The Buena Vista University National Alumni Association honored five individuals over Homecoming weekend for their service to the university and to society. The awards were presented at a special ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 9.
Those honored were:
Leon Shearer, Class of 1965,of Waukee, the recipient of the Henry Olson Distinguished Service Award. The award is the highest honor presented by the BVU Alumni Association. Named in honor of BVU’s 13th president, the award recognizes former students who have made significant contributions to society and/or to the University for their exceptional effort, dedication and self-sacrifice in service to others.
Leon is a semi-retired attorney who has practiced law in the Des Moines area for more than 42 years.
At Buena Vista, where he majored in accounting and graduated with honors, Leon, was a member of the golf team, Circle K and Gamma Sigma Phi fraternity. He is a past member of the board of the BVU National Alumni Association and was named BV Alumnus of the Year in 1977.
He earned his law degree with high distinction from the University of Iowa in 1967 and practiced in California until 1969 when he moved to Des Moines to join the firm of Davis, Hockenberg, Wine, Brown, Koehn & Shors. In 1987, he left that firm to cofound the firm of Shearer, Templer and Pringel. Ten years later, he joined Pioneer Hi-Bred International as vice president and general counsel. He headed the legal team and was a member of the negotiating team that worked on Pioneer’s merger with Dupont. He retired from Pioneer in 2001.
Leon has coauthored two technical books on construction law and has been a local and national speaker on varied technical topics. In his semi-retirement, he still works with a limited number of long-term clients and recently published a murder mystery novel, “Cycles of Death.”
Leon has been active in a number of community and civic organizations in the Des Moines area, and has been a member of the California, Iowa and American Bar Associations and held leadership positions in the Iowa Bar Association.
For 10 years, he served on the board of directors of Childserve, which provides service and care for children with special health care needs in central Iowa. He was also president, chairman of the foundation and co-head of the organization’s last two capital campaigns that raised $4 million for new facilities. He and his wife, Dianna, are also active in the annual fund raising program for the John Stoddard Cancer Center in Des Moines.
Leon is a past president of Des Moines Golf and Country Club and was a committee chair who helped bring the U.S. Senior Open to that golf club in 1994, which set an attendance record for the event that is still intact.
Leon and Dianna, who are members of the Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, have four children: Shawn in Dallas, Texas; Jeff in Minneapolis, Minn.; Heidi and Brad in Des Moines. They have 10 grandchildren.
Kristi Kramersmeier, Class of 1988, of Fayetteville, N.Y., the recipient of the Keith Briscoe Alumni Award. The award was named in honor of BVU’s 16th President, who led the campus from 1974 to 1995. It is intended to recognize graduates for their past student achievements and present career success.
Kristi is vice president of new product development for Advance/Newhouse Communications, the owner and operator of Bright House Networks. The company provides digital cable, high speed Internet and home phone products and services to 2.5 million customers mostly in the central Florida area.
Before enrolling at BV, she had earned an associate of arts degree at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge. At Buena Vista, Kristi was active in the International Club and was a member of one of the first student groups to participate in an exchange program with Hokusei Gakuen University in Sapporo, Japan in 1987. Her involvement with BVU has continued as an alumna, including participation in the Career Symposium and serving on the board of the BVU National Alumni Association from 1995-99.
After graduating from BVU with a degree in small business management/marketing, Kristi went to work for Microware Systems Corporation, an international high-tech software company in Des Moines. From 1991-94, she was the company’s international marketing manager, based in Tokyo. She advanced through the company’s executive ranks to the position of director of contract management before leaving in 1999.
In 2000, Kristi enrolled in Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of International Management (now Thunderbird School of Global Management) in Glendale, Arizona. She received her master’s degree in international management in 2001 and was selected by faculty for the highest student honor presented at graduation.
In 2002, she joined IBM Microelectronics in Burlington, Vt., as an integrated supply chain planning analyst and in 2004 went to work for Advance/Newhouse Communications.
During her career, Kristi has volunteered as a guest speaker about her experiences in Japan at schools and civic organizations and has been recognized with a number of professional honors. In 2006, Kristi was named as one of CableWorld’s Most Powerful Women: Top Women in Technology. She is also active in several professional organizations, including Women in Cable Telecommunications where she was a member of Class 15 (2006-07) of the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute.
In her spare time, Kristi enjoys watching movies, reading and playing volleyball and serves on the board of directors of the Syracuse Stage Guild. She is a member of the United Church of Christ.
Douglas Ewald, Class of 1985, of Omaha, Neb., the recipient of the John Fisher Alumni Award. The award was established in 1970 and named for Buena Vista’s 14th president. This outstanding service award recognizes a former student who possesses a consistent and persevering dedication to the qualities for which the University stands.
Doug is tax commissioner for the State of Nebraska.
An accounting major, during his years at Buena Vista Doug was a resident advisor, played varsity baseball, was a member of the senior class development committee and was on the Dean’s List.
A CPA, he earned his master’s degree in accounting in 1987 at the University of Nebraska, Omaha and joined Arthur Anderson & Company in Omaha, working in taxation. In 1990, he went to work for the Union Pacific Railroad as a tax associate and advanced to the position of director of state taxes before leaving in 2006 to take the State of Nebraska position. One of his major accomplishments as tax commissioner was his work on the development and passage of the largest tax relief package in Nebraska history in 2007.
Among his community involvement activities, Doug serves on the University of Nebraska at Omaha Accounting Advisory board; the Millard North Baseball board; and the Omaha AAA Hockey Club board of directors. His outside interests include golf and coaching youth baseball.
He is a member of Nebraska Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Doug is a past member of the board of the BVU National Alumni Association, participates in BVU’s Career Symposium and has been instrumental in placing BVU students in internships with the Nebraska Department of Revenue and with his previous employer, Union Pacific.
Doug and his wife, Donna, who are members of St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Omaha, have two sons, Dane, a freshman at the University of Nebraska, Omaha; and Cale, a sophomore at Millard North High School. Donna is a senior systems engineer for Baldwin, Hackett and Meeks in Omaha.
Archie Mackay, of Alta, a recipient of the Wendell Halverson Outstanding Friend Award. Named in honor of BVU’s 15th president, the award recognizes service by individuals who are not alumni of the university.
Archie, a retired farmer, is a well-known bagpiper who has played at nearly every BVU Commencement since the early 1980s, and each Founders Day leads freshmen through the Victory Arch.
After graduating from Aurelia High School in 1945, Archie joined the U.S. Navy Reserves and served on active duty until 1946. He then worked for the Iowa Department of Public Safety for eight years, first as a clerk in the Cherokee office, followed by five years as an Iowa State Trooper based in Atlantic. While in Atlantic, he met and married his wife, Jannie, who died in December, 2008.
After leaving the state patrol, Archie, the first born to Scottish immigrants, returned to Alta to operate the family farm, which had been owned by his parents since 1941. He retired from farming at the age of 65.
Archie first took up the bagpipes 75 years ago at the age of eight when he, his mother and younger brother were visiting relatives in Scotland. While in Scotland, an uncle started teaching him the bagpipes. When the family returned home to Alta with a set of bagpipes for his father, both Archie and his father started learning to play. Along with an uncle and a couple of other players, they formed a small family bagpipe band that played together for several years.
Over the years, Archie, dressed in his full authentic Scottish regalia, has played the bagpipes at schools, nursing homes, weddings and at special events in Northwest Iowa.
Archie has been a Mason for over 60 years, and served three times as Grand Lodge officer. He has been a member of the Order of Eastern Star since the early 1950s. He is a member of the Alta Presbyterian Church.
Archie has four daughters: Bonnie Buekelman (husband Roy), Storm Lake; Lori Diischer (Clayton), rural Alta; Tami Douglas (James), Pewaukee, Wis.; and Robin Meyer (Mark), Algona. His son, David, who was also a bagpipes player, died in 2008. Archie has 12 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. His brother, James, is a 1966 graduate of Buena Vista.
The late Dr. Wayne Higley, of Storm Lake, a recipient of the Wendell Halverson Outstanding Friend Award. Named in honor of BVU’s 15th president, the award recognizes service by individuals who are not alumni of the university.
Wayne was honored posthumously. The award was accepted by his family at BVU’s Founders Day memorial program on Aug. 28. Wayne, who died Feb. 28, 2010, was professor of accounting at BVU from 1986-2001 and after his retirement he continued teaching as professor emeritus through the spring of 2008.
A native of Iowa City, Wayne earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1953 from the University of Iowa, served in the U.S. Army from 1953-55 and received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in accounting at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1958. He continued his education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, earning a master’s degree in accountancy in 1960 and a PhD in accounting in 1962. He became a CPA in Illinois in 1959 and was a certified management accountant.
Before joining the BVU faculty, Wayne taught at Northern Illinois University at DeKalb from 1984-86, and was a professor of accounting at the University of Nebraska at Omaha from 1961-1984 and served as chair of the accounting department for a number of years.
In 1995, Wayne received the George Wythe Award, BVU’s highest honor for excellence in teaching and then in 2001 he was inducted into the Order of Cumberland and Tollefson, which is reserved for retiring BVU faculty members who have given exceptional service to the university. He established the Dr. Wayne Higley Endowed Accounting Scholarship, which has been supported by alumni and friends.
Wayne was active in Lakeside Presbyterian Church and several community organizations in Storm Lake. His outside interests included golf, curling, bridge, cribbage and Scrabble.
Among his survivors are his children: Margaret (Vince) Farnsworth of Montrose, Colo.; Charles (Sarah) Higley of Madison, Wis.; and Alan (Erin) Higley of Shoreview, Minn.; and three grandchildren.