UNK Homecoming, Alumni Festivities

UNK-– Six individuals will receive award from the University of Nebraska at Kearney Alumni Association at the 21st annual Homecoming banquet Friday, Nov. 10.

Ron ‘Gus’ Gustafson, Class of 1988; Jerry Kriha, Class of 1959; Marilyn Prososki McGahan, Class of 1965, MAE 1977; and Paul Younes, Class of 1975, will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards. Jennie Silas Gutierrez, Class of 1973 MAE 1981, and Dale Kastens, Class of 1964, will receive Distinguished Alumni Service Awards.

Ron Gustafson, of Omaha, is founder of the company based on his life, ‘Ron Gustafson- My Story,’ turning a setback into a comeback.

At age nine, a tractor injury took his right arm and shoulder and crushed his right leg. In spite of that injury, Gustafson excelled in high school athletics at Lyons High School. He attempted to play college basketball, but a knee injury ended that career.

After graduating with a business degree, he was a sales representative before starting Microfilm Imaging Systems in 1989. In 1997, he began his present company detailing his life of turning a tragedy into a triumph.

In his presentations to businesses, schools and other organizations, h explains how his faith and courage sustained him and how he redirected his energies, building outstanding academic and business careers.

He has authored a book on his life titled Fully Armed.

The Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame established the Ron Gustafson Inspirational Award to honor athletes who have achieved success in high school athletics while overcoming major obstacles. Gustafson was the first recipient of that award.

Jerry Kriha, who recently retired as associate executive director of the Nebraska State Education Association, spent his entire professional career in education.

The Lincoln resident taught mathematics for 18 years at Holdrege before joining the NSEA staff. He was a field staff member for seven years and director of bargaining and research for six. He served as associate executive director since 1992.

While at Holdrege, Kriha was president of the Nebraska Council of Teachers of Mathematics, served on the NSEA Board of Directors and was NSEA president in 1972. He served on the National Education Association’s Board of Directors from 1975 to 1977.

For his commitment to education, the Nebraska Jaycees named him Nebraska’s Outstanding Young Educator in 1970.

For the past two years, the Gibbon High School graduate has been chairman of the Nebraska Educators Health Alliance. Marilyn McGahan has been a staff member at Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte since 1971. She is chair of the division of business and technology.

McGahan was named the Nebraska Community College Association faculty member of the Year in 1999. In 1998, she was the American Vocational Association Region 5 Vocational Teacher of the Year and in 1997 she was the Nebraska Outstanding Vocational Teacher of the Year.

Among the other awards of the Osceola native were the Nebraska Business Education Association Outstanding Postsecondary Business Teacher, the North Platte Woman of Achievement in Education, the Delta Phi Epsilon Outstanding Educator in Nebraska, the Nebraska State Business Education Service Award and the North Platte Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year.

McGahan has served as president of the Nebraska Vocational Association and the Nebraska Business Education Association. She has also served on the Great Plains Regional Medical Center board and the North Platte Concert Association board.

Paul Younes was born in Israel and came to the United States to attend college. While in college, he worked as a dishwasher at the Lodge restaurant and Best Western Motel in Kearney. In 1974, he became manager of the restaurant and the following year he became manager of the motel.

Younes continued his career in the hospitality industry when he leased the Captain’s Table at the Kearney Ramada Inn in 1977. The following year he became manager of that hotel. He and his wife, Linda, eventually purchased the Ramada Inn and Captain’s Table which is not the Holiday Inn and Convention Center.

He is president of Heartland’s Hotels Inc., which included six properties. Younes is involved in many civic activities including the Kearney Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation board of directors, the Nebraska Hotel and Motel Association board of directors, the UNK Loper Athletic Club and the Kearney Catholic High School Activities Association.

Jennie Gutierrez has been providing service to education a to her community of Lexington since the time she began teaching rural school in 1944 after receiving a Nebraska teaching certificate.

The child of an immigrant and migrant family, she used a $50 high school graduation gift to enroll in college. She has continued that, earning two degrees and having taken courses at UNK for more than 45 years.

Although she retired in 1994, she continues to teach English as a Second Language and she serves on the Lexington School Board. She is also a commissioner for the Nebraska Mexican American Commission and the Lexington Housing Authority.

She has also served as president of the Dawson County Rural Teacher Association and president of Alpha Kappa Delta education honorary. She serve on the Lexington St. Ann’s School Board and chaired the Lexington Hispanic Awareness Center.

Gutierrez received the 1985 Nebraska Hispanic Woman Award and the 1994 Nebraska Woman of Color Award. In May, the U.S. Small Business Administration presented her with the Community Partner Award for her efforts in promoting unity and diversity with the Lexington business community. Dale Kastens has been a leader in his community, the state and university for many years.

The Lodgepole farmer served 18 years as Garden County Commissioner. During that time he was president of the Nebraska Association of County Officials. He was vice chair o the Nebraska Ag-Land Advisory Council and director or the Nebraska County Attorneys Advisory Council.

Kastens is serving his third term on the Nebraska Corn Board. He represents Nebraska on the U.S. Grains Council in Washington D.C. and serves as director on the council’s executive committee and public relations committee. He is in his second term as a director of the Farmers Educator Board in Chappell and he is past president of the Lodgepole Lions Club.

In 1993, Kastens served as president of the UNK Alumni Association and he is member of the Chancellor’s Advisory Council.

For 10 years following his graduation before returning to farming, Kastens taught and coached at Amherst and Alliance.

Other alumni will also be recognized at the banquet. Laddie Lysinger, Class of 1941, of Boise, Idaho, is the 2000 recipient of the Dr. Gary Thomas Distinguished Alumni Award in Music and Dr. George Lookhart, Class of 1968, of Manhattan, Kansas, is being honored as the 2000 Dr. Don Fox Lecturer by the Department of Chemistry.

The Homecoming Banquet will be held at the Kearney Holiday Inn on Friday, Nov. 10 with a reception beginning at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults and $8.50 for children 10 and under. They are available by contacting the Alumni Office at (308) 865-8474.