2018 HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHIES
Achievement Award Winner Michael Bowers from the class of 1987 was nominated for this award by both his classmate Lisa Capaccioli and his mother, Myrt Clark Bowers ’57 on behalf of the Bowers & Clark families. Lisa says “Michael is true humanitarian by any definition. He has dedicated most of his life to serving others in need.” Myrt says “His commitment to improving the lives of the most vulnerable peoples around the world has been demonstrated throughout his career.
Michael, now a resident of the Bay Area in California, earned an BA in Art History and Political Science from the University of Iowa, and completed advanced studies in intercultural management at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, VT. During his college years, Michael spent a year abroad in Europe and interning in Washington D.C. at the U.S. Senate for Senator Tom Harkin and with the Atlantic Council, a NATO think-tank. Currently Vice President of Humanitarian Leadership and Response at Mercy Corps, Michael has over 20 years of international relief and development experience. Headquartered in Portland, OR, Mercy Corps operates in more than 40 countries. Michael is responsible for leading and supporting Mercy Corps’ global emergency operations, enhancing their quality and accountability and ensuring that they bring the greatest benefit to people in need.
He participates in global forums, seeking to impact and influence policy development and decision-making involving key United Nation organizations and global humanitarian partners. He has testified in hearings with the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on issues relating to famine, as well as hearings with the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Iraq and Syria. Prior to his current role, Michael lived and served as Mercy Corps’ country director in Afghanistan, Albania, Croatia and Kyrgyzstan and Zimbabwe.
His first-hand experiences of many conflict induced crises has been recognized by leaders in the private sector, global philanthropic foundations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Rockefeller, and news outlets around the world. He has been asked to speak before United States House of Representative & Senate Foreign Relations Committees. Two of his most recent testimonies were for the Human Rights Commission Tom Lantos hearing on Yemen November 17, 2016 and March 28, 2017 House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on “East Africa’s Quiet Famine”. Michael has been invited to meet with White House Staff members in the Clinton, Bush, and Obama White House regarding a number of tragedies and crisis for millions of people around the World.
Lisa says “His achievements go beyond what he has done for Mercy Corps and his career. He has brought the attention of famine, war, and refugees to world leaders and spoke for those who couldn’t speak for themselves. Michael’s dedication to humanitarian efforts is an inspiration to his colleagues, to his family, and to his friends. He has seen the worst this world can offer, but he has shown how compassion, dedication and true determination can make a difference.”
Michael believes his work ethic, passion for helping others, willingness to take risks in un-known areas, and the ability to adapt to changing realities is due to teachers and community leaders in Mount Vernon who challenged his thinking and family who provided a strong moral, faith and values-based foundation.
Fine Arts winner Dewane Hughes from the Class of 1988, was nominated for this award by former high school instructor Richard Scearce. Currently a resident of Troup, Texas, Dewane is Professor of Studio Art, Studio Art Graduate Program Coordinator at the University of Tyler. He graduated from Buena Vista College in 1992 with an emphasis in sculpture, and received his MFA from Montana State University in 1996. Dewane started his career as the Sculpture Lab Technician at the University of Iowa where he built the bronze casting foundry, as well as Assistant Professor at Graceland University, and Missouri Southern State University. Dewane is also president of the Texas Sculpture Group.
His sculptures have always dealt with language. Dewane explains “Influenced heavily by the poets of the Beat Generation, as well as subsequent linguistic scholars such as Noam Chomsky and Marshall Mcluhan, I try to create a formal reality that speaks to the essence of communication. It is my contention that “art” happens in the space between the object and the viewer. It is from this perspective that I try to create sculpture that is a manifestation of the space between language, and how we perceive a message. Of course we understand from Mcluhan that the method of delivery is as important as the message that is delivered, and it is this concept that directs my many creative decisions, such as material, compositional considerations, etc. However, my creative impetus is more closely akin to the raw and visceral perspective of writers like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Herbert Hunke, or of course Allen Ginsberg. This generation used its linguistic skill, with a drive to touch the heart of what was real to them, and created a new lexicon, a perspective of slang, that energizes my creative process.”
Dewane has recently been dividing his time between fabricating large scale steel sculptures, and creating intimate psychological landscapes using found objects, painting and plastic resins. In addition to his continuous sculptural pursuits, he was also recently the curator of the “Sculpture on the Green” exhibition at the Kemp Center for the Arts, as well as the President and coordinator of the 2011 SNTX Conference at The University of Texas at Tyler. Other endeavors include several solo and group exhibitions and the creation of numerous prototypes for an “Artist Signature” series of lighting fixtures.
His work has been featured in dozens of galleries internationally. He is a sought-after instructor who has done residencies at over 20 universities, for instance one of them an International Residency for Creative People in Iceland. In addition he has been invited to judge, lecture, and enter his sculptures in juried art competitions around the world. He has been featured in many publications, including ‘Top Twenty-Five International Student Sculptors,’ Sculpture Magazine in 1996. His exhibitions have been held all over the world, and he currently is on exhibit at Susan Kirchman Gallery, Johnson City Texas, Shidoni Gallery, Santa Fe New Mexico, Modern Dallas, Dallas Texas.
Dewane describes himself in high school as a disinterested average student who drifted aimlessly until he took a class with Mrs. Michaud who turned him onto the Ferlinghetti book, ‘Coney Island of the Mind.’ Her mentorship demonstrated to Dewane that it was alright to be his creative self, and in fact, even a positive thing.
Service Hall of Fame winner Matthew Borg from the class of 1990 was nominated by his father Eldean Borg. Matthew is a graduate of Baylor University and earned his Masters in Business Administration in Cambridge, England where he currently lives. Matt served as an officer in the US Air Force, and from 1996-2001 served as Director of Media Relations and Deputy Director of Public Affairs at Altus Air Force Base and then RAF Mildenhall, England. In 2001 he joined Acteon Communication, a communication consulting firm he now co-owns and manages in Cambridge.
At Acteon, Matthew leads a business of 50 employees and is responsible for the management of large-scale internal communication projects and programs for clients delivering highly-technical messages and communicating change in the health care, legal, financial, and pharmaceutical sectors. He has led several large projects to international awards, including being a record 4-time winner of “Best project achieving widespread adoption” with four separate companies. Matthew has also led a project to deliver training to medium-sized companies across Europe, which won the European Seal of Excellence for 2004.
Since graduating from Baylor, Matt has served his communities in a variety of ways. While stationed at Altus Air Force Base, he volunteered as a mentor and tutor to local school children, formed an athletic booster club for the local high school, and started an annual 10k charity run and annual golf tournament, both raising money for local education programs. While stationed at Mildenhall, he volunteered with the local schools to tutor in mathematics and writing, and he tutored airmen studying calculus at the university on the air base.
Matt has now lived in England for more than 20 years and has served as President of the Parent-Teacher Association and served a four-year-term on the local school board. During his board term he was involved in the school’s recruitment and selection of new senior leadership and replacement of the school’s catering service.
As a member of the JCs, he was named member of the year and won national awards for his communication work for the non-profit organization. Matthew was personally responsible for developing the JC marketing and publicity plan, new membership plan, and training plan for 2000. His activities with the JCs included professional leadership and management seminars, charity fund-raising activities and European exchange programs. He served on the executive council and was the monthly publication editor, earning ‘Jay Cees Most Outstanding Local Publication’ in the UK. As a result of the innovative work Matt did for the Cambridge Junior Chamber, he was presented the Nigel Jones Innovation Award, presented annually to the JCs member whose innovation and initiative have greatly benefited the community of Cambridge.
Matt currently volunteers at his local job center, running workshops for job-seekers, helping people who are struggling to find employment prepare for interviews. He and his family regularly host students from all over the world who come to England to learn to speak English.
Matt also serves as a lay pastor and a member of the leadership team at a new church he helped to start in Cambridge. The church was started by members of his previous church in response to a need in another part of the city. He and his wife lead a weekly small group in their home and Matt and others participate in volunteer service programs helping to clean, paint and restore living accommodation for disadvantaged local residents. He also sings as part of the church music team.
“This award gives credit to the people in Mount Vernon - teachers and community members - who have influenced student lives in so many ways,” Matthew said. “As I have reflected on this, I think there are two factors that have prepared me for a life of service in my community, whether in the panhandle of Oklahoma or across the Atlantic in England. First, observing service in others and second, a sense of gratitude for the investment made in me. Growing up in Mount Vernon and in Mount Vernon Schools, I saw service lived out. From my earliest memories, I saw people volunteering all around me: on Saturday mornings at ‘little kids’ wrestling, on school boards, in concession stands, on scoring tables. I saw my teachers giving of their time in order to give us a broader and deeper education. I learned through the example of Mount Vernon parents and teachers that programs for children and young people don’t happen without willing volunteers.”
“And second, I – and many of my classmates -- are inspired to serve out of gratitude for all that has been invested in us. Whether it was a choir contest two hours from home, a late-night musical rehearsal, a cold autumn evening on the side lines, or a long day on the scoring table at the Mount Vernon invitational, I saw parents and teachers giving of their time so that children and young people could grow.”
“Small schools and small communities are great because ‘everyone can do everything.’ If you want to go out for a sport or other activity and you’re willing to put in the time and practice, you can. However, small schools and small communities can only offer what people - on the staff and in the community - are willing to organize and lead. At Mount Vernon, I had the opportunity to take part in many diverse activities because people gave of their time. I am very grateful.”
In high school Matt participated four years in choir, football and golf, earning All-Conference honors in football and golf his senior year. He earned All-State Vocalist (1989) and All-State Speech & Drama (1989) , and was an Academic Decathlon team member, finishing Small School State Finalists his senior year. Matthew was a 1989 Boys State participant. One of his favorite memories were school musicals and drama productions, and he especially loved playing in ‘1776’ with the late Dick Peters when Mr. Peters played Benjamin Franklin. He also participated two years in baseball and one year in wrestling.
MVCSD Community Impact winner Mike Smith from the Class of 1968 was nominated for this award by classmate Barb Thomsen Neal. She says “I have known Mike my entire life. When I think of Mike I immediately think “Mr. Mount Vernon”. Of the many alumni who have continued to live and work in Mount Vernon, I can think of no one more deserving of this honor.”
Her application recognizes Mike’s love our Mount Vernon:
Mike’s roots run deep in this town. He is a 3rd generation native and the love he has for Mount Vernon is apparent in everything he has done, and will continue to do.
Mike is a recognized face on Main Street as the owner of Bauman’s & Company. He remembers everyone he meets and always greets everyone with a smile and a positive comment. He welcomes to Bauman’s basement, the daily gatherings of the “Coffee Club”.
Mike and his wife, Val, recently completed the historical renovation of the area above Bauman’s, where they now live, and have even opened their home for the annual Mount Vernon After Dark event.
Mike is an upstanding citizen and devoted husband, father, son and brother. His character is above question. Mike’s love for, and dedication to, our town is palpable. He promotes the community and school in every way possible. He has Mount Vernon merchandise available in his store. He regularly puts a wooden mustang sign on his street corner to advertise athletic events and he is a frequent fan in the stands. If there was a “spirit” award, he would certainly be a contender.
Mike is the epitome of “Mr. Mount Vernon”. He more than qualifies as someone who has dedicated his life to making Mount Vernon a great place to live and raise a family, always promoting the town and the schools.
Named a ‘Volunteer of the Month’ by the MV-Lisbon Community Development Group, they describe Mike as a valued part of the Mount Vernon-Lisbon community:
His work with helping began when he helped to start Heritage Days many years ago, but more recently organizing ‘Music on Main’ and helping with the Chocolate Stroll have been noted by many. Mike has lived in the area for his entire life, and he is proud to say he is of the 3rd generation of 4 in his family to live here. Many know him from Bauman & Company in Mount Vernon. He has been associated with the store for over 44 years. He has worked there since 1969 and became the owner in the early 1990s.
When asked why he volunteers, Mike remarked that he enjoys it and got more out of it then he put in. He encourages everyone to volunteer. Not only do you meet interesting people but you can pursue your passions. In his cases, his interests lie in music so he has organized and headed the ‘Music on Main’ events for many years.
Mike received the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce in 1991, and Honorable Mention for ‘Best Business of the Year’ in the Main Street Iowa Program in 2010. He is a Past President of the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce.
Mike continues to follow and support Mount Vernon high school sports. Through Bauman & Company, he contributes annually to numerous school activities and fund raisers.
The Class of 1968 held their 50th Class Reunion during Homecoming 2018, and attended the Hall of Fame Award Ceremony to help Mike celebrate his award.
Athletic Hall of Fame winner Carol Woods-Boren from the Class of 1975 was nominated for this award by both Diane Zinkula ‘72 and former instructor Richard Peters. Diane says “Carol was a phenomenal high school basketball player when girls finally got sports at Mount Vernon, but her years as a volleyball coach and mentor at Mount Vernon has done more for girls athletics than any other graduate.”
Richard Peters explains how Carol played a major role in girls athletics at Mount Vernon:
In the early 1970s Mount Vernon did not have competitive girls interscholastic sports in fields such as softball, basketball, track, and cross country. With the passage of what we now call Title Nine of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, schools were required to adopt similar athletic programs for boys and girls. Carol was at the forefront of voices calling for a complete athletic program for girls including, the adoption of Volleyball.
Carol was the original key player in all girls’ sports -- the shortstop in softball, post guard in basketball, and middle hitter in Volleyball. Her first-team participation in several sports was certainly instrumental in the success of girl’s athletics; she was a pioneer for girls’ sports in our school. This was a difficult position to take in 1974. With little or no administrative support, opposition from the boy’s programs, insignificant community backing, and of course institutional prejudice against girls’ sports, establishing a girls’ sports program was difficult to say the least. But Carol had been attentive to class work and current affairs, as well as her heart, and she knew the requirements and what was right.
Perhaps her most significant contribution was her enthusiasm. She influenced dozens of young women to participate and support athletics. I know that these conditions and events are absolutely true because I was a classroom teacher at this time and the first coach of the Mount Vernon Mustang’s Softball team. Carol Woods helped us break new ground and guarantee the current success of all girls’ sports programs.
Carol tells of her high school athletics:
“My freshman and sophomore year there were no girls sports programs offered at Mount Vernon except for girls golf. I had played on town softball teams since the 5th grade and I loved the team work, friendships and competition involved in playing sports. A movement began between my sophomore and junior year to have a complete girls sports programs at Mount Vernon Schools. I’m sure current players cannot imagine not playing competitive school team sports for the 6 years they can now. I remember going around town asking for signatures on a petition to have girls sports at Mount Vernon. There wasn’t a huge amount of support from the school but school board members were approached by parents and students who wanted this opportunity. Not everyone I asked would sign the petition. I’m not sure the petition would have gained us what we wanted, but the passage of Title Nine didn’t give the school an option.
Perseverance paid off and Mount Vernon added girls sports. I was thrilled to participate in any way I could. In my junior year we played an extracurricular program of sorts, playing schools wherever we could beg, borrow or steal a playing date in basketball. We wore our gym uniforms and a vest with a number on it. My senior year we were officially in the Eastern Iowa Hawkeye conference, playing a full schedule for basketball, softball and track. Volleyball was still not an “official” conference sport and not all EIHC schools offered volleyball. We still played a busy schedule for volleyball in the fall and were one of the first schools to have a volleyball program in the State. I was the only female athlete in my class to play the four sports. We got uniforms when I was a senior, but we had to use the same ones for volleyball, basketball and maybe track too. Wouldn’t the current athletes and coaches throw a fit about that! Some of our first coaches weren’t given an option to coach us or not. Coach Shirley Ryan wasn’t even paid, but volunteered, while male coaches were paid. Another unacceptable situation that wouldn’t fly in today’s sports scene.
Carol also says the addition of competitive sports to her school life was a confidence builder. Her confidence level rose to an all time high and suddenly school seemed easier. Some key teachers, Dick Peters, Charles Halsey and Donna Jacob, to name a few, kept telling her she could do more in the classroom, and her success in sports translated to her academics as well. Adrian Ringold, the high school principal, also encouraged her to try out for track, something she hadn’t considered before he expressed his confidence in her. She says “They believed in me and I started to believe what they were telling me. I can never thank them enough for their encouraging words.”
Among her honors are letters in basketball, track, volleyball and softball. In basketball she earned First Team All-Conference, unanimous choice in basketball as a guard, and was Mount Vernon’s first female All-Conference player. In addition she earned Honorable Mention All-State basketball. She led the conference in total rebounds, had the school record in total rebounds and single game rebounds (20 in one game), led the team in total blocked shots and single game blocked shots (9 in one game). In track she was a member of the, 4x220 relay team which was Conference and District champion and also qualified for Mount Vernon’s first state track appearance. In volleyball her team won a good share of their volleyball meets. In softball, their first year, she remembers “we got absolutely pummeled in softball by perennial state champions Clear Creek Clippers, but I loved playing for Dick Peters win or lose.”
Carol is retired (2014) after working for 33 years in the District Office at Mount Vernon Schools. She coached basketball (1981-1987) at Mount Vernon for six years with Jim Bellamy. She was an assistant coach for the first Mount Vernon Girls basketball team to reach the State tournament in 1984. Carol coached volleyball (1988-2010) with Shirley Ryan for 23 years and was an assistant coach when they were State Runner up in 2007 and 2008 and when they won State Championships in 2009 and 2010. Carol was named ‘State Assistant Coach of the Year’ by the Iowa Girls Coaches Association in 2010.
Carol says “I truly love Mount Vernon athletics, boys or girls but I have a special place for the girls program...watching them grow to state powerhouses throughout the years. I loved representing Mount Vernon as an athlete and later as a coach. Some seasons we struggled, but working with coaches like Jim Bellamy and Shirley Ryan makes you work harder to live up to their high expectations. You learn to play for the love of the game, not always the wins and losses. I’d never thought of myself as an advocate and I’m surprised I was brave enough to go door to door to get the whole thing started as a teenager, but I had a burning desire to perform, not just be a spectator. During my years of coaching girls’ sports I occasionally had to point out to administrators, athletic directors, parents and coaches the inequities between how the boys programs and girls teams were treated. I’m happy to say the issues were almost always corrected; some took more time than others - growing pains. There is always a first time for everything and it takes a long time to try and perfect a program. I hope there will always be a fire for Mustang girls’ athletics, and that current athletes will respect those early struggles. Being the mother of three boys I enjoyed my years of coaching teenage girls and felt I had lots of daughters. In 2017 I started coaching volleyball again beginning with the oldest of my six granddaughters. Here we go again.”
2017 HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHIES
Achievement Award Winner Mark Hylbak from the Class of 1973 was nominated for this award by classmate Christine ‘Chris’ Hanson Starkweather. While growing up in Iowa, Mark went to a lot of movies and watched a lot of television. He always asked himself, “How did they do that? Why is the camera here instead of over there? Why is the lighting from behind?” These questions led Mark to purchase his own movie camera. While in high school he worked at Bob’s Super Value during the school year and cut grass at Cornell College during the summer…finally getting enough money to purchase a camera. His sisters refused to act in movies so he improvised and used G.I. Joe dolls (they call them “Action Figures” today. Ha!). MVHS English teacher Mrs. Rife heard about Mark’s movies and was intrigued. She invited Mark to bring his movies and a projector to school. Mrs. Rife decided to take film-making classes at Kirkwood so she could add movies to her curriculum. She gave Mark encouragement to pursue his dream of making movies and/or television as a career.
Mark attended the University of Iowa and received a B.A. in Broadcasting/Film in 1977. He secured an entry level position at KCRG-TV9 in Cedar Rapids: operating a studio camera for the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts. With his first paycheck, Mark purchased a TV (imagine!), something he never owned while in college. Within a few short years, Mark became a Technical Director and in 1981 he was named Director/Associate Producer of the two evening newscasts. Mark soon became a “news junkie.” He felt a need to know what was going on EVERYWHERE! In Iowa, the US, the world! He was hooked.
“Then I heard about some crazy guy named Ted Turner starting up a 24-hour news channel on cable”, Mark said. “I joined CNN in Atlanta as a Director in 1983. Covering the world is always interesting and often quite exciting.” Mark was involved in covering just about every major news event for 30 years. “I was actually in the Sports Department for 7 years”, covering everything from Super Bowls, World Series, NBA Championships, Stanley Cups, and World Cups. But news was always my first love. The first Gulf War really put CNN on the map.” Mark soon was travelling the world. “One memorable trip was rushing off to Moscow in December 1991.” Mark was behind the Kremlin Walls directing for CNN when Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as President and dissolved the Soviet Union on Christmas Day. “Watching the Soviet Union flag come down on Red Square for the last time was amazing.” The next day Mark went to the Russian White House to meet with their new leader Boris Yeltsin and direct the first interview for CNN. Another unforgettable trip was covering Princess Diana’s funeral in London in 1997. “There was something like 136 TV cameras to cover the funeral procession. The event was exciting, exhausting, and emotional. Everyone was working 18-20 hours a day. And the day of the funeral was extremely long. There were a few tears in the control room when the funeral procession came out of Kensington Palace and we saw the six black horses pulling a carriage with Diana’s coffin. There was a gasp… and then silence. We could hear the lonely tolling of a single Westminster Abbey bell. I got a lump in my throat when the carriage turned the corner and we saw the words “Mummy” on top of the coffin.”
At CNN Mark was an integral part of teams that earned three George Foster Peabody Awards (honoring the most powerful, enlightening, and invigorating stories in television, radio, and online media) and two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards (given by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University which the school considers ‘the most prestigious award in television and radio news, the broadcast equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize.) Mark recently retired after 33 years.
Not much left on his bucket list, he rode the Zamboni at an NHL game, threw out the first pitch at a baseball game, and has traveled to all 50 states. There are many teachers at MVHS that Mark would like to thank: “Dr. Rife for encouraging me when I was making films. Mr. Peters for a sense of history. Mr. Landis for an understanding of government. Mr. Silliman for showing me that there is a big world out there. And Mr. Stine for being around. Even though I have lived in Georgia for over 30 years, I still tell people that I am from Iowa and proud of it! I still live in Atlanta, but I will always call Mount Vernon home.”
Fine Arts winner John Gaston from the Class of 1982, was nominated for this award by former instructor Don Stine. Don says John was a gifted performer in high school as a four-year trombone player and frequent soloist in Marching, Concert and Jazz bands, and a singer and frequent soloist in Concert Choir. John also participated three years in both Speech Contest and in Theatre.
Some of the milestones and awards John achieved in high school include All-State Musician all four years (two years in the choir and two years in the band) which was a first in Mount Vernon history, numerous division I ratings in solo and ensemble contest, both vocally and instrumentally, All-Conference Band all four years and first chair in the All-Conference Band senior year. He participated in several select festival choirs, most notably the University of Iowa Honor Choir (1982) and Soloist in University of Iowa Honor Choir Concert. John was awarded a University of Iowa Voice Scholarship. His theatrical recognition includes: Senior Theatre Award in 1982, principal roles in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “The Crucible,” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” John was also the class valedictorian.
After high school John earned a B.S. in Computer Science and an M.B.A. from the University of Iowa. He has worked in information technology for 28 years for companies such as Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), Paramount Pictures, EMI Music, Amgen, and currently for BrightView Commerical Landscaping.
His performing arts activities include singing, acting, musical direction, conducting, and directing for musical theatre productions, and his milestones are numerous. He has studied voice with various master teachers and performed in over 35 principal and featured musical theatre roles in various Southern California theatres. Highlights include Sir Edward Ramsay in ‘The King and I’ with Deborah Gibson, Cabrillo Music Theatre; Father in ‘Ragtime,’ also for Cabrillo Music Theatre; and Captain Von Trapp in ‘The Sound of Music,’ Actors’ Repertory Theatre of Simi as well as award-winning performances as El Gallo in ‘The Fantasticks’ and Percy in ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’. John also has numerous award-winning musical direction credits including ‘Hairspray’ for High Street Performing Arts Center, Moorpark, CA; ‘Footloose’ for Camarillo Community Theatre, Camarillo, CA and ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ for Conejo Players Theatre, Thousand Oaks, CA, to name just a few. He recently made his directorial debut with a hit production of ‘My Fair Lady’.
Highlights of his classical performances include tenor soloist in ‘Mozart Requiem,’ ‘ Handel Messiah’ (selections), and ‘ Bruckner Te Deum.’ Among his opera and operetta roles are Eisenstein in ‘Strauss’ Die Fledermaus,’ and Frederic in Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Pirates of Penzance.’ The Thousand Oaks Acorn calls John ‘one of the best voices not just in Ventura County, but in all of Southern California.’
John says ‘Thank you to Don Stine for nominating me for the Fine Arts Hall of Fame Award. Both he and his wife, Judy, contributed enormously to my musical growth while I was a student in the Mount Vernon schools. I also benefited enormously from the instruction I received from Carolyn Palmer, Lois Nichols, Kathleen Hartzell, and Marv Hippen. These outstanding teachers nurtured my love of music and theatre at an early age. I also remember fondly a number of people who directed and produced some of the earliest Mount Vernon Community Theatre productions in the early 80s: Barb Colehour, Laura Werkman, Damon Cole, Maggie Ellison, and Cheryl Dyrland, to name a few. They gave me some of my earliest theatrical opportunities and happiest memories. Although I have not made my living as a performer, the performing arts have largely been how I have made my life.
Service Hall of Fame winner Janet Johnston McCannon from the class of 1955 was nominated by both classmate David Van Metre and Barb Neal Hutchins’57. Since high school Janet has ‘lived and breathed’ service to community. She says her favorite quote is ‘volunteerism is the price you pay for the space you occupy.’
In high school Janet served as editor of the school newspaper, the ‘Chalk Mark,’ was a member of Velvet Curtain, was the female lead in her junior class play, a member of concert band, a member of the Girls Athletic Association, a cheerleader, a homecoming court attendant and she performed declamation of ‘Joan of Arc’ for speech contest. She attended both MacMurray Women’s College in Jacksonville, IL, where she was active in band, small group ensembles and the aquatics club, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she pledged Delta Gamma, served as Scholarship Chairman and graduated in 1959. Janet continued graduate studies at the University of Iowa and was a junior high school teacher in language arts and social studies in Burlington until 1969. During that time she also supervised student teachers and served on the school’s salary negotiation committee.
During the 80s and 90s, Janet worked for the Southeastern Community College of Continuing Education where she taught Burlington history, doing both lectures and walking tours. She took this love of Burlington history to the Burlington Convention and Visitors Bureau where she conducted tour guide training classes and became a business owner in downtown Burlington. In 1972 Janet became a department store buyer, traveling four times a year for almost 15 years to New York City to buy for the store, presenting fashion shows and overseeing various departments. Ready to get back into education, she became a substitute teacher and taught sessions on leadership for the Leadership Burlington classes.
All of these prior experiences led Janet to lead both the Main Street of Burlington and Downtown Burlington Business Association for almost ten years. During that time she was instrumental in helping to redevelop the former Hotel Burlington into 74 units of senior housing. Janet became a contract consultant for the State of Iowa’s Economic Development Authority’s Iowa Downtown Resource Center and Main Street Iowa. As a member of that team, Janet came to Mount Vernon to perform a community assessment in 2007, which was the beginning of our town’s approach to revitalization.
What makes Janet a Service Hall of Fame recipient is not just her professional focus, but the many years she was involved in a variety of service organizations and projects. This includes her time as President of the Burlington Junior Women’s Club, a member of the Burlington Little Theatre as a costumer and set decorator, a member of the Burlington Fine Arts League, a member of Rotary International, and a Board member of the Des Moines County Historical Society. In 1995 she was honorary co-chair of the Southeast Iowa Area on Aging Senior Olympics. Janet served several years on the ‘Music & Menus’ committee of the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra to raise money for the symphony and also co-chaired several Pops Concerts. From 2004-’08 Janet was appointed by Governor Vilsack to serve on the Iowa State Historical Society’s Board of Trustees. In 2006 she co-chaired a capital campaign to build a new library facility in Burlington, and to turn the former library building into the Des Moines County Heritage Center. She then went on to co-chair a campaign to restore the historic Capital Theater in downtown Burlington. One of many supporters of Janet’s nomination wrote “Janet is a whirlwind and a force to be reckoned with. Her contributions have been many, but it is the preservation of old buildings that seems to most easily stir her passion and her energy. Many incredible Burlington buildings would be gone if it weren’t for Janet.”
Janet was a member of the Burlington City Council for six years, also serving on the Burlington Area Development Corporation Board, the Southeast Iowa Regional Plan Commission Board, and the Des Moines County Red Cross Board.
Among her honors are being noted in the publication ‘Outstanding Young Women of America’ in 1970, being named a Paul Harris Fellow twice by Rotary International, receiving the Greater Burlington Partnership’s Emmy Award in recognition of continued years of community service and vision, and being honored as a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Southeast Iowa. In 2014 Janet received a Governor’s Volunteer Award.
Now retired, Janet continues to remain active with the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra’s POPS Concert Committee, in a variety of community organizations, and to lead walking tours of historic districts and downtown Burlington. She has often been a grant writer for historic projects. She is also a board member of the Apple Trees Trust, an organization dedicated to saving and reusing the home of Charles Perkins, founder of the Burlington Route Railroad, whose home is named Apple Trees.
MVCSD Community Impact winner, the team of Kevin Whitman from the Class of 1976 and Becky Thumm Whitman from the Class of 1977, was nominated for this award by alums Ann McCutcheon’59 Niehaus and Janice ‘Jan’ Lowe’57 Whitman Majors.
Kevin and Becky are familiar faces around Mount Vernon because of their involvement in many organizations and activities. Both separate and as a team, these two have been pillars of service for the Mount Vernon Community. Others explained that “when volunteering for the Booster Club there are folks who volunteer to work games and those who do all the behind the scenes stuff, like ordering supplies, picking up supplies, stocking them, keeping inventory, picking up grills, buying grills, refrigerators, cleaning the concession stands, before and after the season, moving supplies between seasons, etc. Basically much more than working games. The both make it happen. There are talkers and doers, and they are both doers.”
While their two children were in school, Becky was a member of WETAP and PRIDE, serving as the PRIDE treasurer. Kevin served as a volunteer Parks and Rec flag football coach for two years, and Becky as a softball coach for two years. Kevin and Becky have been treasurers of the Mustang Booster Club for the last twenty years. As Booster Club members they worked concession stands, basketball tournaments, golf tournaments, helped host receptions for state champion and runner-up teams, and were involved in numerous other activities.
In the past few years both were also members of the ‘Save Our Fields’ group that raised over $200,000 to pay for improvements at the football field -- adding a new scoreboard, improved the field lighting, and purchasing and installing new bleachers. Kevin provided labor every weekend for this project from start to finish.
Kevin was a member of the Friday night chain gang for over twenty years, working all the JV and varsity football home games. He received a Distinguished Service Award from the Iowa Football Coaches Association in March 2017 for his service on the chain gang for over twenty years.
Both members of the First Presbyterian Church in Mount Vernon, Becky taught Sunday school for ten years and was an elder for three years. She also served as financial secretary for five years. Both served as ‘friends in faith’ to teens going through confirmation.
Becky was a member of the National TTT Society for ten years, helping to send deserving 10-year-old girls to summer camp who might not otherwise get the opportunity. She was also treasurer for five years.
In high school Kevin participated in football, basketball, track, chorus, spring musicals, was a member of the yearbook staff, and was a class officer. He was also a member of the 1974 state championship football team. Becky participated in basketball, track, softball, spring musicals, band, speech, fall play, was a football manager, and on the honor roll all four years. Kevin worked for Schwan’s for 31 years as a driver/salesman and now works for Springville Ready Mix as a driver. Becky is an Accounting Assistant and just this fall received a 30-year service award working for Business Services at Cornell College.
Athletic Hall of Fame winner Matt Kroul from the Class of 2004 was nominated for this award by Sean Ellis’03. An athletic standout in high school, Matt was a four-year letter winner in football and wrestling, a three-year letter winner in track, and two-year in Baseball. During his football career at Mount Vernon, as a sophomore Matt was Class 2A District 6 All-District and led all tacklers on the team with 94. As a junior he was named to the Des Moines Register Class 3A 1st Team All-State Linebacker and Class 3A District 4 All-District team. Matt had 879 carries on 173 carries and scored 20 touchdowns. He led all tacklers on the team with 125. As a senior Matt was named to the Des Moines Register ‘Elite’ All-State Team Linebacker, INA Class 3A 1st Team Linebacker, and Class 3A District 4 All-District team. He had 1140 yards on 214 carries and scored 16 touchdowns. He led all tacklers on the team with 116.
Matt was the 5th highest career rusher in Mount Vernon history with 2,019 total rushing yards. He was also the school’s all-time leading tackler with 335 tackles, and one of only four players in Mount Vernon football history to be named to a Des Moines Register ‘Elite’ All-State Team.
In high school wrestling Matt accumulated the 4th highest wins in school history with 136, and the 8th highest winning percentage in school history at 86.6% (136-21). His pins during the 2003 season is tied for 1st all-time in school history, his 79 career pins is 2nd all-time in school history, and his 50.3% career pinning percentage (79 pins/157 matches) is 4th all-time in school history. He is one of only 5 four-time state qualifiers in Mount Vernon.
After high school Matt went on to play Division 1 football at the University of Iowa as a defensive lineman. A four-year Hawkeye letter winner, he holds the Iowa record for 50 consecutive career starts, was team caption in his senior year, was named 2nd team All-Big Ten in 2008, and was a semi-finalist in the national Draddy Award. While Kroul’s on-field stats were impressive, it was the Matt’s leadership on and off the field that stood out to Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. The Hawkeyes failed to reach a bowl game in 2007 and opened the 2008 campaign with a 3-3 record. With Kroul anchoring the defense as a team captain, Iowa capped off the season winning six of seven contests — including a 31-10 victory over South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. “That ’08 team was a huge step for our program,” Ferentz said back in 2012. “That is one of the most rewarding seasons any of us have gone through. It was a heck of a football team, and it’s no coincidence Matt was a captain on that football team (from Mitch Smith, Hawkeye Nation, 2014).”
From the Hawkeyes, Matt was drafted to the National Football League, NFL, New York Jets where he played 3 seasons. The Jets moved Matt from the defensive line to the offensive line, changing his number from 98 to 66, and spent Saturdays studying offensive terminology. Being able to back up spots on both lines redefined his versatility.
After three seasons in New York as a member of the Jets, he returned to Mount Vernon to continue a family legacy that’s more than a century old, Kroul Farms. Matt runs the day-to-day operations of the farm that grows produce in the summer, pumpkins in the fall, firewood in the winter, and flowers in the spring.
Kroul’s daily tasks include checking and filling orders, calling on customers and managing the team that works on the farm. Matt and his wife developed the Kroul Farms website, Facebook page, and Twitter account to better communicate with their customer base. He’s also a certified seed dealer for Beck’s Hybrids, helping other farmers enhance their operation by selling seed corn and soybeans. He also spearheaded Kroul Farms’ first-ever Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSAs allow customers to buy local, seasonal food directly from the farmer. Customers pay a flat fee for a 17-week membership. In return, they receive five to 15 pounds of farm-fresh produce weekly from June-September. They also sell produce to a few local restaurants and grocery stores, but the possibility of expanding to more businesses could be on the horizon (from Mitch Smith, Hawkeye Nation, 2014).
Matt has also been active in local communities in various ways, such as helping with school reading programs and volunteering at local events.
2016 HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHIES
Achievement Award Winner Reverend Monsignor Thomas ‘Tom’ Zinkula from the Class of 1975 was nominated for this award by both Darlene Hartl Allard’69 and Betty Pospisil Wolfe’45. Darlene writes, “Father Zinkula is one of our ‘home-grown and raised’ local Mount Vernon boys! He has achieved remarkable accomplishments during his priesthood, and yet cares about our hometown, returning home to serve our local St. John’s Parish whenever possible.”
Fr. Tom is currently Rector of St. Pius X Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa (2014-present) and was awarded the honorary title “Monsignor” in 2013. Fr. Bill Joensen, a longtime priest friend and professor at Loras College, states: “Fr. Thomas Zinkula comes from a large Catholic, farm family of Czech roots that instilled his habits of faith, hard work, and integrity of life. In his role as rector of the seminary he provides direction and a priestly model for men in formation. His competence as both a civil and canon lawyer familiar with Church law is often an asset but he wears his learning lightly. He conveys a sense of equanimity and has a self-effacing sense of humor that is disarming. Seniors, middle-aged folks, and children appreciate him, finding him to be approachable, tender-hearted, and humane. He exudes a spirit of wisdom and paternal solicitude. He is a capable administrator and good steward of human and material resources. Further, his modesty and simplicity of life amplify his witness to the Gospel. He has a genuine passion for the poor and a desire to bring Catholic social doctrine to bear in political society, which takes a measure of personal courage, candor, and consistency in relating to others who may or may not be receptive. He is a ‘man of the land’ who draws great spiritual strength and renewal from his contact with nature.”
Valedictorian at Mount Vernon High School, he was also a recipient of the Iowa State Bar Association American Citizenship Award and cited as a State of Iowa Scholar. Tom went on to earn a BA, summa cum laude, in mathematics and economics/business in 1979 from Cornell College. His college awards include Phi Beta Kappa, Mortar Board, and an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. After graduation Tom worked for a year as an actuary at Life Investors (now Transamerica) in Cedar Rapids and then went on to earn a J.D. at the University of Iowa College of Law in 1983. He was managing editor of the Iowa Law Review during the 1982-83 school year. Tom worked as an attorney at Simmons, Perrine, Albright & Ellwood in Cedar Rapids from 1983 to 1986.
In 1986 after a successful law career, Tom entered Theological College (seminary) in Washington, D.C., and earned an M.A. in Theology at the Catholic University of America. He was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest for the Archdiocese of Dubuque in 1990 and thereafter served as associate pastor in a several parishes. In 1998 he earned a J.C.L. (licentiate in canon law) at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada. Afterwards, while also serving as a Judge in the Metropolitan Tribunal, he had assignments as pastor in several parishes. He was Judicial Vicar of the Archdiocese from 2000 to 2010. In 2011 he was appointed Episcopal Vicar (archbishop’s representative) for the Cedar Rapids Region, and he served in that capacity until his present assignment.
Fr. Tom has served on a variety of boards, including the Clarke University Board of Trustees, the Archdiocese of Dubuque Priests’ Council, the Priests Pension Plan Board of Trustees, the Personnel Advisory Board, and the Archbishop’s Cabinet.
He could easily be our Athletic Hall of Fame winner. An outstanding football player at Mount Vernon High School, he was named 1st Team All-Conference and Honorable Mention All-State in 1974. At Cornell College he was a 3-time 1st Team All-Conference noseguard and a 3-time 1st Team Academic All-American, College Division, named Cornell Most Valuable Player in 1977, selected as a member of Cornell’s All-Century Team in 2000, and inducted into the Cornell Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010.
In high school, Fr. Tom was also a 4-year member of chorus and a participant in various musicals.
Msgr. Zinkula can be reached at DBQSPX@dbqarch.org, or 1235 Mt. Loretta Ave., Dubuque, IA 52003.
Fine Arts winner Richard Nelson (d December 2012) from the class of 1950, was nominated for this award by David Wolfe’50 for his accomplishments in interior decoration, who says “Unbeknownst to us in high school, we didn’t realize how much talent Richard had. I have been amazed over the years about what an exceptional interior decorator he was.”
After high school, Richard attended Cornell College in Mount Vernon, majoring in art and design. He went on to study at the School of American Ballet in New York, but his heart lay in interior decoration. As a result he first started working interior decoration for Sister Parish (Mrs. Henry Parish, II) from 1956 -1963 in New York City, one of the leading decorators in the nation, doing work in the Red Room and Oval Room in the White House when President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy were in residence, also the Kennedy’s family quarters. He also was a consultant to Christine Meadows on the curtain design and wall treatment for the Banquet Hall in Mount Vernon, Virginia.
Richard opened his own business in New York City in 1963 and moved to Newport in 1977, opening his own business there, The Red Unicorn. Richard did consulting with Newport Preservation Society on the restoration work in connection with Bellevue Avenue mansions, including the Empire Bedroom and costume cases in “Rosecliff”, the Gothic Room in the “Marble House” and Mr. Berwind’s bedroom at “The Elms”. He also worked on the gallery walls at the National Academy of Design in New York. His acumen earned him illustrious clients on both sides of the Atlantic.
He was awarded and was published in “House and Garden”, “Interiors”, “House Beautiful” and the New York Sunday Magazine. In 1996 a Newport project in which Richard was the designer was selected for the front cover and featured article in “Architectural Digest”. His own house was a subject for an article in British “House and Garden”.
Jennifer Boles, book author, designer, and blogger of ‘The Peak of Chic’, wrote this about Richard in 2012: (Blog at http://thepeakofchic.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-tribute-to-richard-nelson.html)
“A few weeks ago, I learned of the recent death of designer Richard Nelson. Based in Newport, Rhode Island, Richard was a man of great style and immense charm. Having started his career with Sister Parish (even assisting her during the Kennedy White House redecoration,) Richard eventually moved to Newport where he set up his interior design business and became a much sought-after designer. He also became a fixture on the social scene there, making many friends who remained close to him until the very end.
Although I never met Richard in person (and that is something which I greatly regret,) we had an email friendship over the past few years, touching base from time to time and discussing design...I wrote about Richard a few years ago when I covered a late 1960s Christmas party that Richard had hosted, one which was featured in an issue of House & Garden. (You can see a few photos from that article, including one of Richard, above.) The details of the party impressed me as few people host such elaborate parties anymore. In fact, when speaking with Richard in anticipation of that post, he mentioned that while he lived in New York as a young man, he hosted guests at his home four to five nights a week! I can only imagine that this exuberant style of entertaining held him in good stead upon his move to Newport.
Over the years, Richard’s work was featured in numerous publications including Architectural Digest. In 1998, the Colonial-era Newport house in which he lived with his partner was featured in British House & Garden. I am showing that article’s photos below as I think Richard’s house is a testament to the warmth and personality that traditional interiors do have when decorated well. I admire that Richard stayed true to the house’s period and architectural style rather than attempt to turn it into something that it wasn’t.
I know that a number of Richard’s friends read my blog, and to them, I extend my deepest sympathy. Richard was a decorator of the old-school and a bon vivant to boot, and they just don’t make them like Richard anymore.”
Classmate De De Hicks remembered “He used to do ballet in our kitchen while Mom was cooking or when I was baking. Mother was so patient and never said a word about it even though she had to plan her moves around him. He loved doing ballet. Another time I thought my bedroom should be redecorated, so Mother bought beautiful fabrics that I had picked out. Richard (at that time we called him Rick) couldn’t wait to help me start the redecorating process. His decorating skills were a big help for me on other occasions. One time Farm Journal magazine planned to do an article on the parties I gave for all the kids in high school. Rick was so excited as they were filming in July for the December issue and they wanted to have a December theme, so he and I decided to decorate the whole house for Christmas although it was July. Finding a live Christmas tree at that time of the year wasn’t easy but we did get one. Anyway, he worked so hard, making sure that every decoration was just perfect and that every room was decorated to the hilt. We even put a Christmas wreath on the front door. On the day of filming it was 90 degrees but kids wore sweaters and winter clothes to completely make it authentic. He also decorated the gym (or oversaw it anyway) for big dances. Later, when I would come home from college he and I would so enjoy hosting parties for college friends and sometimes they were written up in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, and that was big time!”
Classmate Wiladene Willming remembers that ‘He was involved in mixed choir, boy’s choir, Velvet Curtain (the dramatic group), and the Chalk Mark (school paper). He had a stage that had been built in their house basement. He had lots of costumes that could be worn for plays or dress-up occasions.
I remember Richard having a dinner party at their house, I think when I was a senior, and he asked me to be his hostess. I have no further recollection or who the other guests were, but knowing Richard it was a dinner party worth remembering! Richard skipped his high school senior year and went directly to Cornell. Richard was a quiet individual, but charming. Even when he became successful in interior decoration, he never bragged about his success. Jennifer Boles’ article about Richard ‘kind of sums up his life, his talent and his brilliance.”
Richard’s partner Jim Michael can be reached at 3 Bridge Street., Newport, RI, 02840.
Service Hall of Fame winner Carol Croft Kent from the class of 1951 was nominated by David Wolfe’50 and classmate and 2013 Service Hall of Fame recipient Dick McKeen. David says “Carol is a person who ‘walks the talk’, showing passion for her profession of nursing, going the extra mile in all that she does, and just plain cares about people.”
After high school Carol received an RN from Mt. Mercy School of Nursing. She married fellow Mount Vernon graduate Jim Kent from the Class of 1950, and after several moves throughout the U.S. and four children, they settled in Winchester, Massachusetts.
When her youngest daughter started school, Carol started her nursing career as a school nurse in Winchester Schools. In 1994 she was honored as the Massachusetts School Nurse of the Year. Principal of her school, Chuck McInnis, wrote that “Her input is valued by teachers and staff throughout the school because of the scope of her knowledge and the depth of her caring. Carol is a community resource outside of the school through her involvement on many town-wide committees focusing on helping those who need assistance of any kind.” Carol helped develop the school nurse program in Winchester that lead to each school being covered at least part of every day by a registered nurse. Carol was cited for her ‘great ability to network and gain services for people in need,’ and for her programs involving food donations, clothing, a giving tree, along with implementing the mandated programs of hearing, vision, and health screenings.
This was only the beginning of Carol’s many honors for her service to the community. She has been a long-standing member of EnKa, a women’s society group that raises money for charitable organizations, where she has been involved with book sales, an annual fair, and in their resale shop. Carol has also chaired the Winchester Scholarship Committee, and been a member of the Winchester Trails, the Red Cross, the Hospitality Committee at church, and was a Girl School Leader and a Den Mother for Cub Scouts. Carol, along with her husband Jim, were one of the first host families for the ABC Program, hosting minority students to provide them with the opportunity to attend Winchester High School. Over the years they also hosted twelve international and American students for periods of a month to four or more years.
‘A Tribute to Carol Kent’ event was given by the Winchester Community Music School to thank her for her many contributions over twenty-five years. A new school in 1981, Carol helped to identify students who would benefit from scholarships for music lessons. From 1998-2004 she was a Trustee of the Music School, transitioning it from an after-school to an all-day music school in a newly remodeled estate building, with classes six days a week. From 2000-2004 Carol was Chair of the Board, ‘leading it with wisdom and humor.’ Carol then continued on as an Advisory Committee member.
Carol is on the education committee, and currently chairman of the education program, ‘The Jenks Learning Connection,’ JLC, at the Jenks Senior Center. JLC offers continuing education opportunities to Winchester seniors.
She received one of her most prestigious awards in 2008 when the Winchester Chamber of Commerce named Carol ‘Outstanding Citizen of the Year.’ Carol was praised for her life-long work in the schools and community, ‘along with performing countless kind and helpful deeds in her quiet, unassuming way.’
In high school Carol was involved in band and chorus. Carol loves music and continues to take piano lessons.
Carol can be reached at email@example.com or 171 Swanton Street, #63, Winchester, MA 01890.
MVCSD Community Impact winner ‘The Stompers’ band, with members Bill Bauman’66, Steve Edwards’65, Brian Harman’69, Greg Harman’65, and Randy Harman’68, was nominated for this award by both Jo Ann Kroul Clark’64 and band member Steve Edwards. While The Stompers could easily be our Fine Arts recipient, they were selected for Community Impact. Jo Clark says “Before there was a Mount Vernon High School Alumni Association, there were the Stompers. This group of MVHS graduates is more than a senior citizen high school rock ‘n’ roll band. The Stompers have served as a bond between Mustangs since 1963. The Stompers returned to Mount Vernon every fall for over twenty years, bringing people from all over the United States for their performances. Classmates who hardly knew each other in high school often become friends at a Stompers Reunion Concert. The music is important, but not the most important thing in these gatherings. The spirit and camaraderie of the room trumps all. The Stompers will tell you they don’t sound like they did in the 60s, but you never hear anyone complain. To many of us, it’s almost like a fall evening at Manny’s Corner on Main Street in 1963.”
Featured in the Cedar Rapids Gazette by Dave Rasdal in 1996 when The Stompers reunited for a performance in Lisbon, he wrote:
“Mothers, don’t let your children grow up to be in a rock ‘n’ roll band. After all, they might turn out to become lawyers, stockbrokers, massage therapists and trainers at a nuclear energy facility. That’s what happened to The Stompers. While rock ‘n’ roll has been here to stay for decades, most regional groups of the 60s that ever reached the upper echelon , the level of, say, ‘the Dave Clark Five or the Rolling Stones...disbanded long ago.
From 1963 to 1965, the Stompers stomped. The boys from Mount Vernon toured Eastern Iowa ballrooms, Danceland in Cedar Rapids, DanceMor in Swisher, and more. It all started at Manny’s Corner, an unpretentious little pizza parlor, just down Mount Vernon’s Main Street from Cornell College. Friends grew to crowds, grew to lines on the sidewalk. The raw combination of blues, rhythm and blues, and good old rock ’n’ roll packed them in that winter of 1963-64.
As the British invaded, The Stompers grew their hair long. They wore tight pants, ankle boots, and turtleneck sweaters. They sang and screamed and duck-walked across the stage like animals.
The Stompers are Steve Edwards and Bill Bauman on guitar with brothers Greg and Randy Harman on bass and drums.
Steve now practices law from his office on Park Avenue in New York City. Bill is a commodities trader in Chicago. Greg is an instructor at the training center of the Duane Arnold Energy Center near palo. Randy is an Cedar Rapids massage therapist.
Turn back the clock 33 years. Steve Edwards moves from Mississippi to Mount Vernon with his parents, who are trained in classical music. While mom and dad take positions at Cornell College, Steve walks into Mount Vernon High School. He’d left behind ‘The Windsors,’ a Southern blues and rock band...With Steve’s influence and a name pilfered from the recently disbanded Eddie (Piccard) and The Stompers, Steve and some of his new classmates began to practice.
Their performances at Manny’s Corner put them on the Eastern Iowa map. Before long, The Stompers had gigs every weekend and on many week nights. They earned $100 to $150 per performance. Their original song ‘I Know’ made it to the local airwaves. Girls screamed at every venue. The Stompers had fronted the likes of The Animals, the Everly Brothers, and Chuck Berry.”
In the fall of 1964, the Stompers recorded for the first time in Minneapolis producing “I Know” backed with “Hey Baby”. “I Know” was an original song written by Greg and Randy Harman which gained a notoriety long outliving the band. “I Know” made it as high as #19 on a number of regional charts. In recent years, “I Know” has surfaced on garage-band-loving stations. “I Know” is considered by many a collector’s item and has been featured on EBay and on-line garage-band forums such as GaragePunk.com.
The summer of 1965 brought the release of a second record “You’re Gone” backed with “I Still Love Her” (two Greg Harman originals). “You’re Gone” peaked at #24 on regional charts
The Edwards, Bauman, Harman, and Harman version of the Stompers ended in the fall of 1965 with the departures of Edwards and Bauman for college. Greg and Randy Harman reformed the band and continued with The Stompers until the fall of 1966, following an extended stay in New York City working as house band for a club in Greenwich Village. The time in New York included playing a show for a number of record company executives. On the bill along with the Stompers were Bryan Highland, Tiny Tim, The Cyrcle, and the Tokens.
In 1969, Steve, Greg and Randy reunited, and with young brother Brian Harman joining the band, opened a show for The Paul Butterfield Blues Band at Vet’s Coliseum in Cedar Rapids. Brian, who was too young to play with the Stompers when they were in high school, went on to become a top jazz guitarist in Kansas City. This turned out to be the precursor to a series of annual reunions that continue to this day. In September of 2004, Edwards, Harman, Harman, Harman, Bauman and Kansas City keyboardist Everett DeVan recorded a group of original songs by Steve Edwards for distribution among friends. The band has also written and recorded a song, fittingly called, ‘Mt. Vernon.’
In 2006 The Stompers band was inducted in the Iowa Music Hall of Fame. Individually, some of the Stompers continue their varied musical interests.
On Friday evening September 30th, beginning at 9 pm after the High School football game, you can listen and dance to The Stompers, live and in person, at the First Street Building gym. Open to all, no charge. Playing their hits and 60s music that all ages will enjoy!
The Stompers can be reached at: Bill Bauman, firstname.lastname@example.org; Steve Edward, email@example.com; Brian Harman, c/o 2020 Pembroke Cres. W, Independence MO 64057; Greg Harman, firstname.lastname@example.org; and Randy Harman, email@example.com.
Athletic Hall of Fame winner Vic Wallace’61 was nominated for this award by classmate and 2011 Athletic Hall of Fame recipient Randy Hoidahl. Randy says in high school Vic ‘was a good athlete, an excellent teammate, and a fine representative of Mount Vernon schools.’ A successful athlete in high school, Vic played 4 years of football, basketball, track and baseball, and 2 years of golf. In football he was a 3-year starter at Halfback and Defensive Back, earning both All-State and All-Conference team honors. In basketball, track and baseball he was a 4-year starter. Vic also was in the band 4 years and chorus 1 year.
Vic’s love for athletics led him to Cornell College where he played football 4 years, track 3 years, basketball 2 years and baseball 1 year. His major college sport was football and his major position was Fullback. He often played two ways: Fullback on offense and Linebacker or Cornerback on defense. Vic was a member of Cornell’s 1964 Mid-West Conference Football Championship team and in 2004 was inducted into the Cornell College Sports Hall of Fame. Vic graduated from Cornell in 1965 and earned his Masters Degree from Northern Iowa in 1971.
Vic went on to coach for 48 years, retiring in December of 2014. In his 48 seasons, he served: 1 year as an Assistant Junior High Coach, 9 years as a Head High School Coach, 7 years as an Assistant College/ University Coach and the last 31 years as a Head College/University Coach. As an assistant college coach, he coached 3 years at D-III, 2 at D-II and 1 year at D-I. His 31 seasons as a head college coach were at: William Jewell College in Liberty, MO, the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, Lambuth University in Jackson, TN and Rockford University in Rockford, IL. In the 7 years Vic was an Assistant FB coach in college, he was also the Head Wrestling Coach for 5 years, 3 at D-III and 2 at D-II.
When Vic retired his head college football coaching record was 176-109-5, ranking him #4 in the number of wins of all active NAIA coaches, and #23 in number of wins of all active NCAA coaches.
In his 31 years as a head college coach, Vic’s college teams won 9 conference championships and made the National Playoffs 10 times reaching the National Finals once, the Semifinals 4 other times and the Quarterfinals 2 other times. Wallace was conference coach of the year 7 times and National Region 4 coach of the year 3 times. In 1997 the Memphis Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame presented Vic with the “Contribution to Amateur Football Award” at the Liberty Bowl. In 2011 the William Jewell College team he coached in 1983, along with the coaches, were inducted into the William Jewell College Hall of Fame. In October of 2015 Vic was honored as a ‘Person of Influence’ in the History of Lambuth University where he coached for 15 seasons; and, was also the Athletic Director for 3 years and Special Assistant to the University President for 3 years. In April 2016 Vic was inducted into the Jackson-Madison County, TN Hall of Fame.
During the summer of 1983 and again in 1984 and 1985 Vic directly contributed to the growth of American Football abroad. Wallace took college teams to play football against teams in Finland, Germany, France and Switzerland. In the summer of 1984 he received a United States Government Grant to spend a month in Finland teaching American Football to Finnish coaches. In July of 1984, Vic was an assistant coach for the Finish National Team that won the “European Super Bowl” played in Milan, Italy. In 1985 he arranged for an alumni team to play 2 games in New Zealand.
During his career, Vic was also the Head Coach of four College All-Star Teams and two High School All-Star teams. The high school games were played in Hawaii.
Vic and his wife Dee have been married 48 years. Vic’s brother Jim’64 and his sister Gayle Wallace’68 are graduates of Mount Vernon High School and still live in Mount Vernon. Vic’s father, Chet, now deceased, was a long time head basketball coach and history teacher at Mount Vernon High School. Before her death, Vic’s mother, Mary, worked for Mount Vernon schools as a secretary. Vic can be reached by cell at: 731-394-3370, email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at: 120 Oakslea Place, Jackson TN 38301
2015 HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHIESAchievement Award Winner Joan Suchomel’74 was nominated for this award by her sister, Rita Suchomel Dudley, from MVHS class of 1968. Rita says, “Joan graduated with top honors and a history of good works and accomplishments during her high school years. She was first chair clarinet in high school band and even designed a t-shirt for band members to wear while on tour. That t-shirt design portended her future as a designer, which has been her lifetime career.” A straight-A student, Joan was named a National Merit Scholar and a State of Iowa Scholar.
Joan was one of the few women to major in architecture in the 70s at Iowa State University. In 1975 and 1976 she placed among the top 2% of students in ISU’s college of engineering. She graduated in 1978 With Distinction, with a BA in architecture, one of only a handful of women in her class. Rita says “People had told her that architecture was a ‘man’s field’ and that making a career in it would be a daunting challenge. She decided not to listen to those people, because she didn’t see any reason why she shouldn’t choose whatever career she wanted. Getting through architecture school took a lot of hard work, but Joan excelled at ISU like she did at MVHS, helped a lot by the great educational foundation that her Mount Vernon schooling provided.”
After a few years of work learning to design hospitals at Hansen Lind Meyer in Iowa City, Joan went to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to earn her Master of Architecture. She continued in the Milwaukee area, working at St. Mary’s Hospital and then Kahler Slater Architects. By this point in her career, when she could navigate a construction site as well as anyone, she knew that she could meet the challenge of being a woman in a man’s world. In 1997 Joan moved to the Chicago area to take a position as a master planner/architect with a healthcare consulting firm. After a few years she missed the design environment and resumed working in architectural firms. She was promoted to Director at Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) in 2013.
Her career in architecture, with over 30 years of experience in healthcare planning and architectural projects throughout the U.S., has earned Joan a reputation for exceeding client expectations in developing programs and space plans that result in “humane, operationally efficient healing environments, even with the most challenging technical and regulatory requirements.” She leads teams of designers and heads projects that involve constant collaboration, communication, and research into the latest needs of patients in designing health care facilities. She is also an author and speaker.
Joan serves on the board of the American Institute of Architects Academy of Architecture for Health, and will serve as President in 2016. She is a Founding Member of the American College of Healthcare Architects. Other volunteer activity includes extensive involvement at Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Oak Park, IL, particularly two stints as President of the board. She is passionate about international travel, and enjoys gardening and being Auntie to eleven nieces and nephews. Joan has also provided many years of support for the Suchomel Family Scholarship Fund for graduating MVHS seniors.
Joan would like to note in particular the encouragement she always received from her dad, Harry Suchomel, who passed away March 16. He would have been so proud to see her receive this award.
Joan can be reached at email@example.com, or 736 S. Taylor Ave, Oak Park, IL 60304.
Fine Arts winner Alex Morf’99, was nominated by alum B.J. Leeper’97, who says “Alex is so well deserving of this award. Having had the pleasure of being in several musicals and All-State choirs together, the spotlight has always gravitated toward him. He’s talented in so many ways, you could never put him in any one box. From an outstanding collegiate wrestler to a starring role on Broadway, he’s always succeeded in everything that he does. His acting accolades are numerous. But, more importantly, he’s always had the ability to connect to those around him not only on stage, but with his friendships off the stage. I’ve never seen someone handle the spotlight with more class and humility. Many, including myself, would say that they’re so proud to know Alex. Because, as great of an actor as he is, he’s an even better person and friend.” A fine arts stand-out in high school, Alex now gets to live out his dream and make his living doing what he loves -- acting.
During high school, Alex participated in plays and musicals, speech contest, choir, four sports, and was president of Student Council. Among his high school fine arts honors were 3 years of All-State choir, 1 year of All-State speech, and graduating as an honor Thespian.
Alex is a graduate of St. Olaf College where he double majored in English literature and Theater and graduated Summa Cum Laude. He was also the 2003 St. Olaf College Poet of the Year and a nationally ranked wrestler. He received his Master of Fine Arts from The American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, and was given the Carol Channing Award for excellence.
Alex is now based in New York City. He has performed on Broadway, playing Curley in ‘Of Mice and Men’, starring James Franco and Chris O’Dowd, and also starred in the first national tour of the Tony Award winning play War Horse. He’s performed in dozens of plays both Off-Broadway and at regional theaters across the country. He’s been nominated for a Bay Area Critic’s Circle Award, a Helen Hayes Award, and various regional BroadwayWorld.com Theater Awards. On television, he has had roles on shows like ‘The Good Wife,’ ‘Tin Man,’ ‘Elementary,’ ‘Turn,’ ‘Daredevil,’ and can be seen on the upcoming season of ‘Madam Secretary’ on CBS. He also has featured roles in the upcoming films In ‘Dubious Battle’ and ‘The Long Home’ (both directed by James Franco) as well as ‘Maggie’s Plan,’ which recently premiered at the Toronto and New York film festivals.
Alex says the most meaningful work he gets to do is through an organization called Outside The Wire, which performs readings of classic and ancient texts for various communities as a way of opening up a dialogue about issues like PTSD, substance abuse, imprisonment, and palliative care. The project has allowed him to perform on military bases around the country, community centers, prisons, hospitals, and natural disaster sites, and to meet an “amazing array of heroic people from all different walks of life.”
This fall, Alex will be performing in the Arthur Miller classic, Incident At Vichy, at the Signature Theater Off-Broadway, and Alex invites all mustangs to visit. Alex can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch his acceptance video online, find a link on our website or directly at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VwVaRvN1p7M
Service winner Chris Lyon’81 was nominated for this award by Mount Vernon Fine Arts President (2014-2015) Karla Steffens Moran. In addition, nominations and recommendations were received from a multitude of supporters and Mount Vernon staff members. A software engineer by day, Chris is an avid volunteer and supporter of many organizations, primarily Mount Vernon science, Robotics and Fine Arts organizations.
Moran says Chris ‘is a true friend to education in Mount Vernon. He has served on countless volunteer committees over the years, and he is, in a word: extraordinary. He serves above and beyond, writing grants, scheduling concessions, volunteering time with Robotics and Academic Decathlon, Fine Arts and Booster. He does all this on top of an incredibly demanding work schedule and he does so with a kind and gracious spirit.
“He has brought literally thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars into our music and arts programs and with a rare sense of humility. He does not bring attention to it, he simply sees need and addresses it... We have grown to depend hugely on the great effort he makes and the willingness to pitch in and the kindness and care he exudes and future inspires.”
Nominator and Robotics Club sponsor Richard Scearce says ‘for over six years as a robotics mentor, he arranged to leave his job as a software engineer early 2 days a week to provide the computer programming instruction and technical support that our Robotics Club need. He provided transportation for students and robotics gear to every tournament, and if any part or tool was needed, he loaned it to the students or bought it for them. He played a major role in establishing Mount Vernon as one of the most successful FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) teams in the Midwest, including 4 appearances at the FTC World Championships. In addition, with Chris’ sponsorship through Intermec Foundation, the Robotics teams were awarded thousands of dollars in grants. Because Robotics is not a school-funded program, we relay totally on our mentors and fundraising for support. Without Chris Lyon, our award-winning Robotics program would not exist.”
Nominator and Washington Elementary teacher Nannette Gunn says “Chris has been a valuable resource both while his children were in elementary school and forever after. He was always willing to share his STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) background in many ways, donating his time and technology, and by donating materials.”
Nominator and High School Choir director Thad Wilkins says “I simply cannot remember all the ways in which he has donated time, money, and expertise to help our kids... His initial help to me was centered on helping to launch our vocal jazz group... His dedication to the fine art program has been nothing but stellar. He consistently goes far above and beyond the traditional role of volunteer. The hours he has given to our kids are immeasurable.”
Chris has written six grants for Fine Arts and Robotics for a total of $15,000, has been a member of Mount Vernon Fine Arts Assoc. for six years, raised over $60,000 for Mount Vernon fine arts with his company’s matching gift program, and formed his own company, Iowa Ice Cream, to fund raise for Mount Vernon schools.
Other stories include purchasing a weather station for the Middle School, teaching an after-school digital electronics class to 6th graders for several years, purchasing computers for the Middle School, working with post prom, Boosters, and Archery Club by donating his ice cream machine to earn several thousand dollars for the groups, making hot cocoa for Magical Night, demonstrating his wind turbine and electric bike, creating power points and giving presentations about needed auditorium repairs, spending 7 hours to relocate a projector and repair speakers, and master mind of many fund raisers. One nominator said Chris is a ‘true friend and a great alum!’
After graduation, Chris earned a degree in computer science at Coe. He then took a job at Norand / Intermec corporation. He moved from Cedar Rapids to rural Mount Vernon in 1999 to raise his children in the school district. He is presently employed at Rockwell Collins. Among his honors are recipient of the Citizenship Award from the Iowa Bar Association.
Chris can be reached at email@example.com or 1214 Holman’s Road, Mount Vernon, IA 52314.
MVCSD Community Impact winner Dan Gaines’77 was nominated for this award by both classmate Steve Thomas and alum Julie Atherton Lane’82. His passion and time spent with the Mount Vernon Fire Department are the hallmark of what made Dan the favorite for this year’s Community Impact recipient. After 30 years as a volunteer with the Mount Vernon Fire Department – over 10 years as chief – lifelong Mount Vernon resident Dan Gaines retired from the department earlier this year. Steve notes that Dan is an exceptional role model and leader for youth in the Mount Vernon community.
Dan was featured in the January 2015 issue of the Sun. Following is information excerpted from that article:
Dan said his love of the fire department began as a young boy. “I grew up with Dad going to fire calls.” His dad Jim served for 15 years and his uncle Paul was on for 38 years, his brother Doug’75 served for 20 years. Three years after high school, Gaines applied to join the department. There was room for 25 members, and he had to wait “Thirty years, one month and six days,” he said. He finally got on in 1982. He attended his final fire department meeting Jan. 6, officially retiring as a volunteer. Gaines was a leader as chief for 10 1/2 years and assistant chief for four.
Nate Goodlove’99, who took the chief’s reins from Gaines in 2012, praised Gaines’ “innate ability to create great morale among our members.” Goodlove, who also works as paid firefighter in Cedar Rapids, added, “I would not be where I am today as chief, or as a professional firefighter, if I had not been given the opportunities and advice (Gaines) afforded me over the years.”
Although he considers himself an “old timer” now, Gaines has never wavered from finding ways to improve the department. When first on the department, Gaines and other volunteers used front-mount pumps and booster hose lines that sprayed just 30 gallons a minute. Today, the largest hoses have a 250- gallon-per-minute output. In the early years, there were just six air- packs for 25 volunteers. Today, there’s a one-to- one ratio. Trucks have changed, too. The first truck purchased under Gaines’ leadership was $138,000 20 years ago. The most recent rig, bought in 2012, was $330,000. Gaines was also chief during the years-long process to construct the new fire station, which opened in 2012.
Gaines is proud of all that’s been accomplished over the years. But he’s mostly passionate about service. “Dan has given countless hours to the Mount Vernon community, putting his chief and firefighter duties ahead of his family and job most days,” Goodlove said. Gaines said he spent 30 years as a volunteer because of those he served with. “I love the people on the department,” he said. “I love going out and helping people.”
Even a dream job couldn’t keep him away. In the earlier years, Gaines thought about leaving his drywall business to become a paid professional firefighter. He tested for several departments, and got a start date – April 12, 1990 – at one, for the City of Milwaukee. He said he quickly realized he couldn’t leave his hometown. He has loads of memories, particularly some of the biggest events in the community’s recent history – the 1996 Pizza Palace fire, the 2006 J&D Locker fire, the 2008 Scorz fire, the ice storm of 2008, and the floods of 1993 and last summer.
Dan was one of the organizing members of the Linn County Hazardous Materials response team. He served from 1986 to 1994.
In addition, Dan was cited by his nominators for his commitment to Scouts as a Boy Scout leader, something he’s done for 18 years. Dan himself was a boy scout then got involved once again when his nephews Michael Conley’98 and Ben Walton’03 were scouts. Dan then went on to become a leader when his son Kurt, class of 2010, became a Tiger Cub. Currently he is the canoeing instructor and the Eagle Scout Mentor. Dan has helped with over 21 Eagle projects in the community. A few of the projects have included the gazebo in Sautter Park, and the pavilions at Davis Park, Bryant Park, Elliot Field, and the Nature Park. His construction background has been invaluable to the scouts allowing them to tackle big projects and learn a little about construction in the process. Dan has been to the Boundary Waters 4 times, organizing the trips the last 3 times.
Dan also coached soccer, t-ball, and baseball for ten years when Kurt was growing up. He loved working with the kids and seeing them get better. He tried to instill sportsmanship into them.
Dan married alum Linda Conley Gaines’79 in 1981. Dan continues to operate his construction business which he started in 1982. Kurt became an Eagle Scout and graduated from the University of Iowa.
Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304 3rd St SE, Mount Vernon, IA 52314.
Achievement Award Winner Lindsey Borg’83 was nominated for this award by his father, Dean Borg. Lindsey’s career has combined journalism, governmental strategic communication, academic learning and teaching at the nation’s most prestigious universities, as well as deployment to the most dangerous combat environments in the world.
Lindsey is a communications professional with a diverse background in public affairs and policy, corporate reputation and issues management. For more than 25 years he has served political, governmental, military and commercial clients with strategy development, crisis planning and response, Congressional, civic and media relations, and employee engagement.
Lindsey rose to the rank of colonel in the United States Air Force before retiring from active duty in 2011 to pursue professional interests. He is the director of integrated communications for Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services business.
Before joining Raytheon, he led corporate international communications for Lockheed Martin. He also led corporate communications and operations for Strategic Social, a provider of audience analysis and communication strategy.
During his 21-year military career Lindsey, gained extensive international experience as he led communication for organizations of various complexities. He directly advised the NATO commander during the alliance’s operations in Kosovo and later helped to lead communication efforts from Pristina. He also served as NATO’s spokesman to the international community concerning the contentious issue of depleted uranium munitions use. In addition, he earned the Bronze Star Medal during a one-year deployment to Baghdad where he led communication efforts to prepare for and conduct the country’s pivotal 2010 elections and the withdrawal of U.S. forces. Lindsey also directed public affairs for the Air Force’s global mobility organization and led a team of Congressional liaisons for the Secretary of the Air Force.
Prior to earning his commission as an officer, he gained communication experience in the White House Press Office during the Reagan Administration, at CNN’s Washington Bureau, and in the Iowa governor’s office. He also held newspaper reporter positions with three newspapers.
Lindsey is a former fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs where he researched and published a paper on the Department of Defense’s efforts to build strategic communication processes. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and mass communication from Iowa State University, a Master of Arts degree in human relations from the University of Oklahoma, and a Master of Military Art and Operational Science from Air University. In addition, he completed specialized communication and Congressional affairs seminars at The Wharton School and Georgetown University.
In high school, Lindsey was a four-year, three-sport athlete as a member of the football, wrestling and track teams. He served as his class’ vice president and as the president of his local and county 4-H clubs. Although athletics were the focus of his extracurricular time, as a freshman he played the saxophone in the marching band and sang in the chorus. He also was on stage as part of his senior class’ performance of ‘Annie Get Your Gun.’ Lindsey also was an exchange student to Japan through the Iowa 4-H Clubs. A year later, his Japanese host was a guest in the Borg home
His wife, Deb, is a graduate of Cedar Falls High School and Iowa State University. They have two sons.
Lindsey can be reached at 3163 Ironhorse Drive, Lake Ridge, VA, 22192, phone 703-491-3046, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ljborg.
Fine Arts winner Dr. Paula Holcomb’72, was nominated for this award by Jean Kuntz Bowman’64, who says Paula ‘was very impressive in a broad range of fine arts endeavors during high school, and has used this as the foundation for a career full of stellar academic and professional accomplishments’.During high school Paula’s fine arts activities and awards included All-State Band (2 yrs), All-State Orchestra (1 yr), student director for a play, State Speech, member of many honor bands and recipient of superior contest ratings in horn, voice, chamber ensembles, speech etc.
Dr. Holcomb says “As I reflect, I realize it really did take a village to get me out the door! From the extraordinary Lois Kopacek coming to my home to work with me as an accompanist and teacher, Ken Smykil teaching my first lessons, Don Stine as my high school director, and Lois Nichols as an amazing choral director, I was fortunate to work with gifted musicians/educators. Beyond the music department, from Mrs. Davis and Norton to Mr. Ringgenberg and Craig, each molded me into the person I am today. Regardless, please know that Mount Vernon Schools are world class!”
Dr. Paula Holcomb is currently Director of Bands at the State University of New York at Fredonia. Dr. Holcomb conducts the Wind Ensemble and musicals, and teaches graduate and undergraduate conducting. Additionally, she initiated the conducting program as part of the Master of Music in Performance. She has been at State University since 1999 after serving in a similar position for 20 years at Central College in Pella, Iowa. Under her direction at Central College, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Symphonic Band toured internationally to Canada, Europe, and Mexico and performed at Alice Tully Hall of New York City’s Lincoln Center. At SUNY Fredonia, the extensive band program consists of four concert bands.
Highly sought after as an adjudicator and guest conductor, Dr. Holcomb has conducted bands and orchestras in 42 states, South America, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Mexico, Europe, and Canada. She has presented Conducting Symposiums in Hong Kong, China, Europe, Canada, South America, Australia and the United States. Dr. Holcomb is former assistant horn of the Des Moines Symphony and past president of the Iowa Music Educators Association. She received the A. Frank Miller award from Kappa Kappa Psi, served on the Council and Artistic Planning Conference Committee for the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, served on the board of the Conductors Guild and was Northeastern Division President-elect of the College Band Directors National Association. Among her current research, Dr. Holcomb is currently gathering a collection of materials for future publication of a ‘Guide to Successful Ensemble’ and ‘Verbal Rehearsal Techniques of Exemplary University Wind Conductors.’
Paula received her Doctor of Music in Instrumental Conducting from Northwestern University, and her undergrad and masters from Drake.
In high school Paula was also senior class president and in the National Honor Society.
Paula can be reached at 5710 Park View Lane, Fredonia, NY 14063, phone 716-672-9153, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Service winner Myrt Clark Bowers’57 was nominated for this award by Leona Reyhons Smith’56. A long time Mount Vernon resident, Myrt has a solid and varied history of service to both the Mount Vernon community and Iowans. Myrt retired at age 75 following 53 years of career accomplishments as a Professional Nurse. For 40 of those years, Myrt made a difference in the healthcare of Eastern Iowa residents through outstanding nursing practice. She started a second career at age 62 and spent 13 years creating and implementing a holistic model of “Aging in Place” for senior citizens.
Mryrt attended 9 years at a rural one-room school and then 4 years at Mount Vernon High School. She says “My professional journey was successful due to the outstanding educational program lead by quality and caring teachers (at Mount Vernon Schools)...they provided me with the foundation to be a persistent learner. Among these I learned to understand the importance of hard work, collaboration, and community involvement..” She graduated from St. Luke’s School of Nursing in 1960 and received her Bachelors of Nursing in 1990 from Coe College.
Myrt’s 36-year nursing career at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids included a variety of leadership roles, with her last 8 years as Vice President of Patient Care Services. She has received the Voluntary Hospitals of America Board of Nursing leadership award and was a 2010 recipient of the ‘100 Great Nurses of Iowa’ award.
In Myrt’s second career she served as executive director at Witwer. Under her leadership the organization achieved the Magnet Certification as a Meals on Wheels provider (which was the first in Iowa to achieve this certification), and also secured a HUD Grant of $295,000 for new Senior Center Kitchen and Dining Room. Myrt became certified as a trainer for three national evidenced based health education classes for senior citizens, the “Matter of Balance”, “Brunch for the Brain”, and “Living Successfully with Chronic Conditions”.
Myrt has always found time to volunteer. While at St. Lukes, she also served as a Board member on the Witwer Senior Center (which led to accepting the position of Executive Director for 13 years). Myrt has been recognized for her service to the Linn County Board of Public Health President for 6 years, by Cedar Rotary for Community Service Award following the City of Cedar Rapids Epic Flood 2008 flood, and her leadership in fundraising over $480,000 to recover lost contents due to the flood, was awarded the Linn Nichols Leadership Award by The United Way of East Central Iowa, received a Certificate of Appreciation for work on Aging by the Older Iowans Legislature, served 6 years as a member of the Mount Vernon City Council, and co-lead an initiative with Lisbon and Mount Vernon citizens to organize a vote to merge both school districts which failed to pass.
Myrt has served on a number of community boards including: Abbe, Inc Board, Abbe Center for Community Care, St. Luke’s Child Protection Center, Voluntary Hospital of America Board of Nursing, State of Iowa Nurse Executives (President), Iowa Senior Center Association-President, Cedar Rapids Ambulance Association, and United Way of East Central Iowa.
In high school Myrt was active in school activities such as drama, state speech, and all school sport event planning. She was President of Junior Class and responsible for planning Junior-Senior Prom for classes 1956 and 1957, achieved academic honor roll status throughout four years, was Homecoming Queen 1956, and achieved academic achievement 5th of 48 class students
Myrt can be reached at 203 Old Lincoln Hwy, Mount Vernon, IA 52314, 319-895-8515, or by email at email@example.com.
MVCSD Community Impact winner Ann Koppenhaver’78 was nominated for this award by both her father Don Koppenhaver, and her classmate Cynthia Deskin Halbmaier. Cynthia says “For those who like to be involved, it’s one thing to be active while in school yourself, and when your children are students, but for Ann to remain so involved in The Foundation, The Booster Club, & facilities renovation beyond her children’s graduation is admirable. Ann has done all these for Mount Vernon High School!”
Ann has lived in Mount Vernon all her life and attended Mount Vernon Schools K-12. . After college she lived and worked in Des Moines for five years as a certified public accountant before joining her father and has practiced in Mount Vernon since 1987. She raised two ‘Mustang’ children, Aarika and Beau, and is an active member of the community. Ann says “I have always supported the school district and feel it is important to the Mount Vernon Community. I do encourage others to devote time and talents to this worthy cause! My children attended K-12 at Mount Vernon and I am proud of the education they received.”
Among Ann’s service to Mount Vernon Schools are serving on the Foundation Board since 1996, of which she has been President of this Board since 1999. She is an actively involved Booster Club member, for which she sells advertising and designs and updates program for athletic events. She also sponsored athletic team photo posters for years. She has been a presenter for the Fine Arts annual fruit sales kick off -- once as a bunch of grapes and another as a nut. Ann has worked alongside her partner, Mike O’Brien, on several school facility improvement projects, including the complete reconstruction of the softball field. She is also currently donating her own time, funds and labor, as well as helping coordinate volunteer labor and funds, to the Save Our Fields campaign, which includes updating the football field and bleachers. You will find Ann in attendance at most school events.
Through her business Koppenhaver and Associates, PC, Ann donates the preparation of tax returns for the School District Foundation. She was also instrumental in encouraging her family members to make a sizable, combined financial donation to the new high school, which resulted in the kitchen being designated the ‘Koppenhaver Kitchen.’ She purchases advertising to support athletic and fine arts programs, is a gold sponsor for the year book, an advertiser in the Alumni Newsletter, and supports Community Action for Youth for Post Prom. In 2007 and 2008 as her new business building was being built, she attempted to use as many local contractors as possible and her interior is adorned with original artwork of local artists and clients.
In the community, Ann is a past president of the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce and past chair of the Heritage Days Committee. She organized the Heritage Days 5k Run for many years. She is also involved with sponsoring many Community Development Group activities, including the Annual Christmas Silent Auction Baskets, Chocolate Stroll, Chili Cook-off, Heritage Days and Uptown Music. Ann also supports Cornell College on their athletic posters.
In High School Ann was involved 4 years in basketball, theater, choir and Mouseketeers, on the honor roll and was a football cheerleader. She was involved 5 years in softball, 2 years in track, was an All-State Thespian, was honorable mention All-State in softball and 1st team Conference in Softball.
Ann can be reached at 304 Wolfe Lane NE, Mount Vernon, IA 52314, phone 319-895-6001, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Athletic Hall of Fame winner Greg Randall’82 was nominated for his award by fellow alums Paul Hufford’80 and Eric Siggins’82. Local sports historian David Ryan’85 states, “Randall’s NCAA wrestling and NCAA coaching career have been stellar. Interestingly, he is known in wrestling circles as an early inventor of the ‘take ‘em down and let ‘em up’ wrestling style that is still prevalent today. People forget that not only was Randall one of the best wrestlers in SE Linn County... he was a blue chipper and considered one of the best in the nation coming out of high school. Randall went on to be a 4-year starter at The University of Iowa and a three time All-American, competing for a wrestling team that won 3 NCAA Titles during his time there. After college, he competed internationally and in the Olympic/World Trials. You can compare all you want, but very few MVHS athletes have ever competed at the level Greg Randall has. He was an incredible athlete....one of the finest in MVHS history!”
In high school football, Greg was named 1st Team All-EIHC Conference Linebacker in 1981. In wrestling, Randall was a four time EIHC conference champion and four time Class 2A state champion: 1979@98 lbs with record of 28-2-2, 1980@112 lbs with record of 32-1, 1981@126 lbs with record of 33-0, and 1982@132 lbs with record of 27-0.
Greg was the State of Iowa’s 5th four-time state wrestling champion. His 96.0% high school winning percentage (120-3-2) is the best all-time in school history, a record that has been untouchable over the past 32 seasons. At the University of Iowa, Greg earned three NCAA All-American awards -- placing 2nd in 1984, 5th in 1985, and 2nd in 1986, all at 134 lbs for the Iowa Hawkeyes with career record of 109-26-3.
In 2008 Greg was inducted into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame. In his bio for this induction Greg says:
“My (high school) coach, Tim Johnson, was good at scouting and when I met someone who was good on the mat he would tell me to do that,” recalls Randall. “One of my most memorable matches I wrestled was in the semi-finals at state against the number one ranked kid in the nation. I was a freshman and I beat the tar out of him 25-5. My strength was wrestling from my feet so we took advantage of it.”
Three more state titles followed for Randall who went 120-3-2 over his high school career. At the time the technique met with mixed reviews from fans but Randall stressed that he never wanted to embarrass his opponent. “I always respected my opponent, I wanted to dominate but I also realized that you had to go for the pin when it was there,” he recalled.
Randall credits his parents for the success he enjoyed as he recalled starting wrestling in second grade at a Mount Vernon club tournament. “My dad taught me to give it 110% all the time. That was the way I was brought up. He would take me to tournaments no matter where and he told my to have fun and give 110%... and Mom was the one who did the driving.”
One of those earlier little kid matches also helped shape the character of Randall. “I was eight years old and had to wrestle a kid from Cedar Rapids who was a year older. I was nervous but I pinned him. He jumped up after the fall and gave me a hug and said ‘great job.’ He showed me sportsmanship is number one and to handle losing just like winning.”
Randall recalls feeling the pressure of being the fifth wrestler in the state’s history to win four state titles. “I used the pressure to my advantage. I thrived on pressure... the more pressure the harder I worked,” he said.
Success followed Randall into college under coach Dan Gable at the University of Iowa. Randall was the NCAA runner-up at 134 pounds in 1984 and 1986 while placing fifth as a sophomore. Competing on the international level in 1989, Randall captured the gold medal at the Pan American games. he was also a runner-up at the U.S. Open Nationals, and placed second at the 1989 U.S. Olympic Festival. Randall also served as an assistant to Gable at the 2003 World Cup.
Greg is currently an 11-year coach for Boise State’s wrestling program. There Randall has established himself as one of the top collegiate coaches in the country. He has led the Broncos to the top of the Pac-12 Conference four times, to go along with six top-25 finishes at the NCAA Championships. In his eleven seasons since being promoted to head coach, Randall’s teams have finished in the top-three at the conference tournament nine times, while taking home 26 individual Pac-10 titles.
In 2007-08 Randall earned his first Pac-10 Coach of the Year award, which came in part to his team’s dominating performance at the league championships. Boise State scored the third-highest Pac-10 tournament score in history with 152.5 total points. With the win the Broncos also sent nine wrestlers on to the national tournament, which was highlighted by Kirk Smith’s eighth-place finish at 184 pounds. A year later, Randall would repeat as Pac-10 Coach of the Year, winning the conference championship and crowing six individual champions. In 2006 Randall guided his first NCAA individual champion as a head coach with Ben Cherrington capturing the national title in the 157-pound weight class.
Greg can be reached at 4540 S Carie Way, Boise, ID, 83709, 208-323-1999, or by email at email@example.com.
2011 HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHIES
Achievement winner John Rife’60 is a friendly and familiar face around Mount Vernon, but also a prominent figure from the world of insurance. Nominated by classmates Annamae Stoneking Baker’60 and Dorothy Wolfe Welsh’60, his professional history shows a successful, humorous, and humble man who attained the rank of CEO by working up from a training director position. John joined United Life Insurance Co. in 1976. In 1984 he became president of United Life, then was also appointed president of United Fire in 1997 and CEO, chief executive officer, of United Fire in 2000. Under Rife’s leadership United Fire experienced record levels of growth and profitability -- tripling the company’s total assets. In the 25 years that John led United Life, the company’s total assets increased from $42 million to $1.3 billion. Now retired, John continues to serve as vice chairman of the board of Directors of United Fire. He also serves as president of the McIntyre Foundation which supports arts and human services.
Fine Arts winner Mark Benesh’83 is also a Mount Vernon resident. He currently teaches at Lisbon Community Schools as their K-8 art teacher. Nominated by his father, Frank Bensh’56, Mark’s paintings can be seen all over the Mount Vernon area. Some of his latest works are the large scale mural paintings on several barns including the American Gothic reproduction along Hwy 30 and on several downtown business walls. Mark also painted the mural that hangs on the entry way hall of the High School. He is President of the Mount Vernon Arts Council and organizer of Chalk the Walk. During high school Mark was known for his creativity and skills in the art room.
Service winner Millicent Hoggard Zenishek’47 is a Mechanicsville, Iowa, resident. Nominated by her sister, Wiladene Hoggard Willming’50, Millicent is a role-model, especially for women in agriculture, for her accomplishments which might be described as pioneer. A farm wife and active volunteer while her children were growing up, her real service accomplishments came after they were grown. In 1980 she became a member of the Cedar County Farm Bureau Womens Committee and was the Chairman for Conservation. In 1986 she became Assistant Commissioner of the Cedar County Soil Water Conservation District; then elected Commissioner the next year. For her service as commissioner she received the Award of Merit in 1986 and 1992 and the Distinguished Service Award 1986-1992. She was also Chairman of the Cedar County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee from 1995-1998 and their educational outreach led to a variety of programs that has touched the lives of thousands of students.
Athletic winner Randy Hoidahl’61 was nominated by Dr. Gary Knutsen’65 and Vic Wallace’61. In Dr. Knutsen’s nomination he says “Integral to Mustang team success is a growing number of truly exceptional Mustang athletics and among those stars, there is a very short list of exceptional Mustang athletes who have achieved elite status in multiple sports. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the graduation of one such elite Mustang athlete who still today remains undeniably the most versatile Mustang to ever pass through Mount Vernon High School...my long time Mustang idol, Randy Hoidahl.” During his Mustang career Randy was awarded 15 varsity letters in an unprecedented six sports, including five varsity letters in baseball as their star pitcher and leading hitter. He was the #2 runner on the Mustang State Champion Mile Team (Cross Country). In track and field he was Frosh-Soph conference champ in mile run and pole vault (set conference record) and won conference championship in pole vault and as member of a relay. In golf Randy played #1 and and after graduation won the Hillcrest Club Championship in 3 of next 6 years. In football he was the starting quarterback and standout defensive back. However it was Randy’s remarkable talents on the basketball court that were most memorable to Gary and Vic. Gary says “his heroics kept the hearts of all Mustang fans racing game after game.” Randy was a basketball four-year letter winner, three-time all-conference and all-state and all-Eastern Iowa selection. Randy was 1 of top 35 basketball players (out of over 3300 starters) in entire state. He followed this with an academic scholarship to the University of Denver, earning both a successful college athletic career and then professional career in finance.
2010 HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHIES
Achievement winner Leo Beranek'31 is best described as the pioneer of modern acoustics and an early contributor to the development of today’s Internet. Leo graduated from Mount Vernon in 1931and went on to study at Cornell College while working as a radio and small appliance repairman. He received a doctorate from Harvard University, then during World War II managed Harvard’s electro-acoustics laboratory, which designed communications and noise reduction systems for World War II aircraft as well as other military technologies. Beranek remained on staff at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as professor of communications engineering from 1947 to 1958. In 1948, he helped found Bolt, Beranek and Newman, serving as the company’s president from 1952 to 1971. This company is known for inventing the internet and email; sending the first email ever and the development of the @ symbol in email as well as the first Internet protocol router. His book, ‘Acoustics’ is considered the classic textbook in the acoustics field. His book ‘Music Acoustics and Architecture’, developed from his analysis concert halls throughout the world became a classic and he has participated in the design of numerous concert halls and opera houses world-wide.
Among his honors are Gold Medals from the Audio Engineering Society and the Acoustical Society of America, honorary membership in the American Institute of Architects, and recipient of the 2002 National Medal of Science in Engineering, the Per Bruel Gold Medal of the A.S.M.E in 2004, and the Eta Kappa Nu Vladimir Karapetoff Award in 2008. The Eta Kappa Nu’s most prestigious award is given annually to an electrical engineering practitioner who has distinguished him/herself through an invention, discovery or development that has demonstrated a long-term positive impact on the welfare of society. He is past president of the President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Current President James O. Freedman said “Leo Beranek’s wide-ranging work in science and engineering has helped shape the world, from the beginnings of the Internet to the architecture of concert halls and opera houses...(he is) a scientist and business man who has achieved great distinction in his profession and a concerned citizen who has served countless education and cultural institutions.”
Fine Arts Award Winner Elizabeth Stoner'97 was selected for her award because of both her high school fine arts achievements and her commitment to her current vocation as an educator and performer. Highlights of her High School achievements in theater and speech are noteworthy; four years of IHSSA competition in storytelling, acting, literary program, one-act play, reader’s theater and musical theater. A class Salutatorian, she earned some fifteen Division 1 ratings at District and State levels of competition and received the All-State Outstanding Performer recognition for her performances in readers’ theater, literary program, and acting. She earned Thespian Honor Status and the Best Thespian Award. Her achievements in vocal music and orchestra matched those in the speech/theater fields, where she earned twenty-five Division 1 ratings in solo and ensemble music contest and was named to the All-State Chorus for three years and the Iowa Honors choir for four. Elizabeth was also selected as a soprano soloist with the Iowa Ambassadors of Music in 1994.
Elizabeth completed a double-degree program in theater and vocal performance at Lawrence University and Conservatory of Music, graduating magna cum laude. She earned her masters from the Manhattan School of Music and her Doctorate from the University of Michigan School of Music and Dance. Elizabeth performed in twenty-five major and secondary roles while in college. She has also directed, conducted, and planned the costuming for several productions. Elizabeth is currently teaching at Grand Valley University, Western Michigan University, and is the Soprano Soloist with the Spectrum Brass Quintet. She performs acting and operatic rolls and holds workshops around her teaching schedule. Commenting on Elizabeth’s ‘Gershwin’ release, Timothy X. Troy (Professor of Theatre Arts and the J. Thomas and Julie Esch Hurvis Provessor of Theater and Drama at Lawrence University) says “I’m especially impressed by her latest success, collaborating with the Spectrum Brass Quintet. Her work on Gershwin’s songbook adds a great deal of understanding of this iconic American sensibility. We’re all enriched by her honest, passionate and sensitive interpretations...we are proud to count her among our most successful students.”
Service Award Recipient Dave Van Metre'55 is well-known in the Mount Vernon School district for his high school athletic abilities and generous donation of equipment to the High School; and in Omaha where he currently lives because of his ability to organize and promote improvement projects at schools throughout the Omaha Public School district. He has turned his focus from success in the business world to success in improving facilities and fitness in students. Dave provided personalized Mustang weight training and fitness equipment in Mount Vernon at the High School in 2000 (now the middle school) and to the new High School in 2005. Dave has provided new weight training and cardio equipment to the Omaha School District’s seven high schools and eleven middle schools, as well as to both the North Omaha and to the South Omaha Boys & Girls Clubs.
Dave got his idea for the projects when he was home in Mount Vernon for a Cornell golf outing and was invited to the former high school by the principal. He noticed that the weight room was old and not in very good condition and decided to remedy the situation. Former Mount Vernon District Superintendent and Athletic Director, Jeff Schwiebert, noted that the school’s football team was the Iowa Class 3-A runner-up in 2002 and in 2003, a feat he attributes partly to the upgraded weight room and says, “The world is certainly a better place because of Dave Van Metre’s dedication to fitness and his generosity in giving students the chance of a lifetime to get in shape.”
More recently Dave has spearheaded fundraising efforts for three high school football/soccer/track stadiums and a number of baseball and softball competition fields. The most recent project, Collin Stadium at Omaha South High School, replaced a scruffy practice field called “the hole.” The new field has received numerous design and engineering awards; most recently receiving the Omaha by Design’s Civic Leaf Award.
Dave attended Colorado College on a football scholarship and was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams, served in the U.S. Army, retired as a manager from Smith Barney and was a co-owner of the travel agency, Travel and Transport, Inc., the fifth largest travel agency in the U.S. Among his awards are Nebraska Baseball Coaches Association Man of the Year, Benson High Centennial Award, South High Packer Great, Central High School Hall of Fame, Omaha Public Schools Hall of Fame and UNO Maverick Club Man of the Year.
Athletic Award recipient Joy Jordan'87 was a leader in Volleyball, going with her team to the State Tournament in Volleyball 3 years. As a sophomore the Mustangs won the Class 1A State Tournament (only 2 classes at that time) and she was named to the All-Tournament Team. As a junior she was again named to the All-Tournament Team while her team placed 2nd in the State Tournament. Both as a junior and a senior she was named to the 1st Team All-State Class 1A, and also named to the Elite Team(all classes), and was named Class1A Player of the Year as a senior. The three year volleyball team record of 116-8-8 (0.879) stood as the best three year record in Mount Vernon volleyball history for 25 years until it was broken, appropriately enough, by last year’s state championship team which compiled a three year record of 109-11 (0.908). Joy earned 12 Varsity Letters - 2 in Softball, 4 in Tennis, 3 in Basketball, and 3 in Volleyball, and was All-Conference in volleyball as a sophomore, junior, and senior; in basketball as a junior and senior. She was named the 1987 Cedar Rapids Gazette Female Athlete of the Year. In addition, she was Senior Class Valedictorian with a 4.0 GPA and winner of the Margaret Garry Award.
She went on to play Volleyball at Indiana University with a full scholarship, playing setter. One of the top setters in Indiana school history, Joy Jordan appeared in every match during her collegiate career from 1987-90. Currently fifth on Indiana’s career assist list with 3,129, her total of 1,441 assists in 1990 is the third-highest single season total in school history. She earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in 1990. In 1988, Jordan earned second team Academic All-America honors and received first team recognition in 1990. In addition, she garnered Academic All-Big Ten accolades three times and earned the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 1990. She also won the Aline Robinson Mental Attitude Award in 1989 and the Anita Aldrich Award in 1990. Head Coach Tom Shoji said “ I have coached some good leaders in my career, but Joy is the best one I’ve ever had and that’s saying a lot because I’ve had some great ones...Our successes have been due to her.” Joy earned her Ph. D. in Statistics from the University of Iowa and is currently Associate Professor of Statistics at Lawrence University. She was a volunteer assistant volleyball coach at Lawrence from 2000-2007. Among her awards are 2001-2002 Lawrence University Outstanding Young Teacher Award, 2005 Lawrence Mortar Board Honorary Award and the American Statistical Association’s 2006 Waller Education Award. Most recently Joy was inducted in the Iowa High School Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2006.
2009 HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHIES
2008 HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHIES