Belleville East

Lancer Wall of Fame

Morris Snively Bio

Morris Snively grew up in Hoopeston, Illinois, a small farming community two hours southeast of Chicago. His parents were Harold and Mary Lou Snively, and he was the oldest of four children. While in Hoopeston Community High School, he was active in drama and had the lead role in many of the school’s productions. Also, in high school he met his future wife, Cheryl Bergstrand, whom he married in September of 1968.

Morris attended Eastern Illinois University where he became the editor of the school newspaper and participated in debate all four years. He traveled the United States while debating for the university. Upon graduating from Eastern he taught high school English in Tuscola, Illinois, for one year before being hired to teach at Belleville East High School. He started his career at East in 1970-1971, and he retired after thirty-two years leaving a legacy of excellence. During his tenure as a debate coach his students won two IHSA state championships. Chris Pflug and Derrick Eihaussen won as a team in Policy Debate in 1994, and Tara Coburn won in Lincoln/Douglas debate in 1997. In 1997, Morris won the Edith Harrod Award, given by the Illinois Speech and Theatre Association to one of its members who provided distinguished service to the organization and outstanding achievement in the profession. 

In 2000, Morris won the W. P. Stanford Presidential Award, an award given by the Illinois Speech and Theatre Association for significant contributions to speech and theatre and exceptional extended service to the Association. In addition to his awards from the state of Illinois, Morris also received the Marcella E. Oberle Award in 1996 from the National Communication Association. The Oberle Award honors individuals who teach from the kindergarten through twelfth grade levels and who have exhibited both outstanding teaching and a commitment to the speech communication profession. When he was a union leader, Morris had the idea of having teachers, if they wished, donate a portion of their salary to a scholarship fund to help college bound students. The Belleville East Faculty Scholarship Fund was established in 1988 and by 2012 approximately two hundred students have been given these scholarships. The scholarships are given in merit, need, and a merit/need combination for a total of at least nine scholarships given out each year.

Morris retired from East in 2002. In 2005, he suggested to his Wednesday morning breakfast group made up mainly of East retirees and their spouses that they donate money at Christmas time to help students at East in need. “After all,” he said, “this is what the spirit of Christmas is all about.” These students were selected through the East counseling staff and social studies teachers. Each year the contributions have grown and now contributors include retired teachers, current teachers, administrators, clubs/sports, and classrooms, all from East. Several businesses from the community are also involved. What started with Morris’s idea in 2005 with six students being helped has continued on, and this past year, 2011, approximately seventy students were helped.

Morris was also involved in the Belleville community by serving on the board of the St. Clair County Historical Society for two terms of three years each. In addition, he was a member of the Belleville Main Street Association for several years and held the office of vice-president for one year. Morris was always working towards a better community through involvement.

Morris’s beloved wife, Cheryl, passed away in October 2004, and Morris passed away in May 2009. He leaves behind daughter Tricia Snively Phillips, son Aaron Snively, five grandchildren, and a legacy of dedication to excellence and service.

K. Lane Miller Bio

K. Lane Miller was raised on a farm near Aledo, Illinois, and graduated from Joy High School, which is now known as Westmer. He earned his B.A. in Education from Knox College in 1950, and his M.S. in Administration from Western Illinois University in 1953. Post Graduate work was continued at the University of Illinois

Mr. Miller began his career in education as a junior high teacher in Kewanee, Illinois in 1950. After two years, he was asked to be the principal of Wethersfeld High School also in Kewanee, garnering him the distinction of becoming the youngest high school Principal hired in the state of Illinois during that time. Six years later he became the assistant principal of the high school in Quincy, IL where he remained for five years before he was contacted by then Superintendent H.J. Haberaecker asking him to move to Belleville and assume the responsibilities of principal for the Township High School, now the Belleville West campus. Mr. Miller served in that capacity for four years.

When it became obvious that housing 4200 students on a campus for 2500 was becoming impossible, the new Belleville East High School was born in 1966. At that time, Mr. Miller was named Superintendent of Belleville District #201 for both Belleville East and Belleville West High Schools. The East campus began operation with 9th – 11th grades, leaving the seniors to complete their schooling at Township, and with the idea that the 11th graders would become leaders as the first seniors to graduate in 1968. Mr. Miller still holds the honor of being the longest serving superintendent for Belleville East with his eighteen years of tenure as the leader of Belleville District #201.

K. Lane Miller is highly respected as a leader in education. He is a lifetime member of the National Education Association, was a member of the Association for Secondary School Principals, and the Illinois Association of School Administrators. He is the past president of the St. Clair County Administrators, the Belleville Area Superintendents Association, and served as the chairman of the Illinois Office of Education Advisory Council for Education of Handicapped Children and TENCO (Ten County Educational Grants). Mr. Miller was a member of the Illinois State Committee of the North Central Association that was responsible for establishing accreditation for schools and served as chairman of numerous evaluations of member schools in Illinois. He was sent to Germany for a month during 1975 to evaluate the American Dependent schools located there, and later he was asked to evaluate the schools in the Azores. He was presented with an “Award of Merit” by the Educational Council of 100, Inc. in 1985 for his contributions to education.

Mr. Miller has served his community well through the years. He is a member of the Shriners’ Organization as a Mason of the 32nd degree, and was given an honorary membership of DeMolay in 1968. He is a former member and past president of the Chamber of Commerce, a lifetime member of the Downtown Optimists, and has served on numerous boards including St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and the YMCA. His extensive community involvement earned him the Distinguished Service Award from the Belleville Jaycees in 1985. During his retirement, he even served as President of the Illinois Retired Teacher’s Association. Mr. Miller has also been an active member of the First United Presbyterian Church taking on leadership duties and participating in missions. He was a board member and past officer of the Kinder Cottage PreSchool in East St. Louis which was supported by the church.


Lt Col David P. Cooley, USAF/Retired (deceased) Bio

It seems that David Cooley was destined to become a pilot. The son of a USAF airman, David was born in 1960 at RAF Mildenhall, a US Air Force Base in England. The family later moved to Fairview Heights and David attended Belleville East High School, graduating in 1978. His exceptional athletic skills were displayed on the Lancer soccer team, where he served as the team captain. After graduation from East, Mr. Cooley was accepted into the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. While at the academy, he met another cadet, Shelya, who later became his wife and they had three sons. Lt Col Cooley graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1982 with a degree in aeronautical engineering.

Lt Col Cooley began his Air Force career by completing flight training and was assigned to fly the F-111 Aardvark. He later became an instructor in that aircraft and conducted operational testing of new weapons and systems for the F-111. As an elite pilot, Lt Col Cooley was selected to attend the Empire Test Pilots’ School in England and graduated as a test pilot in 1992. Upon completion of his training, Lt Col Cooley returned to the U.S. and was assigned to the 445th Flight Test Squadron. With this squadron, he conducted tests on avionics and missile evaluation for the F-15 Eagle. Lt Col Cooley was then assigned to be the chief pilot for the RU-28 Twin Condor aircraft flight test program for the U.S. Coast Guard.

In 1998, Lt Col Cooley was transferred to the 410th Flight Test Squadron and served as operations officer and conducted developmental flight testing of the F-117 Nighthawk. In 2000, Lt Col Cooley was assigned as the vice-commandment for the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. In this capacity, he was responsible for the daily operations of all aspects of the school while still serving as a full-time flight instructor. Lt Col Cooley remained in this position until his retirement from the Air Force in 2003.

Upon his retirement from the Air Force, Lt Col Cooley was hired by Lockheed Martin as their chief test pilot for the F-117. He transferred to the F-22 Combined Test Force located at Edwards Air Force Base in September of 2007. On March 25, 2009 Mr. Cooley died tragically while flying a test mission in an F-22 near the air force base in Southern California. On April 1, a memorial service was held at Edwards Air Force Base. Maj. General David Eichorn, the Air Force Flight Test Center commander, provided a fitting eulogy:

“We are here to honor a life, a life well lived. A week ago, the morning of March 25, a calm day with clear skies, it was a perfect day for a test pilot to take man and machine to their limits. The flight briefing was professional. The test pilot, Dave Cooley, was well prepared and well- rehearsed. Nothing was out of the ordinary, until tragically and suddenly, the plane went down. But we all know that is a tragedy that brings out the best in people. While everyone dies, not everyone really lives. David Cooley really lived. Husband, father, Air Force officer, test pilot, he was all of these and more.”

Lt Col Steve Rainey, USAF Retired, a fellow test pilot, stated, “He was calm, cool, and collected. His love of flying was infectious. He was a consummate professional and a true leader and an inspiration to everyone.”

David P. Cooley is being recognized for his dedication and contributions to his school, his friends, his family, and his country. His work in the development of some of the finest flying technology in the world was instrumental in ensuring the safety of other U.S. pilots and troops.