Dr. Adam Gordon, Glendale High School, Class of 1987
Dr. Adam Gordon first became aware of the critical health care needs facing vulnerable individuals living in Chicago’s most impoverished neighborhoods while he was attending Northwestern University. That realization lead to him pursue a medical degree at University of Pittsburgh Medical School. His training, research and advocacy have helped improve the quality and accessibility of health care for homeless patients and others coping with alcohol or drug addiction.
In 2000, he joined the faculty at University of Pittsburgh Medical School, where he now serves as a professor of medicine, professor of clinical and translational science, and advisory dean. Gordon is also a staff physician at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. He has published more than 136 peer reviewed papers; 56 peer-reviewed abstracts; 13 books or book chapters; among numerous other works; and has presented or authored over 137 peer-reviewed presentations.
Though Pittsburgh is his adopted home, Gordon says his upbringing in Springfield paved the way for his success. He attended Pittman and Wilder elementary schools, and then Hickory Hills Middle School. Gordon was also a member of one of the first cohorts of Springfield Public Schools’ WINGS program for gifted students.
At Glendale, he competed nationally in cross-examination debate and science competitions, presenting internationally on a project about light attraction for fruit flies. These experiences further honed skills he uses now as a research professional, he says.
Johnny Morris, Glendale High School, Class of 1966
Combining his love of the outdoors with business sense he acquired from his father, Johnny Morris launched his own business just five years after graduating from high school. He rented a trailer and went across the country, filling it with premium fishing tackle. He then returned to Springfield to set up his first Bass Pro Shop, a company that today holds the reputation as the nation’s undisputed leader in outdoor retail.
While Bass Pro’s reach is international, Morris’ empire remains local, with an emphasis on educating the public about the outdoors. Through a unique partnership with Springfield Public Schools, Morris helps instill in Springfield fifth-graders an appreciation of nature by hosting the nationally recognized Wonders of the Ozarks Learning Facility. He constructed a special classroom on the Bass Pro campus where about 50 SPS students attend school every day, learning core subject matter through the lens of nature and conservation.
The soon-to-open Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium will expand his education efforts, providing rich learning experiences for not only WOLF students but for some of the 4 million people who visit Bass Pro Outdoor World in Springfield each year.
More than 50 years after graduating, Morris still points out that everything he has created stems from his original passion for the outdoors. While he graduated from Glendale, Morris also attended Parkview and Central. He credits John Kirby, a vocational agriculture teacher at Central, with not only planting the seeds of starting a business but teaching him how to treat people – a lesson for a lifetime.
William Wagasy, Glendale High School, Class of 1992
William Wagasy was planning a career of practicing law when he made the decision to join the U.S. Navy Reserve in March 2001. He wanted to serve his country as a Navy SEAL. Then came Sept. 11, which created a sense of urgency within him to make his dream a reality.
He successfully completed the grueling training required to join the elite military team, which has a reputation for achieving missions that seem impossible to others. As a SEAL, he served three deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan.
Wagasy retired as a Special Operations Chief (SEAL) in 2012 and left the Navy Reserve in 2015. Today, he is employed in the private sector but continues to serve others as an ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation, a national organization which supports active military, veterans, first responders and their families.
As a Glendale student, Wagasy was a standout on the football field, achieving success under the high standards of his coaches. He went on to play football at University of Notre Dame, and after graduating in 1996, attended law school at Pepperdine University. He earned a Juris Doctorate in 2000 and a master’s in dispute resolution in 2001.
At Springfield Public Schools, Wagasy attended Mann and Field elementary schools and Pershing Middle School. He credits his Glendale accounting teacher, Judith Askins, for inspiring him to become the only accounting major on the football team at Notre Dame.