By LANCE MIHM
Three of four high school graduates returned to Wapakoneta this weekend as the guests of honor as the newest members of the Wapakoneta City Schools Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.
Bruce Campbell, Elizabeth Madigan and Jack Earl attended a dinner ceremony Saturday as they were installed as the newest members of the school district’s Hall of Fame. Shawn Flarida could not be in attendance.
School district administrators and area residents honored these four people Saturday and they hope this will spur people to nominate more people in the future by highlighting their accomplishments.
“We started out in October with 30 applicants to consider,” said Wapakoneta High School Principal Scott Minnich, who headed up the organization of the event. “It wasn’t easy, and everybody on the committee agreed they were all impressive. It is a a way to show kids the potential they can reach.”
Madigan, who was a 1976 graduate of Wapakoneta High School, is a professor at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. She also is the head of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center at the university.
Madigan, who is considered a national home health content expert and provides workshops and consultations internationally, said her humble beginnings in Wapakoneta helped shape her into what she is today.
“Most people don’t know where Wapakoneta is,” Madigan said. “At the college, when Neil Armstrong died, they said ‘Oh yeah, that’s where you are from. He was a humble man.’ I said ‘that’s how our people are.”
She said without many of the things she learned in Wapakoneta, she wouldn’t be where she was today.
“I wanted to be a nurse and I was going to go to Lima Tech,” Madigan said. “A guidance counselor at Wapakoneta told me ‘No, you need to go to a four year school.”
She said the school is number one in the state in receiving government research funding.
Jack Earl was a pioneering ceramic artist in the 1960s and was one of the first artists in America to use porcelain in a studio setting. He has become renowned for his sculptures, many of which depict everyday life in rural Ohio.
Earl, who was a graduate of the Blume High School class of 1952, said attending a high school in a town like Wapakoneta helped prepare him for the future.
“I wasn’t a student, I was an attendee,” Earl said, explaining his grades were not where he would have liked early on in his education. “I was here because I had to be. When I came to high school I had a choice, I chose to be dumb, but I learned humility and belief. That is the road that knowledge is built on.”
Bruce Campbell, who was a 1950 graduate of Blume, worked 20 years in management at Superior Credit Union. He helped it grow from near closure to a vibrant cooperative with 10 offices in five communities, including Wapakoneta.
Campbell got a job building school buses at Superior Coach in 1951 and his journey to management began there. He joined the Superior Credit Union board in 1972 and became treasurer in 1974 before becoming general manager approximately 20 years later. Campbell helped rescue the company from a 33 percent delinquency rate.
“I had a vision of how a credit union should operate,” Campbell said. “It should enable everyone to become a member.”
Flarida, who was unable to attend the event, sent a video saying thank you to people throughout the community for his nomination. Flarida was competing in an event and could not make the ceremony.
Flarida is a three-time National Reining Horse Association Futurity Champion and is the only rider to win both an individual and a team gold medal in the World Equestrian Games. In his 19-year career as a professional rider, he is only the second person to win in excess of $2 million. He has now pursed more than $4 million.
Flarida was a 1988 graduate of Wapakoneta High School
All of the inductees felt they owed much of their success to their humble beginnings in Wapakoneta.
“One of the most important things is you are being honored by the people you would most want to be honored by,” Earl said.