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McPherson College Honors Distinguished Alumni

posted Jun 28, 2010 in ALUMNI

An expert in hand surgery, a dedicated teacher and mother, and a farmer committed to social good have received the highest honor given by McPherson College. The McPherson College Citation of Merit is given to the college’s most distinguished alumni for lifetime accomplishments in service to profession, community, church and to McPherson College. The recipients are recommended by the Alumni Awards Committee and approved by the College Board of Trustees. The college honored J. Mark Melhorn, Vida Sue Werner Snavely and Don Goodfellow as the 2010 award recipients during alumni weekend, May 22-23, 2010.

Melhorn, a 1975 graduate, went on to graduate with a PhD from the University of Kansas and became a prominent orthopedic surgeon specializing in hands and upper extremities. Melhorn is owner of The Hand Center in Wichita, Kan., and has written more than 350 articles, book chapters and other publications about his work. This includes leading contributions to the American Medical Association’s 6th Edition of Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. Among his patients is Steve Gustafson, professor of music at McPherson College, who said his career as a pianist and organist would not have continued without Melhorn’s care. “Mark is a national leader in the treatment and prevention of hand injuries and diseases,” Gustafson wrote in an e-mail, “and we are fortunate to have someone of his caliber in our area.” Melhorn and his wife, Kathy, have served the college in numerous roles and contributed the naming gift to Melhorn Science Hall on campus.

Vida Sue Werner Snavely, a 1965 graduate in English, spent five years teaching in Atwood, Kan., and Elmhurst, Ill., after her graduation. In 1970, she began a 21-year career as a full-time mother, including taking care of her own mother for the last four. During this time, she was also involved with volunteering for church and school. Snavely’s daughter, Suanne, said that this dedication paid off in the lives of Snavely’s children. “My mom has always given us the tremendous gifts of support, love, and encouragement,” she said. “These gifts have fostered confidence and served as an example of how to develop relationships with other people in our lives, including our families.”

Snavely returned to teaching English in 1991 at Elizabethtown Area High School in Elizabethtown, Penn., until her retirement in 2005. But Snavely has not retired from community involvement. Her service has included serving on the Community World Day of Prayer committee, the Lancaster County Council of Churches food and clothing bank, the Brethren Village Health Center, Church of the Brethren World Service, and Church of the Brethren Disaster Response Projects.

Don Goodfellow, a 1955 graduate of the college in rural life, has exemplified the original description of his degree. It emphasized not only agriculture, but also social, economic and religious leadership in rural areas. Primarily a farmer and stockman, Goodfellow has also devoted himself as a full-time father and grandfather, having three children with his wife, Eula Mae. “There is no way to describe how grateful and proud I am of my wife and family…this citation belongs to them as much as it does to me,” Goodfellow said.

Throughout his life in agriculture, Goodfellow has given of his time and skills to help local and international aid organizations. His service has included a year with the International Voluntary Service in Kurdistan, Iraq, in 1955, two years with the Heifer Project collection farm in Gettysburg, Ohio, and a stint as a “seagoing cowboy” with his wife, delivering a boat full of cattle to Germany. His participation in service organizations is broad: lay pastor in the Methodist church, the college Alumni board, the Cedar’s board, the Gideons, Habitat for Humanity, and mission trips as far as Honduras. He lives with his wife in Lyons, Kan.

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