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NAWM Holds Annual Meeting - Honors Alumni

The men of Wabash honored their brothers for achievement in careers civic engagement, and in service to the College during Alumni Chapel, one of the many highlights of Homecoming on Saturday. The National Assocation of Wabash Men also welcomed two new members into their ranks as honorary alumni at the event, which serves as the NAWM's annual meeting.

NAWM President Greg Estell ’85 opened the meeting, then introduced the College's 16th President, Gregory Hess.

“I wish hearty congratulations to all of today’s award-winners,” said Hess, enjoying the first Alumni Chapel of his young presidency. “You alumni are this College’s epistles, and your commitment to your professions, communities, and this College are worthy of our praise and honor. All of you provide outstanding examples of the liberal arts in action for current Wabash students.”

Estell then presented each of the alumni awards and citations, beginning with James R. Durham ’64, who was named an Alumni Admissions Fellow.

“It’s in Connecticut where you do the good work of ‘spreading the fame of her honored name,’" Estell told Durham as he stood with President Hess on the Chapel stage.  "For more than 15 years, you have been an active admissions volunteer. You have represented Wabash at more than a dozen college fairs in the last decade. You share stories about the influential relationships you had with your professors and you demonstrate in very real ways the life-changing impact Wabash professors have on their students.”

Frederick A. Haase ’71 was also named an Alumni Admissions Fellow. A Latin major, winner of the McLain Prize in Classics, and Phi Beta Kappa graduate, Haase earned a master’s degree from Washington University and began teaching at Culver Military Academy in 1972, where he earned the Spivey Award as Culver’s top teacher.

"We honor you today your commitment to recruiting young men who are right for Wabash," Estell said. "Your students see in you the excellent liberal arts education you received, and you model that education in all that you do.”

Jeffrey A. Been ’81 was recognized as an Alumni Career Services Fellow. Each summer, Been hires a Wabash student through the College's Small Business Internship Fund.

"Your empower him with rich experiences on par with law school students working in a business," Estell said. "You also host Wabash students in externships, and under your wise tutelage they receive the hands-on experiences and role modeling they need to achieve our highest expectations. This award honors your commitment to developing the skills of aspiring young attorneys, but you also work with the local alumni association, and are the College’s go-to person for all things Louisville.”

Ethan A. Olberding ’99 received the Jeremy Robert Wright Young Alumnus Award, an honor given for the first time last year in honor of Jeremy Wright ’96, who died while serving in Afghanistan in 2005. Olberding’s parents were on hand to accept the award on his behalf as Estell read the citation: "The men of Wabash are honored to celebrate your accomplishments and pay tribute to you with the NAWM’s highest honor, the Alumni Award of Merit. You were a star in the classroom—graduating with highest honors, summa cum laude. Now a Major and attending the highly selective Naval War College, you are one of a select few designated for much bigger leadership roles in our Army. Your commitment to building—not destroying—communities through the training of community leaders and police officers, and personal conversations with citizens is worthy of our highest praise. The respect you engender from your men runs deep because of your commitment to them, your family, and your faith.”

John B. Goodrich ’67 received the Fredrick J. Urbaska Civic Service Award: “You are an absolutely relentless Wabash recruiter and have helped more than 30 students find their way to the College, for which you received the Alumni Admissions Award," Estell said. "Over the years literally hundreds of Wabash men have benefited from scholarships provided by your family’s Goodrich Trust. Your contributions to strengthening your hometown are equally impressive. You and your wife, Sarona, have generously contributed to hundreds of worthy causes through both the Portland Foundation and the Goodrich Family Foundation. You are proud of your community and have invested mightily in it.”

Clarence A. Jackson Career Service Award winner Richard J Stephenson ’62 was celebrated for his "exceptional generosity to a wide range of philanthropic causes through the Stephenson Family Foundation. "Not only have you given of your treasure," Estell said, "you have purposefully recruited young Wabash men for positions in your companies, including many who hold senior leadership posts.”

James L. Amidon, Jr. ’87 was recognized with the Frank W. Misch Alumni Service Award for his 26 years of extraordinary service to the College.

“Dick Ristine hired you before the ink had dried on your sheepskin diploma," Estell said. "Did he have any idea how many ways you would honor his trust, and how you would take that opportunity and run with it?" The Sports Information Director who would later be named to the Athletic Hall of Fame was appointed Director of Public Affairs by Dean for Advancement Bill Lowery ’63 for his "loyalty, energy, commitment, ingenuity, drive, and generosity."

"Most recently President Gregory Hess tapped you as Chief of Staff, describing you in three words: ‘Integrity; Inspiring. Inexhaustible,’" Estell said. "You are a man who loves this good place and people with all your heart, mind, body, and soul.”

Former Wabash Director of Development Alison V. Kothe was named an honorary alumna and chose the Class of 1969.

“You were a pioneering and brilliantly successful woman in banking and the financial services industry, fields dominated almost entirely by men," Estell said. "Then you delighted in the role of a major gifts officer and traveled the country connecting with alumni and their families because you took a genuine interest in each and every one of them. You ascended to the position of Director of Development at the College and helped Wabash cap the Challenge of Excellence campaign $8 million over goal and a year ahead of schedule. You were the glue that connected these men and their families to their alma mater. Your presence on campus and in the lives of the students and faculty is every bit as praiseworthy. You attempted to retire from Wabash three times, but we kept dragging you back because you were irreplaceable. You made Wabash a significantly stronger place. You improved the lives of Wabash students, faculty, and staff,  and you made every Wabash graduate with whom you interacted a better Wabash man.”

Jimmy Haffner was named Honorary Alumnus and selected the Class of 1998.

“When you were nominated, the NAWM Board was flooded with testimonials of what you mean to Wabash," Estell said. "You’ve grown up around Wabash and contributed mightily to it. All of Wabash’s coaches realize that you are far more than a fan, manager, or supporter; you are an integral part of each and every team. You live out your dreams through the athletic accomplishments of the Little Giants, and at the same time you provide immeasurable inspiration to every man who wears the Scarlet.”

After a standing ovation for all the honorees, the Glee Club led the packed Chapel in Alma Mater, and Alumni Chapel— which honors the spirit of Barney Hollett '36 who loved Wabash College and spent his entire life working to make Wabash better and stronger—came to a rousing conclusion.