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McPherson College Honors Young Alumni

Each year McPherson College recognizes the accomplishments of young alumni during the Honors Convocation at Homecoming. This year three alumni – Craig Henderson ‘91, Jon Paden ‘91, and Elizabeth Stover Lucore ‘02 –received Young Alumni Awards on October 1 in a ceremony at McPherson Stadium.

The purpose of the Young Alumni Award is to recognize the achievement and potential for accomplishment of the college’s young alumni. The award is given to alumni who are meeting significant challenges in pursuit of professional goals as well as involved in service to others and church, and who participate in alumni activities.

Craig HendersonCraig Henderson, Fruita, Colorado, graduated in 1991 with a degree in history and earned his law degree in 1994 at Washburn University. He serves as the county court judge for the 21st Judicial District in Grand Junction, Colorado. He was admitted to the Kansas Bar in 1994 and worked as an attorney in Wichita, and in 1996 was admitted to the Colorado Bar and worked as an attorney in Denver. He has served as a deputy district attorney in Sterling, Hot Sulphur Springs, and Grand Junction, Colorado. He is a member of the Colorado County Court Judges Association and has served as a volunteer mock trial judge for Colorado Mesa University’s criminal law class.

He enjoys spending time outside of work with his family enjoying the arts and the outdoors. He is an avid reader and loves music, but his real hobby is long-distance running. He has finished two 50K ultra-marathons in Colorado and Utah, three marathons, seven half-marathons, and several other races of various distances.

Jon PadenJon Paden, Little River, Kansas, graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science degree and later received a master’s degree in educational administration and completed hours in a doctoral program at Kansas State University. He is currently starting his 26th year as principal at Windom Elementary School in the Little River School District. He started his career in education with USD 418 in McPherson as an elementary school teacher for first, second, and fifth grades.

He is an active community volunteer. In 2015, he was recognized as Little River Community Citizen of the Year. He has served on the USD 444 Recreation Commission promoting activities for youth and adults, coached youth sports in Little River and Sterling, Kansas, and was a youth group leader for several years. He served on the Little River City Council and currently serves on the Little River Community Foundation Board determining grant awards for the community. He also serves on the Mutual Telephone Company Board of Directors. He is active in his church serving on numerous committees and is a past member of the McPherson College alumni board.

Elizabeth Stover LucoreElizabeth Stover Lucore, DO, MPH, Monett, Missouri, graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and biology. She received her Masters of Public Health and Doctor of Osteopathy degrees from Des Moines University in 2008. Dr. Lucore is currently chief of staff at Cox Monett Hospital and volunteers as the medical director of the Barry County Department of Health.

Along with her family practice clinic and call schedule delivering babies, she is also involved in several volunteer projects and leadership roles in her community. Most recently, she is working to help develop a biking and walking trail system accessible to hospital visitors, employees, and the community. She is the founder of the Alternative Gift Fair in Monett, which over the last seven years has raised more than $10,000 for local nonprofits organizations. She also helped bring a volunteer chaplaincy program to the hospital. She is active in her church and serves as board chair for Camp Colorado.

While a student at McPherson College, she ran cross country, participated in choir and band, and became a member of Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre Honor Society. Now, together with her husband and children, she enjoys playing, exploring, eating, and laughing.

McPherson College Honors Alumni with Citation of Merit Award

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

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.

McPherson College Featured In U.S. Holocaust Museum Program

Tom Doeppner

Tom Doeppner. Courtesy of Ron Doeppner and Sarah Doeppner Snow.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum will feature McPherson College in an upcoming digital program that will discuss how students at McPherson College and other schools took action to help refugees in the 1930s and 1940s.

It will be held live on the museum’s Facebook page on March 24 at 8:30 a.m. CT.

The program explores how young Americans, while growing up in a time of racial segregation and the Great Depression, looked beyond the struggles of their own nation to respond to the Nazi threat in Europe. Speakers include Leila Braun from the University of Michigan and Dr. Rebecca Erbelding of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In 1938, McPherson College students were moved to take action after learning about the events in November of that year, known as Kristallnacht – violent anti-Jewish protests throughout Germany and Austria. Students raised money to support Tom Doeppner, an 18-year-old German-born refugee. He was brought to the United States to attend McPherson College.

Sarah Snow, Doeppner’s granddaughter, compiled research used in a recent exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which included articles from the McPherson College student newspaper, and an original copy loaned by the college was included in the exhibit.

“The acceptance and financial assistance to McPherson is what enabled him to get a visa, which is how he left Europe,” Snow said. “This was an action out of compassion, but also sacrifice and amazing coordination on the part of the students. Opa (what she called her grandfather) was in a very precarious position, so this scholarship and acceptance to a school in the United States was literally a life-saving invitation.”

A link to the digital program is on the museum’s events calendar on its website,

Alumni & Friends Make Power Day 2021 Another Great Success

McPherson College’s Power Day 2021 set a new record for the number of alumni and friends participating and raised over $193,000 for the college. The annual online day of giving, which supports students and programs across campus was March 11.

In its seventh year, 342 alumni and friends of the college made gifts that helped unlock four matching challenges that totaled $85,000. The challenge gifts included:

  • $50,000 match from the Paul family for gifts made to the MC Fund, academic programs, or to the Student Debt Project;
  • $15,000 match from the Van Goethem family for gifts made by young alumni;
  • $10,000 match from Stella Koch and Dave Kinney for gifts made to the automotive restoration program;
  • $10,000 match from the Van Goethem family for gifts made to athletics.

“Power Day is not just a day of giving but a time for us all to celebrate and remember what McPherson College means to us,” Dave Barrett, coordinator of Power Day, said. “This is the place where many of us were allowed to grow, learn life lessons both in and out of the classroom and meet forever friends. Power Day is an opportunity for our alumni and friends to make an investment in the next generation of MC students, and allow them to have their own unique MC experience and recognize what makes this place so special.”

The one-day giving blitz featured live and pre-recorded video messages throughout the day on the college’s social media channels. This year’s Power Day theme was “Building community wherever life takes you” and alumni were encouraged to share their stories about the MC community leading up to Power Day. Donors were also encouraged to leave comments throughout the day, which were shared on the college website. Common themes were gratitude for community, support, and quality education.

“Everything good in my life over the last twelve plus years has happened as a result of going to McPherson College and I am forever thankful for that,” Mitch Leppke ’13, said in a comment posted to the website.

Although the focus of Power Day is online giving, Barrett said it is also a day to reconnect with friends and communicate why it is important to support the next generation of students through scholarships.

“As we look to continue our tradition of successful fundraising, it will take a new generation of support,” President Michael Schneider said. “Power Day is one demonstration of our alumni and friends stepping up to make that happen.”

More information about Power Day, including all of the videos and alumni comments, can be found at

Gift Funds Scholarships for Future Women Leaders in Health Care

The Carolyn Beach Endowed Scholarship Fund will provide approximately 10 health science scholarships for McPherson College students

McPherson College has announced an estate gift of nearly $1.7 million to create the Carolyn Beach Endowed Scholarship Fund – a permanent fund to award scholarships annually to students, especially women—pursuing careers in the health science field.

Carolyn Beach attended McPherson College from 1958 to 1960. She passed away on August 20, 2020.

“Carolyn wanted the resources she accumulated through her life’s work used to impact others with similar career interests,” McPherson College President Michael Schneider said. “The impact of Carolyn’s estate gift will be far-reaching, touching the lives of many McPherson College students.”

As a student at McPherson College, Beach fondly remembered several science professors, specifically, Dr. John Burkholder and Dr. Wesley DeCoursey, who laid a solid foundation for her future career in health care. She also competed in basketball and softball. She was influenced by Dr. Doris Coppock, a long-time former teacher and coach. Beach chose to attend McPherson College because of its strong connection to the Church of the Brethren. She later transferred to the University of Iowa to follow her dream of earning a degree in medical technology. She lived most of her adult life in California where she enjoyed a rewarding career as a medical technologist with Kaiser Permanente.

“Carolyn was motivated to support McPherson College because she experienced the importance of personal interaction with professors and recognized that was still taking place today for our students,” Erik Vogel, vice president for advancement, said. “She also appreciated the college’s efforts to help students graduate debt-free through the Student Debt Project, the high job placement rate for our students, and the college’s ongoing relationship with the Church of the Brethren. Carolyn was further impressed that $1 million in local support had already been committed to McPherson College’s health care initiative.”

The Carolyn Beach Endowed Scholarship Fund will provide approximately 10 health science scholarships for McPherson College students. Beach’s ultimate desire was for her scholarship fund to enable hard-working students, who are excited about a career in health science, the ability to earn their college degree. Further, she wanted to give opportunities to other women like her by removing financial barriers that might deter them from following this career path.

This fall, McPherson College introduced the new Health Science program, which offers majors in health science and health care management. The program focuses on creating health-related career pathways for students while engaging them in the community. Partnerships with local and regional health care agencies, like the one with McPherson Center for Health, announced last year, provide students with hands-on educational opportunities in a variety of health care settings.

McPherson College Honors Young Alumni

2019 Young Alumni Award

Each year McPherson College recognizes the accomplishments of young alumni during the Honors Convocation at Homecoming. This year three alumni – Jason Pendleton ‘92, Jessica Everton ‘96, and Rana Salman ‘01 –received Young Alumni Awards on October 11.

The purpose of the Young Alumni Award is to recognize the achievement and potential for accomplishment of the college’s young alumni. The award is given to alumni who are meeting significant challenges in pursuit of professional goals as well as involved in service to others and church, and who participate in alumni activities.

Jason Pendleton, Overland Park, Kansas, graduated in 1992 with a degree in history. His career as a teacher began after he received his degree at McPherson College. He later received a master’s degree in history at Emporia State. He is currently a teacher at Blue Valley Southwest High School where he has been a teacher of U.S. history, sociology, AP U.S. history, and U.S. government since 2010. He’s taken on leadership roles as a co-chair for the history department and led professional development on blended learning and diversity. In 2008, he received the Dayton Rothrock Alumni Fellow from McPherson College.

Along with his teaching responsibilities, he has also coached 50 high school seasons–mostly soccer, but also football and track. At Blue Valley Southwest, his teams have won state championships in soccer two times for girls and once for boys. In 2017-18, both teams were undefeated and finished the season ranked fourth in the U.S. for boys and sixth for the girls. That season earned him the Girls United Soccer Coaches National Coach of the Year award along with the National Federation of High School Boys National Coach of the Year award. He has been named Kansas Coach of the Year for girls soccer five times and twice for boys.

Jessica (Boothe) Everton, Phoenix, Arizona, graduated in 1996 with a degree in English and later received a master’s degree in communication from Wichita State University. Everton is a senior director of product development at the NROC Project, a California-based technology firm that works with educators to build technologies and content that improve student success. She creates courses and tools that prepare secondary, post-secondary and adult learners for college and career success. Prior to her work at NROC, she worked in content and technology development for several ed-tech companies from start-ups to larger publishers.

Everton served on the McPherson College Board of Trustees from 2006-2011. She currently serves as the volunteer director of the Archway Scottsdale Parent Services Organization and is a Girl Scout leader.

Rana (El-Halabi) Salman, Austin, Texas, graduated in 2001 with a degree in public relations. Salman established Salman Consulting in 2016 collaborating with sales leaders, marketing, and enablement to improve sales effectiveness. She started her career with an interest in research and earned an MBA and Ph.D., along with several certificates. Salman has more than 18 years of experience in marketing and sales, spending a significant amount of her career as a sales consultant, working with top-tier organizations, conducting qualitative and quantitative analysis, developing sales strategies aligned to outcomes, and working closely on sales training programs.

She is the co-founder of WiSE, Women in Sales Enablement, an organization that brings women in sales enablement together to network and learn from another. She is also the previous board president of TMF Foundation, a charitable giving foundation that supports health care providers in multiple settings. She is a speaker at national conferences including Texas Conference for Women, Sales Enablement Society, and Competitive Marketing Summit, as well as a guest lecturer at Texas A&M Reynolds & Reynolds Sales Leadership Institute.

Power Day 2019 Surpasses Previous Years

Power Day 2019 - Bulldog ForeverMcPherson College’s Power Day 2019 surpassed all goals and set new records on March 14 this year during the annual online day of giving, which supports students and programs across campus. Celebrating the five-year anniversary of Power Day, more than 300 alumni and friends of the college gave $156,770, exceeding last year’s total by nearly $40,000.

“The response to this year’s Power Day exceeded all my expectations,” Dave Barrett ’90, advancement officer, said. “Five years ago when we started this, we had no idea Power Day would connect with so many people. It’s really a day about celebrating McPherson College.”

Many McPherson College alumni agreed and shared why they are “Bulldogs Forever” on the college’s website and social media channels. Donors were encouraged to leave comments throughout the day and those were shared on the college website. Common themes were gratitude for community, support, and quality education.

“McPherson College gave me the opportunity to jump start my career. I want to ensure current and future students have the same or better opportunities that I did,” Kyle Smith, a 2013 graduate, said.

Brent Paul, a 1994 graduate, kicked off the day with a gift of $50,000 and more than 40 first-time donors made gifts to Power Day. Alumni from 35 states and two foreign countries participated in the day of giving. Support on campus was also strong this year with employee participation doubling. The 20-person staff of the Facilities Department was the largest department on campus with 100 percent participation.

“Power Day is a great example of our alumni and friends stepping up to support student experience at McPherson College,” President Michael Schneider said. “Encouraging a new generation of support through opportunities like Power Day ensures that we continue our tradition of successful fundraising.”

McPherson College Honors Young Alumni With Careers in Science, Business and Art Therapy

Each year McPherson College recognizes the accomplishments of young alumni during the Honors Convocation at Homecoming. This year three alumni – Joseph-Vincent V. Blas ’05, Myron Stine ’94, and Rahila Weed ’95 – were presented Young Alumni Awards on October 19.

The purpose of the Young Alumni Award is to recognize the achievement and potential for accomplishment of the college’s young alumni. The award is given to alumni who are meeting significant challenges in pursuit of professional goals as well as involved in service to others and church, and who participate in alumni activities.

Joseph-Vincent V. Blas, Greenville, South Carolina, graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2005 with a degree in biochemistry. As a member of the vascular surgery faculty at Greenville Health System of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Greenville, Dr. Blas is an assistant clinical professor of surgery. He received his medical degree from Creighton University in Omaha and completed his general surgery residency at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.

As an undergraduate at McPherson College, he received the Burkholder Research Award and awarded for outstanding undergraduate research. He remains active in research and publications as author of several chapters in vascular surgery textbooks and as a presenter at vascular surgery conferences. He is one of the co-directors of the Aortic Center at the Greenville Health System and serves on several quality assurance committees for the health system as well as the diversity committee for the Southern Association for Vascular Surgery. Dr. Blas is also assistant fellowship program director for the Association of Program Directors in Vascular Surgery.

Myron Stine, Adel, Iowa, graduated in 1994 with a degree in crop science. Stine proudly supports the family business by providing direction in marketing strategies and sales force infrastructure for Stine Seed Company. He understands the importance of working hard and developing relationships. With a background in crop science, sales, and marketing, Stine has worked his way up through the organization, starting his career on the family farm, serving as a district sales manager, regional sales manager, national sales director, vice president of sales and marketing, and now as president of Stine Seed Company.

He has served McPherson College as a member of the board of trustees for four years and is currently serving as a member of the Auto Restoration National Advisory Board. He also serves on the Iowa State University executive MBA advisory board. Stine shares his agriculture expertise as a committee member of the FFA Stine Seed Enrichment Center at Des Moines Area Community College and served as a director on the Cultivation Corridor Board. He pursues his interest in cars as a trustee on the Iowa Automotive Heritage Foundation Board and has served as committee chair of the Des Moines Concours d’Elegance.

Rahlia Weed, Warrensburg, Missouri, graduated in 1995 with a degree in art and psychology. Dr. Weed is a professor of art education and serves as the assistant chair of the school of visual and performing arts and division head of art and design at the University of Central Missouri. She received her teaching certificate, master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. She has been honored as the Missouri Art Education Association Higher Education Art Educator of the Year and was nominated for the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education. She shares her passion for art education through involvement and collaborations such as presenting at the statewide Girl’s STEAM event.

Dr. Weed lends her expertise to the Marilyn Zurmuehlen Working Papers in Art on its education editorial review board. She has served on the Missouri Art Education Association as a council member, district representative, and web editor and a member of several international, national, and state professional and academic associations. She is a frequent presenter at the National Art Education Association and has been published in several scholarly journals.

Homecoming 2018 Schedule and Registration Info

Homecoming 2018 is Oct. 19-21, 2018 featuring all your favorites activities, plus new exciting events:

  • 100th Anniversary for Theatre & Celebration of Rick Tyler’s career
  • Teacher Education Reunion & Scholastic Book Fair
  • Pancake feed brunch
  • Food truck lunch
  • Photo booth for family, friends, or classmates
  • Inflatables
  • Dog walk
  • Bulldog Visit Day for prospective MC students
  • Choir concert
  • Athletic events an more!

Class reunion years: 1958, 1963, 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008, and 2013. If it is your reunion year and you’d like to plan a get-together, please contact the Alumni Office at or (620) 242-0432.

Click here for Schedule and Registration.

McPherson College’s History Featured In National Holocaust Memorial Museum

McPherson College plays a prominent role in a newly opened exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. The exhibit features the story of how students raised money to help an 18-year-old refugee escape Nazi persecution and attend McPherson College.

The exhibit, “Americans and the Holocaust,” is a panoramic portrait of American society in the 1930’s and 40s, which examines all influences that shaped the American response to Nazism and the Holocaust.

Rebecca Erbeling, a researcher for the exhibit recently wrote about the McPherson College story in an article for the Kansas City Star:

“Undergraduates from at least 200 colleges and universities raised money to aid refugee students, many of who were Jewish and in need of student visas to enter the United States. The 200-person student body at McPherson College, a small Christian school in McPherson, Kansas, raised $250 (about $4,500 today) to support a refugee student,” she wrote. In her research, she also found a statement made by an aid worker stating: “The student body of the college has raised this money at some sacrifice, since it is not a wealthy school, and they are looking forward to the arrival of a German student.”

The 18-year-old student, Tom Doeppner, was German-born and targeted by the Nazis for his Jewish heritage. According to research compiled by Sarah Snow, Doeppner’s granddaughter, the students at McPherson College were moved to take action after learning about the events in November 1938, known as Kristallnacht – violent anti-Jewish protests throughout Germany and Austria.

“This was an action out of compassion, but also sacrifice and amazing coordination on the part of the students,” Snow said. “Opa (what she called her grandfather) was in a very precarious position, so this scholarship and acceptance to a school in the United States was literally a life-saving invitation.”

Doeppner had escaped Germany and joined his father in Holland when he asked the Quakers for help to immigrate to the United States. He worked through the American Friends Service Committee, an organization formed by the Quakers to assist refugees escaping Nazi persecution. According to the museum’s exhibit, the AFSC worked to get Doeppner admitted to McPherson College. He struggled to obtain a student visa, since he technically did not have a country to return to after graduation.

“The acceptance and financial assistance to McPherson is what enabled him to get a visa, which is how he left Europe,” Snow said. “Immigration was all about obtaining the ever-difficult visa. He was part of a small percent of refugees able to get the visa he needed and left Holland mere months before it was overtaken by Nazi forces.”

Doeppner did not talk much about his past until later in his life, according to his granddaughter. He did share more about his past in an autobiography, where he remembers McPherson fondly. From his first simple greeting of “welcome to McPherson, Tom,” by Phil Myers, president of the McPherson College Student Council, to adapting to a co-educational learning experience, he writes about initial memories of coming to the United States and attending McPherson College.

“The student body, as well as the faculty, welcomed me with open arms,” he wrote. “And whenever the immigration officials gave me a hard time – which occurred frequently – the college President went out of his way to assist me with recommendations and letters.”

Snow said she also experienced how welcomed her grandfather must have felt when she also visited the college a few years ago. It was shortly after she had been to Berlin to see where her grandfather grew up.

Tom Doeppner US Army training camp ca1944-45

Tom Doeppner (seated, second from left), at U.S. Army training camp, ca. 1944-45. Courtesy of Ron Doeppner and Sarah Doeppner Snow.

“I was able to appreciate how different McPherson must have been for Opa,” she said. “And yet, how welcoming and kind the people were to make him feel at home. There are three generations of my family that would not exist if McPherson did not offer Opa this chance to come to the United States. I have become endeared to the hard-working kindness of a group of students in the middle of Kansas and say thank you for embodying the spirit of what it means to treat others how you would want to be treated. They have done that for me and my family beyond expectation.”

Doeppner attended McPherson College for two years then transferred to Kansas State University where he completed a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. After graduating, he joined the U.S. Army, fought in World War II, and spent his career in the military.

“This is an incredible piece of McPherson College history to uncover and share on a national stage,” McPherson College President Michael Schneider, said. “It’s an example of the college’s long-tradition of service to others that continues today through efforts like supporting students studying at the college from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Research for the exhibit began two years ago when the museum launched a crowd-sourcing project called “History Unfolded.” Museum staff asked students, teachers, librarians and history buffs across the country to research their local newspapers and determine what kind of information their community could have found about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

In addition to its national search for information, extensive documentation by Doeppner’s granddaughter, which included articles from the McPherson College student newspaper led museum researchers to Mary Hester, director of library services at the college who oversees the college’s archives. Hester helped the museum track down information from the school’s archives and supplied one original copy of the student newspaper “The Spectator” that is on loan for the exhibit.

This exhibition comes at a critical time, according to a statement made by the museum. A recent study found that two-thirds of American millennials could not identify what Auschwitz was. Doeppner’s personal story is also featured in the museum’s accompanying online exhibition: