Howard Buffett
January 02, 2015

Farmer and philanthropist Howard Buffett

When he was a boy, Howard Buffett loved to play in the dirt. He even planted corn in his family’s backyard when he was only 5, and he’s always loved big machines. So it’s no surprise he ended up in agriculture, says Illinois Pioneers host David Inge.

Buffett says he considers himself a farmer first. “But he is also the CEO of a foundation dedicated to finding solutions to world hunger and has traveled to 130 countries looking for new ways to help people feed their families, while at the same time taking care of the environment,” David said.

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Jeff Perkins
December 04, 2014

Youth mentor Jeff Perkins

Retired electrician Jeff Perkins grew up in Decatur, Illinois, and over the years, worked in a number of community organizations. He served on the Decatur School Board and is a past president of the Decatur chapter of the NAACP. He founded Caring Black Men of Decatur several years ago out of concern about young men getting into trouble.

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Murray Wise
November 03, 2014

Farmland investment expert Murray Wise

Murray Wise grew up on a farm in Ontario, Canada. Through his childhood and into his college years at Iowa State University, he knew he wanted to farm. As it turned out, farm equipment was in short supply so he rented out his land and took a job working in farm management and real estate. That was back in 1975. He went on to start his own company--the Westchester Group--and today he is nationally recognized as an authority on farmland investment, valuation and management.

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Preston Jackson
October 24, 2014

Artist Preston Jackson

Preston Jackson is well-known in Illinois and beyond as a sculptor and painter. “He also likes to think of himself as a storyteller, and the story is often a personal one,” said Ilinois Pioneers host David Inge. “As he says, ‘I create who I am.’ ” Jackson is the co-founder of the Contemporary Art Center in Peoria, where he also has a studio and gallery. He earned his Master of Fine arts degree at the U of I, and has taught for many years at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Ed Scharlau
October 14, 2014

Bank vice chairman Ed Scharlau

Busey Bank vice chairman Ed Scharlau,  who started in banking as a part-time janitor and teller, and now is vice chairman of Busey Bank, has been in the banking business in Champaign-Urbana for a half century. He began in 1964 when he worked as a part-time teller, earning $1.25 an hour, and worked nights as a part-time janitor, earning $2 an hour.

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May Berenbaum
October 03, 2014

U of I entomologist May Berenbaum

May Berenbaum has received many honors from fellow scientists, and on Oct. 3, the White House announced that she's a recipient of the National Medal of Science. But she also has numerous fans among the general public who have been caught up in her infectious love of insects. Host David Inge said she put aside her childhood fear of insects to become an entomologist.

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Lou Mervis
December 13, 2013

Industrial recycling innovator Lou Mervis

Lou Mervis, who retired in 2005 as president and CEO of Mervis Industries in Danville, talks about guiding his family's company to become a leader in meeting the manufacturing and recycling needs of various industries. He also reflects on his achievements as a volunteer, from founding the Danville Area Economic Development Corporation to his 17-year service as a member of the Illinois State Board of Education.

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James R. Burgess
Courtesy of Champaign County Historical Archives,The Urbana Free Library.
November 21, 2013

Steve Burgess recalls his father, James R. Burgess Jr.

Steve Burgess reveals his journey of discovery about his father, James R. Burgess, pictured, Champaign County's first African American State's Attorney. Steve learned about his father's role in World War II after his father died. James Burgess was a first lieutenant commanding one of six African American tank companies in the famous 761st Tank Battalion that served under General George Patton, including at the Battle of the Bulge.

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What's on Now

WILL Highlights

7 pm Sunday, Feb. 1 on WILL-TV: The remaining six bakers face three European cakes.


8 pm Friday, Jan. 30, on WILL-TV: Actors Ralph Fiennes and Hugh Bonneville talk about the play's enduring appeal.