McPherson College recognized its most notable alumni with the Citation of Merit Award in a video tribute released online on April 29, 2021. This year’s Citation of Merit Awards were presented to W. Ethmer Erisman ’46, Dwight Hill ’53, Eleanor Draper Hubbard ’62, and Dale ’72 and Christy Young ’76 Dowdy.
The McPherson College Citation of Merit award is the college’s highest award given to the college’s most distinguished alumni for lifetime accomplishments in service to profession, community, church, and to the college. Recipients exemplify the college’s mission of Service, Scholarship, and Participation through their life-long commitment to the values they developed as students at the college. The Alumni Awards Committee recommends nominees for approval by the College Board of Trustees.
The awards video is available online at mcpherson.edu/merit.
Ethmer Erisman ‘46
At age 96, Wilbert Ethmer Erisman is a shining example of the McPherson College mission. He spent more than 75 years in service to the Church of the Brethren as a minister and as an educator. He is a retired pastor from his most recent pastorates, Shoal Creek Church of the Brethren in Leeton, Missouri, and the Warrensburg Church of the Brethren in Warrensburg, Missouri. In retirement, Ethmer remains active in the Warrensburg church and still preaches occasionally. He was the first of his family to attend college and eventually helped three other siblings attend McPherson College along with all three of his children and several grandchildren. He also attended Bethany Seminary where he earned a divinity degree.
In his trademark overalls, Ethmer is also a wonderful example of stewardship to the land. He continues to work on his farm and is known for sharing the produce from his garden, eggs from his chickens, and occasionally bringing small animals to the children’s church service. He was an active volunteer in his community for many years serving in the Kiwanis Club as president and an active fundraiser. He also served 10 years as a member of the Board of Trustees for McPherson College.
Dwight Hill ‘53
McPherson College recognizes Dwight W. Hill for his service to his community but also for his instrumental role in founding the McPherson College Automotive Restoration program. Through his professional association with local entrepreneur Gaines H. “Smokey” Billue and former McPherson College President Galen Snell, Hill laid the groundwork for what would become the only four-year bachelor’s degree in auto restoration. He served on the first advisory committee for the program and secured its long-term financial support through his financial planning work with Billue.
Hill began his career in McPherson working as a CPA but later served in other positions including director and executive vice president at McPherson Bank & Trust, and director and consultant for the loan and trust department at Peoples Bank & Trust. He has played a big role in the McPherson community as well. He served on and was chair of the McPherson City and County Airport Board for 22 years and was instrumental in its renovation. He loves to fly and even built his own plane. He has served on the board of directors and took leadership roles on several local organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, Museum, Hospital, Senior Center, and served on the McPherson United Way board for 20 years as treasurer and drive chair. His community service also includes serving on the city Planning Commission, the Central Business District Sidewalk Replacement Committee, and volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America for 10 years as assistant scoutmaster and chair of the district committee. Dwight shared his financial expertise with his church, serving as treasurer, chair of the financial committee, building committee, and board president for the First Baptist Church.
Eleanor Draper Hubbard ‘62
Eleanor Draper Hubbard’s life work has been in social justice and peace, particularly as an educator and volunteer. Her publications include, “Trans-Kin: A Guide for Family and Friends of Transgender People” written in 2013 and a memoir in 2010, entitled, “Finding My Way Home: A Remembrance Nest of Farm, Family and Faith,” in which she tells stories of her life on an Iowa farm attending the Ivester Church of the Brethren. Her service to McPherson College was as a presenter in the online Ventures in Christian Discipleship program and as a member of its planning committee.
Hubbard achieved a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Colorado in Boulder in 1992 and taught there as a graduate assistant and as faculty for over 30 years. She retired as a senior instructor emerita in 2007 but continues to teach occasionally, as well as to conduct diversity training. She and her husband served in the Peace Corps after graduating from McPherson College and has been faculty on two voyages for Semester at Sea. Her honors include an International Book Award for Trans-Kin and a Champion of Diversity award from Boulder’s YWCA.
Eleanor’s community service includes leadership positions for PFLAG (Parents and Friends of LGBTQ+), the Institute for the Study of Advanced Developed, the Colorado BPW Education Foundation, Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence and Cairn Christian Church, (formerly First Christian Church of Boulder) where she has been an active member.
Dale ’72 and Christy Young ’76 Dowdy
Dale and Christy Dowdy are true educators and deepened their dedication to education as students at McPherson College. However, it was after they were established in their teaching careers that they each responded to a call to ministry. They both received Master in Divinity Degrees from Bethany Theological Seminary and over their long collaborative careers became models for team ministry.
For more than 25 years, they served as co-pastors at the Antelope Park Church of the Brethren in Lincoln, Nebraska as well as at the Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Their servant leadership is extensive. Dale volunteered for many years visiting a death row inmate at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, was a recruiter for the Crop Walk, and volunteered for Community Peacemakers while in Lincoln. He represented Stone Church of the Brethren on the local Forum for Churches that planned ecumenical events and participated in the Local Pastors’ Gathering. Christy organized peace and justice work for the State of Nebraska and in Huntingdon was involved in the Huntingdon Soup Kitchen, served as chair of the Huntingdon Forum of Churches, and served on the board of Habitat for Humanity in Huntingdon.
Dale served in district leadership with the Atlantic Northeast Church of the Brethren District, and they both offered leadership in Western Plains and Middle Pennsylvania Districts.