Belleville East

Lancer Wall of Fame

Jeffery Craig Bio

Jeff graduated from East in 1973 with an academic scholarship to Murray State University.  After two years at Murray, he transferred to the University of Kentucky where he co-founded the U.K. Society for Microbiology and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Microbiology.  Jeff believes that his college jobs as a waiter, a carpenter, and laboratory assistant were teaching lessons as valuable as the time he spent in classes.

After graduation from college and few years of rambling, Jeff took a research position in the Washington University Medical School Department of Immunology in St. Louis, working in the areas of cancer and autoimmune diseases.  In the biotechnology career that followed, Jeff supplemented his income with teaching jobs at Belleville Area College and at the University of Arkansas.

He married Theresa Selinger in 1985, and as their family and careers grew, they lived in Boston, Northern California, and Texas. Working  for a Boston based biomedical company, Jeff’s jobs evolved from product development to technical support to sales. After completing a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of Houston, Jeff’s biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals responsibilities took on expanding and global scopes for commercialization of new technologies, sales management, and business development.

In 1995, Jeff became President of a Florida-based biotechnology company before being recruited as Vice President of Business Development at Monsanto in St. Louis for the purpose of developing needed human vaccines and medicines from plants.  Jeff left Monsanto and co-found a bioprocessing start-up company out of the University of Kentucky where he co-invented a bioprocessing platform which became the standard in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

He still lives in the St. Louis area where he has been instrumental in the success of several biotechnology and medical device start-up companies across North America and in Europe.  Jeff has served on the Boards of Directors of several biotechnology and medical device companies that significantly improve the quality of global medical care and life in general. He is currently serving as a Director and Chief Strategist of Rebion in Boston.  The United States F.D.A. has recently approved Rebion’s amblyopia (“lazy eye”) screening device whose goal is the global elimination of amblyopia as the leading cause of preventable blindness in children. Rebion is also developing its retinal scanning platform to address the critical, unmet need for traumatic brain injury (TBI) diagnostics by the U.S. Armed Forces, professional and non-professional contact athletes, and citizens in general.  After years of work in biotechnology and biopharmaceutical innovation, Jeff is currently leveraging his experience in the old-school medicinal field of craft spirits and proper Bourbon as co-founder and co-owner of the Mine Hill Distillery in Roxbury, CT.

An outdoorsman and world traveler, Jeff Craig  has been married to his wife Theresa for 35 years and is proud of their accomplished children, Jeffery Lee Craig II, Michael Montgomery Craig, and Margaret Mulier Craig.

Robert Farmer Bio

Dr. Bob Farmer is a 1987 graduate of Belleville East High School and a life-long resident of the Belleville area.  Bob was valedictorian of his class, as well as a three-sport athlete, earning nine varsity letters in football, basketball and tennis.  In 1987, he teamed with his doubles partner and great friend, Robb Rickett, to place second in the Illinois High School Association state tennis tournament in Chicago and earned first team All-State honors.  In football, he was named first team all-conference as a placekicker, and in basketball, he started for the Lancers. He was named a “Top Ten Scholar Athlete” in the St. Louis Region by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Bob is proud to have served as President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for three years under the mentoring of fellow inductee, Coach Larry Patton.  As a member of the Math Team, Bob and his teammates (including his wife, Christina) were Illinois State Champions.

After graduating from East, Bob attended the University of Illinois.  While earning a degree in biology, he was a walk-on member of the Fighting Illini football and tennis teams, earning the George Huff Award for academic achievement as a member of a varsity team.

After earning his medical degree from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield, Bob completed his medical residency program in Indiana.  Upon graduating from residency in 1998, he returned home and established his medical practice. After practicing for nearly twenty years, Dr. Farmer assumed the role as Chief Physician Executive and Medical Group Director for Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) in Southern Illinois, where he currently has responsibilities with five hospitals (O’Fallon, Highland, Breese, Greenville, and Effingham) and the physicians who serve those entities.

Dr. Farmer has been very active in service to his community.   He has served on various local boards and volunteer committees and is a member of the SIU School of Medicine Alumni Board of Governors. He has volunteered his time to serve as team physician for S.W.I.C. for over fifteen years and has mentored many local students in their medical training.  Over the years, he has worked with local schools where he provided countless complimentary athletic physicals for students.

For the last several years, Dr. Farmer is privileged to serve on the Board of Directors for Point Hope, an international organization founded by radio show host, Delilah, which seeks to serve families in Ghana, as well as foster children in the United States.  He has penned a book focusing on the impact of positive thinking and was blessed to be able to donate over 10,000 copies to patients at cancer care centers throughout Illinois. He co-wrote a song that led to an accompanying music video, which highlights the sacrifices made by the members of our military families.  

Currently, he is working with many dedicated people on an initiative aimed at improving healthcare for all citizens of St. Clair County.  Additionally, he is working to start local Scouting Medical Explorers Programs to introduce high school students to the world of medicine.

Bob credits his success to his mom and dad, Virginia and Ted, for providing a loving home with countless opportunities and endless encouragement, and his older brother, Alan, for paving the way and leading by example.  He has been blessed with countless dedicated teachers and coaches, so many of whom were from Belleville East.

His most cherished accomplishment is sharing each day with his wife of 25 years (and fellow Belle Valley, Belleville East, and Illinois grad), Christina, and raising their children, Austin, Alexis, and Ashleigh.  Austin is following the Fighting Illini tradition as a junior at the University of Illinois. Alexis is a freshman Bulldog at the University of Georgia. And, Ashleigh is a junior Panther at O’Fallon High School.

Larry Patton Bio

In 1958, Larry graduated from BTHS where he was captain of the baseball and basketball teams and received the Friedly Athletic Award.  He continued his athletic career as captain of the SIU-Carbondale baseball team, completing his B.A. in 1962 and M.S. in Ed in 1963.

After three years of teaching and coaching at BTHS, he became a charter member of the Belleville East teaching staff in the fall of 1966.  He was a math teacher and the only head baseball coach in the first 27 years of Belleville East history. During those 27 years, the varsity baseball team had a record of 545 wins and 284 losses.  During that time, the Lancers won various baseball championships including six SWC titles, ten Regionals, and six Sectionals. His teams were in the “Elite Eight” six times, three of those times in the “Final Four.”

Larry was named “St. Louis Area Coach of the Year” three times and is a member of the IHSBCA Hall of Fame and  Mon-Clair Baseball League Hall of Fame.

During his career at East, he also served as an assistant basketball coach for 21 years (mostly at the freshman level) and sponsored the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for 22 years.  He retired from East in 1993, following 30 years of teaching and coaching in District 201.

Larry has been involved in the work and ministry of St. Matthew Church since 1982, serving on various committees and volunteering many hours of work in the construction of a new sanctuary in the early 1990’s.  He also taught an adult Sunday School class for over 33 years and continues to be involved in the ministry of FCA.

After his retirement, (for the past 25 years and counting), he has been on the staff of St. Matthew United Methodist Church in Belleville.  Upon ordination in 1999, he has served as an Associate Pastor with responsibilities including preaching, teaching, visitation in hospitals and nursing homes, and senior citizen ministry.  He has also served as the officiating pastor for numerous weddings and funeral services.

Prior to joining St. Matthew, Larry and his family attended St. Paul UCC where he served on and then chaired the St. Paul Church Council, served on and chaired the Merry Mates, and then became a member of the St. Paul’s Elder’s Society.

In 1961, Larry married his high school sweetheart, Diane Lengfelder, and, as of this writing, the two have been married for over 57 years.  They have four children: Lauren (Dave) Spring, Lynelle (Andy) Millas, Larry (Faith) Patton, and Luke (Jessica) Patton. They also have twelve grandchildren: Austin (Alira), Andria, and Aaric Spring; Drew and Abby Millas; Annabel, Micah, and Ellie Patton; and, Kendall, Avery, Maddy, and Caleb Patton.

He considered it a great privilege to have been a part of the District 201 staff, serving under administrators, such as K. Lane Miller, Bob Dosier, Charles McCoy, and Fred Curtis. He also proudly worked under athletic directors, Lloyd Elmore and Dennis Bechtold.  Larry cherished his time in the math department, working alongside outstanding teachers like Al Boyles (Department Chair), Aaron Phillips, Jerry Dunn, Sandy Spirtas, Norm Hake, Dixon Ragsdale, and Mike Thompson. And, he feels it a great joy to have been a part of stellar coaching staffs, which included Jack Burke, Norman Fink, Jim Voelkel, Don Otness, and Jim Reynolds.

Coach Patton attributes the success of the Belleville East baseball program to the love of his family, the cooperation and support of the administration, the efforts of committed coaches, the assistance of the custodial and secretarial staffs, the dedication of hard-working athletes, and a solid backing from parents.

Larry remembers, with great appreciation, a significant event in 1971 when some members of the FCA led him to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  To all the men, women, athletes, and students who have been a blessing on his life and career, he is sincerely and deeply thankful.