Influential businessmen

Posted: Monday, December 3, 2012 8:00 am
The training of three cadets at Western Military Academy in Alton prepared them to become outstanding business leaders in the growing communities of the River Bend.
Nick Maggos, Ryrie Milnor and Harry Schweppe graduated from Western Military Academy and became three of the Midwest's most influential businessmen.
Maggos graduated from the Alton academy in 1947 and turned the Pepsi Cola Alton Bottling Co. into a business that distributed Pepsi in several states.
Milnor was in the 1931 Western graduating class and rose through the ranks of the banking business to be president of the board of 1st National Bank and Trust Co. in Alton.
Schweppe was a 1949 Western graduate who became vice president of Mercantile Trust Bank, St. Louis.
Western Military was founded in 1879 by A.M. Jackson on Seminary Street in Upper Alton and graduated hundreds of outstanding students until it closed in 1971.
The academy was world-renowned for its heroes on the battlefields of World War II, for its national award-winning athletes and leaders in the world of business such as Maggos, Milnor and Schweppe.
Maggos was a talented 16-year-old Alton teen who enrolled as a cadet at Western in 1943. The energetic young man showed his prowess on the Western football team, which beat Alton High School in the annual Thanksgiving Day game in 1946.
More than 5,000 football fans crowded the Alton High School field to watch Maggos and the Western team beat Alton for the first time in 15 years of the Thanksgiving classic game.
Maggos learned business leadership as business manager of Western's annual yearbook "The Recall." He showed his skill as an artist drawing students' portraits for the yearbook.
Maggos was a wrestler on the academy's wrestling team coached by William "Red" Schmitt, the Hall of Fame wrestling coach.
Maggos graduated from Western in 1947 and studied business at Washington University in St. Louis. In 1954, the talented young businessman took over the Pepsi Cola Alton Bottling Co. after the death of his father, company founder Gust Maggos.
The giant bottling company stretched for four blocks along West Broadway in Alton and distributed Pepsi Cola in Illinois and other states.
Maggos promoted business in the Alton area as president of the Chamber of Commerce. He was a founding member of Pride Inc., the beautification organization started by the late Dr. Gordon F. Moore.
Harry Schweppe learned his business skills in training at Western Military Academy, where he enrolled as a young cadet in 1945. He was business manager of The Recall academy yearbook and showed his leadership ability as the cadet's captain adjutant.
Schweppe was involved in many academy classes and activities that helped shape his life as an outstanding businessman. He exhibited his talent as an artist in the art club and excelled in drama productions on stage at the academy.
Schweppe graduated from Western in 1949, attended Westminster College and the graduate school of banking at Rutgers University.
Schweppe rose through the ranks in the world of banking and was vice president of Mercantile Trust Bank, St. Louis.
He was a leader in the growth of the Alton community and served as president of the United Way board. He was active on the boards of Alton Memorial Hospital and the local YWCA.
Ryrie Milnor showed his academic skills early as a cadet at Western Military Academy in Alton. He excelled in the classroom and was listed on the honor roll of the top 10 students in his 1931 graduating class.
Milnor attended classes with Edward "Butch" O'Hare, who was awarded the Medal of Honor as a hero fighter pilot in World War II. O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in honor of the famous pilot.
Milnor was also a cadet class member at Western with Paul Tibbetts, who rose to the rank of general as the bomber pilot who dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan in 1945.
At Western, Milnor was an actor in the drama club and showed his talent as a marksman in the pistol club.
After graduating from Western, Milnor went to the University of Pennsylvania and returned to Alton, where he excelled as a banker and community leader.
Milnor was prominent in the growth of the busy First National Bank and Trust of Alton and became president and chairman of the board.
He used his leadership and business skills as a member of the board of the growing Alton Memorial Hospital, where the history room is named in his honor. He headed a successful hospital capital campaign in 1958.
Milnor was chairman of the board of Millers Mutual Insurance Co. and a member of the board of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce.
As chairman of the United Way, he spearheaded a successful campaign to raise funds to help local organizations.

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