There are many examples of talented teachers who win acclaim in professions other than teaching. This is the case with Elmer C. “Mike” Alft, a retired high school history teacher who is also recognized as an American historian and the former mayor of Elgin, Illinois. He is pictured here, on the right, with a relative.
Mike was born in 1925 in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Grinnell College in 1949. Founded in 1846, Grinnell College is a private, co-ed, residential liberal arts and sciences college located in Grinnell, Iowa. In 1950, Mike earned a master’s degree from Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.
Mike’s long career as a teacher at Elgin High School spanned four decades. While teaching, he also served as a city councilman, mayor, and secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Gail Borden Public Library District. Mike was first elected to the Elgin City Council in April, 1963. Four years later he was elected the mayor of Elgin. As was the custom at the time, the distinguished educator did not seek re-election when his four-year term expired in 1971. The dedicated educator also taught part-time at Elgin Community College.
Mike is probably best-known as the historian of his home town of Elgin. He has published numerous books on the history of Elgin and the surrounding area, in addition to hundreds of articles for the local newspaper, the Elgin Daily Courier-News. He currently writes a bi-weekly column on Elgin’s history.