10 Parsons alumni selected to Wall of Honor
Ten Parsons College alumni will take their place on the Wall of Honor this fall at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.
This year marks the fifth annual ceremony honoring outstanding alumni from the college that called Fairfield its home from 1875 to 1973. The 10 new inductees will raise the number of honorees on the Wall of Honor to 49. The induction ceremony is at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5. Admission to the ceremony is free.
Two of this year’s recipients became friends while at Parsons College and remain friends to this day. Dorothy Topping Bell and Vera Price Young met at the college in 1944 when Bell was a freshman and Young was a junior.
Bell recalled Young and her sister wanted Bell to join their sorority, “Empyrean,” which she did. In school, Bell studied English while Young studied social studies with a minor in health and physical education.
Both women briefly left Fairfield but couldn’t stay away for long. Bell and her husband moved to South Dakota to start a veterinary practice once he graduated from veterinary medical school at Iowa State. After only a few years had passed, the couple wanted to return to their roots and moved back to Fairfield in 1953.
Young became a teacher after college and spent her first year out of Parsons at Sigourney High School. Parsons College approached her and asked her to join its staff as a physical education and health instructor. Young agreed and took graduate classes at the University of Iowa when she wasn’t teaching during the school year.
The position at Parsons had another perk, which was that it allowed Young to see more of her husband, Tib. He had just begun teaching physical education at the college the year before. The two taught together for the next 25 years until the college closed in 1973. Fortunately for Young, a biology teacher had just resigned from Fairfield High School and the school was looking for a replacement. Young took the position and taught biology, anatomy and physiology at the school until she retired in 1987.
Young and Bell still live in Fairfield and see each other on a daily basis. The two are quite close, as evidenced by Young nominating Bell for the Wall of Honor this year.
“Vera and I go to the same church. We’ve been friends forever,” Bell said.
Bell said she was pleased and honored to receive a nomination from her fellow Parsons alumna. Bell has been instrumental in aiding local arts programs such as the Southeast Iowa Symphony, which her youngest son played in.
“When my son was 7 years old, he heard someone play an oboe and said, ‘Mom, Dad, that’s what I want to do,’ she said. “He has played in the Pittsburgh Symphony for 21 years, so of course that got Mom interested in the arts.”
Bell also is an accomplished gardener. She was a founding member of the Fairfield Art Association 47 years ago and organized the garden tour many of the years herself. When she finally passed the torch, the art association decided to name the tour after her, calling it the Dorothy Bell Garden Tour.
Bell is no stranger to the Wall of Honor. In 2012, she nominated a good friend of hers, Ida Nakashima Schneck, for a coveted spot. Schneck graduated from Parsons College in 1946.
The other recipients of the prestigious honor this year are:
• William “Bill” Bangham, class of 1970, of Richmond, Va. – Photojournalist/editor, who covered stories in 70 countries, five continents and founded two charitable organizations.
• David Elliott, class of 1964, Palm City, Fla. – Television network director/engineer and ABC Vice President. Elliott is the recipient of several EMMY awards and is Assistant National Commodore of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.
• Edwin Everett Green, class of 1949, (posthumously) – Teacher, coach and superintendent. Green pioneered the origination and development of the Technical School Program in Iowa for those not interested in attending college.
• David Harding, class of 1971, Tallahassee, Fla. – Chief economist of the Florida Marine Research Institute. Harding is the leader and director of the socioeconomic section of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
• Larry Litwin, class of 1967, Berlin, N.J. – Public relations/communications/educator. Litwin is a college professor and recipient of nearly 300 professional and civic awards for a various achievements in several fields.
• Narda Simonsen Murphy, class of 1964, Williamston, Mich. – Teacher/superintendent and grant writer. Murphy directly and indirectly has impacted more than 1,000 students annually and has written, obtained and netted more than $1 million in grant monies for her school district.
• Ray Stolarczyk, class of 1964, Naples, Fla. – Banking/Savings and Loan Executive. Stolarczyk is the president and CEO of Fidelity Bancorp and its board of directors. He is also chairman of the board for the Illinois League of Financial Institutions.
• Phil Suarez, class of 1965, New York, N.Y. – National and international restaurateur. Suarez is the president and CEO of Suarez Restaurant Group which owns, licenses and operates more than 30 restaurants worldwide. His JoJo’s Restaurant was voted No.1 in New York City.