial administrator under Martin's watch.

Sue Harsa

The French teacher at St. Francis High School in Wheaton was tearfully overwhelmed in May when she learned she had received the vaunted Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. She is the first St. Francis teacher ever to win the award.

Erik Sarnello

The Itasca man turned 21 in August. No big deal, but he celebrated the milestone inside a jury room as one of 12 people deciding the fate of disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in his federal corruption trial. The jury found Blago guilty of just one of 24 counts and hung on the rest. Federal prosecutors immediately announced plans for a new trial while Sarnello made plans to return to classes at College of DuPage.

Doris Schertz

The matriarch of a family of runners, the 71-year-old Lombard woman finished first in her age group at the prestigious Boston Marathon. Her time of 4:25:04 bested the average marathon time of all women runners.

Will Canelos

The Lombard sheet metal worker was delivering a pizza in Lombard when he heard the sounds of a car crash. Canelos and others raced to the scene to find a SUV had rolled over on top of two pedestrians on a sidewalk at the intersection of Roosevelt Road and Main Street. The men literally lifted the vehicle off one person and then the other. Their heroic efforts weren't enough to save one of the victims, who died a few hours later.

Rick Kolomay

The longtime firefighter officially became chief of the Carol Stream Fire Protection District in early January. The ceremony at Glenbard North High School was the first of its kind in the district's history.

Robert Tinucci

He was enjoying retirement when he agreed in the summer of 2009 to become Roselle's interim fire chief. By January of this year he had removed the word "interim" from his title.

Tom Schweer

The Metea Valley High School athletic director won the John Newman Award and a place in the Illinois Swimming Association Hall of Fame. Schweer, a nine-time Coach of the Year winner, guided the Hinsdale Central boys to three straight state championships from 1997-1999.

Anikka Molitor

The Aurora Exchange Club named her the 2009 Police Officer of the Year for her efforts to save the life of a 20-day-old baby who suddenly stopped breathing. Arriving before paramedics, she administered CPR to the infant until the baby resumed breathing.

Tim Grobart

The 4-year-old Lombard preschooler likes basketball, his big brother, "Star Wars" and the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine." He also has a pacemaker and in June underwent his riskiest operation yet -- a "double switch" to essentially rewire his heart. There were some scary moments -- his heart stopped while he was recovering from surgery -- but the fix was successful.

Frank Giammarese

The former deputy chief of operations was sworn in during February as Bloomingdale's new police chief. He replaced Tim Goergen who accepted an early retirement package. Giammarese is a 22-year veteran of the department.

George "Ed" Seagraves

The longtime Lombard fire chief retired abruptly in June after 25 years with the department amid swirling rumors of a rift with the village administration.

Evan Teich

He spent five years as village administrator in Sussex, Wis., before being named in June as Itasca's new village administrator. Chosen from among roughly 70 applicants, he replaced David Williams, who retired after nearly a decade with the village.

Laura Martindale

The 22-year-old Roselle woman graduated in May from the U.S. Naval Academy and became one of the first women ever selected to serve on a submarine. She's a Lake Park High School grad.

Susan Lancaster

The daughter of Bloomingdale's first and only female mayor (so far), Lancaster tried to save the annual Septemberfest. Village officials canceled the tradition due to budget woes and Lancaster tried to drum up other funding. But the fest did not happen this year.

Michael Damico and Frank Bellisario

The two longtime police chiefs both announced plans to retire in November. Damico has been with the Lisle Police Department for more than 30 years and Bellisario has spent more than 30 years with the Winfield Police Department.

Martin Bourke

Bloomingdale hired the former Oakbrook Terrace city manager as its new village administrator in November. Bourke started his career in Bloomingdale nearly 30 years ago and village leaders said his knowledge of DuPage County is valuable. He replaced Dan Wennerholm, who retired after three decades with Bloomingdale.

Alex Reeder and MerrieBeth Cox

The Naperville Central High School senior was one of two drum majors to lead Macy's Great American Marching Band in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Reeder was selected after catching the eye of Eastern Illinois University's acting band director while attending a camp. Cox, a Roselle native, is the Perdue Golden Girl for the Purdue University marching band. The college junior led the band as it also performed in the same Macy's parade.

Bill Parker

The Warrenville man produced a 3-minute, 25-second film that pays homage to the never-ending feud between "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" fans by determining what happens to the introductory words that go floating by at the start of every movie. The results were seen online by more than 500,000 people.