6 new Southern Hall of Famers

Some of the best, brightest and most athletic people to ever graduate from South Philadelphia High School will be honored at Southern’s Hall of Fame Banquet on May 21 at the IATSE Ballroom at 2401 S. Swanson St.

From 1-5 p.m. the SPHS Alumni Association will induct six new members of its Hall of Fame for Athletic and Cultural Awards. Banquet tickets on sale now through May 5. $60 per person. Visit www.sphsalumni.com for payment information.

David Jay Wolf, Class of 1972

David Jay Wolf graduated from Drexel University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and was immediately hired as an analytical chemist for the United States Environmental Protection Agency, doing trace metal analyses of environmental water samples. 

He moved on to work for the University of Pennsylvania doing drug screening for the Methadone Program before settling into a job with the Philadelphia Police Forensic Crime Laboratory, where he worked for 32 years. 

Wolf was promoted to Forensic Scientist II, doing instrumental analyses, going out to, and securing clandestine drug labs and testifying in court as an expert witness in the field of drug analyses.

David continued his education in forensic science receiving training in drug identification, Ion Trap and Quadrupole Mass Spectronomy, High Pressure Liquid Chromatography, Capillary Gas Chromatography, maintaining and repairing GC/MS systems and laboratory automation.

Wolf enjoys playing piano, working on automobiles and riding in vintage World War II aircraft at air shows. He is a member of American Chemical Society, Police Department Advisory Committee and Drexel University Alumni Association. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Grace.

Joel Leson, Class of 1961

Retired Army Col. Joel Leson, a heavily decorated Vietnam veteran, served 40 years of military and civilian service. After graduating from Temple University and receiving his master’s degree in science from George Washington University, Leson graduated from the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy, the Federal Executive Institute and the U.S. Secret Service

Protective Operations Course.

During his 26 years of active-duty service, he was an airborne paratrooper and member of a helicopter crew in combat, where he received honors such as the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, two awards of the Meritorious Service Medal, four awards of the Air Medal, three Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. He was also awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge for his service in combat in Vietnam. Leson commanded U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command units in the United States and Germany.

In 2003, Leson was the recipient of the Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General’s Distinguished Service Award and he has been inducted into the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and U.S. Army Military Police Corps Halls of Fame. 

In 2005, after 40 years of military and civilian service, he retired from the federal government and later became the Director of the Center for Police Leadership at the International Association of Chiefs of Police until he fully retired in 2007.

Thomas J. Flynn, Class of 1965

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania and receiving a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Temple University School of Medicine, Thomas Flynn worked as a research chemist in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from 1980 to 2018, focusing on the development of novel, non-animal safety testing methods for chemicals found in food.

He received the FDA Commendable Service Award, the FDA Outstanding Achievement Award and the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s Exceptional Achievement Award.

Flynn studied cultured human liver cells, the role of sex hormones and inflammation as biological factors that contribute to known gender differences in susceptibility to chemical-induced liver Injury. He then characterized dietary supplements and food components with potential to cause liver toxicity and food-drug interactions. Flynn authored or co-authored 51 original, peer-reviewed research papers, six peer-reviewed scientific review articles, four book chapters and 85 technical abstracts. 

He was also actively involved in community outreach-oriented professional activities including participation in the American Chemical Society’s “Kids and Chemistry” program and served as a mentor and judge at various high schools for students in senior research programs including the County Public School Science and Technology Fair. He also served as a mentor for students in the University of Maryland’s Gemstone Program and on the Society of Toxicology’s K-12 Outreach Task Force Committee.

Flynn was married for 41 years to the late Pat McGuire, he has a son David and a daughter Ellen, and he currently resides in Laurel, Maryland.

Faye Williams, Class of 1977

Faye Williams was known for her power and tenacity at the plate, playing for Southern High School’s softball team before she graduated in 1977. Williams, an outfielder who also played volleyball for the Rams, helped fuel the softball program to back-to-back playoff appearances in 1976 and ’77.

Outside of the sports arena, Williams spent 18 years with the Philadelphia School Board as a teacher involved in summer programs for students. She also worked 30 years at Wawa Food Markets as an assistant manager, eventually serving as store manager.

Now retired, Williams is active with youth baseball. She has coached her team to three city championships.

She continues to give back to the city she grew up in by staying involved in community activities for young people that help them develop to be positive and productive members of their neighborhood.

Andrew Vanore, Class of 1975

A second baseman, Andrew Vanore hit above .400 his sophomore, junior and senior seasons and helped the Rams win two city championships before he graduated.

A three-sport athlete who grew up on 8th Street, Vanore also suited up for the football and ice hockey teams during his time at Southern.

In the 1980s Vanore moved to Florida to work at a family restaurant business where he developed a passion for the industry and became a manager of the restaurant.

Vanore still resides in Florida but remains a fan of Philadelphia sports teams. 

Vanore has a 15-year-old son, Dominic, who travels often with him to visit family and friends in the Philadelphia area. He has educated his son on Philly traditions like the best place to get a cheesesteak, the Italian Market and, of course, running the steps of the art museum just as Rocky did.

Joseph Rampolla, Class of 1978

Joe Rampolla collected seven varsity letters during his time at Southern, which included contributions to the gymnastics, swimming, golf and track and field teams.

Excelling in the horizontal bar, vault, parallel bars and floor exercise, Rampolla was the team captain during his senior year and led the Rams to a 7-2 record. 

Rampolla competed as a swimmer and diver as well as a pole vaulter before taking up golf during his senior year. 

In addition to his athletic achievements, Joe was involved in many other school activities including school choir. He played the lead character in the school’s production of Damn Yankees. He also took part in the dance production of American Bandstand and participated in the talent shows held over his time at Southern.

Rampolla has had a fulfilling career in casino gaming for 43 years starting out in Atlantic

City, before moving to Las Vegas where he currently resides. Rampolla has three children, Joseph, Maria and Christopher, and three grandchildren, Vincenzo, Natalia and Joseph.