John Dickey, Springfield Senior High, Class of 1945
John Dickey has studied at two of the most prestigious schools in the world, but when asked about the major influences on his educational career, it’s not his days studying at Harvard University and Oxford University that come to mind. Instead, his thoughts often go back to a time long before his Ivy League days; back to when he was in high school.
His professional career was spent as a litigator for the New York-based firm Sullivan & Cromwell. He worked there more than 50 years, traveling all over the world to practice, but John says it was the push he got from Springfield Public Schools that helped get his career going.
Growing up, he attended McDaniel Elementary School, before moving on to Jarrett Middle School and then Springfield Senior High (now Central High School), where he graduated in 1945. After graduating, John attended University of Missouri where he studied political science and history and played one year of college football. After his freshman year, he joined the U.S. Army and served in Japan before returning to University of Missouri to finish his undergraduate courses.
In 1949, John was awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study Jurisprudence at Oxford University in England. He spent two years in England before returning to obtain his law degree from Harvard. In 1954, John joined Sullivan & Cromwell and worked primarily in commercial litigation for the remainder of his career.
He has tried cases and argued appeals across the United States and participated in international litigation in Europe and South America. In the United States, John litigated cases in 18 states plus the District of Columbia and won a 5-4 decision in a case he argued before the Supreme Court to determine the power of a trustee in corporate bankruptcy. Abroad, he conducted litigation before the U.S.-Iranian Claims Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. Eventually, to facilitate the international focus of his practice, John moved to London for 17 years, during which time he represented some of the England’s largest companies before retiring in 2010.
Elaine Graham Estes, Lincoln High School, Class of 1949
More than 60 years after graduating from Lincoln High School, Elaine Graham Estes can still name all of her teachers—first name and last name, all the way back to first grade.
For most of her professional career, she was devoted to historic preservation, and her own history is well-preserved in her lightning-quick 81-year-old mind. Elaine worked at the Public Library of Des Moines for 39 years, 19 of those as director, and she says it was a pair of involved parents and a foundation laid by Springfield Public Schools that got her started on the right foot.
After she graduated high school in 1949, Elaine attended Drake University in Iowa, studying business administration with a major in retailing. There she became interested in a job at the Public Library of Des Moines, so she furthered her education by obtaining a master’s degree of library science from the University of Illinois. Eventually, she was hired by the Public Library of Des Moines where she worked for nearly four decades. She retired in the mid-1990s, leaving behind an impressive list of accomplishments.
As director, Elaine oversaw the construction of two new library branches and restoration and preservation of the historic main library. She developed a number of outreach services and established Des Moines as the Library of Congress’ 11th State Center for the Book.
She currently serves on the Des Moines Historic Preservation Commission, the Terrace Hill Commission and the Terrace Hill Society Foundation Board. She is a member of the Des Moines Downtown Rotary Club, an honorary trustee of the Des Moines Art Center and president of the Willson Alexander Scott chapter of Questers International. She also helped establish an English-language library in Merida, Yucatan.