On Fri., Nov. 4, Oak Park and River Forest High School will present the 2016 Tradition of Excellence awards to four alumni. Established by the class of 1982, the award is presented annually to alumni or former students who have distinguished themselves professionally and who, through their accomplishments, have brought great credit to their alma mater. These distinguished alumni are honored at a brunch following the awards presentation at a student assembly. This year’s honorees are:
Charles Dawson Butler
Voice Actor, Class of 1935
Mr. Butler is most recognized as the voice of Yogi Bear, who debuted in 1958 as a supporting character in the “The Huckleberry Hound Show.” Toledo-born but Oak Park-raised, Mr. Butler always had a knack for vocal impersonations. The aspiring cartoonist left high school without graduating during the Great Depression, hoping to provide financial stability for his family by performing standup impersonations at venues throughout Chicago. This led to a major break as the voice of a British wolf on “Little Rural Riding Hood” in 1948.
Throughout the late 1940s and ‘50s, Mr. Butler landed many voice acting jobs, including the narrator in “The Cuckoo Clock” and the cobbler in “The Peachy Cobbler.” He served in the Navy during World War II, then resumed his career in radio. In later years, Mr. Butler opened an in-home actors training workshop, specializing in voiceover techniques, subsequently teaching a student who would become the second voice of Yogi Bear after Mr. Butler’s death in 1988. With the help of his son David, Mr. Butler officially earned his high school diploma in 1977.
Class of 1961, OPRF High School Athletic Ambassador
Mr. Arcieri grew up in Oak Park and has been active in OPRF athletics since his enrollment in 1957, lettering in baseball his junior and senior years. After receiving a degree in education from Northern Illinois University, Mr. Arcieri returned to Oak Park to teach at Longfellow and Hawthorne (now known as Julian Middle School). In 1969, he began teaching at OPRF High School, where he coached tennis, football, and basketball. He led the 1998 football team to an undefeated conference record and the 1975-1976 basketball team to a third place finish at state.
Coach Arcieri’s 30-tenure as a football coach earned induction into the Illinois High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame. One of his biggest contributions to the Huskies’ Athletics Department was co-founding the OPRFHS Coach Hall of Fame in 1989, which inducted 31 outstanding coaches at its founding, one of them being himself. The OPRFHS Coaches Hall of Fame still honors coaches today.
Mr. Arcieri is noted for his philanthropic work, which includes obtaining football scholarships through fundraisers, creating orange and blue championship banners that hang in the fieldhouse, and co-founding the Gary Olsen Scholarship, which annually awards scholarships to graduating OPRF seniors.
Class of 1993, Public Servant
Born in communist Laos, Mr. Keovan and his family fled the country for a refugee camp in Thailand shortly after he was born. In 1979, they arrived in the United States through sponsorship from the Oak Park Temple. He attended three Oak Park elementary schools: Irving, Beye, and Whittier. A volleyball team member during his sophomore through senior years at OPRF, he was named Illinois State Boys Volleyball Player of the Year in 1993. Mr. Keovan continued his volleyball career at Loyola University, where he became a part of its inaugural volleyball team.
In 2003 he graduated from DePaul with a law degree and now owns a practice in transactional law. Mr. Keovan is one of the first Laotian American attorneys in the United States and is heavily involved with Lao American Community Services (LACS). The organization assists Illinois refugees and immigrants from Laos, especially those in metropolitan Chicago, in becoming self-sufficient, productive participants in American society while preserving and enhancing their cultural heritage, identity, and sense of belonging to a community.
Singer and Songwriter, Class of 1994
Ms. Friedberger developed her love of music while growing up in Oak Park. Post high school, she studied film and American Studies at the University of Texas and moved to New York City, where she and her brother Matthew formed the band The Fiery Furnaces in 2000. Together they recorded nine albums. Her first solo album, “Last Summer,” was released in 2011 on Merge Records. She has since released two more critically acclaimed solo albums and toured throughout North America, Europe and Australia.
Ms. Friedberger also has collaborated with the Andy Warhol Museum, performed regularly in the 8G Band on NBC's “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” appeared in numerous advertising campaigns, and appeared in renowned multimedia artist Doug Aitken's experimental train project and subsequent film “Station to Station.” Currently she is on tour with shows in Tel Aviv, Rome, and the Netherlands. When she is not touring, Ms. Friedberger lives in Ulster County, New York.