The University of Findlay will honor Distinguished Alumni Rear Admiral Edward L. Feightner (’41), Dale M. Gillespie (’59), Jeremy L. Pemberton (’96, M ’97), Robert M. Pritts (’57) and Benjamin E. Sapp (’93, M ’95) during Homecoming weekend on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the annual Alumni Association Breakfast. To make a reservation for the breakfast, call 419-434-4516.
Distinguished Alumni are members of the Alumni Association who have exhibited the highest standards of individual achievement in their professions and/or personal endeavors and have contributed to the advancement of humanity.
Other honorees include Phillip A. Riegle (’00) – Old Main Award for young alumni under the age of 36; Jack M. Taylor – Arch Award for faculty or staff members who are not alumni but have served the institution with distinction for more than 25 years; and the late David W. Sterner (’66) – Gold Medallion Award for alumni who deserve recognition but are now deceased.
Rear Admiral Edward L. Feightner (’41) was a member of the track and wrestling teams, served on student council and was president of his senior class. As a sophomore, he received his private pilot license in 1939 after attending the Civilian Pilot Training Program. A World War II hero, Feightner was a naval pilot who participated in some of the fiercest battles of the Pacific Theater of Operations. He is credited with at least nine kills during air battles. His bravery and skill were put to use post-war as a U.S. Navy test pilot, and he contributed to the development of new aircraft and nuclear bomb delivery tactics. In 1970, he was promoted to a two-star rear admiral, serving with the Naval Air Systems Command. Feightner retired from active duty in 1974 after 33 years of service. He is an emeritus member of the Early and Pioneer Naval Aviators Association and an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. Feightner was inducted into the Carrier Aviation Test Pilot Hall of Honor in 1998 and was named to the Findlay College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1980.
Dale M. Gillespie (’59) was an outstanding athlete during his college years as a member of the football, baseball and track teams, and he went on to play semi-pro football for the Toledo Tornadoes. Gillespie was a teacher, coach and assistant principal at Weston Junior High, Weston, Ohio, and Otsego Local Schools in Tontogany, Ohio, for three years before going on to a 31-year career in the semi-conductor field, working for Sylvania in Ottawa, Ohio, and RCA in Findlay. Gillespie served his community as a member of the Findlay City Council for eight years and presided as president of Council for two years. In addition, he was a member of the Executive Committee of the Hancock County Republican Party and serves as a community volunteer. He is a member of the Varsity F Club and was named to The University of Findlay Athletic Hall of Fame and the Hancock County Sports Hall of Fame. Gillespie has served two terms on the UF Alumni Association Board of Governors. He also was a member of the 50-year class project committee in 2009.
Jeremy L. Pemberton (’96, M ’97) is the chief executive officer and executive managing director for Avatas Capital LLC of Ridgefield, Conn., and New York, N.Y., an investment banking firm that he founded in 2008. Previously, he was employed with Babcock & Brown of New York, N.Y., where he was partner/senior managing director and head of real estate investment banking for North and South America, as well as a member of the Executive Management Committee. He also served as vice president of capital markets and investment manager for Dana Corp., Toledo, Ohio. He was awarded a basketball scholarship that not only enabled him to play a sport he loved, but also allowed him to earn a college degree. Remembering his experiences at Findlay, Pemberton established the Jeremy L. Pemberton ’96 Scholarship, designated for Dana Scholars in the College of Business, and the Pemberton Basketball Endowment to support the men’s basketball program. Pemberton has served on numerous corporate boards, has volunteered in his community and is a member of The University of Findlay Board of Trustees since 2011.
A native of Indian Head, Pa., where he was a member of the Churches of God, General Conference, Robert M. Pritts (’57) graduated with a degree in education and went on to a career as a sixth-grade teacher for five years and then as an elementary school principal in Columbus, Ohio, for 35 years before retiring in 1996. He earned a master of education from Indiana University (Indiana, Pa.). Pritts, who has served on the UF Alumni Association Board of Governors, helped found the Columbus Regional Alumni Chapter. He and his wife, Catherine, also hosted at their home many Summer Send-offs for incoming students to The University of Findlay from the Columbus area. In 2008, Pritts was named a Distinguished Associate for his loyalty in enthusiastically promoting and supporting The University of Findlay throughout his lifetime. He and his wife endowed the Robert M. and Catherine M. Pritts Scholarship for education majors.
Benjamin E. Sapp (’93, M ’95) is director of the Mazza Museum at The University of Findlay. Beginning as a student assistant during his undergraduate years, Sapp has been a vital part of the growth and development of the Mazza Museum into a first-class museum and educational program devoted to the art of children’s picture books. After graduating in 1995 with a master of arts degree in education specializing in children’s literature, Sapp became deputy director for the Mazza Museum. Named director of the Mazza Museum in 2007, Sapp has continued the tradition of excellence in collecting, exhibiting and preserving artwork from children’s literature and expanded the educational programs that now number more than 40. Honored for his work, Sapp received the Founders’ Academic Excellence Award for Faculty at UF, the Alumni Association Old Main Award (1999) and the Business Education Network Outstanding Educator Award.
Phillip A. Riegle (’00) is the 2013 recipient of the Old Main Award, which is presented to UF alumni who have demonstrated distinctive achievements and have not reached the age of 36. Since 2007, he has served as a Hancock County Commissioner, presiding as president in 2009 and 2013. Since 2004, he has practiced as an attorney at law and served as youth ministry coordinator at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Jenera, Ohio. He was the Hardin County assistant prosecuting attorney from 2005-07. He earned a juris doctorate from the University of Toledo College of Law in 2004. He also is a member of the Hancock County Bar Association and the Hancock County Republican Central Committee. Riegle is a member of several community boards, in addition to serving his alma mater as a member of the Alumni Association Board of Governors since 2011.
The Old Main Award is presented to UF alumni who have demonstrated distinctive achievements in a chosen career, civic involvement and/or service to The University of Findlay, and have not reached the age of 36.
Jack M. Taylor, professor of music, is the 2013 recipient of the Arch Award, established in 2004 to recognize outstanding service by faculty or staff members of The University of Findlay who are not graduates of the institution. Taylor received a bachelor of science degree in music education from West Chester State University in West Chester, Pa., before earning a master of music in music performance/jazz saxophone at Yale University. Taylor arrived at Findlay College in 1980, where he has taught music courses and directed bands, which include the Jazz Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble and the Oiler Brass marching band, which he co-founded. In the community, Taylor has conducted the Findlay Civic Concert Band since 1987. In addition, he founded the Flag City U.S.A. Civic Concert Band and Findlay Civic Jazz. He composed “Hymnal,” a major work in 10 movements, which premiered April 8, 2001. He also composed the “Flag City March,” which became Findlay’s official march in 1997. As a freelance performing and recording artist, he has worked with many jazz and pop music icons.
The Arch Award was established in 2004 to recognize outstanding service by faculty or staff members of The University of Findlay who are not graduates of the institution.
The late David W. Sterner (’66) is the 2013 recipient of the Gold Medallion Award, which is presented in memory of alumni who are deceased to recognize their outstanding service and accomplishments. Sterner was a senior quality assurance engineer for Honeywell International Inc., in Syosset, N.Y., at the time of his unexpected death on May 29, 2009, after surfacing from a scuba dive off Cozumel, Mexico. He earned a master of science in chemical engineering from the University of Toledo in 1969, and went on to work in the area of quality assurance for RCA, General Instrument Corporation Microelectronics Division and Standard Microsystems Corporation before joining Honeywell. He was a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. His diverse interests included chess, bridge, stamp collecting, photography, astronomy, archeology, history, literature, world travel, German, Spanish, Russian, bicycling, swimming, scuba diving, and cross-country and downhill skiing. He enjoyed classical music and playing the piano. After his death, his siblings – Mary Sterner Lawson (’68) and Robert Sterner (’72) – donated his grand piano to The University of Findlay for use in the performing arts program.
The Gold Medallion Award was established in 1993 and is presented in memory of alumni in recognition of outstanding service and accomplishments during their lifetimes.