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The story of Bill Naumann Jr. ’74 reads like Who’s Who of North Central College. 

He’s the great-great-great-grandson of the College’s first president, A.A. Smith. Henry Cowles Smith, who served for  60 years as the College’s music and classics professor, is his great-great-grandfather. His father, professor emeritus Bill Naumann, taught religious studies. After his mother’s death, his father married Helen “Herbie” Gamertsfelder ’46, a descendant of Rev. Solomon J. Gamertsfelder, class of 1871, the first president of Evangelical Theological Seminary.

So far, 83 of Naumann’s relatives have attended North Central; his daughter Brittany Naumann ’09 Collins represents the seventh generation to attend the College. His family’s service and financial generosity have long supported scholarships, programs and campus buildings.

Nevertheless, Naumann says that when he was growing up, “North Central was about the last place I wanted to go.” That changed in high school, when his father received a grant to study Islam around the world and the family spent 12 months traveling the globe. “When we got back to the States, I was exhausted and just wanted to stay in one place,” Naumann recalls. “I lived at home my freshman year before moving all the way to campus—across our street to Kroehler North!” 

Naumann now knows his four years at North Central were pivotal … but he acknowledges he didn’t recognize that as a teenager. “When I was 18, I just wanted to save some money and stay local,” he says. “I didn’t appreciate North Central.” 

Nevertheless, his political science professors made a powerful impression. And Naumann also trained under legendary cross country coach Al Carius (H) ’16, who arrived on campus the same year. The experience instilled in him a love of the sport that he still carries. 

“Now, all these years later, I’m so proud of my connection to North Central. I realize how well the College prepared me for law school, for a career, for life.” That’s an understatement: Today Naumann, founder and owner of Naumann Law Firm, is widely recognized as a top-rated construction litigation attorney in San Diego.  

He and his wife, Cheryl, have continued the family tradition of supporting the College, giving generously to everything from the fine arts to Kiekhofer Hall renovations. Most recently they made a significant gift to the Science Center and reconnected with fellow alumni by hosting a Brilliant Future Campaign event in their home.

Why? “First-rate facilities attract first-rate faculty and students. Look at what the Residence Hall/Recreation Center did for all of our athletic programs. When I was here, I waited until my senior year for the football team to win a game. We treated it like a national holiday!”