Class Notes – 1970-1979
Sanford “Pete” Lee ’70 finished his 12th year in the Colorado General Assembly in May and was honored by the El Paso County Democratic Party with a Lifetime Achievement Award and as Democrat of the Year. Pete was elected to four terms in the Colorado House of Representatives and one term in the Senate, serving as Chair of the Judiciary Committees in both bodies. Sponsoring almost 200 bills during those five terms, he emphasized reform of the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Restorative justice legislation was passed that promoted acceptance of accountability and healing for victims, alternatives to relying solely on punishment and incarceration. (12/22)
Dick Sesler ’71 was honored as a 2023 AARP Purpose Prize Fellow, a recognition for those age 50 or older who use their knowledge and life experience to solve challenging social problems. Dick received the award for creating camps for adults with developmental disabilities, focusing on recreation, socialization, and life skills education. “Being an AARP Purpose Prize Fellow has the potential to put Camp Blue Skies in front of millions of people,” Dick said. “Those people will know possible campers, or they may want to volunteer at camp.” (12/22)
Lynne Martin Bowman ’72 published A Bright Forgetting, a book that dives into her journey of caring for and remembering her parents, exploring how to say goodbye. “It is an elegy for what my parents and grandparents built, and what was rent, torn, or is tearing, and how that fragmentation is simply how, as humans, all our lives are synapses firing bright with beauty and memories,” Lynne says. It is available from finishinglinepress.com. (5/23)
Tom Cole ’73 was asked to turn his novella, One Last Fall, into a script for a possible movie by a production studio in Hollywood. His next novella The Class of ’73 is roughly based on his experiences at OWU, with names and places altered. Tom is a full-time community coordinator for the Taylor Automotive Family, part-time TV sports broadcaster on Buckeye Cable Sports Network (BCSN), and broadcasting instructor at St. John’s Jesuit High School and Adrian College. (12/22)
Allison Funk ’73 was one of seven U.S. poets to be awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship this year. Her latest book is The Visible Woman, from Parlor Press. She is a Distinguished Professor Emerita at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. (12/22)
Sharlene Carter ’74, raised in Delaware, OH, shared her “Black History Coloring Book” and read a poem she wrote about the book at the Delaware Unity Community Center’s oral history event called SANKOFA—Stories of Growing Up Black in Delaware. Sharlene is pictured with Richard Leavy, professor emeritus of psychology and now with the Delaware County Historical Society, who spearheaded the event in celebration of Black History Month. (5/23)
Christine Knisely ’74 received the Scouting Community Leadership Award at the 2022 Athens County (OH) Good Scout reception. Living in Athens since 1996, she retired from Ohio University’s College of Education and Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2010. Chris serves on the Athens City Council, currently serving as president, and is a past board of trustees member at the First United Methodist Church and co-president of the Athens League of Women Voters. (5/23)
Cathie Worthing Helfand ’75 self-published a book with her husband, Israel, titled The YUMMY Marriage. It contains wisdom from their 40 years as marriage counselors and sex therapists running their Marriage Quest retreats. They consider it readable and valuable for young people before they get married, as well as couples in crisis looking for guidance. It is available on Amazon and Apple Books. (12/22)
Joe Costabile ’76 was selected as chairman of the Department of Surgery at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Camden, NJ. In 2022, Joe retired from the Navy medical corps after serving for 28 years as a reservist, and the last 16 spent with the U.S. Marine Corps. He is proud to have served. (5/23)
David Doughten ’76 and Edwin Vargas ’86 started an apple cider business together, Brownhoist Cider Co. The two criminal-defense attorneys had become friends before David had inherited an orchard that is more than 50 years old. Ed, who happened to know how to make hard apple cider, partnered with him to explore the venture. They hope to open Brownheist Cider Co. in fall 2022. (12/22)
Mary Ellen Trent ’77 recieved the Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association’s annual Janet L. Hoopes Award. Since 2010, Mary Ellen has been the director of admissions at Delaware Valley Friends School, a school for students in grades 1–12 who learn differently. She has been a volunteer, mentor, administrator, and more with the PBIDA. (5/23)
Karen Hershner Dedo ’78, Julie Riedel Schoch ’77, Erica Robinson Mitchell ’78, and Emily Thayer Guziak ’78 (pictured from left) gathered in Woolford, MD. (5/23)
Tracey Hooper Abby-White ’78, past president of the board of trustees at Brookdale Community College, was honored as Trustee Woman of the Year by the American Association for Women in Community Colleges. She is serving her third term on the board of trustees. In issuing the invitation, Monique Umphrey, president of AAWCC, said, “You have joined an elite group of women community college leaders who are making a difference for their institutions and the communities they serve.” Earlier, she served on the Henry Hudson Regional Board of Education, holding all offices, including president. She is a former Atlantic Highlands councilwoman and founded the Atlantic Highlands Youth Commission. Tracey is chairman of the Atlantic Highlands Municipal Tri-District Feasibility Study Committee and senior director of sales enablement at IronNet Cybersecurity. (12/22)
Gary Washington ’78 was named to the Rockdale Judicial Circuit Public Defender Supervisory Panel by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Gary is the Probate Court Judge for Rockdale County in Georgia, previously serving as an associate judge in the same court. He has more than 30 years of legal experience, including practicing at all levels of courts in Georgia. (5/23)
Beth Burns ’79 was welcomed as associate head coach for the University of Southern California women’s basketball team. She has over 30 years of experience in college women’s basketball, previously serving as associate strength and conditioning coach for the University of Louisville. (12/22)
Donna Burtch ’79 coauthored W.G., a biography of W.G. Raymond, an ordained abolitionist white officer appointed by President Lincoln to recruit the first federal African American Union Army troops after the Emancipation Proclamation. Written with her brother, William Burtch, the book follows their third great-grandfather, a complex and impactful figure in history, with themes that are still relevant today, such as race, addiction, a divided nation, and a truthchallenged government. (12/22)
John Mencke ’79, with his wife, Helen, retired from their careers in banking and insurance. Their daughter, Emma, is employed at Aon in New York City, and their son, Jack, is finishing his junior year at the University of Arizona. The couple recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on a trip to Sicily, the Amalfi Coast, and Puglia. After raising their kids in Summit, NJ, they relocated to Vero Beach, FL, to enjoy golf, tennis, beach, and the more favorable climate (excluding the occasional hurricane). (5/23)
Dave Wilson ’79 has a long history in the financial industry, starting as a bank teller while in school and later working at First Fidelity Security Group. He was a financial advisor until July 2022, when he became CEO at Ongoing Wealth Management with Charles Schwab & Co. as custodian. (5/23)
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