Famous people who lived in the Decatur-area Sep 11, 2018 Penny Hammel Penny Hammel, Decatur native and LPGA great, found success at golf in each level she tried, including becoming the nation’s top college golfer in 1983.Born in Decatur in 1962, her interest and love of golf came from her father, Richie Hammel, who was the golf pro at Faries Park Golf Course.While a student at MacArthur High School, she helped the girls' golf team find success at the state tournament, qualifying in the 1976-77, 1977-78, and 1978-1979 academic years with a second place finish overall in 1977-78. ASSOCIATED PRESS▲ Richard J. Oglesby Richard J. Oglesby was a three-time governor of Illinois and successful general during the Civil War, but his legacy is even greater in the pantheon of Abraham Lincoln lore.Oglesby was born in 1824 in Kentucky and later moved with relatives to Decatur after the death of his parents. As he made his life in Central Illinois, he came to know fellow Kentucky transplant Lincoln as a friend, and they soon became political allies.Oglesby was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1860, the same year Lincoln was rising as a candidate for president. Oglesby is credited with coining “Abraham Lincoln-The Rail Splitter Candidate” at the Illinois State Republican Convention. After Lincoln's election, Oglesby continued to be a strong ally.Oglesby's experience during the Mexican War led to him volunteer his services to the Union Army during the Civil War in 1861. He eventually was promoted promoted to brigadier general. In 1864, he resigned his commission and ran for governor of Illinois at President Lincoln's request. On April 14, 1865, Oglesby spent the afternoon with Lincoln and declined Lincoln’s invitation to accompany him to Ford’s Theater. Later that evening, Oglesby was called to the president’s side at the Peterson House, where, on April 15, he witnessed the death of his good friend at the hand of an assassin's bullet.Oglesby served three non-consecutive terms as governor of Illinois until 1884. He also was a U.S. Senator from 1873-79. Oglesby died on April 24, 1899, and is buried in Elkhart.▲ Richard Peck Children's book author Richard Peck grew up in Decatur. He was the product of Decatur public schools and served in the U.S. Army.An award-winning children's author who also wrote books for adults, he tackled themes like suicide, unwanted pregnancy and death, winning acclaim for his ability to do so with realism and emotional power.He told the School Library Journal, “As I'm typing, I'm trying to look out over the typewriting and see faces. I don't certainly want to write for myself, because I'm trying to write across a generation gap.”He died of cancer in May 2018. H&R FILE PHOTO▲ James Millikin James Millikin, founder of Millikin National Bank and Millikin University H&R file photo ▲ Alison Krauss Bluegrass musician Alison Krauss was born in Decatur. She's topped the country charts with albums three times, and charted in the top 10 an additional nine times. Grammy Album of the Year “Raising Sand” (2007), featuring Krauss and former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant, reached the top of the Billboard album chart, but stopped at No. 2 on the country chart. Photo by John Davisson/Invision/AP▲ Jenny Lou Carson Evelyn, Lucille and Eva Overstake. Lucille later changed her name to Jenny Lou Carson and became a country music singer-songwriter. She was the first woman to write a No. 1 country music hit. Herald & Review Archives▲ Black Bart Between 1875 and 1883, Black Bart, real name Charles E. Boles, committed 28 stage coach robberies in northern California and southern Oregon.He married Mary Elizabeth Johnson in 1854 and became a farmer. He lived in three different locations in Macon County, two near Forsyth and also at the site of the Lewis Disbrow farm, the original Black Bart Pumpkin Patch.▲ Dante Ridgeway While at MacArthur, Dante Ridgeway had 1,400 career receiving yards and 24 touchdowns on offense, and a school-record 24 interceptions.After an All-Macon County second-team selection as a junior, Ridgeway was first-team as a senior in 2001, picking off eight passes and leading MacArthur to its first playoff berth since 1995.Ridgeway went on to Ball State University, where he set the school's career marks in catches (208) and yards (3,030) and was later inducted into the Ball State Hall of Fame. As a junior in 2004, Ridgeway was a finalist for Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's top receiver, leading the country in catches (105) and yards (1,399).Ridgeway was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the sixth round of the 2005 draft. He also spent time with the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints.Currently, Ridgeway is an assistant coach for the Generals' football team.▲ Brit Miller An H&R All-Macon County selection in football as both a junior and senior, Miller racked up 1,103 yards rushing and 14 TD as a junior quarterback and 1,199 yards and 14 touchdowns splitting time at quarterback and running back as a senior to help Eisenhower break an eight-year playoff drought.At Illinois, Miller broke into the starting lineup as a freshman and never left. As a senior, Miller led Illinois in tackles (132), tackles for loss (15.5) and tied for the team lead in sacks (six), earning All-Big Ten honors.Miller was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Carolina Panthers out of Illinois and later played in the NFL for the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers.Since his pro career ended, Miller has spent time as an assistant coach at Eisenhower, Mount Zion and, currently, Monticello. He's also helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for Decatur athletics through his Lead the Way Foundation. Associated Press▲ Chuck Dressen Chuck Dressen was born in Decatur in 1894. He played numerous sports during his life, but made history in baseball.At 5-foot-5 and less than 150 pounds, Dressen might not have seemed a contender for any kind of athletic feats, but he was a baseball and football player for hire while he worked as a Wabash Railroad switchman.He played two seasons in the Three-I league (which included the Decatur Commodores) before being recruited to play for the Decatur Staleys football team in its sole NFL season.Eventually devoting himself exclusively to baseball, he played with the Cincinnati Reds for seven seasons. In 1926 and 1927, at age 31 and 32, he led the National League in assists as a third baseman.But it was as a manager where Dressen made his most lasting marks. His first major league managing position was with the Reds. He managed and coached in the major leagues from 1934 to 1966. Herald & Review Archives▲ George Halas George Halas is forever "Papa Bear," the man who founded the Chicago Bears as the Decatur Staleys in 1920.Company teams, particularly baseball, were common in the early 20th century, as wealthy owners sought a certain prestige for their firms. A.E. Staley Sr. was no exception, but he also had his eye on a new sport — football. Halas moved to Decatur and lived at 280 W. William St., according to the city's street directory.On Sept. 17, 1920, the Staleys, with Halas as their representative, joined the American Professional Football Association, which was renamed the National Football League in 1922. The franchise fee was $100 ($1,225 in today's money). The Bears today are worth $2.7 billion, according to Forbes.From the start, Halas' team, for which he was also a player, proved formidable. Representing Decatur in such sister Midwestern cities as Akron, Rock Island, Dayton and Canton, the team went 10-1-2. The Staleys' first game Oct. 3, 1920, was a 20-0 win over the Moline Universal Tractors in Decatur.In 1921, the team moved to Chicago, keeping the Staleys name for one year before becoming the Bears in 1922.Halas served the Bears as an owner, player, coach, general manager, traveling secretary and in virtually every other capacity imaginable from 1920 until his death in 1983.When he retired after the 1967 season, he ranked as the all-time leader in coaching victories with 324, a record that stood for 27 years. He won eight NFL championships, and his beloved Bears won Super Bowl XX following the 1985 season.Halas is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, but it all started for him and the Chicago Bears with the A.E. Staley Mfg. Co. in the Pride of the Prairie, Decatur. 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