Foundation to honor two legendary NHS graduates

Published 9:40 am Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Two Niles High School graduates will be honored by the Niles Education Foundation at their fourth annual “Legendary Evening” fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 19 at Orchard Hills Country Club.

The NEF Board of Trustees made its selection of the honorees with input from faculty and administrators, and suggestions from the public, based on a criteria of “making a difference” in the Niles community and around the world.

Michael West

This year’s legendary Niles High School alumni that will be honored are Dr. Michael West, class of 1972, of Alameda, California, one of the world’s acknowledged pioneers of stem cell research, and James “Jim” Weaver, class of 1968, the Founder and CEO of the popular Wings Etc. Grill & Pub restaurant chain with more than 50 locations in the Midwest.

West has more than 140 patents relating to stem cell research and its broad-based impact on today’s medicine. West received his bachelor of science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, master of science from Andrews University and his Ph.D. from Baylor College of Medicine concentrating on the biology of cellular aging.

West has focused his academic and business career on the application of developmental biology to the age-related degenerative disease. West has served as CEO of several corporations and is currently serving as CEO of ReCyte Therapeutics and Co-CEO of BioTime, Inc.  He is also a board member of several non-profit organizations and institutes of higher education and research.  West and his wife Karen are the parents of four teenagers.

Jim Weaver

Jim Weaver, founder and president of Wings Etc. Grill & Pub, graduated from Andrews University. Jim worked as a programmer/analyst for the former Clark Equipment Company. Jim spent the next 14 years as a computer auditor for the international accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand. The knowledge that he gained as an IT auditor and his entrepreneurial spirit inspired him to pursue the American Dream and begin his own business, Wings Etc. Grill & Pub.  Weaver opened Wings Etc. just as sports bars became popular.

In 2016, Weaver and his Wings Etc. Grill & Pub restaurant chain were rated 31st out of 50 of the fastest growing restaurant concepts by Restaurant Business Magazine. Wings Etc. Grill & Pub now employs more than 500 employees.

Weaver and his wife, Fran, live in Niles and have five children, 11 grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

The Niles Education Foundation raises money each year to acquire and grant resources exclusively in support of the Niles Community Schools for programs and projects suggested by teachers and administrators aimed at enhancing, enriching and supplementing learning opportunities for students, staff and community.  Since its establishment in 2009, the Niles Education Foundation has invested more than $150,000 for the enhancement of public education at Niles Community Schools. 

The public is welcome to join the Niles Education Foundation on Aug. 19 at Orchard Hills Country Club to recognize these two exemplary Vikings. 

Tickets to the “Legendary Evening” are $50 per person. 

For more information please contact Barbi Starr at Niles Community Schools (269) 683-6662 or contact the Niles Education Foundation at (269) 683-0732.