525 Palisades Road SW, Mount Vernon, Iowa  52314   319-895-8845 or 319-389-8602  alumni@mountvernon.k12.ia.us

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 jecsk@verizon.net 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, wcbauman@hotmail.com; Steve Edward, stevenedwards@quinnemanuel.com; Brian Harman, c/o 2020 Pembroke Cres. W, Independence MO 64057; Greg Harman, gsh@mchsi.com; and Randy Harman, rjharman899@aol.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: coach.vicwallace@gmail.com or by mail at: 120 Oakslea Place, Jackson TN 38301


2015 HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHIES

Achievement 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 jsuchomelbus@comcast.net, 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 alexmorf@hotmail.com. 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 lyoncf@gmail.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 gainldk@msn.com or at 304 3rd St SE, Mount Vernon, IA 52314.

2014 HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHIES

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 lindsey.borg@icloud.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 holcombp@gmail.com.

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 myrtb203@mchsi.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 ann@koppenhavercpas.com.

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 grandall@boisestate.edu.

2013 HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHIES

Achievement Award Winner Darla Stoltz Templeton’64
was nominated for this award by her classmate, Martha Dillow Shackford’64, who says Darla “is a rare treasure.” Darla is completing her 31st year as Chief Executive Officer of the Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri & Kansas. Her accomplishments and awards within the Epilepsy Foundation are many. Her personal accomplishments include: Executive of the Year awarded by the Epilepsy Foundation – National Office, Guest expert on epilepsy for the Centers for Disease Control, President of the national organization of epilepsy affiliate executives, and member of the Epilepsy Foundation national board of directors.


As CEO, she has led her organization to honors such as: recipient of the first ever ‘Affiliate of the Year’ award by the Epilepsy Foundation National Office, two international awards for program excellence from the International  Epilepsy Symposium, and an invitation to the White House by President Ronald Reagan with the national poster child from St. Louis.  Darla was also invited to the White House by President George Bush for the signing of the Americans With Disabilities Act, invited to dinner with Barbara Bush when she was presented an honorary degree from St. Louis University, and invited by Ted Kennedy to organize a health care town hall meeting, She was also Chair of the Management and Operations Team for the national Epilepsy Foundation and its affiliate network.

In her position she worked with both the national office and the affiliate network along with George W. Bush to restore the Americans With Disabilities Act. Darla has been interviewed on National Public Radio, cable television and in the Post Dispatch many times as expert on epilepsy. In addition she has worked with many celebrities to promote epilepsy awareness including St. Louis Cardinals Stan Musial and Steve Klein, and St. Louis Rams Kurt Warner, Keith Lyle, and Andy McCollum.

Outside of her work with the Epilepsy Foundation, she served on the Board of Directors for Childgrove School (a small private school with emphasis on diversity, disability integration and the arts), on the Professional Advisory Board of the Emmaus Home (agency that provides residential support to people with disabilities), and served on and was Chair of the Kirkwood Disabled Awareness Advisory Commission. Darla created a new organization and served on the Board of Directors of Options for Justice (agency that provides support for people with disabilities who get incarcerated), organized, raised money for and provided a leadership retreat for all 50 executive directors of the epilepsy movement, was a Camp Fire Girl group leader, and completed training to be a VISTA member (as she prepares for what she will do in her retirement).

During high school Darla participated in a variety of activities including: year book staff, and was Editor her senior year; Student Council, and was Vice President her senior year; Chalkmark all 4 years; All school play 3 years; Declam; Youth Center; Talent Show; Girls Recreation Association all 4 years, and president her senior year.

Darla can be reached at 431 Ashwood, Kirkwood, MO 63122, phone 314-965-6883 or by email at darla@stl-epil.org.

Fine Arts winner William ‘Bill’ Pringle’72, who was nominated for this award by Don Stine, says he “was fortunate to have two Iowa Bandmaster ‘legends’ as his mentors; Ken Smykil and Don Stine. (Smykil was his instructor prior to high school, Don Stine was his high school band director.)” Bill was very active in his high school band program. He was a member of every possible performing group and was very active each year in the State Solo and Ensemble Contests. His career at Mount Vernon culminated his senior year with a successful audition and acceptance into the Iowa All-State Band, and a performance as the featured soloist with the Mount Vernon Concert Band, which was selected as an Honor Band for the 1972 Iowa Bandmasters Conference.

Bill attended Coe College on a music scholarship where he studied trumpet with Paul Smoker. At Coe he was a featured soloist with both the concert band and jazz bands. He also won first chair trumpet in the Mid-American Intercollegiate Honor Band and performed regularly with the Cedar Rapid Symphony. Since then Bill has continued with course work at the University of Iowa, where he studied conducting with Myron Welch, and played with many freelance and community bands, including the Des Moines Big Band.

Bill’s 37 year teaching career includes 31 years of high school experience at Panora-Linden, Cherokee, Carlisle, Centerville, and City High in Iowa City. He is currently the band director at South East Junior High in Iowa City.  Bands under his direction have been very active and successful in both state and national music contests. Jazz Bands under his direction qualified for the Iowa Jazz Championships annually and included many top five finishes with the Centerville and City High Jazz Bands. Most recently the two South East Jazz Bands under his direction placed 1st and 2nd in their division at the South East Iowa Bandmasters Association Jazz Festival. Jazz Bands under his direction were selected as the Honor Band to perform at the Iowa Bandmaster Conference in 1996 (Centerville) and 2000 and 2003 with City High. He was also co-director for the City High Concert Band when it was selected as the Honor Band for the same Conference in 1999 and 2002. During his tenure at City High the Music Department was recognized 3 times by the Grammy Foundation as a Signature Gold School for its’ performance excellence.

Bill was named Teacher of the Year in 1995 at Centerville where he also served as President and Chief Negotiator for the Centerville Education Association. He has also been elected and served as President of the South Central Iowa Bandmasters Association, and the Iowa Association of Jazz Educators.

Bill can be reached at 4707 Chandler Court, Iowa City, IA 52245, phone 319-337-4684, or by email at Pringles@mchsi.com.

Service winner Richard ‘Dick’ McKeen’51 was nominated for this award by alum David Wolfe’50. A graduate of both Mount Vernon and Cornell College, he continues to remain active as Class Reunion Agent in both schools. He has made arrangements for tri-class Reunions of the 1949, 1950 and 1951 Mount Vernon classes every five years for the last 35-40 years. In addition Dick plans the reunions for the Cornell Class of 1955, and is now serving his second year as a member of the Cornell College Alumni Board.

After college and then military duty, Dick started a career in sales and has remained active in the sales field to this day. His career in sales includes the last 38 of of 56 years in the Real Estate Industry. Dick says “I not only enjoyed a successful career in the business but I have enjoyed several leadership roles in the field. I have been a believer in giving back.” As a result Dick has contributed in leadership as the local President, State of Iowa President and National Regional Vice President of the National Association of Realtors, serving eight years as a National Director and member or chair of several committees on each level. His favorite role in the National Association was the Liaison to First District Congressman Jim Leach for a period of over ten years. The duty called for Dick to travel to Washington. D.C. for the annual ‘Hill Visits’, the nationwide meeting of the Legislative Leaders of the National Association from all states of the United States in lobbying efforts for the benefits of Home Owners throughout the country. His year as the Regional Vice President of Region Eight, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota allowed him to serve on the Executive Committee, the 45 member committee making executive decisions for over one million realtors throughout the United States. Other roles and honors during his Real Estate career included: Iowa Association of Realtors, Realtor of the Year in 1998, Realtor PAC Chair for five years. Golden R in 1990 for PAC contributions. National Realtor PAC Committee Member for seven years.

In Iowa City Dick has supported numerous University of Iowa Athletic programs, mens and womens. Dick initiated and was asked to be the Founding Member of the Johnson County “I” Club. Dick was honored by becoming a member of the National “I” Club Board of Directors in 1973, named President of the National “I” Club Board of  Directors in 1976,  and “I” Club Man of the Year  in 1976, and continues in these activities today. He has been on the Rotary-Ronald McDonald Golf Board for over ten years, which raises an average of $50,000 annually for support of families of McDonald House patients.

Dick became a member of the University of Iowa Presidents Club in 1975, and was a member of the Steering Committee for both the fund raising for Carver Hawkeye Arena and the Medical Education Research Facility. He is a member of Friends of University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, a support group selected by the Director of University Hospitals. He was Chair of this Friends group from 2003–2008. Dick participated as a member of the Big, Better, Best Steering Committee, representing the University Hospitals and Clinics in the 1.2 Billion Fund raising completed in 2008. He has been on the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Advisory Board since the late 1900’s participating in member participation and fund raising events to support cancer research.

Dick says he shares many of the service projects with his wife, Kathleen, and “have worked together and complemented each other in our many advocacy endeavors. Our advocacy involvements have been our way of giving back to our past. It has been a wonderful life.”

In High School Dick was active in many organizations, in particular football, basketball, and track and field. He was named to a football All-State team his senior year.

Dick can be reached at 10 Lakeview Drive, Iowa City, IA 52240, 319-351-7977, or by email at rmckeen933@aol.com.

MVCSD Community Impact winner Karen Jilovec Martin’57 is the first recipient of this new Alumni Association Hall of Fame Award. This award rewards an alum for their service impact on the Mount Vernon Community, either in school or post-high school, for any purpose, and service may be in a non-compensated or a compensated capacity. Nominated by her sister, Kay Jilovec Lind’55, Karen is an alum who was active in school, married an alum and settled in Mount Vernon, built a local business, raised a ‘Mustang’ family, and has always been an active member of the community.

In high school Karen participated  4 years in music, Glee Club and Chorus and 4 years in GAA, (Girls Athletic Association), received letters in all and served as different officers in GAA, most of the time as secretary. During her junior year she was a PTA candidate and in her senior year was one of the Homecoming queen candidates. She still serves as her class treasurer.

Karen earned her real estate license in 1974 and her broker’s license in 1978. She opened her own office on main street Mount Vernon, Farm and Home Realty, in 1980.  She retired December 2008, after 35 years in the business. There are several rental houses in Mount Vernon and Lisbon that she continues to manage for their owners.

Karen has served on the Planning and Zoning Committee for the city of Mount Vernon in the past. When their children were in high school, (1975- 1986) she was a member of the Mustang Booster Club, served in different capacities of officers, mostly secretary and treasurer for approximately 12 years. She ordered most of the food for wrestling events, and ordered food and coordinated the concession stand for sports events such as basketball, football and wrestling.  She received a service plaque from Tim Johnson, head wrestling coach.

Karen has served on several boards: at Hillcrest Country Club, (now Kernoustie Golf Club) and was secretary/treasurer for several years; at Sts. Peter& Paul Historical Foundation and filled the position of secretary/treasurer for approximately 10 years. She also helped with the annual auction in Sept., for several years and helped take care of the flower beds.  Karen still takes pictures of the children with Santa at Christmastime, for the “Sing a Long” at Sts. Peter & Paul, and received a plaque for her service from the board.

Karen has taken care of flower beds at Hillcrest Country Club for 25 years or so, primarily the number 6 tee, and planted many flowers around the clubhouse and elsewhere. Karen loves to golf and has won the club championship 16 times. She chaired the WEIGA Golf Tournament in 2008, was inducted into the Women’s Eastern Iowa Golf Association’s Hall of Fame, and has won many other golf events through the years. Karen has served on the Hillcrest Women’s Board for many years, including chair of the “Save the Barn” effort at Hillcrest, getting enough funding to roof and stabilize the barn, so it will stand for many more years.  She has volunteered to help set up and work in different capacities for Heritage Days through the years.  Karen has gone to “jail” to help raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

She has served every office several times, formerly as treasurer, in the Chapter EW, National TTT Society.  Their group has sponsored over 100 girls, with Karen sponsoring 10 girls through the 35 years she has been a member, getting them ready to send them to camp for one week in June, and then following them through high school and beyond. At TTT she chaired their annual “green sales” several times to help support sending these girls to camp.

Karen has been a member of the Lisbon United Methodist Church all her life and has served in several offices as well as fund raising during the “Mae I’s”, a women’s group that helped with Vacation Bible School, Sunday school, and child care on Sunday. Karen also taught Sunday school for 10 years when her children were small, in the latter part of the 1960’s and part of the 1970’s.

Karen also volunteers with the MV Alumni Association, and for several years her office was used as the alumni gathering place during Heritage Days. Karen has worked on all ten of her Class of 1957 reunions. 

Karen can be reached at 301 5th Ave NW, Mount Vernon, IA 52314, phone 319-895-8255, or by email at klmartin39@gmail.com.

Athletic Hall of Fame winner Dennis Wolrab’64 was nominated for his award by fellow alum Martin Pitlik’63. Marty says “Denny was an outstanding athlete and an individual identified by our competition as someone to be concerned about in all sports.” During high school, Dennis was an all-sports athlete, participating in baseball 5 years (played varsity ball when he was in 8th grade), and 4 years each in basketball, football, and track, lettering 16 times. He participated in cross country for 1 year and M Club for 4 years. While in high school he was also in choir for 4 years, was Class Treasurer during his junior year, and was selected as escort for Homecoming Court candidate Darla Stoltz.

His accomplishments in high school athletics are: In 1962  Dennis broke the 440 run record held by Bud Kudart set in 1947; held conference individual and relay race records from 1962 which held for approximately 30 years; at State won first place in the 440 and placed in the 220 and ½ mile; held nine different school individual and relay records; qualified for State in broad jump for three consecutive years; placed in indoor and outdoor track events at the State meet; was All-State in football, baseball, and track, and was All-State honorable mention in basketball.

During high school his teams won EIHC titles in basketball, track (two years in a row). In baseball he played 3rd base and pitched, batting over 300 his during his baseball career. Dennis was point guard on the basketball team and left half-back and defensive back in football. Dennis says “In the early 60’s, Mount Vernon High School did not have the facilities they have today. Back then, we had no track to run on.  We also played basketball at Cornell College because our team had such a huge following and the high school gym could not accommodate the large crowds.”

Dennis went to college at the University of Wisconsin, and is now retired from the Weitz Company where he was Ironworker Superintendent, and member of Local 89 Ironworker for 45 years. Dennis received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Infantry Combat Badge while serving two tours in Vietnam as a door gunner. He served 25 years on both the Executive Board and the Examining Board for Ironworkers Local 89, and 9 years as a North Central District Council officer.

Dennis continues to be a loyal alum and follows or attends Mount Vernon High School sports both at home and away.

Dennis can be reached at 2150 20th Street NW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52405, 319-396-0226, or by email at anitawolrab@aol.com  

2012 HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHIES


Achievement winner Graham Harman’86 (Greg)
  traveled all the way from Egypt to accept his award. Graham is currently the Associate Provost for Research Administration and Professor of Philosophy at the American University in Cairo, Egypt.

Graham is a contemporary philosopher of metaphysics, who attempts to reverse the linguistic turn of Western philosophy. Harman is associated with Speculative Realism in philosophy. He works on metaphysics, the study of the ultimate nature of reality, which he pursues in the form of an object-oriented philosophy.

After graduating from Mount Vernon High School in 1986, Harman attended St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, receiving his B.A. in 1990. He then pursued graduate study under philosopher Alphonso Lingis at Penn State University, receiving his M.A. in 1991. He transferred to DePaul University in Chicago where he received his Ph. D. there in 1999. While in Chicago, he worked briefly as a sportswriter for sportsextra.com (now defunct). Since 2000, he has been a member of the Department of Philosophy at the American University in Cairo.


Nominated by fellow classmate Deb Winchip Douglass, she says of Graham “He is a world-renowned philosopher and publisher. Do you know that they have conferences to discuss his work? Even in high school Graham was a high academic achiever and was on the Academic Decathlon Team.”  Our youngest Hall of Fame Achievement winner to date; if you search Graham’s name on the internet -- like a Google search, you will find that there are almost 70 solid pages of Graham Harman before other names appear.


Graham is the author of 10 philosophy books and more than 80 articles, the co-editor of another philosophy book, and the translator of 3 books from German into English. He is a popular conference speaker and symposium paper author (with over 120 international lectures on five continents), and a 2009 winner of the AUC Excellence in Research and Creative Endeavors Award.

Graham can be reached at
The American University in Cairo, Provost’s Office, AUC Avenue, P.O. Box 74, 11835 New Cairo, Egypt, or by email at cairoharman@gmail.com You will find his Philosophy Blog at http://doctorzamalek2.wordpress.com/

Fine Arts winner Margaret ‘Maggie’ Quinn Ellison’62 was a familiar face around Mount Vernon until her death in 2011 at the age of 67. Maggie was nominated for this award by her son, Vince Ellison’92. As a student Maggie was involved in high school Fine Arts activities including the Velvet Curtain, Talent Show, Mixed Chorus, Girls’ Glee, All-School Play, Declam (speech), Pep Band, Marching Band, Concert Band, and the Chalkmark. She was also involved in varsity cheerleading and was a member of the Homecoming Court.
   
Maggie’s love for drama continued on. She received her degree in teaching from Drake University in1966, then taught in California, Maine, and for ten years as a professor at Cornell College before coming back to Mount Vernon High School.  She taught English and drama, and directed a fall play (except for one year) and a spring musical each year for 25 years before retiring in 2008.  After retiring she immediately became re-involved with the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Theatre as both a board member and participant in productions.

Maggie loved Mount Vernon as her home town. Her grandmother arrived here in a covered wagon, and Maggie’s mother, herself, and her children are Mount Vernon alums. Donna Jacob, a retired MVHS English teacher, said Ellison likely became interested in teaching because of her own high school teacher, Gladys Rife. Her son Vince wrote that ‘Maggie was loved by her students, and she sincerely loved them back. For Maggie it was never about who got the accolades, but about getting in the game and participating. She encouraged involvement in the fine arts no matter how small the role or contribution.”  Alex Morf’99 wrote “Mrs. Ellison had a profound impact on me...and was one of the biggest supporters of my interest in the theatrical arts. I owe a great deal of my success and drive as an actor to the nurturing I received from her. As someone who lives and breathes the fine arts every day of his life, I know of no one more deserving (to receive this award).”  Former MVHS principal Tom Madson said “Maggie was the key element in making the speech and drama programs excel year after year.” A scholarship to honor Maggie was given for the first time this year to a MVHS grad ‘with a dedicated interest and passion in the humanities.” 

Vince will be receiving the award on behalf of his mother. Vince can be reached at 1535 Poplar Lane, North Liberty, IA 52317, 319-887-4148  or by email at vellison74@yahoo.com.

Service winner Dolores ‘DeDe’ Staskal Hicks’50 will be flying from California to receive her Hall of Fame Service Award. She was nominated by classmate David Wolfe. While most people from the Class of 1950 are enjoying a leisurely retirement, DeDe spends her days as President and CEO of The Volunteer Center for South Bay-Harbor-Long Beach where she is responsible for total administration and operations of this non-profit organization which serves as the hub of volunteer activities for 600 nonprofit organizations in 43 cities. In addition DeDe has also spearheaded many fund-raising activities, including a million dollar Capital Campaign and instituted improvements in existing programs and developed new programs through an active community outreach campaign. The Center has been recognized as the #1 Volunteer Center in the United States. The Hall of Fame Award for Service though does not recognize these amazing accomplishments, but rather is given to recognize her volunteer background.

In her volunteer work De De has played a continuous leadership role in numerous charities and nonprofit organizations. Her long list includes Past President of the Community Association of the Peninsula, CAP,  where she coordinated all of activities of this largest volunteer group on the Peninsula with a membership of 1,400 families, assets of $5.4 million and an annual operating budget of over $500,00. CAP received President Reagan’s Presidential Citation for its model youth program.  In addition she has been a board member for the Mary and Joseph Retreat Center, a member of the Gamma Phi Beta Alumnae Association, Founder of the Information Center for the Peninsula Community, Founder of Legacy (promotes donor organ transplant education), and is a past president for a variety of Associations, Councils, and Clubs including the Associates of Palos Verdes Community Arts Association and League of Women Voters of the Palos Verdes Peninsula with a total 200 members. She is a past board member of the Norris Theater for the Performing Arts, and Charter member of Act II (support group for the Norris Theatre) and League of Women Voters.

De De is also served as a member of the Marymount College Steering Committee and the Harbor/UCLA Medical Center Community Alliance. She has been involved in a multitude of other civic activities including the Private Industry Council, Community Advisory Council for Dow Chemical, local Chambers of Commerce, United Way, Peninsula Seniors, founder of Four Circles (assistance for orphanages), Stoneridge Homeowners Association and Care Clinics for Women.

Among her over fifty honors are YWCA Woman of the year, Everyday Hero, Magnificent Woman Award, Media Arts, Marquis ‘Who’s Who of American Women’, ‘Who’s Who in Finance and Industry’, ‘Who’s Who in the World’, Katy Geissert Volunteerism Award, VanDine Americanism Award, Most Outstanding Volunteer Award by the Torrance Area Chamber, and most recently in 2009 the Citizen of the Year award by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Lions Club.

De De can be reached at 32859 Seagate Dr, No 108, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275-5861, 310-377-4930, or by email at de.de@cox.net

Athletic winner John Hearn’75 was nominated for his award by his father, Raymond Hearn. John is an individual who loves athletics and had excelled as a student and now as a Coach.  During his High School career, in Track and Field, John earned 35 Individual Meet Championships, was Drake Relays qualifier, 7 individual District Championships and collected 5 State Place Finishes. During his junior and senior year was ‘Most Valuable Track Athlete’ and Team Captain,  he set four track records; in the 880 Yard Relay, the 440 Yard Dash, the One Mile Relay, and the Mile Medley Relay.  He was the Eastern Iowa Hawkeye Conference, EIHC, and Indoor Champion of 60 yard High Hurdles, Medley Relay and Mile Relay. During his high school years John earned letters in Football and Track. He was a member of the State Runner -Up Football Team and the State Champion Football Team. In his senior year of football, he earned both EIHC 2nd Team All-Conference and Honorable Mention All-State recognitions.
 
John then graduated from Coe College in 1979 where he was also active in football and track and field. As a junior and senior at Coe, John earned the Clem Wilson Award as Most Valuable member of the track team and the Thelma Lab Award for most dedicated in Track and Field. The Midwest Conference Championship won in John’s senior year was the eight consecutive Midwest title won by the track and field men for Coe College and was voted Team Captain. He also finished 8th place at the Division 3 National Championships in the 4x400 relay. John earned three varsity letters in football and four in track. In track he ran the 400 meters and was 2 time Midwest Conference Champion and 4 time Midwest Conference Champion in the 4x400 relay. He was a school record holder in both 400 meters and the 4x400 meter relays. In football he was defensive safety and was 1st Team All-Midwest Conference; Defensive Back his senior year. He was inducted into the Coe College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996.

Following his heralded high school and college career, Coach Hearn began his Science teaching career at Dubuque Senior High School in 1979. He was named head cross country coach in 1979. During his tenure at Dubuque Senior High school he has coached wrestling from 1982-1985, football from 1980 to 2000- and 2009 to present and track and field from 1980 to present. He was Mississippi Valley Coach of the Year in Track and Field in 1993, ‘94 ‘95, ‘96 and ‘98. He was Iowa Association of Track Coaches, Assistant Coach of the Year: 1987, 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996. He was awarded the Iowa Football Coaches Association Service Award for 15 years of service and a 25 year Service Award from the Iowa Association of Track Coaches. John was also Runner-Up Teacher of the Year for Dubuque Community Schools in 2004.

John and his wife Ann have three grown children. John can be reached at  8705 Jessica Lane, Dubuque, IA 52003, 563-556-1855 or by email at jhearn@dbqschools.org


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

to come

2008 HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHIES

to come



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