Sept. 4, 2017

Buena Vista University will hold its 40th annual Founders’ Day memorial service on Saturday, Sept. 23 to honor seven deceased individuals who have served the institution as staff, trustees, alumni, friends, and benefactors.

“The individuals being honored at this year's Founders’ Day have contributed significantly to our institution’s history and success, and they serve as an inspiration to all,” said BVU President Joshua Merchant. “The outstanding educational experience our students have access to is made possible thanks to the contributions and support of those who believe in the vision and future of BVU.”

Inaugurated in September 1978, Founders’ Day has become an annual memorial service that has honored more than 200 individuals. The service, led by Rev. Ken Meissner, University chaplain, begins at 11 a.m. at Schaller Memorial Chapel and is open for the public to attend.

“The individuals being honored at this year's Founders’ Day have contributed significantly to our institution’s history and success, and they serve as an inspiration to all. The outstanding educational experience our students have access to is made possible thanks to the contributions and support of those who believe in the vision and future of BVU.”

President Joshua Merchant

Those being recognized this year are:

Carl Adkins of Asheville, N.C., was an English professor at Buena Vista for over thirty years, where he taught in the areas of English composition, creative writing, literature and poetry. Carl was born in Grinnell and earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Grinnell College before joining the U.S. Army in 1960. Discharged in 1962, Carl went on to earn his master’s degree from the University of Idaho in 1964 and his Ph.D. from Kansas State University in 1972. While at Buena Vista, Carl served on numerous committees and departments. His roles included being chair of the faculty senate, assistant dean, leader of curriculum development, and varsity tennis coach. Carl was honored with emeritus status upon his retirement in 1998.

Sara J. Blum of Storm Lake, graduated from Buena Vista in 1988 with a degree in finance. She was a member of the Alumni Association Board and a generous benefactor of the institution. Sara was born in Carroll and attended Wall Lake Community School where she graduated in 1981. On July 7, 1984, Sara was united in marriage to Michael F. Blum; they had two children: John and Katie. Sara was a huge sports fan and seldom missed a sporting event involving her children. In her spare time, she volunteered her time to many school-related boards and committees.  

Donald F. “Don” Job of Oskaloosa, served as an adjunct professor for Buena Vista in Ottumwa from 1987-2006. Pursuing his passion for education, Don earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from William Penn University in 1953, a Master of Education degree from Drake University in 1967, and continued post-graduate work at Drake and the University of Iowa. Don began his career in education serving as the principal at Des Moines Christian School. After accepting a handful of other positions in education, Don went to work as the area guidance coordinator for Indian Hills Community College in 1974, where he later became an adjunct professor for Buena Vista until his retirement in 2006. In addition to his teaching and administrative career, Don pastored many churches throughout his lifetime.

Naomi Robinson of Storm Lake, graduated from Buena Vista in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and was a generous benefactor of the institution. Born in Storm Lake, Naomi went on to earn her Master of Arts degree in education from George Washington University while she was serving as an education and test specialist for the U.S. Army. Supported by outstanding training and knowledge with the U.S. Army, Naomi took on a variety of roles throughout her career. She also affiliated herself with several organizations, including the National Association of Female Executives, the Iowa Education Association, the Business and Professional Women’s Club, and Federally Employed Women.

Dr. Carroll Sawin of Lincoln, Neb., graduated from Buena Vista in 1954 with a degree in social science, and was a benefactor of the institution. Carroll was born in Anthon and served as the assistant superintendent of human resources for Lincoln Public Schools for several years. As a devoted civic servant, he was a member of First Plymouth UCC, the Nebraska School Administration Association, Masonic Lodge 19, and SERTOMA. He was also a board member of Friendship Home and Cedars, served as national president of the School Personnel Administration Association, and was known to many as a gifted tenor. 

Richard E. “Dick” Utter of Storm Lake, graduated from Buena Vista in 1950 with a degree in physical education, and was a benefactor of the institution. In 1945, Dick joined the U.S. Navy and earned a Victory Medal and the American Theater Ribbon before he was honorably discharged in 1954. On January 6, 1973, Dick was united in marriage to Janice Goodwin Sudbay. Dick was active in the Storm Lake Community and was the owner of Buena Vista Abstract. He also served on the Buena Vista Hall of Fame committee and was part of the BV Club. He was an original member of the Lake Creek Country Club and an exalted ruler of the Elks Club. Sports were a big part of Dick’s life, and he enjoyed being a referee and later running the time clock/scoreboard during BVU athletic games.  

Bob R. Willadsen of Storm Lake, graduated from Buena Vista in 1952 with a degree in business administration, and was a benefactor of the institution. As a college student, Bob participated in football and track and would later serve as a long-time volunteer football coach. In 1972, he was inducted into the Buena Vista Athletics Hall of Fame. Bob was born in Newell and served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War from 1952-1954, where he earned the rank of sergeant and received a National Defense Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal. Bob was united in marriage on June 17, 1967 to Marjorie A. Luther, who would later become a softball coach at Buena Vista. The couple had two children: Jennifer and Jay. Bob was active in the Storm Lake community and was a lifelong supporter of BVU athletics.