CHS Distinguished Alumni Award

Two new alumnus will be inducted as Columbia High School Distinguised Alumni on Friday, October 13, 2023.  Join us in congratulating Mr. Ronald Mable and Mr. Keith Lutz.

2022 Distinguished Alumni Awardees

L to R:  Robert A. Herman Jr.,  John “Jack” A. Yohe

Robert A. Herman, Jr.

Robert Herman graduated in 1972 from Columbia High School. While attending CHS, Bob was involved in Jr High and Varsity Wrestling and Football. In 1971, Bob was on the All County 1st Team offense and defense in Football and the 1972 Sectional Champion in Wrestling at 154-pound class. He participated in two musicals, chorus, Student Council, and Varsity “C” Club.

After graduation, Bob chose Pennsylvania State University to continue his education. He received his Associate Degree in 1978 in Community Service/Criminal Justice. During 1973-75, Bob was part of the Columbia Borough Police Department and then the East Hempfield Township Police Department from 1975-81. In 1984, he was appointed by Governor Thornburg as Magisterial District Judge and served this role until retirement in 2015. Then Bob was appointed as Senior Judge by the PA Supreme Court upon retiring. Bob served as VP of the Lancaster County Fraternal Order of Police and President and Secretary for District Nine of the PA Special Court Judges Association. Bob served as President and Secretary for Lancaster County Magisterial District Judge Association. During his 32 years of service, Bob was President four different times.

Bob coached many sports such as CBAA girl’s softball, boys’ baseball, and wrestling. He was the Assistant Coach of Football, Varsity Softball Coach, Varsity Cross Country Coach, Varsity and Assistant Wrestling Coach, and Assistant Wrestling Coach at LCHS and Elizabethtown College. He has been honored and awarded the Columbia Area Jaycees Police Officer of the year, Assistant Wrestling Coach of the year, and St. Peters Holy Name Man of the year.

Bob is an active and involved member of Columbia. He was a past Secretary and current President of the Susquehanna Valley Chapter of the Sports Hall of Fame, Vice President of the 11-11-11 club to honor veterans, St. Peter’s Holy Name past President, Lancaster County Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, CBAA, and various committees for church, sports, and community activities. His volunteer involvement entails being on the Columbia Memorial Day Committee, various church functions at St. Peter’s Church, committee member of the 100 years of football at CHS, and 50 years of wrestling.

Bob was appointed as a Senior Magisterial District Judge upon his retirement. He is at the Lancaster County courthouse on Thursdays where he presides over DUI and Domestic Violence hearings. Bob also substitutes for sitting judges that are out of their offices in Lancaster and York counties.

Bob is married to Sylvia for 49 years. They have 2 children, Robert III and Nicole, who are both married. He has 2 grandsons, Jude and Shane. He is still active in running and does this 6 days a week. He continues his coaching career by coaching his youngest grandson, Shane in Camp Hill for football. Bob loves spending a lot of his time going to his grandson’s football, baseball, and basketball games.

John "Jack" A. Yohe

Jack Yohe is a 1953 graduate of Columbia High School. Jack was the co-captain of the 1952 football team, the county scoring champion. This is a record that still stands at Columbia High School. Jack set a district 3 Class B record in the 100-yard dash and a state record. He coached 4 years as the assistant football coach and 19 years as head coach at Columbia High School and 14 years as varsity track coach, too. He also coached for 12 years as head football coach at Hempfield High School. He taught at Columbia High School for 24 years and at Hempfield High School for 10 years.

Upon graduation, Jack attended William and Mary College on a full athletic scholarship where he earned a BS in Health & Physical Education in 1958. He was second in the nation as a punt receiver. Jack attended West Chester State College and earned a ME in Health and Physical Education in 1972.

Jack was selected to the Columbia High School Hall of Fame four times. In 1981 he was the recipient of the Susquehanna Valley Chapter of the Sports Hall of Fame “Jimmy Sheckard Award” for outstanding contribution and dedication to sports in the local area. Then in 1993, Jack was inducted into the College of William and Mary Sports Hall of Fame.

After retiring from coaching, Jack served on the Columbia High School field house committee. He was a member of the Football Club that raised funds to install lights in the football stadium enabling night games. In 1998, he was the chairman of Columbia High School’s 100th Anniversary Football Centennial Committee. Then in 2001, Jack was co-chairman of the press box and football stadium night light committee and co-chairman of the dedication of the athletic field. Jack was active in the Columbia Education Foundation for four years and assisted Representative Schular in changing the law associated with enabling retired teachers to continue coaching with pay.

Jack’s wife is Margaretta Hoover Yohe of 56 years. They have three daughters, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Jack was a coin collector but now invests in the stock market. He keeps himself busy at home with cooking, going for groceries, and working around the house.

2019 Distinguished Alumni Awardees

L to R:  Glen Vogel,  Hilary Hershey

Glenn C. Vogel

Glenn C. Vogel graduated in 1961 from Columbia High School. While attending CHS, Glenn was involved in Varsity Football for 3 years, Basketball and captain for 1 year, Varsity Track for 4 years and captain his senior year. He was involved in Varsity C Club, National Honor Society, and Student Council. After graduation, Glenn chose Pennsylvania State University to continue his education. He received his BS in 1965. Then he attended the University of Illinois and graduated in 1967 with his MS degree and in 1970 received
his Ph.D. in chemistry. He came to Ithaca College as an assistant professor in 1970, was awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor in 1974. Glenn was promoted to full professor in 1982. He retired in 2003 after a 33-year career and has been named Professor Emeritus of Chemistry. His students loved him for his rigorous, interesting, an affable personality, plus being able to mentor students to obtain higher levels of achievement and success. He taught at the advanced and introductory levels and guided undergraduate research in peer-reviewed publications. Glenn received multiple grants from the National Science Foundation as well as from the Petroleum
Research Fund, Research Corporation, and W.R. Grace. He also awarded a grant from and served as a President of the Florida Conference on Catalysis. He was the Ithaca College nominee for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Professor of the Year Award in 1986. Glenn was an active member of the Ithaca College community. He was involved in a number of committees and
groups, including the Humanities and Sciences Scholarship Committee and the Academic Status Committee. Glenn is married to his wife, Kathy. He enjoys photography, making videos, hiking, golf, going to the fitness center, and watching all kinds of sports. He is a Penn State football fan and has had season tickets since 1971.

Hilary L. Hershey

Hilary L. Hershey is a 1982 graduate of Columbia High School. Hilary earned 4 letters in Field Hockey, Co-captain, All-County first-team selection, Girls Basketball, 4 letters-Co-captain, All-County first-team selection, 4-year varsity starter, Track and Field 3 letters-Co-captain, and County qualifier shot put and javelin. Hilary was involved in Band, National Honor Society, Editor of Crimson and Gold
Newspaper and Susquehannock Yearbook Staff. Upon graduation, Hilary attended American University where she earned a BS in computer Science-Statistics in 1986. During her years at American University, Hilary was a Presidential Scholar and in the University Honors Program. She played Women’s Basketball and was an outstanding Senior Athlete. Then she received her M.S. in Computer
Science (Software Engineering) at Johns Hopkins University in 1993. Hilary is a Cyber Software System Engineer at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. She focuses on applying defensive cyber solution to Navy systems with a particular emphasis on submarine systems. Additionally, she has significant experience in leading internal research and development science and technology
investment decisions related to sea control business efforts. She is certified in coaching youth sports- American Sport Education Program and Basketball Official with the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials Board 134. These are just a few of Hilary’s accomplishments and involvements such as; Unit Coordinator and Test Engineer, Assistant Branch Supervisor responsible for the Force Projections Sector’s intern program, member of the Mission Area Technology Transfer Team, Committee Member and Deputy Chair for JHU/APL Fellowships and Professorships Committee and she played a key role in establishing APL’s (Applied Physics Laboratory/John Hopkins) first-ever LGBT affinity group, Allies in the Workplace. Hilary has received many awards and honors for her work and sports and coaching success. Some of them are the Diversity Recognition Award, Director’s Diversity Recognition Award, Hammer Award, and the Maryland MESA College Prep Recognition-MESA USA, plus the Sports Hall of Fame Inductee- Columbia High School, Youth Sportsmanship Coach of the Year. Hilary’s community involvement consists of the Maryland STEM competition to Eagles Leadership Council, American University Athletics Department, and the WHO 22- Co-Coordinator and Co-Founder, Metastatic
Breast Cancer fundraising, awareness,, plus numerous Youth Sports Programs coaching Basketball. Hilary’s spouse is Nicki Meoli of 23 years. She is the daughter of Wayne and Marcy Hershey. Her hobbies consist of watching women’s college basketball, supporting
American University Athletics(especially women’s basketball), coaching, and supporting youth sports and Hilary enjoys traveling which her parents exposed her to at a young age.

2016 Distinguished Alumni Awardees

L to R: Mr. Kevin M. Kraft, Mr. Thomas C. Reinhart

Kevin M. Kraft Bio

Kevin M Kraft, Sr. graduate in 1970 from Columbia High School. While attending CHS, Kevin was involved in Track and Basketball and was part of the Student Exchange Program during the summer of 1969 and spent several weeks in Mexico. After graduation, Kevin choose York College of Pennsylvania to continue his education. He majored in Psychology and Sociology and graduated in 1973. Kevin also attended Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary
Science and received his degree in Mortuary Science. He successfully passed the PA State Board Examination for Funeral Directors in March 1975. After passing the PA State Board Examination he interned with the Clyde W. Kraft Funeral Home and then successfully passed the National Board Examination in 1976. Kevin is President and Owner of
Clyde W. Kraft Funeral Home.

Kevin is very involved in the Columbia and surrounding Communities. He is a member of many Associations such as the National Funeral Directors Association, Columbia Chamber of Commerce, 11-11-11 Club, Columbia Community Ambulance Association and many, many more. He also serves on the Board of numerous companies such as Donegal Mutual, Southern Mutual, Atlantic State, and many other insurance companies as well as serving on the boards of the Columbia Water Company, St. Anne’s Retirement Community, and the  Columbia Healthcare Foundation of which he is the Chairman. He is also involved with numerous Veterans Organizations and the Mount Bethel Cemetery.

With his vast involvement with the Columbia Community, Kevin has been honored with many awards. He has received the James “Jimmy” Sheckard Meritous Community Service Award, the Columbia Ministerial Recognition for 50 years of Faithful Community Service
Award, and has been the recipient of the Melvin Jones Fellow Columbia Lions Award.

Kevin is married to Suzanne L Murray and is the father of four children, Julie, Brian, Courtney and Kevin, Jr. and is “Papa” to 9 grandchildren. He is a lifelong member of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church and served on the Pastors Advisory Board and currently serves on the Finance Committee. Kevin has been a registered member of the Republican
Party since the age of 18.

Thomas C Reinhart

Thomas C Reinhart is a 1954 graduate of Columbia High School. Tom earned (8) Varsity Sports Letters while attending CHS in football, baseball and basketball. He was a member of the National Honor Society, served as President of the Student Council and starred in the play “Harvey”. Upon graduation, Tom attended Lebanon Valley College where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He attended LVC on a football and academic scholarship. He was President of his class, was named to the Dean’s List and graduated in 1958. Tom was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from LVC in 1983. 

After college, Tom enlisted in the Marine Corps where he served 6 months on active duty and 6 years in the reserves. In 1959 he married Polly, who he met at Lebanon Valley College and is a native of Lititz, PA. Tom and Polly moved to West Lawn, PA and raised two children, Betsy who graduated from Elizabethtown College and David who graduated from F& M College. They have 6 grandchildren and are expecting their first great-grandchild.

Tom started his career working in the packaging industry. He worked for a company in Reading PA for 12 years before starting his own packing company. Tom and his partner were the founders of ray-Pak
Corporation, which grew to be a 200 person manufacturing company.
Tray-Pak manufactures plastic trays for cookie and candy companies.
They owned and operated Tray-Pak for 25 years before retiring.

Tom’s biggest devotion outside his family is and always has been Lebanon Valley College. Tom was the President of the Alumni Association, served as a Trustee for over 30 years, chaired the Board of Trustees for 7 years and was the chairman of 2 fundraising campaigns that raised close to $100 million for the college. He currently serves on the board as a Trustee Emeritus. 

Outside his involvement with LVC, he also served on Church Council for Advent Lutheran Church, and has been involved with the Easter Seal Society, Berks County Boys and Girls Club, and Caron Treatment Centers and was the Master of Ceremonies for a 500 person fundraising dinner that raised $10 million for the United Way. 

2015 Distinguished Alumni Awardees

L to R: Ms. Karen A. Kuhn, Dr. Michael G. Gerfin, Dr. Christopher Phiel

Ms. Karen A. Kuhn

A 1978 graduate of Columbia High School, Karen earned her B.A. in Political Science and Certificate in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She also holds a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from The George Washington University. In 1990, Karen received her Juris Doctorate  from the  National  Law Center at George Washington University. Karen graduated from the “Senior Managers Government” program, The John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University in 2009.

Karen started her legal career as an Honors Attorney with the Department of Treasury in 1990. As one of her rotations at Treasury, she served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting criminal cases in the Eastern District of Virginia. Karen then worked as a staff attorney for the U.S. Customs Service in Los Angeles, Sterling (VA), and Atlanta. She was promoted to Assistant Chief Counsel (Tampa) in 1999 and then to Deputy Associate Chief Counsel (Miami) in 2002. Karen served as the CBP Chief  Counsel  Liaison to  U.S.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington, DC after the Department of Homeland Security was created in March 2003.

Karen A. Kuhn is the Associate Chief Counsel (Miami) for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a Senior Executive position that she has held since September 2004. CBP is the border agency of the United States, often referred to as “America’s Frontline,” with a priority mission of preventing terrorists and their weapons from entering the country. CBP also fosters American economic security by facilitating lawful trade and travel to and from the  United  States. Karen leads five legal offices located in Atlanta, Tampa, Miami, New Orleans, and San Juan which deliver legal services to CBP personnel in ten states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Aruba, Bahamas, and Bermuda.

Michael G. Gerfin

Michael G. Gerfin is a 1961 graduate of Columbia High School. Upon graduation, Mike attended Stevens State School of Technology to earn an Associate Degree in Electricity/Electronics. He continued pursuing his studies, and earned his Bachelor Degree from Millersville University in 1967, his Master Degree from Seton  Hall University in 1971 and his Doctorate Degree from Temple University in 1978.

During this time, Mike began applying his knowledge in the work force, first with the Boys Club of Lancaster. He then took a position at Schuylkill Valley High School teaching Mathematics. Mike returned to Stevens in 1971 as Vice President/ Director of Student Affairs and Athletics as well as a Math Instructor. Enhancing his career, Mike served as an Adjunct  Mathematics Instructor at Millersville and Penn State Universities from 1972 thru 1988. Mike then moved to the business sector in 1988, as a Statistical Resource Specialist and Manager of Reliability Engineering at AMP Incorporated, Harrisburg for the next five years. The call for Higher Education returned and Mike spent thi rteen years until his retirement in 2001 at Penn State University as a professor of Management Development. Not one to stay retired, Mike founded his own company that same year, Impact Consulting, where he continues to offer his knowledge and expertise for Quality and Productivity to various companies and organizations. As a compliment  to his career, Mike had a number of profession writings published.

Balancing his academics and family life, Mike also found time to coach football at Schuylkill  Valley HS and Millersville University.  As  well as serving as a current board member at Schreiber Pediatrics Rehab Center, Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Columbia Catholic Housing for the Elderly, Inc. and the Columbia Healthcare Foundation, Inc.


It is also no surprise as to the number of accolades and recognitions Mike has received over the years: induction into the  Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Susquehanna Chapter; the Sports Hall of Fame at Columbia High School; the Sports Hall of Fame, Doctor of Public Service and Alumni Hall of Fame from Thaddeus Stevens College and receiving the Board Service Award from St. Anne’s Retirement Community.

Christopher J. Phiel, Ph.D.

Christopher J. Phiel, Ph.D., was born in Lancaster, PA, and spent his entire childhood in Columbia. He attended Taylor Elementary School (the old Taylor building) through 5th grade, then attended Park Elementary School for 6th grade. During this time, Chris won the contest naming the elementary schools the Red Ripple (you’ re welcome!). Attending Columbia Junior-Senior High School, Chris  was a  member  of the student  council   and

Nation Honor Society. He also played multiple sports (baseball, basketball, football, and track), earning 10 varsity letters, and was a member of the 1987 PIAA AA basketball championship team. He graduated as class salutatorian in 1988. Chris then attended Ursinus College, where he majored in Biology and was a 4-year starting shortstop on the baseball team – and met wife, Kristen. After graduating from Ursinus in 1992, Chris attended graduate school at Thomas Jefferson University, receiving his Ph.D. in Developmental Biology in 1998. This was followed by a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. During this time, Chris published two prominent papers – the discovery of valproic acid as a histone deacetylase inhibitor, and the discovery of a role for Gsk-3 in the production of amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease brains – that have since been cited by other researchers over 1000 times each. After leaving Penn, Chris became a faculty member at Ohio State University, performing research at Nationwide  Children’s  Hospital  in Columbus,  OH, and received a

$1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. In 2012, Chris moved his lab to his current location at the University of Colorado Denver. During his time as a faculty member, Chris has mentored over two dozen undergraduates and several graduate students. He continues to pursue his passions in teaching molecular biology and performing cutting edge biomedical research. Chris and Kristen live in Denver, CO with their children, Elaina (age 10) and Jack (age 8).

2014 Distinguished Alumni Awardees

Glenn S Banner

Glenn S. Banner Bio

Glenn S Banner has been an achiever all his life. This was first evident in his high school life in Columbia. Starting in 8th grade, he made honor roll every marking period through 12th grade, when he graduated in 1951 as the class salutatorian and commencement speaker. He was Class President during his Freshman, Junior and Senior years. Glenn was instrumental in the creation of Columbia’s Student Council and served as their first president. Outside the classroom, Glenn was an outstanding baseball player, lettering three years and captained his last year of play.
Glenn went on to earn his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Millersville State Teachers College. He graduated in 1963 as the class salutatorian. While at Millersville, he was president of Phi Sigma Pi Honors Fraternity and was named to the Who’s Who in
Eastern Colleges of the USA.
Glenn began teaching in 1960 at James Buchanan Elementary School. While there, he began studying Spanish at both Franklin & Marshall and Millersville Colleges. From 1966 to 1988, Glenn taught Spanish at Conestoga Valley High School. During his tenure, he was appointed Foreign Languages Department Chairperson. Sharing his love of Spanish, Glenn chaperoned student field trips to Spain. At CV, Glenn coached many baseball and tennis teams, as well as sponsoring intramural bowling and basketball clubs. In 1971, the Pennsylvania State Department of Education recognized Glenn with the Foreign Language Teacher of the Year Award.
Throughout all these years, Glenn had a passion and a mission to write a novel depicting the local history during the Civil War. Upon his retirement, he completed his manuscript Flames Across the Susquehanna. It was first published in 1993 and has gone on to sell over 25,000 copies to date. Since then, Glenn has done over 430 speaking engagements on the Civil War throughout Pennsylvania.
Glenn Banner has brought considerable fame and recognition to Columbia. He remains a generous benefactor to the Columbia Historic and Preservation Society and most recently had their main display hall named “Banner Hall” in his honor.

2013 Distinguished Alumni

Margaret “Peggy” Cifrino

Margaret "Peggy" Cifrino BIO

Margaret “Peggy” Cifrino has worked for General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret) for 20 years. She is currently the Principal Assistant to General Powell and manages his office in Alexandria, Virginia. She is the primary liaison between the General and the government, corporate and private sectors. She serves as his spokeswoman, scheduler and advisor on various matters. Peggy assisted General Powell in researching and editing his best-selling books, “My American Journey” (1995) and “It Worked for Me” (2012).
From January 2001 to January 2005, Peggy served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary Powell at the U.S. State Department. During her years there she traveled to over 35 countries. Before serving at the State Department, she was General Powell’s executive assistant (1993-2000), following his retirement as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Prior to working for General Powell, Peggy served as a special assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon (1981-1993). She began her career as a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill (1973-1980) after graduating from West Virginia University in 1973. Peggy serves on the Board of Directors of the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum in Washington, D.C., which celebrates the history of women’s progress toward equality. One of the premier women’s history sites in the country, this National Historic Landmark houses the foremost collection of suffrage memorabilia.

2012 Distinguished Alumni


L to R: Dr. Edwin Becker, Dr. Toby Jo Orem Graham, Dr. Hiram Fitzgerald

Dr. Edwin Becker BIO

Dr. Edwin Becker of Great Falls, Virginia is a 1948 graduate of Columbia High School. He received a B.S. in Chemistry (Summa cum Laude) from the University of Rochester in 1952 and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkley in 1955. Dr. Becker spent the major part of his career since 1955 at the National Institutes of Health near Washington D.C. He has been chief of the Molecular Biophysics Section, Chief of the Laboratory of Chemical Physics, Associate Director for International Research, Associate Director for Research Services, Chief of the NMR Section in the Analytical Chemistry Laboratory and professorial lecturer at Georgetown University. Dr. Becker is a well-known author of High-resolution NMR, a popular textbook and co-author of Pulse and Fourier Transform NMR a book that played a major role in developing Fourier transform NMR methods and their application to carbon-13. Dr. Ted Becker is widely known as the architect behind the very successful NMR and MRI programs at the National Health Institutes. Dr. Becker has received the following awards:  The Coblentz Prize in Vibrational Spectroscopy; Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Bicentennial Medal, Georgetown University; Foreign Fellow of the National Academy of Science, India; National Associate, U.S., National Academy of Sciences; Distinguished Service Award in Analytical Chemistry, and Fellow, American Chemical Society. At CHS he was editor of The Crimson and Gold (school newspaper), yearbook staff, Dramatic club, and intramural council. He won three major essay contests, was a commencement speaker and was the graduate with the highest academic
standing. He credits his excellent teachers and education at CHS with his success in life.

Dr. Toby Jo Orem Graham BIO

Toby Jo Orem Graham of Sewickley, Pa. and the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine, is a 1961 graduate of CHS and went to Gettysburg College where she majored in Biology. After Gettysburg, she enrolled at Temple University and received her M.D, in 1969. She interned at University of Pittsburgh Presbyterian-University Hospital in
Internal Medicine. She became a Medical Resident and Teaching Fellow. In 1977 she became a Fellow, Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Since 1973 she has been on faculty and staff of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Presbyterian University
Hospital. In 1979 she joined the Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist Division of GI, Hepatology, Nutrition. From 1992 to the present she has been Section Head: Intestinal Health and Nutrition Division, GI, Hepatology and Nutrition; Director, Nutrition support Services University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Her honors and awards are numerous and include: at Gettysburg; Beta Beta Beta Biology Honorary Society, president of the student senate, Senior prize for academic excellence; Golden Apple Award nominee for teaching excellence, Univ. of Pittsburg, Senior Residents’ Award for excellence in clinical
teaching (two years), Physician of the Year, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, “Women Making a Difference as Doctors”, Pittsburgh Post Gazette; outstanding contributions to the graduate medical education, U. of Pitt; Faculty Teaching Award, for extraordinary dedication to teaching and mentoring Gastroenterology Fellows, Division of GI, Hepatology and Nutrition. Toby is active in her community as a medical advisor to several organizations. She is active in her church as an Ordained and Ruling Elder, chairperson of several committees and was a member of a medical missionary delegation to Malawi, Africa. At CHS Toby was President of both student council and honor society, co-editor of Crimson and Gold newspaper, in history club, dramatic club, Tri-Hi-Y, chorus, English Club and Science Club.

Hiram "Hi" Fitzgerald BIO

Hiram “Hi” Fitzgerald of DeWitt, Michigan is a 1958 graduate of Columbia High School. He received his B.A. for Lebanon Valley College, M.A. from the University of Denver and Ph.D. for the University of Denver. At the University of Denver, he specialized in infant
psychology. He began a life-long career at Michigan State University. He started as Professor of Psychology and was named University Distinguished Professor and was appointed Assistant Provost for University Outreach and Engagement a position he
currently holds. He has published voluminously authoring or co-authoring 187 articles, 76 book chapters, and 73 books. He earned a reputation as one of the leading national and international scholars in his field. During his career, Hi received numerous personal and professional honors. They include; Lebanon Valley College’s Athletic Hall of Fame; LVC Alumni Citation, LVC Distinguished Alumnus Award; Fulbright-Hays Senior Lecturer, Yugoslavia; Distinguished Faculty Award, Michigan State University, World Association for Infant Mental Health Contribution Award; Dolly Madison Award for Infant Mental Health; and a biennial award named for him for Emerging Scholar/Research by the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health. At CHS Hi was first-team all-county in football, in basketball he was captain of the team and first-team all-state; and in Track he was a member of the District 3 championship mile relay team. At LVC, Hi continued his athletic success in football, basketball and track. He was a consistent Dean’s List student. He continues his important work at Michigan State while living in DeWitt with his wife Deborah and three children and eight grandchildren.

2011 Distinguished Alumni

T to B: Clifford Hess, Dr. Arthur Ford

Clifford Hess BIO

Clifford Hess, a 1961 graduate of Columbia High School, has distinguished himself in the United States space program while working for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas from 1962-1999. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Drexel University. Cliff was awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the American
Astronautical Society’s Victor Prather Award and three Johnson Space Center Certificates of Commendation (the highest award given by Johnson Space Center) as well a patent issued by the U.S. Patent Office. Cliff was the CHS commencement speaker in 1991 and served as a volunteer project engineer for the development of the Clear Creek Independent School District “space bus” project. Cliff has many interests and has certifications as Professional Engineer, private pilot, scuba diver, and skydiver. At Columbia High School, Cliff was President of Junior Achievement; treasurer of the Student Council, Honor Society, and Dramatic Club, he also was in the Science Club, Stage Crew, Radio Staff and Press Club.

Dr. Arthur Ford BIO

Dr. Arthur Ford is a 1955 graduate of Columbia High School and currently is Professor Emeritus and Playwright-in-Residence at Lebanon Valley College, where he was a professor for thirty-six years. After graduating from CHS and Lebanon Valley he earned a PhD. from Bowling Green University. Art returned to Lebanon Valley and taught,
wrote and traveled. He was a Fulbright scholar and lecturer at Damascus University in Syria and Nanjing University in China. Dr. Ford is a novelist and playwright. His wide range of writing includes fiction, non-fiction, plays, librettos, poetry and short stories. He has nearly twenty published works in all fields. His most recent novels are “Shunned” (2008) and “The Offer” (2009). While a student at CHS, Dr. Ford was the starting fullback on the Conference of Roses championship teams of 1953 and 1954. He earned three letters and was captain of the baseball team. Through his teen years he was an accomplished pitcher and still plays in a softball league. Art is married to the former Mary Ellen Keiser, also a CHS graduate and together they have three daughters and six grandchildren. They travel extensively and volunteer at retirement communities.

2009 Distinguished Alumni Awardees

Wayne Von Stetten

Wayne Von Stetten BIO

The 2009 Distinguished Alumni for Columbia Borough School District presented by the Columbia Education Foundation was Mr. Wayne Von Stetten. Wayne Von Stetten graduated from Columbia High School in 1942. He was on the 1941 undefeated football team that was recently inducted into the Columbia Athletic Hall of Fame. He served in the U. S. Navy during World War II, graduated from Bloomsburg State Teachers College and spent the next four decades in public education in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. He earned a Masters Degree from Seton Hall University. He taught English and was the principal of the high school in his years of service. He was a leader in urban education leading in the desegregation of schools in which he served. Wayne authored four published books: “Family Ties”, “Few Loose Ends”. “Jessie Was Her Name”, and “Distinguished Military Men”. The later book was about the six Generals and two Admirals from Columbia High School. All proceeds from the book were donated to the Columbia Public Library. Pictures of the Generals and Admirals grace the lobby of Columbia High School. Wayne was the principal of Brandywine High School in Delaware and had the athletic complex named in his honor. “The Wayne Von Stetten Stadium.” He taught communications at Rutgers University and the University of Delaware. He has been honored by President Reagan at the White House as a United States Model high School Principal. He has also been honored by the Valley Forge Foundation and Danforth Foundation. In 1997 he received the Distinguished Service Award from Bloomsburg University. Today Wayne lives at Willow Valley with his wife Margaret. They are the parents of Wayne II, James, Eileen, and Richard. He volunteers with the Columbia Historic  Preservation Society and various committees at the Willow Valley Spring Run.

2008 Distinguished Alumni Awardees

L to R: Major General H. Smoker, USAF (Retired), Dr. James N. Rust, Bottom: Dr. Frederick Sample

Major General H. Smoker, USAF (Retired) Bio

The first Distinguished Alumni Awardee is Frank H. Smoker, Jr., Major General, USAF (retired), born in Columbia, Pennsylvania in June 1925. He married Kathleen Farrow, Wellingborough, England, in December 1945. They have two children, Barbara and David. General Smoker enlisted in the Army Air Corps in February 1943 while still a senior in Columbia High School, then entered Aviation Cadet training in July 1943. After Preflight at Maxwell AFB, LA, he completed Navigation School (Class 44­12), Selman Field, LA, in October 1944. Commissioned a Second Lieutenant, he joined his crew as a B17G navigator and flew a new B17G to England in January 1945. Lieutenant Smoker was assigned to the 325th Bomb Squadron, 92 nd Bomb Group, Podington Air Base, England, and flew 26 combat missions over Germany, totaling 222 combat hours. Shortly after VE Day, his group was transferred to Istres Field, France, where the group participated in the Green Project, ferrying troops from Marseilles to Casablanca, Africa. He was released from active duty in July 1946 as a Captain in the Air Force Reserve. While attending Franklin and Marshall College, he joined the Pennsylvania Air National
Guard in October 1946 and upon completing of college, commenced full­time service with the Air Guard in July 1949. In order to qualify for pilot training, Captain Smoker requested and received a demotion to First Lieutenant, entered USAF pilot training and
graduated as a pilot (Class 52­B) in March 1952. He returned to his Air Guard unit in Harrisburg, PA, which was then assigned F­51 aircraft, and was re­promoted to Captain. He continued to serve full­time with the Air Guard. By 1955, then Major Smoker, transferred to Headquarters, Pennsylvania Air National Guard at Fort Indiantown Gap, and was assigned as Executive Officer. In 1960, he was promoted to  Lieutenant Colonel. He was promoted to Colonel in 1964, and in 1972, following his year­long tour attending the senior Air Force school, the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, AL, he returned to Fort Indiantown Gap and was assigned as the Deputy Commander. During the last seven years of his 42-year military career, General Smoker served as Commander, Pennsylvania Air National Guard. He retired as a Major General in June 1985. During the 1960’s, General Smoker flew numerous worldwide C­121 transport missions, including combat missions into Vietnam. He holds three aeronautical ratings: Command Pilot, Navigator and Observer, with over 5000 hours flying time. General Smoker has received dozens of decorations and service awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal from the Air Force, which is the highest honor bestowed on a person during peacetime; he has many civilian and community affiliations, and received dozens of community service awards.
He now resides in Lebanon, PA and serves as a military consultant throughout the

Dr. James N. Rust BIO

The second person to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award is James N. Rust of Rockville, Maryland. Dr. Rust was born in Lykens, PA in 1938, and graduated from Columbia High School in 1946.
Dr. Rust married Nancy Elizabeth Hipple in 1949 and they have four children, James, Nancy, Suzanne, and David. Dr. Rust has spent his entire career in activities of international health in order to keep abreast of newer methodology in areas of Public
Health and Epidemiology, and retired from the World Health Organization, based in
Washington, D.C., in 1988. He earned a BS degree from Franklin & Marshall College in 1954, an MS and Ph.D. from George Washington University in 1955 and 1958 respectively.
Dr. Rust has worked and served all over the world in areas of smallpox eradication, bacterial disease prevention, plague and cholera surveillance, and monitoring, and other infectious disease projects. He has served in many countries in South America, the
Caribbean, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand. He has also spent his
early career at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.
He has been an author and co­author of over fifty technical publications and has
prepared an extensive technical literature review on the etiology of polio­like illnesses.
For the past twenty years, since his retirement, he has provided consultation in
immigration programs and surveys, diarrheal disease programs and surveys, and
respiratory disease and malaria programs within the context of primary health care.

Dr. Frederick Sample BIO

The third honoree is Frederick Sample, a 1948 graduate of Columbia High School. Dr. Sample was born on North Seventh Street in 1930 and lived most of his young life at 745 Locust Street. He married Mary Jane Drager in 1951. Dr. Sample earned a BA degree from Lebanon Valley College in 1952, an M.Ed. at Western Maryland College, and an Ed.D. from Penn State. He also received honorary doctoral degrees from Albright College in 1968 and from Lebanon Valley College in 2006. His entire professional career was spent in the education field. Beginning in 1952, after graduating from LVC, and extending through 1992, Dr. Sample was a high school teacher and coach, high school principal and supervising principal, school superintendent, University relations administrator, and college president. The high schools in which he worked were
Annville Township, Red Lion, Manheim Township, and Bellefonte. The colleges
included Lebanon Valley and Bucknell.
From 1964­68, Dr. Sample was the superintendent of the Manheim Township School
District. In 1968, he was appointed the president of Lebanon Valley College and remained at LVC until 1984. For two years, he was the university relations administrator
at Bucknell, and he completed his educational career by being the superintendent of the
Bellefonte School District from 1987­1992. He continues to do educational consulting from his home in Elizabethtown.
Dr. Sample has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Lebanon Valley
College, the thirty­third degree of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, and serves on the
Governing board of the Lancaster Learning Center for dyslexic children.

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