Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 16, 2018

Final year for Wall of Honor

Annual ceremony honoring Parsons alumni will end its 10-year run
By Courtesy of the Parsons College Alumni Association | Aug 03, 2018

This October marks the end of an era.

For the past nine years, the Parsons College Foundation Fund and Alumni Association have recognized outstanding graduates of Parsons College by inducting them onto the Wall of Honor at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.

When the organization began bestowing the awards in 2009, it promised to hold a ceremony each year for 10 years. This year marks the 10th and final year.


Induction ceremony

The Wall of Honor Class of 2018 will be recognized at 10 a.m. Oct. 6 in the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts. The induction of these 11 newest members will bring the total number of inductees to 100. This year’s mix of inductees includes teachers, coaches, educators, managers, a banker, a business owner, an attorney, health care professional, computer program designer and community volunteer.

“We are happy to report once again that each and every member of the Class of 2018 is expected to be in attendance in October,” stated a news release from the alumni association.

The Wall of Honor ceremony will be one of many events for Parsons College alumni that weekend. It coincides with the Parsons Biennial Reunion, the “Wildcat Spirit Awards,” “Remembering John Denver” concert at the Sondheim, and Fairfield First Fridays Oktoberfest.

Here are short bios of each of the inductees. The Ledger will run longer bios of each person closer to the induction ceremony.


Cindy Thompson Albers, Class of 1971

DECORAH – Albers is an educator/coach. She’s taught physical education and coached basketball, volleyball, track and softball, primarily in the Decorah Community School District for 42 years.

Cindy is also responsible for the start-up of the basketball programs at Tama and Decorah. Her amazing career has earned her the Roushar-Evans Award from the Iowa Basketball Coaches Association; the Friends of the School Award presented by the Iowa High School Athletic Association; and the Distinguished Service Award from the Iowa Football Coaches Association for her contributions to their program.


William “Bill” Atkins, Class of 1966

CROWN POINT, Ind. – Atkins is a sales executive and manager. He built his foundation as a Top Performer, Captain and MVP on the basketball court at an early age. Bill overcame a severe injury suffered in a car accident, was discovered by Parsons coaching legend O.B. Nelson and distinguished himself as one of the all-time great Wildcat performers.

His leadership and take-charge skills at Parsons led him to sign a $10,000 contract with the Chicago Bulls in 1966. He spent two seasons in the Bulls organization before moving into the business world.

Atkins continued to excel, dominating ‘Top Salesman of the Year Awards’ and moving into management with the Arquilla Corporation.


John Blackstock,Class of 1964

ST. CHARLES, Mo. – John was a retail management executive/writer. Following Parsons, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Portfolio (weekly paper), he went to work for the Boston Herald as a sports writer.

Several years later he switched to retail sales management. Blackstock launched his retail career with the JCPenney Company, a career that took him to New York City as the company meeting coordinator. His career culminated 26 years later in the specialty stores field with his retirement from the Limited Inc. at age 49.

During his stint with Limited and the Lerner New York Division, he was recognized as a top sales performer and earned membership to the Presidents Club numerous times.


John Braidwood, Class of 1968

QUEENSBURY, N.Y. – Braidwood is a born promoter, filled with an abundance of enthusiasm and energy. He is a bank executive and humanitarian.

Following a successful 15 years as district manager for 3M Company’s Magnetic Products Division, John found his niche in the banking industry. As his responsibilities grew, he became vice president, and put in charge of new business development for three regional banks – KeyTrust Co., Bank Boston, and First American Bank in Traverse City, Michigan.

Later as John’s banking career progressed and he drew closer to retirement, his passion for giving back and caring for others surfaced. He became very much involved in fundraising and was good at it.


George Estle, Class of 1973

SOLON – George is a highly regarded champion of addressing children’s mental and behavioral health care needs. He is the consummate children’s health care professional. Estle is directly responsible for growing the Tanager Place Center for children with mental and behavioral challenges from a center that initially affected the lives of 500 children, to currently impacting over 5,000 children in Iowa and across the country.

At the age of 31, he was appointed CEO of Tanager Place and the center has soared ever since. George created the first Psychiatric Medical Institution for Children in Iowa. Beyond Tanager and creation of the Tanager Mental Health Clinic, he founded a Child and Family Policy Center in Des Moines.


Robert E. Fox, Class of 1966

CLOVIS, Calif. – Robert was an educational servant/leader. He not only graduated from Parsons with a philosophy/religion degree but while there, he also served as chief justice of the student court and head resident of several dormitories.

Immediately following graduation, Robert was invited to join the Dean of Students office where he spent the next six years. His titles included dean of men, dean of students, with the provision that in the absence of a dean of women, he would fill that capacity, too. Robert filled the advisory positions for the Delta Sig Fraternity and was advisor to the Circle K Club.

Fox later retired from Fresno City College, a college of 25,000 students, in 2009 as vice president and dean of students.


Thomas L. Grooms, Class of 1960

EAST MOLINE, Illinois – Tom is a labor attorney, who is held in high regard throughout the industry. He is an industrial relations attorney, who has spent a large number of career years on special assignment with the John Deere Corporation.

Grooms’s assignments have included working as liaison with the company’s overseas operations. His extensive travels have taken him to Rosario, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, France and South Africa.

Tom has also represented John Deere in negotiations, arbitration and the consolidations of three John Deere facilities.


Ron Hunerdosse, Class of 1972

FAIRFIELD – Truly a man for all seasons, Hunerdosse has been a teacher, coach and volunteer. Ron was recently named “Iowan of the Day” by the Iowa State Fair’s Blue Ribbon Foundation. The award allows the state to recognize Iowa’s most outstanding individuals who make a difference in the lives of others.

Previously, Ron was named Fairfield’s “Citizen of the Year” by the chamber of commerce, “Fairfield Friend of Education” and “Fairfield Teacher of the Year.” Well deserved awards for a man who has unselfishly given his all to his school, his town and his friends.

Ron’s enthusiasm, dedication and vision resulted in the founding and implementation of Fairfield High School’s “Trojan Plaza.” The plaza is an honor courtyard developed by Ron to honor graduates of Fairfield High, including and foremost, his dear friends Fred Behner and James Evans.


Larry Marino, Class of 1966

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Larry is a computer systems designer. Larry made his mark at Parsons as a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and as a bartender at the Den.

At an early age, with the Bendix Corporation’s Navigation & Control Division, he was responsible for the movement of components to the inertial guidance systems of Saturn V rockets which placed man on the moon. He eventually found his place in the Systems & Programming Department and began developing computer systems to run on the first big mainframes of the day. It was there he honed his skills in computer systems design.


Don Samuelson, Class of 1964

ANKENY – While still at Parsons, Don got his feet wet on his path to becoming an automobile dealership owner at the Jefferson Motor Company, a franchisee of Ford Motor Company.

Little did he know at the time that he would continue working in all areas of the dealership for the next 40 years and become co-owner. Under Don’s leadership, Jefferson Motor Company became a sales leader with Ford. Perhaps the most prestigious was Ford’s 300/500 award for “Top Hatters” (sales persons) recognition. Don won that award for an 10 consecutive years.


Joyce Berlin Witzenburg, Class of 1972

FAIRFIELD – Joyce was a mathematics teacher and coach. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. Degree in mathematics at Parsons and was elected to Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

In college, she played in the Final Four Collegiate Basketball Tournament all four years, and she played in the Women’s College Softball World Series.

Not only did Joyce play in those prestigious tournaments, but she also coached her basketball and softball teams to recognition.

As head softball coach at Cardinal High School, she became only the second Iowa woman head coach to reach 200 victories. Joyce also took her competitive spirit to the classroom, taking select math students to college sponsored high school math competitions.

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