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Geneva's latest Hall of Fame
By Craig Brueske | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 1/24/2008 12:08 AM

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When your high school has been around for nearly 90 years, a long list of influential student-athletes has walked the halls during that time.

Geneva High School first opened its doors in 1919. Three years later, the school formed its first varsity football team.

So it only seems appropriate that Jim Kafer devised a way to celebrate its storied past by forming the school's Athletic Hall of Fame shortly after becoming Geneva's athletic director nine years ago.

On Saturday night, Class of 2008 inductees Charles Hokonson, the late John LeFeber and Dr. Peter Temple will be honored during halftime of the Geneva-St. Charles East basketball game (6 p.m. tipoff).

Here's a closer look at the 2008 inductees:

Charles Hokonson:Œ(Class of 1933) During the early years of the Great Depression, Hokonson was a tall, rangy lineman for Vikings football coach Carl Nelson -- playing both ways at center and defensive end.

"Most guys played both ways back then," said Hokonson, 91, who moved to Naples, Fla., with his wife of 67 years, Helen, in 1985.

"Football is much rougher now than it was when I was playing. We didn't have all that fancy equipment. Our helmets were soft leather and our shoulder pads were thinner, but we tackled just as hard."

Hokonson, who captained the 1932 squad and was named to the All-Little Seven Conference team at both positions, fondly remembers his high school days.

"Geneva had a great coach in Carl Nelson," said Hokonson. "He took a real interest in you and kept you straight. I enjoyed high school and had a lot of friends."

Friends like high school classmate Allen F. Mead, the retired publisher of The Geneva Republican who covered Geneva High School sports for 47 years.

"Charles was a star football player," said Mead, himself a Geneva Athletic Hall of Fame honoree and member of its selection committee. "He played center, a position where you don't get your name in the headlines like the backs do.

"I've known Charles since fourth grade," added Mead, who will receive Hokonson's plaque on his behalf Saturday night.

Hokonson went on to Cornell College (Iowa), where he again was a two-way football starter and team captain. He was also named to the All-Midwest Conference team on both offense and defense.

Upon graduation from college, Hokonson enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he established preflight training programs at both the University of Iowa and at Wooster College in Ohio, before heading to the west coast and then the south Pacific to serve as a ground officer for fighter squadrons.

In 1953, Hokonson returned to Geneva as Director of Industrial Relations at Burgess-Norton Manufacturing Co., where he served until his retirement in 1971.

He also became a civic leader, serving two terms on the Geneva City Council, and two terms on the Geneva Board of Education, including four years as its President.

"It was a great thrill when I received the (Hall of Fame) phone call," said Hokonson.

John LeFeber:Œ(Class of 1974) When the 6-foot-5, 200-pound LeFeber moved to Geneva with his family as a high school sophomore in the summer of 1971, he immediately caught the eye of the coaching staff.

As a senior, LeFeber was a hulking 6-6, 240 pounds at a time when 190-pound high school linemen were the norm.

"For road games, we always made sure John was the first man off the bus," said then-Vikings coach Jerry Auchstetter.

LeFeber dominated the Little Seven as an offensive and defensive tackle as the Vikings went 8-1 and captured the conference co-championship in 1973 -- the final season before the IHSA playoffs began.

In addition to being the Little Seven's MVP, LeFeber was named to the 33-member Champaign News-Gazette All-State Team.

"John was a very good player," recalled his adopted father, Alfred, who still lives in Geneva. "I did not play football, but his grandfather played (professionally) for the Canton Bulldogs and later was (Bronko) Nagurski's coach at Minnesota."

LeFeber went on to Purdue, where he was a 3-year starter and 4-year letterman as an offensive lineman for coaches Alex Agase and Jim Young.

"That was his choice," said Alfred. "I was good friends with Woody Hayes but John said Ohio State already had too many tackles."

As a senior, he was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team and played in Purdue's 41-21 Peach Bowl victory over Georgia Tech in 1978.

LeFeber eventually went into radio advertising sales with WGN in Chicago. He married shortly after college but never had the chance to raise a family of his own -- he was killed in an auto accident in 1987 at the age of 31.

"John would be quite pleased," Alfred said of his son's Hall of Fame induction.

Dr. Peter Temple:Œ(Class of 1981) As a child growing up in Geneva, Temple remembers attending high school sporting events.

"I had always hoped to play football on Burgess Field for Coach Auchstetter," said Temple, who realized his dreams as a 15-year-old sophomore in the fall of 1978.

After senior quarterback Dave Pease went down for the season with a knee injury late in the first half at Morris during Week 5, Temple made the most of his opportunity, rallying Geneva for the first of his 19 career victories while at the helm.

During Temple's senior season in 1980, Geneva went 8-1 with the lone loss coming to eventual state champion Morris.

"We finished in a 3-way tie for first (in conference) with Plainfield and Morris," said Temple. "It seems kind of crazy to say today, but we went 8-1 and didn't make the playoffs."

Temple graduated as the Viking career record holder with 26 touchdown passes and 10 TD runs.

He also was a 3-year starter at guard for basketball coaches Bob Schick and John Barton, earning All-Little Seven honors as a junior and senior.

His senior year was highlighted by a 20-point performance during the Vikings' 74-70 sectional semifinal win over host East Aurora.

"I had a special year as a senior," said Temple.

Temple, who later moved back to Geneva after attending Augustana and DePauw, established a clinical psychology practice after serving as Director of Clinical Training for the Kane County Circuit Court.

He and his wife Paige are the parents of two school-age children.

"This is an honor that you don't expect to receive," said Temple.