Distinguished Alumnus
Charter Class of 2013
John Philip “Phil” Wesch
(June 30, 1929 - May 12, 2011)

AHS Class of 1947

Phil Wesch lived his entire life in and around Arcola. He was very loyal to the community and its citizens. It was this loyalty that led him to many acts of generosity. Phil was born on June 30, 1929 a son of Fred and Grace Edgar Wesch. He attended Arcola Schools graduating in 1947.

While in high school Phil was involved in football, basketball, track, FFA, band, Glee Club, class play, Arco-Lite and was a class president. Though football was his favorite sport, he had a keen interest in all extracurricular activities and placed a high value on education. Following graduation Phil attended the University of Illinois before entering the US Army where he served in intelligence in Korea during the war.

After he left the military he returned to Arcola and started farming on the land his grandfather Dan Philip Wesch first farmed nearly one hundred years ago. Phil’s goal as stated in the 1947 Torch was to be a successful farmer, and he fulfilled that vision. In addition to farming, Phil started a soybean processing business that continues to this day. He also served numerous years on the Arcola Grain Co-Op Board of Directors.

On August 1, 1954 Phil was married to Catherine “Cathy” Whisnand. They raised five children, Deborah, Dan, Steve, Jim and Lianne. Like their parents, all five attended AHS. Eventually, each settled in Arcola and provided Phil and Cathy with ten grandchildren.

Phil was very enthusiastic about fitness and outdoor sports. He was active in boating, bicycling and was an expert on the trampoline. He won many awards for his expertise on the trampoline including first place in a Farm Bureau talent show in Chicago. During baseball spring training, he once performed for the World Champion New York Yankees in Florida in the mid 1950’s. Phil would often go scrimmage with the Arcola Purple Rider football teams following his graduation. It was said that his tenacity made it difficult for the high school players to block Phil.

Phil considered himself to be very fortunate for all the good things that happened to him in his life. He was proud of his family and his hometown. He was always looking for ways to give back to his school and community in a manner that made Arcola a better place for people to live. Phil’s fond memories of his years at AHS were at the heart of wanting to “give back”. He provided the Arcola Community Schools with numerous donations that improved the quality of the school academically and athletically. He also was a strong supporter of the Presbyterian Church and the Arcola Public Library. Phil knew the value of education, and this understanding compelled him to provide the means and opportunity for several Arcola students to attend college.

Phil was always a humble man, and the only stipulation of his generous and substantial contributions was that his name remain anonymous. Phil Wesch truly exemplifies the term “Distinguished Alumni” and is very worthy of this honor.

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Last Revision November 10, 2017