2001 Distinguished Alumni Award

George H. Stege and Margaret "Moppy" Puricelli Lavery

Two Western Illinois University alumni received Distinguished Alumni Awards during Spring Commencement Exercises Saturday, May 5. George H. Stege, president and CEO of Ford Gum and Machine Co., Inc. in New York, and Margaret "Moppy" Puricelli Lavery, a nutritionist/registered dietitian in West Virginia, received Western's highest award during the May Commencement Ceremonies.

The Distinguished Alumni Award, given since 1973, recognizes alumni who have reached the pinnacle of their careers and have brought credit to the University and themselves through their professional accomplishments or community service at local, state, or national levels and extended meritorious service for the advancement and continued excellence of WIU.

Lavery, a 1976 graduate, has done extensive research in the field of nutrition, specifically obesity. In 1990 she won the Huddleson Award, a national award with a $1,000 honorarium, from the American Dietetic Association for the best nutrition article published. She has worked as a nutritionist/registered dietitian in Chicago, Houston and West Virginia; and she was a clinical assistant professor and nutritionist/registered dietitian in the department of medicine at the Marshall University School of Medicine, Huntington, WV.

Raised in suburban Chicago, Lavery entered WIU in 1972 after graduating from Proviso West High School in Hillside. En route to earning her bachelor of science in home economics, she was a resident assistant; a four-year member of the Marching Band; a member of Mortar Board and Kappa Omicron Phi, the home economics national honorary; and the 1974 WIU Homecoming Queen. Upon graduating from Western, Lavery received a full scholarship for a combined dietetic internship at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Houston and graduate school at Texas Woman's University, where she earned her master's degree in nutrition in 1977.

She completed a one-year fellowship at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health (1984). She earned a doctorate of public health (1986) at the University of Texas School of Public Health, completing her dissertation on weight control at the Sid Richardson Institute for Preventive Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Lavery remains an active volunteer in her community. She is a member and past president of the West Virginia Medical Alliance, the national and local dietetics associations, the West Virginia Nutrition Advisory Council and a past member of the Junior League. She has focused most of her volunteer efforts with the youth in the area, including Our Lady of Fatima Parish Council, School, and Endowment Program; Huntington High School; and the Tri-State Ice Arena. She has also worked to increase soccer development in the area, including field development, coaching, and managing a team, and has volunteered in the West Virginia Olympic Development Soccer Program. Lavery continues to provide nutrition education through presentations and lectures to local groups, schools and professional organizations.

She is married to G. William Lavery, M.D., an ophthalmologist, and the couple has three children: Patrick, Erin and Shannon.

Stege, a 1969 graduate, developed Ford Gum into one of the top privately held companies in the Buffalo, NY area. The company sells confectionery and novelty items across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico and exports products to Europe, Asia, South America and Australia. Stege has been the company's president since 1997 after engineering a management buyout. Prior to this appointment, he served as the vice president and general manager for several years. Stege has also worked in various management positions, including vice president, for Leaf, Inc.

Following his graduation from WIU, Stege taught at York and Glenbrook South high schools in Illinois. He earned a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA from the SUNY-Buffalo, and he has taught summer workshops at Georgetown, Northwestern and Harvard universities. Stege has earned a Diamond Key Coach status from the National Forensic League.

Stege has been a longtime member of the Akron-Clarence Kiwanis Club and has served in various capacities including president. Through fundraising activities of his company, more than $1 million annually is donated to various civic organizations. He is currently on a local committee to build a new library in the Akron, NY area. He has also served on the board of directors of his church.

Stege and his wife, Mary Lou, a 1969 and 1971 WIU graduate, are supporters of Western through its Centennial Campaign. They are the parents of two daughters.