McKendree Will Honor Alumni at Awards Dinner Oct. 6

Akers Award, Loyal Service, Rising Star, Academy of Excellence, Sports Hall of Fame

Lebanon, Ill. — The Reverend Dr. Donald Lowe, of Bloomington, Ill., will receive McKendree University’s highest alumni honor at an awards dinner on Oct. 6 at the Regency Conference Center in O’Fallon. The annual Peter Akers Award recognizes a former student’s professional success, outstanding service and loyalty to the university. It is named in honor of the Reverend Akers, who was the first McKendree degree recipient and the institution’s first president.

Lowe graduated from McKendree in 1948 with a degree in philosophy and religion. His United Methodist Church career has spanned over 60 years, including 18 as a pastor of churches in the Southern Illinois Conference and several in an executive role. An emeritus member of the McKendree University Board of Trustees, he served on the board for 36 years. He is a member of the William McKendree Society for donors and, with other family members and the Kinmundy UMC, established the Cecil C. and Agnes C. Lowe Endowment Fund as a memorial to his parents, to provide student scholarships.

Ten other graduates from several decades will be recognized for their exceptional contributions. Carmett “Corky” Helms, of Belleville, will receive theLoyal Service Award for long and continuous service by attending university functions, assisting in recruitment, helping raise funds for scholarships and programs, and positively influencing McKendree’s mission and image.

The 1959 graduate taught science in Belleville School District 118, was a principal at Douglas School, and taught classes at McKendree and at Belleville Area College, retiring after a 42-year career in education. His extensive civic involvement has included the Optimist Club, Greater Belleville Science Fair, Illinois Prairie State Longhorn Association, Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Foundation Board, Whiteside School Board and 4-H.

Helms was a long-standing member of the Alumni Association Board and chaired the McKendree History Committee, which compiled data for a book about the institution’s history from 1928 to 1978. He has mentored student teachers and volunteered for numerous campus events.

Bernadette Schrempp, of Mascoutah, is the 2012 Rising Star alumna. She graduated in 2003 with a degree in business management and entered law school. She is a St. Clair County assistant state’s attorney, felony prosecutor and a member of the St. Clair Bar Association. Schrempp speaks to police and criminal justice classes, and participates in community and school programs that promote safety.

In college, she participated in student government, New Student Orientation, Business Club, Paris study abroad program, community service projects and as a peer mentor. She returns to her alma mater to volunteer on Scholarship Weekend and teach business law courses.

Four honorees will enter the Academy of Excellence for their achievement, leadership and character, representing the nursing and health professions, social sciences, business and community service.

Lt. Col. Richard Holt ’87, of Caseyville, is associate director of patient care services and nurse executive for the VA St. Louis Health Care System. He has more than 30 years of leadership in the nursing and health profession and is a 23-year Air Force veteran. Prior to entering the Air Force Nurse Corps, he had a successful 10-year career as a critical care nurse in open heart and cardiovascular thoracic surgery and held numerous civilian nurse manager and supervisor positions.

Holt goes on frequent mission trips to Rwanda, works in the community with fatherless young boys and men, and mentors student nurses at home and overseas.

Dan Netemeyer ’88, of Belleville, a graduate of the criminal justice program, is assignment supervisor over the Violent Crime Squad for the St. Louis FBI office. Throughout his career he has led several high profile investigations, including the Alisa Maier child abduction in Missouri and a $66 million armored car facility robbery, cases which were brought to successful conclusions under his leadership.

At McKendree, Netemeyer was a part of New Student Orientation and Pi Lambda Tau fraternity, and he played on the baseball team for four years. He continues to support Bearcat athletics and campus events. He coaches a Mascoutah Athletic Association baseball team and the Quakes Baseball Academy College Exposure team.

John Suarez ’91, of Belleville, received a degree in speech communication from McKendree, where he was on the newspaper staff and a member of Lambda Pi Eta. He is the associate director of career services for DeVry University and the Keller Graduate School of Management in St. Louis. In 2010, he was named a top 20 contributor to the resume writing and career coaching industry over the last 20 years.

The former alumni board member returns to campus to help during Scholarship Weekend and the Career Readiness Conference. For 12 years he has assisted communication students with graduate school preparation, resume writing and job search strategies.

Clayton Thornhill ’95, of Columbia, completed his undergraduate degree in business administration and marketing by taking evening classes at McKendree’s Center at Scott Air Force Base as an active duty service member. He is the senior regional human resource manager for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., where he also oversees company-sponsored donations to local food pantries, as well as school supplies and car seats to needy families. He is a board member and vice president-elect for The Center for Racial Harmony. Thornhill teaches financial literacy to people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds, and has coached little league baseball coach for six years.

On campus, he volunteers as a speaker, interviewer and panel member for Career Service and Scholarship Weekend events.

Four very familiar names to fans of McKendree athletics will be inducted as part of the Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2012. Harry Statham, the all-time wins leader in men’s college basketball history, tops the list of inductees for 2012. The 1960 graduate, a Swansea resident, is entering his 47th season as the Bearcats’ head coach. Joining him in the Sports Hall of Fame this year is Brian Dinkelman, of Centralia, a three-time NAIA All-American in baseball. He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins following his graduation from McKendree in 2006 and played in the major league last season.

Two other Bearcat standouts will also be inducted. Karen (Eversgerd) Hoelscher, a 1994 graduate from Germantown, was one of the most dominant volleyball players of her era. Scott Mehring, a 2003 grad who lives in Rochester, Ill., anchored the offensive line during the Bearcats’ run to the NAIA Football Championship Series semifinals in 2002.

The McKendree Alumni Awards event will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by the dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $32 per person. Call (618) 537-6826 or e-mail For more information about homecoming and reunion weekend activities, visit