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Bradley Hilltopics

Summer 2009 • Volume 15, Issue 3  

Alumni Profiles

Forties fellowship group | JOAN SCOTT WALLACE ’52: From academia to ambassador | Brush with the past: JERRY VALLEZ 50 and DON HOLTON 70  | MIKE BETZ ’87 and DAVID NICOLL ’93 team up for the environment at Cat | Obama campaign link — JEFF LINK ’05 | U of I business dean LARRY DeBROCK ’75 | Molly Picon actors on stage | Singer JENNIFER ROSA ’06

A Brush with the past

By Nancy Ridgeway

INSET photo: DON HOLTON ’70, left, and JERRY VALLEZ ’50 met in January at Jerry’s art studio in Naples, Fla., when Don was vacationing in the area. During a renovation project, Don discovered the mural in his basement (shown above) was painted by Jerry, a fellow alum and fraternity brother. Photography by Larry Evans.


A mural painted in 1955 was the impetus behind an unlikely meeting between two Bradley alumni who also are fraternity brothers.

When DON HOLTON ’70 moved into his home in Deerfield, Ill., 16 years ago, he placed five large shelving units in front of a 6' x 17' mural of a mountain scene in the basement. He didn’t give it a second thought until last December, when he moved the shelves and spotted an artist’s signature on the mural — “Vallez 1955.”

An Internet search led to a Web site for JERRY VALLEZ ’50, an artist living in Naples, Fla. The Web site,, noted that Jerry is a Bradley graduate. Don called Jerry, introduced himself, and told him about the mural.

“I lived in Highland Park at that time and did a lot of work throughout that area. I painted many murals in homes and in bars,” said Jerry, who moved to Florida in 1971 with his wife, ROBAH WYCOFF VALLEZ ’49. They have two daughters.

Jerry is best known for his marine artwork, particularly ships and coastal scenes, and recently has been commissioned to do paintings of boats and yachts. He said the mountain scene in Don’s mural was inspired by a trip he made to Colorado.

As the men chatted about their Bradley days, they discovered both were members of Sigma Chi. “We could hardly believe the double connection,” Don said.

Don, who owns a marketing and financial services consulting business, and his wife Valerie have two sons. They plan to keep the mural and will attach a profile about Jerry to an adjacent wall, “so future owners of our home will know its history.”