Family Tradition

Some six decades after they received their degrees at Western Carolina, Pfafftown residents Robert R. “Bob” Moore ’54 and Doris Wells Moore ’55 returned to Cullowhee to watch their granddaughter, Catherine Elaine Stiers ’14 (center), participate in commencement on May 10. The family’s ties to WCU run even deeper, as Doris Moore is a niece of the late W. Ernest Bird ’15, Western Carolina’s president in 1956-57 and acting president in 1947-49, and a sister of the late Dan B. Wells ’53, a longtime WCU mathematics faculty member. Stiers, a Fuquay Varina resident who earned bachelor’s degrees in English and international studies as a member of WCU’s Honors College, is part of a spring class that totaled approximately 1,370 students, the largest in university history. Boosted by surging enrollments, the size of WCU’s spring classes has doubled over the past 11 years.


A purple sweatshirt said it all when Maxie Wright Duke met Tommy Peck ’09 last spring. Peck, who works at Franklin Insurance Agency, is a server on weekends in a Highlands restaurant. One day, while seating Duke, whom he didn’t know, Peck spotted the familiar indicia she was wearing. After learning that they were both alumni, the two compared stories about their college experiences, which were strikingly different considering the decades between graduations.


Dottie Bradley Sherrill MA ’70 EDS ’84 was elected mayor of the town of Weaverville in November 2013. Sherrill has been a member of the town council for 24 years and was vice mayor for the past 18 years. A retired counselor for Asheville City and Buncombe County schools, she is married to Dwight “Rabbit” Sherrill ’57 MA ’59.


The PianoArts North American Piano Competition of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a performance competition that attracts some of today’s most talented young pianists, was founded by Sue West Medford, who grew up in Asheville and has played the piano all her life. Medford, who was the Milwaukee Symphony’s director of education for 24 years, came up with the idea for the competition in 1994.


Charles Boswell and Mary Jo Boswell ’64, MAEd ’66 of Wentworth celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on March 8. The Boswells met as students at the Wesley Foundation on campus in 1962.


“Binding Force,” a story in the fall 2013 issue about campus traditions, brought back memories for Eric Brady MAEd ’76. Brady had graduated with a degree in psychology and was working in the Cullowhee area in 1970 when the alumni office asked for his help with a campus dilemma. The victory bell at the old Student Union building was a frequent target for unauthorized ringing. Sometimes it vanished altogether. The bell was slated to be moved to the new University Center, but officials felt it should be ensconced first in a prankster-proof enclosure. Brady designed a sculpture-like structure to house the bell, which industrial education and technology students and the WCU maintenance staff helped construct and assemble out of redwood. The finished enclosure, which Brady jokingly named the “Dixie Cup monument,” because it was both temporary and inexpensive, graced the building’s lawn for more than a decade, protecting the bell until it was mounted in the new Alumni Tower.


Mitchell Crisp is retiring after serving for 38 years as a certified public accountant in North Carolina. Crisp is a founding member of Dixon Hughes Goodman of Asheville, where he has served as partner since 1976. He is a member of the board of advisers of WCU’s accounting department.


Robert T. Edwards, WCU’s vice chancellor for administration and finance, received the Paul A. Reid Award for Administrative Staff in May. Edwards, who will have 37 years of service to the university when he retires in December, began working at WCU the same year that he graduated. He rose through the ranks from payroll clerk to become internal auditor and then to his current position.

Brenda Walker Gorsuch MAEd ’80, who teaches journalism and English literature at West Henderson High School, is the first North Carolina teacher to win the annual yearbook adviser of the year award from the national Journalism Education Association. Gorsuch traveled to San Diego, California, to receive the award in April. She supervises the creation of the school yearbook, Westwind, as well as the school newspaper, Wingspan. The yearbook has a staff of 65 students and takes in more than $100,000 in sales a year.

“Ropes of the Sun,” a new suspense novel by John Patrick McAfee MAEd of Hendersonville, is now available on Kindle and in paperback. McAfee is also the author of “On Rims of Empty Moons” and “Slow Walk in a Sad Rain.” After a long career as a teacher, coach and administrator, he is now a full-time writer.


Former WCU cheerleader Susan Guffey served as a semifinals judge for the 2014 auditions for the Tennessee Titans cheerleading squad. The Titans are a professional football team based in Nashville, Tennessee. Guffey is the administrative manager at the Knoxville, Tennessee, office of Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon Inc. She and husband Steve Guffey ’78 are season ticket-holders and avid Titans fans.


Alan Gill retired in May after a 32-year career devoted to parks and recreation management. Gill headed the Henderson-Vance Parks Department and oversaw the development of two new neighborhood parks and extensive renovations at the department’s largest park in Henderson. He also coordinated the development and construction of the Aycock Recreation Complex, which includes a four-ballfield complex and a recreation center housing the city’s first public pool.


Mildred McKenzie Hyman MSN ’06 of Brevard is working as a family nurse practitioner with HouseCalls/Optum in Buncombe, Henderson and Transylvania counties.


Jennifer H. Gentry has been elected president of the board of directors of the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, a national organization with more than 11,000 members and 50 chapters.

A clinician in both the acute and long-term care settings for 30 years, Gentry is a palliative care nurse practitioner and nursing leader for Duke University Hospital’s department of advanced clinical practice. She also serves on the faculty of the Duke School of Nursing and as a member of the hospital’s ethics committee.


After retiring, Mike Nixon started a new career as a consultant and instructor with Sungard Public Sector in High Point. Nixon teaches software programs to police officers in departments around the country and says he hopes to meet other Catamounts in his travels. He retired from the High Point Police Department with more than 28 years of service.


Lisa T. Briggs MPA ’89, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, is the winner of the 2014 Last Lecture Award. The honor is based on votes by students, who describe Briggs as exceptionally enthusiastic, passionate about her teaching and devoted to helping them inside and outside the classroom. Briggs will present a special “Last Lecture” address in the fall.


Mike Doerner first learned to ride motorcycles when he was a student, circling WCU’s parking lots and winding up and down the curvy Airport Road. Years later, after an accident that left him uninjured but demolished his Yamaha, Doerner enrolled in a Basic Motorcycle Safety Foundation class. He wrote about the benefits of taking a basic course, even for an experienced street rider like himself, in a cover story that was featured in the April 2013 issue of American Motorcycle magazine. Doerner owns a cabinet and furniture-making company and lives near Kennesaw, Georgia.


Sharon Kimble MAEd ’94 retired in June from Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon, where she has been teaching for the past 14 years. Kimble moved to Eugene in 1999 with son Adam and husband Floyd T. “Tom” King after he retired as maintenance superintendent in the WCU physical plant.


Marianne Leek MAT ’01, a member of the WCU Alumni Association board of directors, teaches honors English at Hayesville High School. In February, Leek brought her junior and sophomore students to campus to meet prize-winning author Ron Rash, Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture. Her students had started a book club earlier in the school year, and Rash’s book “Serena” was their first selection.


ADOMANI, a green initiative vehicle technology company founded by Edward R. Monfort, teamed up with a California school district in the spring to convert a 2007 Blue Bird school bus into an all-electric vehicle. Replacing the diesel engine with a patented electric conversion kit, Monfort and his company returned a bus with zero-emission status to the Gilroy Unified School District. The bus was approved for transportation by the California Highway Patrol shortly after it was unveiled. Monfort and his award-winning conversion kits recently were featured on Driver Talk Radio. ADOMANI is headquartered in Los Altos, California, and has research and development operations in Bradenton, Florida.


In Melbourne, Florida, the students of Jason Whitworth, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, developed an experiment on behalf of the beloved coach and teacher that was tested on board the International Space Station in January. The students’ experiment, which won a research spot on the space shuttle through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, was designed to test the effect of a microgravity environment on glutamate. In ALS patients, glutamate is no longer broken down by enzymes, causing it to build to toxic levels. Whitworth’s students at West Shore High School also are involved in activities to raise public awareness about the debilitating disease. Whitworth ran track and cross country during his years at WCU and taught for 16 years. He was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2011. The disease claimed the life of former WCU football coach Bob Waters in 1989.


Radio producer Jimmy Holt and his colleagues Andy Ritchie and Alison West of the “Andy and Alison and the Morning Crew” at 107.7 WIVK-FM radio station in Knoxville, Tennessee, won a 2013 best broadcast personality award from the Country Music Association. The selection was based on their market size, an air check, ratings, community involvement and their biographical information. While at WCU, Holt was general manager of the campus radio station WWCU, an experience that he says helped fuel his enthusiasm for radio.


Among the baseball fans who braved the cold and snow to support the Catamounts in Washington last February were David Morton and wife Tara Morton ’97. The Mortons were on hand to cheer for the Cats in the WCU-Washington State baseball series held in Pullman, Washington. WCU won the first two games of the nonconference road series; two were canceled because of the snow. The Mortons and daughter Cierra live nearby in Cheney, Washington. Tara is a recreational therapist at Lakeland Village and David is employed at Eastern Washington University’s recreation center.


Angela Littke, director of nursing at Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community in Asheville, received the nurse administrator of the year award for 2014 from the National Association of Directors of Nursing Long Term Care Inc. Littke was recognized during award ceremonies held in Anaheim, California, in June.

The Orlando Regional Medical Center selected Valerie Zoppi as winner of the 2014 nursing excellence award. The award was presented to Zoppi by Jayne Willis, chief nursing officer at Orlando Regional, Orlando’s level-one trauma center.


Landmark Learning, a Cullowhee-based school for outdoor education and training founded by Justin “Padj” Padgett MS and his wife Mairi Padgett MAEd, received accreditation from the U.S. Department of Education. It is the first training school of its kind in the nation to be accredited. Established in 1996, Landmark Learning provides training that ranges from intensive “Emergency Medical Technician” classes to safety, rescue and instructor certification courses associated with the American Canoe Association, American Heart Association, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and the National Outdoor Leadership School Wilderness Medicine Institute.The school also offers a six-week course in which participants gain multiple certifications and college credit through a partnership with WCU. The school was profiled in a recent story in this magazine: landmark.wcu.edu.


Jessica Metz-Bugg, a teacher at Cherokee Middle School, will travel to the Arctic Svalbard, Iceland, Greenland, the Canadian Maritimes and Antarctica aboard the expedition ship National Geographic Explorer for hands-on learning this year. Metz-Bugg is among 25 teachers in the United States and Canada selected for the 2014 Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic Education Grosvenor teacher fellowship program.The program recognizes outstanding educators who are committed to improving geography education.


Drew T. Lancaster and Heather N. Mitchell were married April 12 in Rockwall, Texas. Lancaster is the son of Thomas G. Lancaster III ’73.

Camille Tuttrup of Franklin is working as an art instructor for children and adults in both the public and private sectors. Tuttrup offers workshops through the Macon County Arts Association and is participating in juried shows both in the U.S. and abroad. Her current work focuses on collage assemblages and oil paintings.


Joshua Banks has received his commission from the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation as a law enforcement officer. Banks, a park ranger at Jordan Lake State Park in Apex, also serves as a senior airman in the U.S. Air Force Reserves at the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro. His wife, Rachael Carlton Banks ’08, is featured in the online blog of the National Brain Tumor Society. First diagnosed in 2009, she has survived two brain tumors.

Michael Henderson, band director and chorus instructor at Chase High School in Forest City, is among 222 quarterfinalists for the Music Educator Award of the Grammy Foundation. The teacher chosen for the award will be flown to Los Angeles to attend the 2015 Grammy awards ceremony and receive a $10,000 honorarium. Henderson was nominated for the award by a student.

Television personality and reality show participant Rachel Eileen Reilly is appearing in a new talk show, “Reality Relapse,” with Ryan Allen Carrillo of ABC’s “Expedition Impossible.” The show features an assortment of reality show events, premieres, red carpet appearances and other news. It airs live on Thursdays via www.bitesizeTV.com. Reilly appeared in two seasons of the television series “Big Brother” and won its 13th season in 2011. She was third-place winner in two seasons of “The Amazing Race” and also appeared in the recently concluded “Amazing Race 24.”


Mitchell Hutchings is now an assistant professor of voice and director of the lyric opera at Houghton (New York) College, a Christian liberal arts college affiliated with the Wesleyan Church. “Children of Eden,” his first musical production at Houghton, was staged in the spring.

The inspired teaching and dedication to students of Clyde Ray, a graduate teaching assistant at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, earned him the Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Ray is a doctoral candidate in political science who entered the program in 2010.


Summer Woodard MPA ’10 is the new town manager of Franklin. Woodard has served as assistant to the town manager and human resources officer since 2013. She completed the municipal administration course of the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2012.


The annual WCU Summer Concert Series opened June 10 with a free show featuring Joe Basile performing in the Central Plaza on campus. Basile is a musician, composer and producer who sang and performed on piano and acoustic guitar a mix of cover songs and original music. He is a graduate student in music at WCU.

The University of Tennessee’s new sustainability manager is Preston Jacobsen, who founded the online weather forecasting service Local Yokel Weather when he was a WCU student. Jacobsen plans to reduce utility costs on the Knoxville campus through a variety of technology initiatives, including a sustainability mobile app. He also plans to develop student-led projects involving data collection and analysis on campus and in the Knoxville area. Jacobsen has a team in place to run Local Yokel Weather and continues to be involved in a supporting role.

Asheville’s RiverLink board of directors honored W.D. Reed as a “Critical Link” volunteer and “go to type of guy” always willing to help implement a project. RiverLink is a nonprofit organization devoted to the economic and environmental revitalization of the French Broad River and its tributaries. Reed has a building general contractor’s license and is the co-owner of Old Friends Realty and Development Co.

Lauren Woodard MSW, social worker at Park Ridge Cancer Services in Hendersonville, has earned certification in oncology social work. Woodard began her career in 2010 at the George Washington Cancer Institute in Washington, D.C.


Like many of the runners in last year’s Boston Marathon, Morgan Turner Fox returned to the city on April 21 to compete in the 2014 race. The former top cross-country runner at WCU was nearing the 26-mile marker in 2013 when the terrorists’ bombs exploded, killing three and injuring more than 150. Fox told the Lincoln County Times recently that returning to the race with other competitors not only reclaimed the race for the runners but for “all that is good in the world.” Fox, a physical education teacher at S. Ray Lowder Elementary School in Lincolnton, finished the race in four hours and 23 minutes.

Ashley Shemery was accepted into the neurosciences doctoral program in the biomedical sciences department of Kent State University. Shemery earned her master’s degree in experimental psychology at James Madison University, where her research focused on sleep deprivation. At Kent State, she is studying circadian rhythms and the effect of cocaine. The goal of her research is an increased understanding of the genetic basis for drug addiction.


The digital storytelling research that Monica Gatti did in graduate school at WCU took her to Andrews Elementary School last spring. She worked with first-graders to help them in the development of writing, speech and technology skills. Gatti used a free software program, Movie Maker 2.6, in her work with the students, who wrote and produced a movie to show their friends and families.

Alisha Lambert is the new associate director of annual giving in the Office of Development at WCU.

A traveling professional production of “The Fantasticks” staged at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center in April featured Peter O’Neal in a starring role. O’Neal played young Matt in the production, which was the final performance of a 64-city national tour. “The Fantasticks” was produced by the Nebraska Theatre Caravan.

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