March 27, 2000
Wyandotte Distinguished Graduate


McCauley, John (Jack) E. - 1942
Wurmlinger, Norma Jean (Myers) - 1949
Zavalney, John A. - 1972


John (Jack) E. McCauley - Class of 1942


John E. McCauley distinguished himself in a lifetime of service to our nation, community and state. He was a dedicated attorney, councilman, mayor, and state senator.

John McCauley, known as Jack to his friends, was an outstanding student and athlete during his years at Roosevelt High School. As a member of the 1941 swim team, he was instrumental in winning the State Class A Regional Trophy and the Golden W for the Border Cities League Championship. After graduation, Jack continued his swimming success at Michigan State University, where he won a Gold Medal in the 400-yard relay and set a NCAA record in this event.

Jack's college work was interrupted by World War II. He joined the armed services and after surviving D-Day at Utah Beach, he suffered severe burns and lost an arm during a campaign into the Black Forest region of German in 1943. Awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, Jack did not let his injuries discourage him from continuing his education. At Wayne State University, he completed his undergraduate work, and in 1949 earned his Bachelor of Law Degree.

Jack McCauley built a successful law practice in Wyandotte, and in 1955 began his service to the community as an elected official. The citizens of Wyandotte recognized his loyalty and commitment and elected him a councilman for six years and Mayor for four years. John also served as a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention and Chairman of the Wayne County Board of Supervisors. In 1964, John E. McCauley was elected as State Senator of the 11th Senatorial District.

As a State Senator, Jack sponsored legislation to establish the State Lottery, control emission of pollutants into the state's waters, provide bonuses for veterans, and he also co-sponsored numerous other pieces of legislation. His goal was to improve the quality of life for Michigan's citizens. Jack McCauley died during his third term of office in 1975. He is survived by his wife Jeanette and son Patrick.

Jack was an active member of the American Legion Post 217, Kiwanis Club, Fraternal Order of the Eagles and the Michigan Bar Association. Jack McCauley's entire lifetime was one of unswerving endeavor and dedication in serving the people of his community, his state, and his nation.

Norma Jean (Myers) Wurmlinger - Class of 1949


Norma Wurmlinger has distinguished herself as a community leader in many elected and volunteer positions.

Following her graduation from Roosevelt High School, Norma worked for the Automobile Club of Michigan and the J. L. Hudson Company. In 1951, she married and devoted the next 20 years to being a full-time wife and mother to four children.

As her family matured, she became involved in civic activities. She served on the Southgate Cultural Commission from 1974 - 1977. In 1977, she was elected to the Southgate City Council where she served 13 years, nine as Council President. In 1990 she was elected Mayor and served in that position for nine years. She was also a director of the Michigan Association of Mayors. During that time she led the city out of a deficit situation and expanded many commercial and residential developments. She was instrumental in the acquisition and moving of a historical home to the Municipal Complex where it now houses the Southgate Historical Museum.

Mrs. Wurmlinger did not limit her activities to the City of Southgate. She was instrumental in many other downriver area organizations. In 1976, she was a charter member of the Downriver Council of the Arts and served on the Board of Directors. In 1994 she received the Council's "Salute to Excellence" award. She is also a member of the Soroptimist International and served on its Board of Directors.

Norma has received many other awards including: Soroptimist "Women of Distinction" from 1986 -1992; Zonta Organization "Women of the Year" in 1993 and the Mellus Newspapers "Mother of the Year" in 1985. Her other activities include service on the Board of Directors of the Southern Wayne County Chapter of the American Heart Association and support of service clubs and sporting organizations efforts to help children and adults.

Mrs. Wurmlinger continues to reside in Southgate with her husband Nick. She uses the skills she acquired at Roosevelt in the A Cappella Choir to enrich her church choir. Her positive attitude and enthusiasm help to make the downriver area a wonderful place to live.

John A. Zavalney - Class of 1972


John Zavalney's Science class is a "literal zoo." This RHS alumnus, Class of 1972, has distinguished himself as an educator by providing a unique experimental classroom for his middle school students at the Foshay Learning Center in inner city Los Angeles.

The wild life that inhabits his classroom had been confiscated while being smuggled over the border from Mexico. Classroom students assume responsibility for maintaining the animals and are motivated by hands-on learning to more extensive research.

Zavalney's innovative classroom endeavors have earned him recognition by the Walt Disney Company as one of the top three science teachers in the country as an American Teachers Awards Honoree (1998). He is also a California State Finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science (1999).

Zavalney's interest in science, the environment and education extends well beyond his classroom. His life is centered on learning, teaching and sharing his experiences. In 1997, he was given the opportunity by Dr. Jane Goodall to work in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania promoting and further establishing Goodall's environmental program "Roots and Shoot" with the local children, schools and community. During his three months there, he helped negotiate and rewrite the final bi-lateral agreement between the Tanzanian Minister of Education and the U.S. Government making Tanzania a GLOBE country, receiving a personal letter of thanks from Vice-President Gore. As a GLOBE trainer, John traveled to the WORLD EXPO in Lisbon, Portugal in 1998 with another teacher and three students. There they worked with schools from Portugal, Puerto Rico and the U.S. to demonstrate GLOBE protocols to visitors to the U.S. Pavilion.

As a result of his work as a classroom teacher and life-long learner, John was asked by the Walt Disney Company to do a Public Service Announcement on positive educational activities in schools. Disney filmed John and his students in his classroom for the PSA, which began airing on CBS, the Disney, Learning and Discovery Channels in November, 1999.

At Roosevelt High School, John was a National Honor Society Member, a varsity letterman in football, swimming, and baseball. He earned his BA in Secondary Education, majoring in Biology and General Science, from West Liberty State College in West Virginia and is a Masters candidate in Computer Based Education at California State University in Dominguez Hills. He and his wife Darlene live in San Pedro, California where they volunteer on a Veterinary Disaster Team and the L.A. Roots & Shoots Steering Committee.