Alums, Community Come Together for Wall of Honor Banquet

Oct. 6, 2017 ~ A fall tradition for more than 10 years, the Olathe Public Schools Alumni Association Wall of Honor banquet recognized three alums and a Distinguished Person of Honor on Oct. 4.

Since 2007, the association has honored 69 alums and seven current or former district staff for their lifetime achievements. Honorees span more than 100 years of education in Olathe, from Ella Mahaffie in the Class of 1885 to Shannon Wickliffe in the Class of 1994.

This year's inductees were:

  • The late Phillip Garrett, civic volunteer and co-founder of Olathe's Pop Warner football program, John P. St. John Memorial High School Class of 1939
  • David Lee, Olathe physician and founder of Olathe Cancer Care, Olathe High School Class of 1975
  • The late Eugene Paul Tuley, longtime Olathe businessman and community supporter, John P. St. John Memorial High School Class of 1956

The late James R. Smith, a longtime biology teacher, multi-sport coach and administrator, received the Distinguished Person of Honor Award.

In addition to this special community event, the inductees were recognized at the Oct. 5 Olathe Board of Education meeting.

"We each can recall the teacher who sparked our interest, the friend we may have had since grade school who is still part of our lives, or a coach who incessantly drove us to perfection," said Heather Schoonover, district Community Liaison and a member of the alumni association board, at the banquet. "Tonight we have seen the impact that three alumni and a staff member have made upon our world."

She noted that "Olathe alums are proud of their roots" whether they remain in the area or settle in another state.

"It doesn't matter if you are linked to Eagle red, Falcon gold, the Hawk orange of East, the Northwest Raven black or the Olathe West Owl silver, each student or alum is tied to Olathe," Schoonover added.

The Olathe Public Schools Alumni Association is active in many ways throughout the year: overseeing a coat drive for district students in transition, maintaining multiple scholarships for Olathe graduates, helping reunion organizers by providing contact information for alums, and participating in Old Settlers traditions. The group also installed a pictorial timeline of the district's history in the Education Center at 14160 S. Black Bob Road, Olathe.

The group also organizes social events for alums to learn more about the association. The next alumni social will be held from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 at Dub V's at 122 N. Cherry Street in downtown Olathe. More information is available by calling Amanda York at (913) 780-8182.

David Garrett accepted the Wall of Honor recognition on behalf of his late father, Phillip Garrett. “The Wall of Honor represents a sample of the graduates who have made a significant contribution to the world,” Garrett said. “I hope young people see what’s possible in their lives after reading these (Wall of Honor) bios.” photo of David Garrett accepting honor on behalf of his father 
Dr. David Lee, a 2017 Wall of Honor inductee, recalled his education at Ridgeview Elementary when the classrooms held 30 or so students. Although he commented that recess was the best part of the day, “the teachers had a great influence on my life.” Lee listed several of his former teachers, including 2012 Distinguished Person of Honor Ralph Dennis. photo of Dr. David Lee speaking to the audience
Alumni association board member Hazel Hendrix presented the Wall of Honor statuette to Naydeen Tuley, widow of inductee Gene Tuley. In the family’s acceptance speech, daughter Linda Westbrook said Gene saw some of his classmates inducted into the Wall of Honor, but never believed he would be included. “The Wall of Honor was a great honor to my dad,” Westbrook said. photo of Naydeen Tuley accepting the statuette

Arlene Smith (left) shared a hug with a longtime friend prior to the banquet. Smith’s late husband, Jim Smith, is the 2017 Distinguished Person of Honor. He was fondly remembered by many who knew him as a coach, teacher and district administrator. “He told every student they were his favorite kid,” nominator Mike Knop recalled.

Photos by Marlene Colgan
photo of Arlene Smith greeting a friend