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Y. C. Alumni

Yankton College provided a liberal arts education to thousands of students for 103-years, producing scholars and educators, lawyers and doctors, theologians and musicians, artists and athletes before its campus doors closed in 1984. Today, Yankton College, a 501c(3), non-profit charitable organization, remains vibrantly active in alumni outreach,  awarding scholarships, supporting  educational  opportunities and sponsoring fine arts events.     
News Minimize

  Six members of the Yankton College Board of Trustees and one member from the Alumni Advisory Board were appointed to begin a procedural plan and timeline for a fundraising campaign towards the proposed “future home of Yankton College” in the Mead building at the Board of Trustees fall meeting held in two parts Friday, September 26 and Saturday, September 27 at the Summit Activities Center in Yankton.  They include YC alums:  Ron Bertsch, Bill Bobzin and Lee Gass from Yankton, SD; Monte Farnsworth, Pierre, SD; Joe Ward, Gainesville, FL and Gary Ward, Viborg, SD, representing the AAB. 

   At the meeting, Dr. Charles N. Kaufman, who was inaugurated as the president of the College in 2005, submitted his resignation from the presidency and the Board of Trustees due to health reasons.  Dr. Kaufman, an alumnus of Huron College and the University of South Dakota, has been integrally involved with the Board of Trustees since 1968, and his resignation was received with surprise, followed by regrets and gratitude for his long service. The Board then voted unanimously to declare Dr. Joseph Ward III Interim President. Dr. Ward, the great-grandson of the College founders, Dr. Joseph and Sarah Wood Ward, is a 1966 graduate of YC and has served on the Board of Trustees since 1983 and as Vice-Chair of the Board since about 1986.  The Vice-Chairman's seat will remain vacant as the transition of leadership is completed.  

   Other agenda topics included:  a report from the AAB on the success of the 2014 All-Class Reunion; the 2014 proposed agreement between Yankton College and the South Dakota Community Foundation perpetuating the restricted YC scholarship endowments; modifications on the 2015-16 general and post-graduate scholarship applications and review sheets within the Yankton College Scholarship Program.    

   The Yankton College Alumni Advisory Board also held its meeting, Friday, September 26, at the SAC.  Among the items of business on the agenda were a review of the events at the 2014 All-Class Reunion; re-election of Board officers; new AAB member, Scott O’Neal from Crofton, NE was welcomed and two scheduled regional reunions were announced:  one in Gainesville, FL, November 1, 2014 and the second in Fayetteville, NC, October 10, 2015. 

  Following the meeting, a no-host social hour and dinner were held Friday evening at Murdo’s. For further information, call the Yankton College office at (605) 665-3661.


Changes To Be Made At Yankton College - Thursday, October 09, 2014

Pictured l to r:  Dr. Charles N. Kaufman, Yankton College President 2005 to 2014; Dr. Joseph Ward III newly appointed Interim President. 

t the meeting of the Yankton College Board of Trustees held September 26-27 in Yankton, Dr. Charles N. Kaufman, who was inaugurated as the president of the College in 2005, submitted his resignation from the presidency and the Board of Trustees due to health reasons.  

Dr. Kaufman, an alumnus of the University of South Dakota, has been integrally involved with the Board of Trustees since 1968, and his resignation was received with surprise, followed by regrets and gratitude for his long service.  In 1973-74 he served as interim president while the college searched for a replacement of Dr. Fred S. Honkala. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws and Letters in appreciation of his having taken on that responsibility, but there are few committees upon which he has NOT served or provided with leadership.

His association with the University of South Dakota was of even larger proportions, having been Dean of the Business School and of the Graduate School.  At his retirement from that institution, he was officially named Dean and Professor Emeritus.  

The Yankton College Board of Trustees and the Alumni Advisory Board will honor Dr. Kaufman's long and meritorious service by granting him President Emeritus status at a ceremony in the near future. 

In order to maintain an active ongoing program, the Board of Trustees, under the leadership of Dr. Joan Neubauer, voted unanimously to declare Dr. Joseph Ward III President ProTem.  Dr. Ward - great-grandson of the College founders, Dr. Joseph and Sarah Wood Ward - is a 1966 graduate of YC and has served on the Board of Trustees since 1983 and as Vice-Chair of the Board since about 1986.  A retire public school Director of Human Resources, Dr. Ward and his wife have recently moved to Gainesville, FL.  The Vice-Chairman's seat will remain vacant as the transition of leadership is completed.  

NFL Films Delves Into Life of Yankton College Great - Friday, August 29, 2014

By JAMES D. CIMBUREK ~ Yankton Press & Dakotan

The NFL Films series “A Football Life” has featured the likes of Walter Payton and Tom Landry as well as more contemporary players like Tim Tebow and Darrelle Revis.  Later this year they will feature someone near and dear to many area football fans.

A crew from NFL Films  was in Yankton on Tuesday and Wednesday to film interviews and do research for an hour-long piece on the late Lyle Alzado, the Yankton College great who went on to star in the NFL.  The show will air Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. Central on the NFL Network.

“A Football Life is documentaries on people who had a very interesting life in football,” said NFL Films supervising producer Neil Zender.  “We really wanted to do one on Lyle Alzado because most people have forgotten him or don’t remember him, and the people that do remember him just think of steroids.  It’s the first thing that comes to mind, and there’s a heckuva lot more to Lyle Alzado than steroids.  He was a very interesting person, and the more you dig into him and research him, the more interesting and complicated he becomes.”

One thing that intrigued Zender early in the process was Alzado’s boxing exhibition with boxing legend Muhammad Ali in 1979.

“He wanted to fight Muhammad Ali in a boxing ring so bad that he mortgaged his own house to do it,” Zender said.  “When you find out that somebody’s that type of person, that would do something like that, it’s someone you want to do a show on the find out what makes him tick and why he’s the way that he was.”

Zender wanted footage of Yankton College, not just because it was where Alzado went to school and played, but because of what the YC campus is now.

“We wanted to go to Yankton to just get some footage of where he played in college and also show what’s happened to his college,” he said.  “It’s an interesting and unique thing that you can’t say about many NFL players, that their college has now become a federal prison camp.”

The Yankton College alumni office, which remains open nearly 30 years after the institution closed in 1984, proved to be a valuable asset for Zender.

“It’s very impressive, the archives that Yankton College has.  I’ve been at NFL Films for 15 years, and the caliber and quality of their archives, it just blew me away,” he said.  “It’s impressive the depth of material and the quality of the job they’ve done there.  Yankton should be very proud of that.”

“You won’t find many NFL teams that have that level of detail in archiving everything.”

While Zender knew Alzado was an intimidating presence on the field, he entered the process not knowing what Alzado had dealt with off the field.

“What I didn’t realize was what an underdog that he was, and all the odds that he had to overcome and all the obstacles that were in his way,” Zender said.  “He had a tough childhood.  He didn’t have the best father in the world.  He was not a high draft pick in the National Football League.  He didn’t come from a college that traditionally produced NFL players.”

While in Yankton, they also interviewed Alzado’s first wife Sharon, who still has ties to the community.  Zender said that they have a few interviews left, but most have been completed.

“We’ve talked to his formmer teammates, like Tom Jackson of the Broncos and Howie Long with the Raiders.  We’ve interviewed people he played against, like Joe Theismann.  We’ve interviewed members of his family,” he said.  “We’ve looked as closely as anybody’s ever looked into Lyle Alzado and his life, who he was, and we’ll putting it to bed pretty quick.”

And while many use Alzado’s story as a warning for the dangers of steroids, there is another, more positive lesson that can be learned from his life.

“He said a lot of times that, if he hadn’t found out about football, he would either be in jail or on the corner dealing drugs.  Football saved him and gave him an occupation and something to pursue,” Zender said.  “His life is an example of the positive things that football can do for people.”

“When you initially say ‘Lyle Alzado,’ that’s not the first thing that people think of, but that was pretty true of his life.”


Winning Decade Announced at 2014 All-Class Reunion - Thursday, August 07, 2014

  The 1960’s Decade Scholarship, an additional one-time-named Yankton College general scholarship, will be made available next spring to a deserving student as a result of a recent challenge presented to the Yankton College alumni attending the 2014 All-Class Reunion held recently in July. 

   The Decade Challenge was one of the fun reunion activities held during the four-day event.  Alumni from the ‘30,‘40,‘50,‘60,‘70 and ‘80 decades who attended the reunion had to meet criteria to earn the most points to win the naming of a Decade Scholarship valued at $1,000 to be awarded to a college-bound student in 2015.   The following criteria earning twenty-five points each included:  1) must pre-register and pre-pay for 2014 All-Class Reunion before 5 p.m. on Friday, July 18;  2) must attend the Decade Social held Saturday evening, July 19; 3) must give or have given to the Yankton College Forever Club (a form of gentle giving, designed to annually fuel the success of Yankton College); and 4) must have donated one or more YC memorabilia during the All-Class Reunion or within the last year. 

   “It was a close call.  Alumni from the 1960’s decade barely earned the winning points over the alumni who attended during the 1970’s, by fifty points,” reported Jan Garrity, Executive Director for Yankton College, who recorded the tallies with help from a non-alum.   As a result of the challenge, Yankton College will provide financial aid to a graduating high school senior next year and the alumni office obtained noteworthy memorabilia (see list below).

   The winning decade was announced during the final evening of the reunion at the Decade Social.  The 1960’s Decade Scholarship will be awarded through the Yankton College Scholarship Program.  The student selected by a Scholarship Committee will receive a $1,000 scholarship to be used at an accredited college or university for the 2015-16 academic year.  He/she will be selected from applications processed through the Yankton College Scholarship Program ranked on merit and criteria.

   For more information on the Yankton College Scholarship Program or the 2014 All-Class reunion visit the Yankton College office at 1801 Summit St. or call (605) 665-3661.

Memorabilia Donated by YC Alumni during the 2014 All-Class Reunion:

Classroom chair – Ron Bertsch ‘65

Classroom chair – Cindy Filips ‘65

Greyhound wrestling warm –up jacket – Dave Mathews ‘71

YC postcard and 1912 YC Bulletin from Marilyn (Whaley ‘56) Jones

Library card and student id – Gary Ward ‘71

Lyle Alzado football Denver Broncos football cards – Jo (Lessert ‘73) Barber

Greyhound basketball warm-up pants – Doug MacTavish ‘70

YC beer mug; College hymn words by Donald B. Ward; 1983 newspaper article honoring alumni; ‘62/’63/’64 yearbooks; 100 year-old commemorative plate –
George Robie ‘64

YC coffee mug and 100 year-old commemorative plate – Marilyn (Van Epps ’63) Wendell inherited from her folks Claude and Martha (Grow ED’30) Van Epps ‘30

Greyhound sweatshirt and Pioneer Day stadium seat – Eva (Kenton) (Kackmeister) Stob ‘64

YC t-shirt, YC periodicals and a banner – Suzan Gass ‘80

Nine YC postcards, a photo of YC students, Class of 1964, attending Pioneer Day homecoming in 1974 and six photographs of the YC trailer park in 1961 with Chuck Lucas ’64, Doug Carrington ’63 and Larry Selgeby ’61 – Chuck Lucas ‘64

A scrapbook belonging to actor and YC alum John Gill ‘48 – Beverly (Burkhead x’56) Hallstrom

A French lesson book used by Arlene in Miss Burgi’s class – Arlene (Anderson ’56) and Jim Lefler ‘56

YC periodicals and YC newspaper articles – Ruth (Book ’65) Williams

Joseph Ward the Builder book, YC Bulletins, YC Students and YC programs – Ann (Workentine ‘59) Cochran

Greyhound football helmet and warm-up pants – Gary Schuurmans ‘76

Signed and framed photographs of Philadelphia Eagle player Dean Wink and with his teammates – Dean Wink ’66 

   We welcome Yankton College memorabilia that you find and may not want!  To donate college memorabilia, visit the Yankton College office, located: 1801 Summit St., Door #9, Yankton, SD. Open: Monday through Friday, central time, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Or send to: Yankton College, PO Box 133, Yankton, SD  57078.


Yankton College 2014 All-Class Reunion Held - Thursday, July 31, 2014

   Yankton College's photo.The 2014 Yankton College All-Class Reunion was held July 17-20, according to Ron Bertsch ’65, Chair of the YC Alumni Advisory Board.  Approximately 200 alumni from nationwide and two countries attended the various functions held at locations throughout Yankton.  Bertsch said the AAB makes the final decisions in planning for the reunion, “This is our chance to connect with the alums and emphasize that we still exist, well beyond the days of the classroom.”  

   The four-day event kicked off with a Meet & Greet on Thursday at Rounding 3rd in downtown Yankton; then, Friday, officials from the Federal Prison Camp offered two guided tours of the campus, for those who pre-registered; two mini class reunions were held in various locations, including  the Class of 1959 and the Classes of 1963 & 1964 and finally that evening, there were two events: a YC Theater alumni get-together and the Greyhounds Greats, a program recognizing the YC athletic greats; on Saturday, college athletes,  humanitarians and distinguished alumni were recognized or honored during two luncheons and at an evening social;  the Talent Show showcased performing alumni; and memories were rekindled while browsing the college historic collection at the Yankton College office.  The reunion closed on Sunday with a special church service at the United Church of Christ featuring special music on the Yankton College organ performed by Ted Powell ’78 and by the UCC choir (many YC alums) directed by Jennifer (Vondracek ’78) Powell.

      Two Alumni Achievement Awards were presented to Marilyn (Tunberg ’57) Nyberg, Yankton, SD and Howard Waldron ’75, Taunton, MA for their outstanding contributions in their chosen field of endeavor; two Alumni Service Awards to Carol (Kasulka ’62) Boos, Tuscon, AZ and Robert Titus ’49, Yankton, SD, for their significant service and contributions to Yankton College and one Pro-Causa Award to Michael Marek, Vermillion, SD, for his significant contribution to Yankton College as a non-alum.      

   Marilyn Nyberg is worthy of recognition for her years of performing on the organ and piano.  She began playing the organ during Sunday church services in Volin, SD, as a teen.  She developed a passion for the pipe organ and obtained a Bachelor of Music with majors in Sacred Music and English magna cum laude.

   After graduation, she married Jim Nyberg x’57, whom she met at YC when they were freshmen, and while he attended dental school in Minneapolis, she served as the organist and choir director for their church in MN.  They moved to Germany for three years where Jim practiced dentistry for the U.S. Army and Marilyn continued studying the organ, while raising their family. 

   In 1966, the Nybergs returned to live in Yankton, where Marilyn has stroked the organ keyboard at Trinity Lutheran ever since as church musician.  Besides playing for Sunday services for over forty years, she was a driving force in the restoration of the church’s pipe organ and was also instrumental in launching the successful Bach’s Lunch music series held every Advent season. 

   Howard “Howie” Waldron came to Yankton College from Taunton, MA to earn a Bachelor of Arts cum laude in Physical Education and History.  After graduating in 1975, he remained in South Dakota to gain head coaching experience in girls’ basketball, boys’ and girls’ track and football.   He returned to his MA high school in 1979 and over the years coached track and football, but is most known for strength conditioning and power lifting.

   As a Power Lifting Coach, Waldron has led countless high school students to championship status.  From 1989 to the present, Waldron has coached two World Champions, twenty-one National Champions and forty-nine State Champions.   “I was fortunate to coach such great kids, who had fun and worked hard,” Waldron says of his protégés.  Throughout his career, Waldron has received professional recognition for his “dedication and service to High School Power Lifting” and for “excellence in teaching students historical research and writing” and was inducted into the Coyle & Cassidy High School Warrior Hall of Fame in 2012 where he was referred to as a “legend in his own time.”  Although Howard retired from teaching in 2009, he continues to oversee the power lifting program and assist with football scouting.

   Upon her 1962 Yankton College graduation, Carol Kasulka suggested to her classmates that they consider leaving their alma mater with some kind of ongoing gift.   Her idea did not receive much attention then and over the years, Boos wondered “what if.”  Fifty years later when the Class of 1962 met during the 2012 All-Class Reunion, their 50 year anniversary date, she approached her classmates again with the idea of perpetuating the memory of Yankton College and their class with a one-time scholarship.  Classmates quickly responded to Carol’s idea after she made the first contribution; all were genuinely surprised when the contributions kept on growing, large enough to establish within the Yankton College Scholarship Program, the Class of 1962 Scholarship in perpetuity.   Carol’s vision and generosity, assisted by her classmates, will provide students an opportunity to continue their education while leaving behind their legacy. 

   With financial aid from the G.I. Bill, Bob Titus attended Yankton College as a non-traditional student after serving in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946.  Because of family obligations and holding a job Titus said he had no time for extra-curricular activities on the campus while majoring in History and Political Science.

   Bob, later, became closely involved with Yankton College in the early 1990’s after the College closed when he was asked to serve on the Alumni Advisory Board.   As an AAB member and volunteer for Yankton College, Bob rarely says “no” when asked to help out.  He is an avid spokesperson for YC touting the “vital education” that he received leading him “to discover who I was and where I was going in life.”

   Titus also acquired a Masters in Counseling at the University of South Dakota.  His 40-year career with the South Dakota Labor Department was as an Office Counselor administering aptitude tests and marketable job-skill training to youth, then as a Program Supervisor on the South Dakota Indian Reservations, managing Federal Training Programs to aid public welfare recipients to find gainful employment.   Bob believes in the true meaning of Christian charity and has been involved with community service in Yankton for many years.  At the age of 90, Bob can be found regularly volunteering at the Avera Sacred Heart Hospital, Sister James Nursing Home, Sacred Heart Church and St. Benedict Church.

   Michael Marek may not have attended Yankton College as a student, but he was often on campus while his mother, Leona Marek, taught the cello and the string bass for twenty-five years at the Conservatory of Music.  Because of this connection, in 2010 Marek was asked to serve on the Yankton College Board of Trustees.

   Marek has both a BS and Masters in Communications from the University of South Dakota and has brought his communications knowledge and talents to Yankton College in many ways.  He was instrumental in creating a newer version of the YC website and assisted in training the staff to supervise it.   He has gladly documented two All-Class Reunions, professionally photographing the alumni events.  In 2012, Marek brought Social Media to Yankton College creating a Yankton College Facebook page.

   After completing his Ed.D in 2005, Marek has taught Mass Communications at Wayne State College as a tenured full professor for nearly ten years.  He specializes in Broadcasting, advises the campus radio station and specializes in use of Social Media.  Marek has had several peer-reviewed journal publications based on his work with a Taiwanese colleague, using social media techniques to support the learning of English by native speakers of Chinese.  Mike has led students to Taiwan and China for a full semester abroad program.

   Two Yankton College alumni were inducted into the Humanities Hall of Honor for their commitment to excellence and to the ideals of Yankton College, Joan (Bunnell ’57) Neubauer, Yankton, SD and James Wendell ‘62 posthumously.  Neubauer grew up in Yankton and graduated from Yankton College in 1957 with a BA in English and Speech.  After graduation she located in California where she specialized in elementary education, then earned a Master’s Degree in Speech Rehabilitation which served as an entry to the areas of special education and administration.  Wendell graduated from Yankton College in 1962 with a degree in education and became a career educator and coach for 46 years in school systems at Hartington, NE and Stanwood, IA.  His posthumous award was accepted by his wife, Marilyn (Van Epps '63) Wendel from Neubauer. 

   The following alumni were inducted into the Yankton College Hall of Fame for their outstanding athletic college and career achievements:  Lee Shepherd '77, Rapid City, SD, Darryl James '84, Bronx, NY, Bill Spears '65, Cherokee, IA, Mark Herman '71, Dassel, MN,  posthumously to Amanda Clement '10 (accepted by Marilyn Kratz '80), Ray "Chip" Salvestrini '75, Ridgefield, CT and posthumously to David Armstead ’66 (accepted by Bob Miller '63).   Don “Murdo” Edwards ’74 was named the 2014 Mr. Greyhound.

   The following Greyhound Greats were recognized for their athletic abilities during their college years at YC:  Russ Weller ’63 and Gerry Ebel ’75, Yankton; Rick Evans ’75, Garden City, KS; Ernie Ferency ’70, Boynton Beach, FL; Darryl James ‘84, Bronx, NY; Bob Maffei ’77, Trumbull, CT; Gerald Geditz ’65, Mansfield, SD, John Siwicki ’72, Elk Grove Village, IL and Frank Niglio ’71, Mount Carmel, PA.    Members from the 1966 Greyhound Football Team and the 1966 Cross-Country Team were recognized for their championship successes.  

   Yankton College produced thousands of students and graduates from 1881–1984.  It was the first institution of higher learning in Dakota Territory providing a liberal arts education to young men and women from the Midwest, both sides of the nation and around the world.  Scholars and educators, lawyers and doctors, theologians and musicians, artists and athletes emerged from here.     

   The 2014 reunion marks the 30-year milestone of the continuation of Yankton College since the closing in 1984.  Yankton College continues – in a non-traditional way - remaining active in alumni outreach, awarding named scholarships, supporting educational opportunities and sponsoring fine arts events administered by its Board of Trustees. 

   For more information, contact Yankton College at (605) 665-3661.