Barry McNamara  |   Published September 28, 2022

Celebrating 30 Years

Monmouth College Hall of Achievement started by Whiteman family in 1992.

HIGHEST HONOR: Started in 1992 by the Whiteman family, induction into the Hall of Achievement is ... HIGHEST HONOR: Started in 1992 by the Whiteman family, induction into the Hall of Achievement is the highest honor the College bestows upon its graduates.MONMOUTH, Ill. – Students from Monmouth – or those who have passed through the city during their time at Monmouth College – have gone on to do great things.

Thirty years ago, the Whiteman brothers – Don, Ralph and Dick – decided that fact needed to be recognized and celebrated, so they created a Hall of Achievement for Monmouth’s public schools and another for Monmouth College. The brothers, who were raised in town by their parents, Wendell and Lucille Zimmerman Whiteman, are graduates of both.

“I remember talking to my brother Don, and he said, ‘You know, we’ve got two CEOs of major Fortune 500 companies who graduated from Monmouth (Harold “Red” Poling ’49 at Ford Motor Co. and James Pate ’63 at Pennzoil),” said Ralph Whiteman, who still lives in Monmouth today. “He said, ‘No college around here has more than one, and most of them don’t have any. We need to market that.’”

Whiteman said it can be a natural mindset to think “That can’t happen to me because I come from a small town,” or what he once called in print “a perceived corporate inferiority complex.” The men and women who have been honored through the past three decades by the entity the Whitemans started prove that mindset wrong through their achievements, and the stories they share are a source of inspiration.

“We wanted to incentivize students, to show the quality of our product,” said Whiteman. “The inductees go to classrooms and speak to students. Their message can be, ‘I was where you are, now get with the program.’ This is all student-related. That’s what the purpose of this was when we started it back in 1992.”

“The Hall of Achievement is a point of pride for Monmouth alumni and is attractive to future students and to potential donors. And to the people in school, it’s pretty impressive to see the quality of the people you’re associated with.” Ralph Whiteman

Having a Hall of Achievement not only satisfies that purpose, but it carries other benefits, as well, said Whiteman, who graduated from Monmouth College in 1952 and served on its Board of Trustees for 24 years.

One benefit, he said, is to heighten awareness and appreciation of the teachers at Monmouth’s schools and the professors at the College. Another is to serve as what he called “a report card.”

“The Hall of Achievement is a point of pride for Monmouth alumni and is attractive to future students and to potential donors,” he said. “And to the people in school, it’s pretty impressive to see the quality of the people you’re associated with. It’s a marketable item for the College. Fundraisers can take this information on the road to share with prospective donors. One way to look at it is this is our report card. It’s good for the College to have that type of recognition. It’s a pretty impressive list of names.”

In addition to Poling and Pate, some of the College’s other inductees include award-winning country music radio personality Lon Helton ’72, former vice presidential candidate Adm. James Stockdale ’46, MTV co-founder Dwight Tierney ’69 and soap opera star Helen Wagner Willey ’39.


New members

The College’s list of names will grow by two on Sept. 30, when Hiroyuki Fujita ’92 and Karen Krueger ’72 are inducted into its Hall of Achievement during the Alumni Impact Awards, which are part of Homecoming festivities.

Fujita, who founded Quality Electrodynamics, a global developer and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology manufacturer, is chairman of Ohio State University’s Board of Trustees. Krueger was a foreign service officer during a 41-year career with the U.S. Department of State.

Honoring Monmouth-Roseville alumni

The Monmouth-Roseville Education Foundation Hall of Achievement ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Oct. 21 at the Warren County History Museum. Cathy (Brennan) Betar, Joe Bratcher, Josh Gibb, Chuck Grant and Julie Sienkewicz will be inducted during the ceremony, which is free and open to the public. On Oct. 20, the inductees will visit local schools to speak to students.

Originally, each of Monmouth’s four grade schools had its own honorees, but “when Willits stopped, it went to the high school,” explained Whiteman.

“We wanted to incentivize students, to show the quality of our product. … This is all student-related. That’s what the purpose of this was when we started it back in 1992.” Ralph Whiteman

The first honorees in 1992 were Rodger Kelley, Lenny Reynolds and Ira Brooks Walsh. Others inductees range from former president Ronald Reagan, who attended second and third grade in Monmouth, to local music legend Gracie Peterson, who was still performing at the age of 100.

“A hall of achievement is psychologically different from a hall of fame,” said Whiteman, who oversaw the proceedings for the first 20 years before handing it off to Greg McClintock for the next 10 years. Former Monmouth-Roseville superintendent Don Daily now handles those duties. “Normally, you think of individuals being honored. We think of honorees inspiring students. ‘We were where you are today, and you can do it, too.’ It’s really kind of a unique thing with the two simultaneous halls. The intended purpose of both of them was to be an inspiration to students.”

Some alumni achieved at such a high level that many in the community knew of their accomplishments. But others have also gone on to impressive careers while flying under the radar, or while their Monmouth roots weren’t realized by many.

“Years ago, I asked a Monmouth College chaplain if they were a devotee of (nationally known author and theology professor) Kenneth Bailey,” said Whiteman, referring to his 1952 Monmouth classmate who was inducted into the College’s Hall of Achievement in 1993. “The answer was yes, but they didn’t know that Bailey had graduated from Monmouth. So this program is also a way to raise awareness of some of these individuals’ stories and backgrounds and how they tie into Monmouth.”

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