The McPherson College Citation of Merit award recipients exemplify the college’s mission of Service, Scholarship, and Participation through their lifelong commitment to the values they developed as students at McPherson College. The college honored this year’s recipients at a dinner on April 22 at the Cedars Conference Center in McPherson. Citation of Merit awards went to Annette Van Blaricum ’68, Roger Trimmell ’73, and Jeff Bach ’79.
The McPherson College Citation of Merit is the college’s highest award recognizing the 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 are approved by the College Board of Trustees.
Annette Van Blaricum
The characteristics of service, scholarship, and participation outlined in the McPherson College mission are a common theme throughout the life and career of Annette Van Blaricum of Wichita. At nine years old, after visiting her sister at the college, she knew where she wanted to attend college and through her participation as a student in activities like theatre and choir, she laid a foundation that allowed her to sing with her church choir for many years and meet her husband, Ken ‘67.
She taught kindergarten and Title 1 for more than 30 years in Tonganoxie, Wichita, and Pratt, retiring in 2006. She has been an active volunteer in her church and the communities where she has lived with her family. In Pratt, she taught pre-school Sunday School for more than 10 years. She served as president of the Pratt United Methodist Women and served as vice president for the Wichita West District UMW. She organized a young women’s Rebekah Guild, and tutored international students from Africa and India. She also volunteered within her profession as president of Delta Kappa Gamma teachers group, publishing its newsletter for several years and was president of the Retired Teachers organization. Other volunteer activities include filling many offices within PEO chapters, serving as president of the Prairie Pilot Club, and serving as state president of the American Association of University Women.
Annette stays connected with McPherson College by serving as class agent for the Class of 1968 and helping coordinate their successful 50th reunion in 2018. She is a past member of the Alumni Board. She also shares her talents with her communities. After learning to quilt, she organized a sewing club that donated several baby quilts to the Pratt Regional Medical Center over the years. She enjoys reading and hiking along the Arkansas River and is an avid cook and baker. Since 2015, she has been selling jams, jellies, salsa, and baked goods at the Pratt Farmers Market and currently at the Wichita Flea Market.
Roger Trimmell served as head coach for the McPherson College men’s basketball team for 27 seasons from 1982 to 2008 and was an assistant professor in the health and physical education program. His impact on the lives of hundreds of students and colleagues is immeasurable. During his time as head coach for the Bulldogs, 61 players were named to All-Conference teams, including three who were named KCAC Player of the Year, and three who received NAIA All-American honors. Additionally, the graduation rate for all his senior players was 100 percent. He is affectionately known to McPherson College as the Father of Dogball. His teams qualified for the NAIA District 10 playoffs six times and his overall conference record, 221-211, gives him the most victories in KCAC men’s basketball history. He was named KCAC Coach of the Year twice, and was inducted into the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame twice – once as a coach and once as a member of the 1968 Wamego, Kan., undefeated state basketball championship team.
While at McPherson College, he organized annual team collections for the local food bank and reading programs with elementary schools. He also coordinated student groups to support Operation Christmas Child. He devoted summers to the college basketball camps as well as youth leagues and was director of the McPherson College Boys and Girls All-Star Basketball Games.
Along with his successful teaching and coaching career, he also devoted much of his time and talent to McPherson community organizations and his church. He was the director of Heartland Basketball Camps for nine years as well as for Focus on Family Basketball Camps, also for nine years. He served as a board member for the McPherson YMCA and volunteers with Brush Up Mac. He is a member of Countryside Covenant Church where is a Christian Formation teacher for junior high youth as well as a leader for the Adult Life group, and past member and chair of the Diaconate Board.
The foundation for Jeff Bach’s life-long love of learning was set at McPherson College and led him to a career of scholarship and service within the Church of the Brethren. He graduated from McPherson College with a double major in elementary education and German language and taught German at area high schools after graduating for a brief time. He was called to the ministry earning a master’s of divinity degree at Bethany Theological Seminary and later completing a doctoral program in the department of religion at Duke University publishing a dissertation about the religious views of the Ephrata Community in Ephrata, PA. He served as pastor to churches in Iowa and later taught history and Brethren studies and served as director of Peace Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary.
In 2007, he was named director of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College and served as associate professor of religious studies. As director, he oversaw three major fund-raising efforts that resulted in the addition of an archive and special collection to the library, an addition to the Center’s facility, and $1 million endowed program support. He supervised acquisitions of several rare materials and books and developed content for the Bowers Interpretive Gallery at the Young Center, a museum-quality multi-media exhibit of artifacts, graphics, and text to interpret the Anabaptist and Pietist movements. He retired in 2020 and was recently named director emeritus.
He served on the Church of the Brethren 300th Anniversary committee and was chair of the committee from 2005-2008. Currently, he serves as convener for the planning committee for the Church of the Brethren World Assembly in 2023. He is also the liaison between the Brethren Encyclopedia Board and the Alexander Mack Museum in Schwarzenau, Germany and participates in research for two projects transcribing and analyzing German text. He and his wife, Ann ’79, also serve as part-time ministers at Stevens Hill Church of the Brethren in Elizabethtown, PA.