Hall of fame induction to be Sept. 28 at Beatty Field
The Tonganoxie USD 464 Education Foundation will induct a third class into its Education Hall of Fame on Friday, Sept. 28 at Beatty Field.
This year’s class consists of Lee A. Smith, Wanda Mae Smith Robb and Shirley Beach Tice. A second alumni achievement award also will be given out. W.J. “Bill” Stephenson Jr. is this year’s recipient of that award.
The hall of fame’s selection committee considers the following criteria when choosing inductees: outstanding service to the district by teachers, administrators and staff, outstanding contributions to education in our community by school board members and other citizens and outstanding achievements in the field of education by alumni.
The alumni achievement award is given to a graduate of Tonganoxie High School who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in areas such as career, community involvement, service and family. Each honoree will receive a plaque during the induction ceremony. Another plaque will be on permanent display in the lobby of the Tonganoxie Performing Arts Center at the high school.
Past inductees are Don Conrad, Jean Morgan Harman, Phil Jeannin, Mildred McMillon and Myrle Pettingill Leavitt (2011), as well as Tom Beatty, James Conway, Colene Slawson DeHoff-Botts, Phil Lobb and Marilyn Roberts Lobb, Robert Matthews, and Charles E. Miller and Corrine Wooten Miller (2010).
Here’s a closer look at the inductees and alumni achievement award winner:
W.J. “Bill” Stephenson Jr.
Stephenson graduated from Tonganoxie High School in 1943. After graduation, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was a tail gunner on a B-25 low-level bomber in the South Pacific during World War II. He was a part of the occupation force in Japan after the war. After his discharge from the army, Stephenson graduated from Baker University and then began a career in banking. He worked at First State Bank and Trust in Tonganoxie for nearly 40 years, retiring as board chairman in 1990. He helped establish the First State Bank scholarship at Tonganoxie High School, one of the oldest scholarships in the district. He served two terms on the Grade School Board No. 28 before district unification and was on the board when a bond issue was passed to build an elementary school. Later, Mr. Stephenson served as Treasurer for USD 464 for 10 years. In addition, Stephenson served on the Leavenworth County Fair Board, and was a member of Kiwanis and Henri Lodge No. 190. He and his wife, Betty, were active members of the Tonganoxie United Methodist Church. Accepting the award on behalf of Stephenson will be his children, Rodney Stephenson, Shari Ussery and Martha Schiltz.
Lee A. Smith
Smith began his career in education by teaching fifth grade and girls physical education, as well as coaching girls softball in Haven. Smith later taught and coached in Hartford. He taught, coached and was principal of grades kindergarten through eighth in both Osborne and Waverly before coming to Tonganoxie in 1966 where he served as principal of grades K-8 for 10 years. He then served as principal of grades K-6 for the district for three more years before moving to the high school for a year as assistant principal. He completed his education career by serving as principal of Tonganoxie High School for 15 years. During his tenure in Tonganoxie, Mr. Smith was known as a great evaluator of teaching talent and he hired many outstanding teachers for the district. He was nominated by the Tonganoxie Jaycees as Outstanding Young Educator and was a state finalist. Lee is a lifelong avid horseman and trainer and was ranked in the top 10 in the American Quarter Horse Association chart book. He also managed the Eureka Downs Racetrack in Eureka for two years.
Wanda Mae Smith Robb
Robb graduated from Tonganoxie High School in 1941. She attended both Friends University and Baker University and received her undergraduate degree in education. During her husband Bill’s career in the Air Force, she taught at an Air Force Base in Newfoundland and later in Belton, Mo., as Bill finished his career at Richards-Gebauer Air Force Base.
After she retired from the military, the Robb family came back to Tonganoxie and taught fourth or fifth grade here for the next 29 years. Robb also served on the Friends’ University Board of Directors and was honored as a Leader of America in Education. She was also a member of the Kansas State Teachers Association. Faith, family and teaching were the priorities in her life. She took very seriously her role of educating students to help them reach their full potential. Accepting the award on behalf of Robb are her children, Nancy Hudson, Connie Gummelt, Eva Prince and Kathy Kurpeikis.
Shirley Beach Tice
Tice graduated from Topeka High School and attended Washburn University where she met her husband, Merald Tice. The Tices and their children Cindy, Debbie and Tim moved to Tonganoxie in 1962 when Merald bought the Laming-Tice Insurance Agency. She began working for USD 464 in 1966 as a part-time secretary at the high school. Tice began working as a full-time secretary the next year. After four years at the high school, she moved to Tonganoxie Junior High School. Tice was always willing to help students, faculty and staff in any way she could. She served the district as a secretary for 32 years and retired in 1998. Since that time, Tice has served as an emergency substitute teacher.
At the Sept. 28 THS football game, members of the Tonganoxie Education Foundation board will be available on the track on the south side of the field for anyone who would like to learn more about the foundation or who would like to support the foundation with a donation. A new option for giving to the foundation is the Chieftain fund in which amounts as small as $5 per month can be automatically withdrawn from a person’s checking account to go toward the foundation and its various projects.