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McPherson College Announces Citation of Merit Honorees

posted May 19, 2009 in ALUMNI

McPherson College is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2009 Citation of Merit Award. The most prestigious MC award, the Citation of Merit, recognizes lifetime achievements of outstanding alumni. In accordance with the college’s mission, nominees must meet two out of the following four criteria: achievement and success in a chosen profession, recognized achievement in and contribution to community, unusual service and leadership to the church, and outstanding service and demonstrated loyalty to the College and Alumni Association.

The Alumni Awards Committee and the Board of Trustees have recommended three outstanding alumni to receive the Citation of Merit during alumni weekend, May 23-24, 2009.


G. Eddie Ball graduated from MC in 1954 with a bachelor’s of science in biology. He then continued his education at the Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science where he graduated in 1955. He returned to McPherson to partner with his father, Glen Ball, in Ball & Son funeral home until his father’s death in 1981. He then owned and operated the business until he retired in 1995, when he sold the business. Throughout Ball’s years since graduation he has been very active in the McPherson community. Ball has been a member of the United Methodist Church for 65 years, where he taught Sunday School for ten years. He also has served on several committees including the YMCA Board for 25 years and the USD 418 school board for seven years. Ball also served on the Chamber of Commerce for 50 years and was a part of the Kiwanis Club for 53. He has served many offices and has chaired many committees. Ball is also a member of the Masonic Lodge, McPherson Shrine Club, American Legion, and has served on the community’s hospital board, library board, and has helped with the MC business drive and the Central College business drive. Ball is a member of the MC Athletic Hall of Fame. Ball coached baseball in the community for 10 years, as well as earned an Eagle Scout honor and eventually served as scout master for four years. Ball lives in McPherson with his wife Peggy. Ball has two children and three grandchildren.


A 1959 graduate, Gene Elliott has been active in the business community for many years. After receiving his degree in business administration, Elliott was employed at Farmer’s Alliance until 1966. From there, he became the president of Elliott Insurance Management Inc., until retiring in 2005. Elliott has been active on several boards, serving as president of the Kansas Association of Insurance Agents, president of IIAA’s National For Profit Corporation, and various non-profit boards including the food bank, YMCA, and Crimestoppers. He has also been active in the United Way and the Chamber of Commerce. Elliott has been active in the First Nazarene Church as lay leader, finance chairman and currently is a board member. Elliott currently plays senior softball on a Kansas City tournament team. Elliott and his wife Rhonda currently reside in Hutchinson. They have three children and eight grandchildren.


Sonja Sherfy Griffith attended MC for two years before obtaining her nursing degree from the University of Kansas in 1964. After working for two years as a public health nurse in St. Paul, Minn., Griffith received her master’s of science in public health in 1967. Griffith held various positions in Minnesota from 1968 to 1994 including staff development coordinator at the Minneapolis Health Department, was an OB/GYN instructor at St. Olaf College, and worked as town nurse and home health aide supervisor. In 1994, Griffith returned to McPherson where she worked for the McPherson County Health Department as a maternal and child coordinator for three years. In 1997, Griffith attended St. Paul School of Theology and has served as pastor of the First Central Church of the Brethren since. Griffith has been involved in several committees and church leadership activities too numerous to mention, including moderator and lead planner of the 2008 District Conference. Griffith also is trained in conflict resolution and mediation and is a mentor for a pastoral candidate in the Education for a Shared Ministry Program. In 1970, Griffith was named “Outstanding Young Woman in America,” she co-founded a well child clinic in Massachusetts, was named to “National Women Who Make a Difference” in 1996, and is a strong advocate of the Lybrook reservation and its Navajo people.

“I am still astounded that I would be chosen for this Citation of Merit,” Griffith said. “Let me receive it on behalf of all who have the opportunity to have careers that serve and make God’s love visible, regardless of recognition and affirmation.”

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