Alumni Awards 2012

The Class of 2012 Alumni Award recipients included legendary basketball coach, Harry Statham; a member of the FBI; associate director of patient care at the VA St. Louis Health Care System; an attorney; a major league baseball player and several others who are making their mark in their professions and at their alma mater.

The University celebrated their accomplishments and contributions on October 6, 2012 during Homecoming Weekend at the annual Alumni Awards Dinner.

oyal Service Award

Carmett “Corky” Helms '59

After completing his degree in biology in 1959 from McKendree, Corky completed his M.S. degree in education from SIUE. He began his career as a science teacher with Belleville School District 118 and went on to become the Principal at Douglas School for District 118. He also instructed courses at McKendree and the Belleville Area College before he retired after 42 years in education.

As an educator, Corky received numerous accolades and awards including the McKendree Academy of Science Award in 1990, Excellence in Teaching Award in 1992 from Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, the 4-H Leaders Golden Clover Award, and the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society in Education Award.

His civic commitments are also expansive including his involvement with the Optimist Club of Belleville serving as current Board Member and past President, Illinois District Optimist past Lt. Governor and past Governor. He also serves as a representative of the Optimist International Club Foundation and past member of the Planned Giving Committee. He has served as the organizer and Chairman of the Greater Belleville Science Fair, member and past President of the Illinois Prairie State Longhorn Association, served on Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Foundation Board, past President of Whiteside School Board, past 4-H leader and Extension Board Member.

Since graduating in 1959, Corky has been involved with McKendree in a variety of capacities. He was a long-standing member of the Alumni Association Board before retiring this past June. He served as Chairman of the McKendree History Committee responsible for compiling the data for the McKendree History Book highlighting McKendree’s history from 1928-1978. He has served as a mentor for the student teaching program and has volunteered for countless McKendree events such as New Student Orientation, Homecoming, Senior Dinner, Scholarship Interviews, and frequently has provided the western stage props for shows at the Hett.

Corky is what some would call a true Renaissance man. In addition to his career as an educator, he breeds, exhibits and judges Quarter Horses and Longhorn Cattle, is a talented horseshoer and blacksmith, and collects anvils, old west items, barb wire and tools.

Corky and his wife Vicki have raised three children and have been blessed with four grandchildren. They currently reside in Belleville, Ill.

Rising Star Award

Bernadette Schrempp '03

As a member of the Class of 2003, Bernadette graduated from McKendree with a degree in business management. She went on to obtain her Juris Doctorate degree in 2007 from Ohio Northern University Claude W. Pettit College of Law.

While a student at McKendree, Bernadette was a very involved campus and community leader. She was committed to student involvement and was an active member of the Student Government Association, New Student Orientation, Peer Mentor, Business Club and a participant in the Paris study abroad program and the “Into the Streets” community service projects.

Currently, Bernadette is the Assistant State’s Attorney for the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office in Belleville. She serves as a felony prosecutor and most recently was the Assistant State’s Attorney, Juvenile Division for the Sangamon County State’s Attorney Office in Springfield, Ill.

Bernadette remains very involved in McKendree and in her community. She has volunteered during the McKendree Scholarship Weekend and also teaches business law courses. In the community, she is a member of the St. Clair Bar Association, serves as a guest speaker for the Millstadt Police Department’s Youth Academy and Senior Citizens Police Academy and Belleville Police and Lindenwood Criminal Justice classes. She has also participated in National Night Out to promote community safety and “Broken Hearts” an annual demonstration conducted at Belleville High School to educate students on the dangers of driving while intoxicated.

Bernadette is a very busy young professional, but continues to remain an active alumna of McKendree, coming back for University events and maintaining relationships with faculty and friends. She resides in Mascoutah, Ill.

Academy of Excellence Inductees

Social Sciences

Dan Netemeyer ’88

After completing his social sciences degree in 1988 from McKendree, Dan received a master’s degree in human resources from Webster University. As a student he was a part of the New Student Orientation, Pi Lambda Tau Fraternity and a member of the McKendree baseball team for four years.

As a graduate of the McKendree criminal justice program, Dan has had an extensive career in law enforcement. From 1988 until1996 he served on the Collinsville Police Department and currently serves as a Special Agent for the FBI as the Assignment Supervisor over the Violent Crime Squad for the St. Louis FBI Office. Throughout his career, Dan has been responsible for several high profile cases including overseeing the Alisa Maier abduction case in Louisiana, Mo., and the 66 million dollar armored car facility robbery at the ATM Solutions Company. Under his leadership these cases were brought to successful conclusions.

Dan is actively involved in the community and coaches the baseball team for the Mascoutah Athletic Association and the Quakes Baseball Academy Exposure baseball team. He is also an active McKendree alumnus who frequently attends campus events and supports Bearcat Athletics.

Dan and his wife Julie have two children and reside in Belleville, Ill.


John Suarez ’91

A member of the Class of 1991, John graduated from McKendree with a degree in speech communication. He went on to obtain his M.A. in speech/organizational communication from Ball State University in 1992. As a student at McKendree he was a member of the newspaper staff and a member of Lambda Pi Eta.

Since graduation, John has held a variety of positions in the business field including his current role as the Associate Director of Career Services for DeVry University and the Keller Graduate School of Management in St. Louis. In 2010, John was honored as one of the top 20 contributors to the resume writing and career coaching industry over the last 20 years. He previously worked for 10 years as the Director of Training for Business Networking International, a company that was voted in 2009 as the “Best Organization to Help You Grow Your Business” by St. Louis Small Business Monthly. He also owned and operated a successful consulting business recognized in the e-book “Bull Market 2004: Companies That Can Help You Make Something Happen” by author and marketing thought leader Seth Godin. He has served as an adjunct instructor at McKendree and Southwest Illinois College. In 2007 he was a contributing author to “Master of Sales”, a USA Today best- selling business book.

John remains very active around campus and has served as a former member of the Alumni Association Board and has frequently volunteered for Scholarship Weekend and the Career Readiness Conference. For 12 consecutive years, he has returned to campus to facilitate a special program on graduate school preparation, resume writing, and job search strategies for communication degree candidates.

John and his wife Barbara have three children and reside in Belleville, Ill.

Nursing & Health Professions

Lt. Col. Richard Holt ’87

As a graduate of the Class of 1987 with a degree in nursing, Richard has had an extensive career in nursing. After graduating from McKendree, Richard went on to obtain a master’s degree in nursing from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Tex.

Since graduation Richard has held numerous positions in the health profession. He currently serves as the Associate Director Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive for the VA St. Louis Health Care System. He has over thirty plus years of successful leadership experience in his field. Prior to his employment with the VA, he served as the Deputy Associate Director Patient/Nursing Services at the North Chicago, James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center and the Associate Chief Nurse for Ambulatory Care at Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System.

He is also a proud veteran with over 23 years in the United States Air Force. As a nurse in the USAF, his career included clinical nurse in Critical Care, Flight Nurse and Flight Clinical Coordinator, Charge Nurse of a Cardiac Rehab Unit and later a Medical/Surgical Gynecological Unit. He joined the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine, Department of Aerospace Nursing as an instructor for the Flight Nurse, Aeromedical Evaluation Technician and Battlefield Nursing Courses and became the Associate and Course Director of Battlefield Nursing and received a Master Instructor certification.

He was selected Nurse Executive and Deputy Commander, 86th Aeromedical Stating Flight Germany and later Deputy Director of Health Services with oversight of medical readiness for nursing service programs/initiatives for 2,084 personnel in 31 designated medical units for 22nd Air Force Reserves. As the Chief Nurse Executive, 35th Medical Group Hospital in Japan, he was the first nurse to be handpicked to lead the 35th Fighter Wing’s Survival Recover Center for Operation ENDURING FREEDOM after September 11, 2001. Prior to entering in the Air Force as an Officer in the Nurse Corps, Richard had a successful 10 year career as a Critical Care Nurse in open heart and cardiovascular thoracic surgery and held numerous civilian nurse manager/supervisor positions.

Not only is Richard a well accomplished presenter and published author in the medical community, he is also a member of several groups such as: American Association of Critical Care Nurses, Sigma Theta Tau National Honor Society, Lifetime, United State Air Force Association and American Military Surgeons of the United States. He is actively involved in his community and is a member of the O’Fallon Assembly of God. He frequently does mission trips to Rwanda, Congo, performs community outreach working with fatherless young boys and men, and mentors student nurses, international and military.

Richard resides in Caseyville, Ill., and has one son Capt. Richard V. Holt, USAF station in Europe with NATO, and one grandchild on the way.

Community Service

Clayton Thornhill ’95

While serving on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, Clay completed his undergraduate degree in business administration/marketing at the Scott AFB campus evening program. After graduating from McKendree, he went on to obtain a master’s degree in business administration from Fontbonne University and has completed certification from the Human Resource Certification Institute and the Institute for Applied Management and Law.

Clay currently serves as the Senior Regional HR Manager for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and previously served as the Market HR Manager and Shift Manager for the corporation. Prior to his employment at Wal-Mart he was the Production Manager at Chrysler Corporation, Dispatcher at Ryder Integrated Logistics, International Distribution Manager for Pet, Incorporated and was a Human Resources Manager with the United States Transportation Command for the USAF. He is also an Adjunct Professor for the AIM Program at McKendree.

In his role as Senior Regional HR Manager for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Clay has made it his goal to be an ambassador for community outreach in the Metropolitan St. Louis area, a location he and his family have made their home for the past 22 years. Clay has worked tirelessly to make a difference, particularly around causes involving the development of young people, diversity and inclusion, and environmental sustainability. He has played an integral role as a Board Member and Vice-President elect for The Center for Racial Harmony, a grass roots organization whose mission is to promote understanding, cooperation, and communication across all races and ethnic groups, and has facilitated numerous community roundtables on topics important to all local citizens. Additionally, Clay has been actively involved in Challenge 12, an organization which celebrates and develops exceptional students in Belleville, Ill., and surrounding communities who exhibit and model twelve key pillars of character.

Through Wal-Mart’s sponsorship, Clay has championed donations to local food pantries, school supplies to children in East St. Louis, car seats to needy parents with small children, and youth literacy programs, among many others. Clay is very passionate in teaching the topic of financial literacy to individuals of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds, and has been an active little-league baseball coach for the past 6 years. He is also a very dedicated alumni volunteer on campus assisting with speaking, interviewing and serving as a panel member for several McKendree Career Service and Scholarship Weekend events.

For his outstanding community service efforts Clay has also been awarded the 2011 Award of Merit for Community Service from the Urban League, St. Louis Chapter; 2011 Carol Kimmel Community Service Award from SIUE; 2009 Employer of Excellence Award from the Center for Racial Harmony; 2011 for HR Excellence Award for Wal-Mart Stores. While Clay has been very active personally, his ability to inspire action and commitment in others is his proudest accomplishment.

Clay and his wife Beth have two sons and reside in Columbia, Ill.

Sports Hall of Fame Inductees

Brian Dinkelman '07

A member of the baseball team from 2003 to 2006, Brian rewrote the McKendree baseball record book and made plenty of history in the process. During Brian’s four-year career, the Bearcat baseball program averaged 43 wins per season and captured four consecutive American Midwest Conference tournament championships along with a pair of AMC regular-season titles.

On the baseball diamond, few players compared with Brian and the statistics he produced in a four-year span. Statistically, he could be considered the best player to ever wear a McKendree uniform. Brian broke five NAIA career records, including the prestigious hits record with 373. He also collected the NAIA career marks for doubles (96), runs scored (303), total bases (670) and fielding assists (679). Brian broke or tied 25 career records while at McKendree, 24 of which still stand today.

The list of individual honors for Brian is endless. He was named as the NAIA Player of the Year following his senior season in 2006. Brian was twice named as a first-team NAIA All-American in 2004 and 2006, and grabbed second team accolades in 2005. He received the AMC Player of the Year award in each of his last three years at McKendree after garnering AMC Freshman of the Year honors in 2004. A four-time All-Conference and NAIA All-Region V performer, Brian earned regional Player of the Year recognition in 2004 and 2006.

After graduating from McKendree with a degree in business administration, Brian was an eighth-round selection in the 2006 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Minnesota Twins. After progressing through the Twins’ minor-league system and earning All-Star honors four different times during his minor-league career, Brian received the call that all baseball players dream of in early June 2011. He was promoted to the major league level with Minnesota, and made his major league debut on June 4, 2011. Brian’s first major league hit came that night in a victory at Kansas City. In two different stints with the Twins, Brian hit .301 in 23 games and did not commit an error in the field.

Brian continues to play for the Twins as a second base/outfielder and in his off-season enjoys hunting, golfing, fishing and working baseball camps. He and his wife Randi reside in Centralia, Ill.

Karen (Eversgerd) Hoelscher '94

A volleyball player during her time at McKendree, Karen was one of the most dominant volleyball players on the court. Her play at the net and in the back row made Karen a dominating force for opposing players, and allowed her to be one of the first to lead in the Bearcats’ volleyball record book.

A two-time All-Conference performer, Karen established many McKendree career records that to date still rank in the top five. She remains the Bearcats’ career leader with 667 blocks, and is the only player in program history with consecutive seasons of at least 250 blocks (1991 and 1992). In addition, Karen ranks third in career service aces with 180, and is fifth all-time with 1,096 digs and a kill percentage of .330. In 1992, Karen set a new program mark with 78 service aces, a record that still stands.

Karen graduated from McKendree with a degree in marketing and business administration and is an Account Manager at Gateway Digital Press. She remains very active in her community and is the Children’s Liturgy Coordinator at St. Boniface Church in Germantown and is also a volunteer youth volleyball coach. Karen continues to enjoy playing volleyball and is also a golfer.

Karen and her husband Jon have two daughters and reside in Germantown, Ill.

Scott Mehring '03

A member of the Bearcat Football team from 1998 to 2003, Scott was a three-year starter along the McKendree offensive line and was an anchor at tackle for perhaps the most memorable team in Bearcat football history. As a senior in 2002, Scott helped lead McKendree to an 11-2 overall record, a Mid-States Football Association-Midwest League championship and a berth in the semifinal round of the NAIA Football Championship Series. That season included a school-record nine-game win streak to open the year and a top-five national ranking.

Led by Scott, the McKendree offensive line blocked for a unit that led the NAIA in rushing offense, piling up more than 4,200 yards in the 2002 season. In fact, the Bearcats ranked in the top 10 in the NAIA in rushing offense throughout Scott’s entire four-year career.

In each of his last two seasons, Scott was a first-team All-Conference selection along the offensive line. After earning honorable mention NAIA All-America honors as a junior in 2001, Scott became the third McKendree offensive lineman in a four-year span to be named as a first-team NAIA All-American when he picked up the honor in 2002. In fact, Scott started a streak of four consecutive years where a McKendree offensive lineman received first-team NAIA All-America recognition.

After graduating from McKendree with a degree in computer information systems, Scott is a Senior Technical Support Specialist for LRS Sports in Springfield, Ill., and creates and sells video editing software to sports teams. In his current role he travels to customer sites and installs and trains individuals on the software. Staying connected to McKendree and the football program has been important to Scott over the years, as he often returns to campus with other football alums as part of the Whitey Tighty Classic to help raise money for the McKendree football program. In his spare time, he enjoys hunting, fishing, cooking and most of all spending time with his children.

Scott and his wife Kelly have two daughters and reside in Rochester, Ill.

Harry Statham '60

A coaching legend, Harry Statham returned to his alma mater in 1966 to embark on what would become one of the most remarkable careers in the history of men’s college basketball. A member of the basketball team during his time at McKendree, Harry graduated in 1960 with a degree in physical education and went on to obtain his master’s degree in 1961 at the University of Illinois. Before ultimately returning to McKendree, Harry began his coaching career at the high school level with stops at Manito Foreman and Dwight high schools.

Harry stands atop the list of men’s college basketball all-time wins leaders. Through the 2011-12 season, he has earned 1,061 victories and stands to date as the only men’s college basketball coach at the four-year level with more than 1,000 victories. He reached the 1,000-win mark in November 2009, joining former University of Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt as the only coaches with 1,000 career victories. In addition to the wins mark, Harry is the all-time leader in games coached with 1,474 entering the 2012-13 season.

On Dec. 1, 2004, Harry became the all-time wins leader in college basketball history with career victory No. 880 in the Bearcats’ 83-72 win over Maryville University. That win enabled Harry to surpass Dean Smith for the career wins record in front of a sellout crowd. The milestone victory garnered national media attention for both Statham and McKendree.

The list of honors earned by Harry throughout his McKendree coaching career is remarkable. He was named the 2001-02 NAIA Coach of the Year. In addition, Harry collected the American Midwest Conference Coach of the Year eight different times, and was a 12-time recipient of the NAIA-IBCA Coach of the Year honor. His McKendree teams have won 12 conference championships, and he led the Bearcats to 15 appearances at the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship. Under his guidance the 2002-03 squad reached the national tournament semifinals. To honor these and other career achievements, Harry was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1998. He has also been awarded the IBCA Buzzy O’Connor Most Cherished Award in 2003, the NABC Guardians of the Game Leadership Award in 2005, the Distinguished Service Award from the United States Sports Academy in 2005, St. Louis Basketball Writers John E. Wray Award in 1998 and 2010, Missouri Athletic Club Carl O. Bauer Award in 2011, and earlier this year was named to the NAIA 75th Anniversary team.

Harry accomplished many of his coaching milestones while also serving in the dual role of director of athletics from 1966-2010 at McKendree. Under his leadership, the McKendree athletic department increased the number of intercollegiate sports offerings from six to 20. He was recognized as the 1999 NAIA Central Region Athletic Director of the Year, and is also a past recipient of the AMC Athletic Director of the Year award.

Harry and his wife Rose reside in Swansea, Ill.

Peter Akers Award

Rev. Dr. Donald Lowe '48

A graduate of the Class of 1948, Don graduated from McKendree with a degree in philosophy and religion. Don went on to complete a master’s degree in divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 1951, Doctor of Divinity degree from McKendree in 1970 and attended one year at Eden Theological Seminary toward obtaining his Doctorate of Ministry degree.

He has had a career in ministry with the United Methodist Church that has spanned over 60 years. During his tenure, he served 18 years as Pastor of churches in the Southern Illinois Conference (UMC), 12 years as Superintendent for Vandalia (6 years) and East St. Louis districts (6 years), 5 years as Executive Secretary for the Board of Education of Southern Illinois Conference of UMC and 8 years as Assistant to Bishop of Illinois in Springfield. He also served as a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conferences (UMC), delegate to three world Methodist Conferences, participated in a five week exchange with the Superintendent of North West London District of the British Methodist Church, and served nine months as interim Executive Secretary of Illinois Conference of Churches. He has also traveled extensively visiting the Holy Land, participating in home exchanges in England and Europe and has supervised ministerial students at Eden Seminary in Webster Groves, Mo.

As an Emeritus Member of the McKendree University Board of Trustees, Don served on the Board of Trustees for 36 years and on the Executive Committee for over 12 years. In addition, he is a member of the William McKendree Society and an endowed scholarship donor. Don, along with the Kinmundy UMC and other members of the Lowe family, established the Cecil C. and Agnes C. Lowe Endowment Fund as a memorial to his parents in order to provide scholarship assistance to students at McKendree.

Don is a proud US Army WWII veteran and a self-published author of the book Save Some for Seed: Stories of a Life in Letters to Grandkids.  He remains active in his community as a member of the Bloomington-Normal Alumni Club and local QED Club.

Don and his wife Dawn have two daughters and six grandchildren and reside in Bloomington, Ill. He is a beloved friend to the University and his presence and influence inspire and encourage all those around him.