Hall of Fame

Class of 2004

Jim Foley

Is there anyone who has been in the society for more than a few years who doesn’t know or hasn’t at least seen Jim Foley? Jim became a member in 1953 and pursued his love of music with great fervor. In 1956 he began his hobby of collecting medals. He was an International Chorus Champion with the Michigan City Chorus and an International Quartet Medalist with the “Four Renegades”.

  • 1965 he garnered the International Quartet Championship with the “Four Renegades”.
  • 1967 he became the President of the Association of International Champions (AIC)
  • 1970 The “Four Renegades” were the recipients of the Ed Wilson Memorial Award.
  • 1973 Jim was in a new quartet and became the District Quartet Champs with “Saturdays Heroes”.
  • 1982 Once again Jim became a District Quartet Champ, this time as one of the “Benchmarks”.
  • 1990 By this time, Jim was eligible for the “seniors” competition and as a member of “Old Kids on the Block” became the Int’l Seniors Quartet Champion.
  • 1994 Not content with one “senior” medal, Jim once again won the Int’l Seniors Quartet Champion medal, this time as part of the “New and Improved Industrial Strength Mini Chorus”.
  • 1999 “Tri-County Reclamation Project” became Int’l Seniors Quartet Champions with Jim.
  • 2000 Ed Wilson Memorial Award was given to “Tri-County Reclamation Project” and in addition, Jim was awarded the QCA Music Man Award.

Frank Connell

Frank Connell is an example of a true barbershopper, a man who not only loves to sing but has been willing to step up and lend a hand to whatever is needed to help his chapter and the society. He has served as a chapter secretary, as a treasurer, a show chairman, convention chairman, chairman of a director search committee, chapter board member at large and even as an area counselor. Not only that, he has been awarded the “Barbershopper of the Year” and in 1990 he was received the Metro Division “Barbershopper of the Year” award.

Frank first joined the society as a member of the North Shore Chapter in 1952, then joined West Towns in 1959. He also sang in two different quartets – the “Westuners” and the “Suburbanaires”. His importance to West Towns is probably best shown by his serving as the chapter president in 1963, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1995. He is often sought out for his wisdom and sage advice.

Bill Everitt

Bill Everitt joined West Towns in 1958 and within six years became the chapter president. Bill served West Towns as chapter treasurer and did the same for the Illinois district. From 1973 – 1974 he served as the president of the Illinois district and in 1975 he became an International Board Member. In 1976 he was awarded the district “ABE” award (Award for Barbershop Excellence). Bill remained active with West Towns and earned a chorus gold medal with them at Hartford, 1987 – but in spite of all his awards, he can be remembered as a quiet and friendly barbershopper.

Warren “Buzz” Haeger

It’s hard to exaggerate Buzz Haeger’s impact on the society. He has been a director, an arranger, a coach and a certified judge, and when he wasn’t doing those things or singing in a quartet, he played his saxophone in jazz bands. Barbershoppers know him as a man who knows thousands of tags and and who cannot resist teaching them. In 1954 his quartet the “Four Tissimos” became district champs. He moved on to a new quartet, the “Four Renegades,” who became district champs in 1957 and International Quartet Champions in 1965, winning by a point margin never equaled in International competition. In 1970 that same quartet won the Ed Wilson Memorial Award. In 1992 Buzz won the QCA Music Man Award and in 1999 he won the Illinois district ABE award. In September of 2005, Buzz was featured on a WTTW television special about barbershopping. Buzz Haeger is always promoting barbershopping and trying to find ways to encourage new members so he recently initiated the “Rookie of the Year” award for our chapter. Buzz passed away in November 2007.

Class of 2005

Ernie Burmeister

Ernie came to West Towns in 1959 from the Madison, Wisconsin chapter through which he had become a member of the society in 1948. Ernie served the chapter and society in many ways – as chapter board member, Membership Vice President and even as director of the Chapel Chorus. Ernie served as an assistant chorus director from 1962 through 1965. He was in several quartets: the “Unitones”, “Four Old Times Sake”, “Retreads” and last, but not least, the “Pitch Pipe Packin’ Papas”. He is also a member of AHSOW (Ancient Harmonious Society of Wood-Shedders). In 1982 Ernie was West Towns Barbershopper of the Year (BOTY). 1998-1999 found Ernie as the President of AHSOW. In 1999 the “Pitch Pipe Packin’ Papas” received the Ed Wilson Memorial Award.

Robert Squires

Bob Squires joined West Towns in 1964 and has been an active leader and well-known barbershopper throughout the society. He has served as a chapter board member, section leader, show chairman, bulletin editor, presentation coach, certified presentation judge, assistant director, director, and of course, a quartet man. That level of involvement earned him West Town’s Barbershopper of the Year. Bob served as the Illinois district bulletin editor from 1982 – 1985. In 1986 he received the Illinois District ABE award and in 1998 the QCA Music Man Award. He has served as the Illinois District VP of Contest & Judging and from 1999 – 2001 he served as the Illinois District President. He has been director of the Joliet and Aurora choruses. He joined the ranks of the senior quartet champs, singing in “New and Improved Industrial Strength Mini-chorus” (1994) and “Tri-County Reclamation Project” (1999). In 2000, “Tri-County Reclamation Project” received the Ed Wilson Memorial Award.

Len Schlak

In 1948 Len was one of small group of men who formed the Lombard Chapter and the West Towns Chorus. Through the years he has served faithfully as chorus manager, board member, uniform chariman, show chariman and CABC delegate. At the time of his induction into this Hall of Fame (2005), he was the only active charter member of West Towns. In recent years he has been portrayed Santa on our annual Christmas shows.

Rick Anthoney

Rick joined West Towns in 1974 where the sound of his sweet, crystal clear tenor voice was heard in many quartets. He served as the chapter Music VP and tenor section leader in West Towns. Rick’s run with quartet championships began in 1980 with “Friends”, in 1990 with “Classic Ring”, 1998 with Bravo and in 2003 with Alchemy. He has also been a three time International Senior Quartet Medalist and in 2004 sang with the senior quartet “Savoir Four”.

Charles “Chuck” Snyder

Chuck was a charter member of West Towns, helping the chapter get started in 1948. As one of the founding members, he was also the first secretary and first bulletin editor for West Towns. He sang tenor in the first chapter quartet – the “Lombardians”. In addition to serving as chapter president, from 1955-1957 he served as the Illinois District President. He served as an International Board Member, then from 1962 through 1967 he became a staff member at International Headquarters. In 1967 he joined the San Antonio (Texas) Chordsmen.

Wayne “Doc” Ruggles

Doc Ruggles joined the society in 1944 when he joined the Wheaton Chapter. Doc’s musical talents were apparent early on and when he attended Purdue University he sang with “The Varsity Four,” a quartet that finished in fifth place in the 1949 International competition. In 1952 he joined the Oak Park chapter and in the same year his quartet, “Kord Kings” became Illinois District Quartet champions. The “Kord Kings” went on to become International Quartet finalists from 1955 to 1958. In 1957 Doc became director of West Towns and in 1960 led West Towns to the district championship. He then directed West Towns to a fifth place finish in International.

Class of 2006

Earle Auge

Earle Auge (pronounced Oh – jhay) was a musician and educator and director of choral music at Niles East Township High School. Earle was the director of the Arlingtones when they were district champs from 1963 to 1965. He was also the bass of a quartet called the Imperial Four. In 1968 he joined West Towns as director, subsequently leading the chorus to district championships in 1969, 1970 and 1971. In 1971 he moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where he still resides. In spite of that, he maintains his membership with the West Towns Chorus.

Dr. Greg Lyne

Greg Lyne, a barbershopper since 1962, earned his bachelor of music degree in music education from Washburn University, a master of science in composition from Kansas State University, and a doctor of arts in conducting from the University of Northern Colorado. He is a life member of the American Choral Directors Association and holds memberships in the National Association for Music Education, the College Music Society and other professional music organizations.

In July of 1981, while serving as the Director of Choral Music at DePaul University, he became director of West Towns and led them to the District Championship only three months later in September. That District Championship was the first of six consecutive district titles and six straight international medals.

In July 1987 he directed West Towns to their gold medal at the International contest in Hartford Connecticut. In July of 1988 he moved to California but still directed West Towns at the Society’s 50 th Anniversary in San Antonio Texas.

He has since directed the Masters of Harmony to three International Championships, has served as Director of Music Education and Services for the Barbershop Harmony Society and continues as a music educator around the world for all types of music. He is also an arranger and composer.

His quartet experiences include the semi-finalist Lion’s Share, quartet finalist Personal Touch, and as a replacement baritone for the Dealer’s Choice.

Class of 2013

Burt Keever

Burt Keever began his barbershopping in Onarga, Illinois in 1952 where, being involved in a quartet, he needed to organize a group to sing for a Lions Club event. He rounded up 21 people to sing and since they were using SPEBSQSA arrangements, a new barbershop group was begun. Since those days so many years ago, Burt has been in four chapters: South Cook, Chesterton, Aurora and of course, West Towns. Burt’s fun with barbershopping helped encourage his brother Ken to join ten years later and then his son Mark to join the society to sing with him at age 11 in the South Cook chapter. Burt has been an active member of West Towns and lent his talents throughout his years with the chapter. In his own words, he’s had so much fun in barbershopping throughout the years and appreciates everything all the men he’s known because of his involvement with it.

Ron Heilig

Ron Heilig was introduced to barbershop singing when he went to a West Towns performance in Crystal Lake. After the performance Barth Richards and his wife Mary Jo asked him to join them and then Rick Anthoney joined the group. That was the beginning of a long, wonderful barbershop relationship. Ron is a highly energetic, focused individual and committed to this hobby in many ways. When Ron joined in 1975 at about age 48, Russ Foris was director and Dick Johnson after him. Ron served on the board three times as a member-at-large. He ran two steak fries, and took charge of one spring show. Since lighting was his field, he created a lighted “Broadway” marquis that was used in a competition set.

Ron also helped with the regular, weekly chores. With rare exception he would be the first one to get the risers out of the trailer, get them up 9 steps into the VFW rehearsal hall (Lombard) – and was always there to break them back down. A conservative estimate is that he did that 1,210 times. Ron has an attendance record that is hard to beat. He was always there, on time, to do the work.

Ron competed in 15 International competitions, attended 25 Internationals and has a gold medal from 1987. He also had the privilege of singing with the chorus on our farewell song in San Antonio (1988). In addition to having earned a chorus gold medal, he was also awarded the West Towns “Barbershopper of the Year” in 1987, another significant accolade.

Class of 2023

Mark Betczynski

Mark Betczynski is a singer and arranger who has been involved in barbershop for over thirty-five years. A veteran of many quartets, he sang baritone with the quartet Alchemy, and Skyline, the proud champions of the 2005 Illinois District quartet competition.

This gentleman currently serves as President of the Illinois District Quartet Champions Association (QCA). In 2015, he received the Award for Barbershop Excellence (ABE), the highest honor granted by the Illinois District, given in recognition of significant, sustained contribution to barbershopping.

He joined West Towns in 1989. He is known in the chorus for his “tag teaching”, vocal exercises, and song coaching.  This individual can be counted on to help West Towns members find their motivation for singing specific phrases in songs, and to use his encyclopedic knowledge of the history of barbershop in Illinois, and nationally, to help inform members of details of the hobby we enjoy so much.

This highly respected baritone was the Barbershopper of the Year in 2010 and has been counted on by many West Towns members to give his gentle, honest opinion about many topics, including the performance of their quartet, song selection, and overall musicality.

F. Joseph "Joe" Tomecek

Joe Tomecek has been an assistant director with The West Towns Chorus for over a decade.  This baritone has sung in a number of quartets, including Scrambled Craigs, which has one of the funniest business card lines ever seen: “Scrambled Craigs: Music to Ruin Any Occasion”.

After joining the chorus in 1989, this member has been a constant help in the direction of the chorus, providing irreplaceable input on the Music Team, help with performance and musicality, and comedic creativity that is so much a part of our current culture.

He was named West Towns Barbershopper of the year in 1999, in addition to serving on the Board as Music and Membership Vice President.  In January 2010, he became the primary director of the 2nd City Chorus, The Rockford Metro Chapter of The Barbershop Harmony Society.

He contributes to West Towns as a singer, baritone section leader, and assistant director, helping us by leading rehearsals when our director is unavailable, and adding dimension to the approach we have to our repertoire.

Class of 2024

Bob Nicodem

Bob Nicodem has a long history with West Towns.  He joined the chorus in 1983 and was there for the second place Silver Medals in 1984, 1985 and 1986.  He is the only remaining member from the first-place championship in 1987.He became secretary in about 2002 and has held that position for more than 20 years.  He transformed our print newsletter, first to an online weekly email, and most recently to the weekly PowerPoint that we all know and love, as “The Pitch”.  It is worth noting that, in 2011, he received the “Illinois District Bulletin Editor of the Year Award”.He was instrumental in our move from the Downers Grove Moose Lodge to our current home at Horizon Church and continues to serve as our Rehearsal Facility Coordinator and Facilitator, setting up the sound board and coordinating Riser setup and takedown each week. It is important to note that he accomplished all of this and worked closely with each of our directors since 2000, ensuring that transitions were smooth and painless. Before we start any song, the starting pitch comes from Bob. Along with Bob, we have also greatly benefited from his wife Ellyn, who has been instrumental in our ticket sales and creating many costumes for the chorus. On behalf of the Board, the chorus, and all of you, I am proud to welcome Bob Nicodem into the West Towns Chorus Hall of Fame.

Tony Tumea

Tony Tumea also has a long history with West Towns, joining us in 2000 and becoming treasurer in 2002, a post he has held for many of the years since then.  His capable help and willingness to serve has played a major role in bringing us up to speed with both technology and finance.

When he became treasure, state and federal 501 (c3) files were done mostly on a “Leave it alone” basis.  He made everything current and everything legal.  He put the structures in place to enable us to receive grant money and endowments.  It was not just West Towns.  He also helped other choruses get up to speed with their own legal structures.  In 2024, most of us think of this common sense, but at that time, no one was “doing it right”.

Shortly after joining West Towns, we encountered legal challenges to parts of our Christmas show from those who had left to form another chorus.  For many years, he and his wife Joyce worked tirelessly, writing scripts, managing the show, and working with the venues.  He has been instrumental in producing what we now accept as a thirty-year history of Christmas shows. Our Christmas show ticketing was moved to computers under his watch.

In addition to managing our finances, he has excelled at the role of fundraiser, writing grant requests which have resulted in West Towns receiving tens of thousands of dollars from both government and public foundations.  This played a significant role in our surviving the onset of Covid when we could not perform.

He has worked with every director since 2002, giving us the consistency and stability that lets us do what we do.

Many of us take what we have for granted, but other choruses do not have the people we have, who have given as much as they have to make West Towns work.

Again, on behalf of the Board, the chorus, and all of you, I am proud to welcome Tony Tumea into the West Towns Chorus Hall of Fame.