QUINCY -- The names of a respected physician and a decorated Air Force veteran will grace two of Quincy's new K-5 elementary schools.
The Quincy School Board on Wednesday voted unanimously to name the building at 48th and Columbus Road for Dr. Abby Fox Rooney and the North 12th Street site for Col. George Iles.
Commonly known as Rooney Elementary, the school honors the first female physician licensed in Illinois. Rooney, who was born in Ellington Township in 1844, practiced in Quincy with her husband, Dr. Michael Rooney. She was the first female physician to practice at St. Mary Hospital and was the first woman elected president of the Adams County Medical Society.
In proposing the recognition for Rooney, board member Sheldon Bailey said many good names were considered for the new schools.
"The board chose individuals who are from Quincy who made a difference in Quincy and beyond Quincy and those who would most likely inspire the age group of the children that are in the schools," Bailey said. "Part of their curriculum will be learning about the person."
Board member Jim Whitfield said it's "highly appropriate" for the North 12th site to be commonly known as Iles Elementary because of its proximity to the Illinois Veterans Home.
Iles, a Quincy native, served in the U.S. Air Force from 1943 to 1973 and was part of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the only African-American pilots to fight in World War II. He participated in 23 missions over Germany and was shot down, becoming a German POW for six months, then later served during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
"There's a lot to learn about him, a lot to learn about that select group of men that formed the Tuskegee Airmen," Whitfield said. "They did a lot for this country. They did a lot for the armed forces during that time."
With Wednesday's vote, the School Board has named four of the five new K-5 schools. Lincoln-Douglas Elementary School opened in August, the Rooney and Iles buildings will open in August 2018, and the Thomas S. Baldwin Elementary School will open in August 2019.
"We're getting there," Board President Sayeed Ali said. "We felt pretty strongly about these two names, so we wanted to go ahead and do that at this board meeting."
Ali said no timetable is set for naming the Harrison Street site, slated to open in August 2019.
"We haven't discussed that yet," he said. "So next month I don't think that will be on the agenda."