By Channing Wall ’17, interdisciplinary major
Service, Scholarship and Participation is not a lifestyle that ends with graduation, recipients of the Citation of Merit award represent this through their dedication to community. McPherson College hosted a dinner on March 3, 2017 to present the award to four recipients.
Alumni who have displayed a lifetime commitment to service, church, family and McPherson College are the qualities the Alumni Awards Committee uses to find candidates, who are then approved by the College Board of Trustees.
Recipients this year include Daryl K. Beam, Virginia Horn Luty and a joint citation for Gene Railsback and Sheryl Kenton Railsback. Congratulations and appreciation extended to those recipients.
Gene Railsback ‘72
Hope is something Gene brings to many people in his life and for some he’s never met. His biweekly donation of platelets not only helps cancer patients it also promotes better heath and comfort for them and others.
He has served annually for three years as a houseparent at Camp Hope, free to kids, ages 5-17, battling cancer or remission. He and wife Sheryl also assist with the Red Cross bloodmobile when it is in town. They both strive to demonstrate good health and have a goal of 10,000 steps per day!
Gene also enjoys being a role model in his grandsons’ classroom at Ellsworth Elementary School and assisting with the Dads of Great Students (DOGS), of which Gene has been classified as the official Granddad (GDOGS).
Before attending McPherson College Gene was a veteran of US Army serving during the Vietnam Conflict.
Gene’s different experiences show he is no stranger to hard work. His work experience ranges from silo and concrete block construction to Planning & Scheduling Supervisor at NCRA to teaching 6th grade at Park School for USD 418.
He also finds time to volunteer with wife Sheryl at numerous community events including the McPherson Community Christmas Dinner and Elyria Christian School fundraising dinners. Gene is involved in a number of ways with the church including yard work with rotating volunteers who mow, edge and trim March through November.
Together they are an adventurous duo and spend an estimated three months out of the year exploring the USA in their Jeep Wrangler. They also enjoy traveling to attend bluegrass music festivals.
Sheryl Kenton Railsback ‘73
Sheryl recognizes the importance of team leadership as well as the different voices within the team. Her experience and talent in leadership is represented by her different accomplishments over the years.
She graduated from the Leadership McPherson Class in 1985 and has logged over 1000 volunteer hours for the McPherson Hospital. Her volunteer experience with the hospital includes lobby information, special events, Caring for the Future Campaign, and “Voice of the Volunteers” on McPherson radio for the past four years. The hard work earned her Volunteer of the Year in 2015.
Together she and her husband Gene are very active in the church through various committees, Thursday morning Prayer Team, Evangelism and Hospitality, Ushers, Greeters, Communion Stewards, Vacation Bible School rotation leaders, Methodists on the Move, Confirmation mentors, 3rd grade Bible Exploration Class mentors and special mailings. Within their fellowship group they also help with CIRCLES meals, adopt a CIRCLES family at Christmas time and also buy for Angel Tree children.
Sheryl also served for three years on the McPherson College Alumni Nominating Committee and both Gene and Sheryl are supporters of the General Scholarship Fund, Champions Club and Lunch Bunch.
Amongst all of their volunteer activities the two still find time for family and enjoy attending activities of their four grandchildren. When they are not on an adventure the two also enjoy theatrical performances as McPherson College.
“We were humbled to be able to do what we love doing (volunteering and giving back), and to be honored for lifetime achievements by our alma mater.”
“We hope our family and peers gained the importance of accomplishing goals set forth in life through harmonious teamwork. It has taken a strong faith, involved family and friends, and a supportive community. We’ve been blessed!”
Daryl K. Beam ‘78
Daryl demonstrates a commitment to service and participation through being an active member and role model in organizations, such as Hays Recreation Commission and Hays high school Athletic Booster Club, that provide foundations for youth. He has also served for a number of committees such as the United Way committee and the Hospital Executive committee.
His volunteer work also includes helping numerous events centered around providing food, whether it be Trick or Treat so Others Can Eat, helping with the Community Thanksgiving Dinner or being a volunteer cook at the Soup-R-Bowl for the High Plains Humane Society.
Daryl credits the strong educational background that McPherson College provided him for the preparation of post-graduation education, where he graduated in the top three percent. He holds membership in both academic and dental honor societies and in 1984 Daryl received a specialty degree in periodontics and implants. Since then Daryl has been in private practice in Hays, Kansas and has also used his profession to help others by participating with the Hays Dentists in providing free dental care for patients in need.
Involvement with McPherson College includes a range of boards and committees including Science Department Advisory Board, ten years with the Board of Trustees, the Presidential Search Committee that culminated in the selection of President Michael Schneider. Daryl was also honored by the college in 1998 with the Young Alumni Award.
He and wife Carina are active in their church where he has spent time serving as an elected elder, member of the governing body and given support through time and resources. They are also long-term donors to McPherson College because they see that the school is worth both time and finances.
Virginia Horn Luty ‘78
Virginia has touched many lives throughout her 25-year teaching career, along with substitute teaching after retirement. Her passion is driven by the desire to see all students succeed and the importance of reading. She found that 6th grade is an important developmental time in a young person’s life and made it her goal to help them be inspired by their learning.
She graduated Magna Cum Laude while balancing a family of three with husband Bob. Following graduation, in the fall, Virginia began her teaching career at USD 418.
Her leadership roles extend past the classroom and include participation in a range of church activities, the McPherson community as well as the college. After being a founding board member, she also served a second term past retirement on the McPherson USD 418 Education Foundation. Her involvement in the McPherson College Alumni Board of Directors, and on N-CATE, the committee to prepare for accreditation and review, is also added to her list of service roles.
Virginia sees importance in the liberal arts education system and during her time as Alumni Board president she wrote for the Review, an alumni publication, about the significance of alumni committing to being an extension of the college mission statement, “to develop whole persons through scholarship, participation and service”.
Words from Virginia, “please continue to let your liberal arts experience lead you in new and enlightening adventures. Please continue to participate in diverse learning, pleasure and service experiences at the college, at work and at play. Please continue to give selflessly of your time, talents and resources to others” are inspiration and capture the adventurous and generous spirit it takes to be a McPherson College alumnus.
“Receiving the Citation of Merit from my alma mater, the same college from which my father and my husband graduated, was a triple honor. McPherson College has impacted my life in so many ways. What an honor!”
“With the receiving of this award, I hope my family, my friends, my peers and my former students can put into their lives the values that will enrich their lives and the lives of others. The four point criteria of this award makes for a wonderful life. 1. Choose a profession that you love. 2. Give back to your community with service and dedication. 3. Live a spiritual life. 4. Support your education with service and loyalty.”