Honorary Alumni Award
The Honorary Alumni Award recognizes people who did not attend Graceland but whose record of service and commitment to the University is outstanding. Rob Kuehl is the perfect candidate. One of his first comments when talking to Graceland students, current or future, is “I didn’t attend Graceland…I only WISH I had!” Maybe he says that because he would have met his wife even sooner, Bobbie Hampton ’78, the daughter of Graceland legends Jerry and Helen Hampton. The couple met on the Kansas City streets where Rob was a police officer and Bobbie was working as a paramedic. Rob’s first visit to Lamoni to meet Bobbie’s family was also his introduction to Graceland. He fell in love with both.
Rob remembers that he was captivated by the warmth and special community spirit that embodied everyone and everything associated with the University. Married in 1988, Rob and Bobbie became parents of three Yellowjacket athletes — Chase, Spencer and Camryn. A very close family friend played basketball on the Lamoni campus and the Kuehl family took up residence in the Graceland bleachers for many sporting events.
Rob has also worked hard to establish a relationship between the Graceland sociology and criminal justice programs and the Kansas City Police Department. Recently two Graceland students became the first to complete a summer internship, gaining firsthand experience on patrols with officers, detectives and SWAT teams. He has donated his time as a guest lecturer and served as a resource in many other ways to Graceland students interested in police work. “If law enforcement is the career that students are pursuing,” says Rob, “we need to be able to let them experience and get down in the trenches while they are still in school.” It must be odd to do so much for Graceland and not be an alumnus, but that changes tonight. It is with pleasure that we welcome Rob Kuehl as one of our own with the presentation of this Honorary Alumni Award.
Those chosen for the Honorary Alumni Award have not attended Graceland but have provided sustained and exceptional service to the University. Elizabeth (Beth) Whittemore went to several top-flight universities, but tonight we are laying claim to her as Graceland’s own.
Beth has proven her loyalty to Graceland. During her husband Dan’s 12 years serving on the Graceland Board of Trustees, she accompanied him to meetings, homecomings and graduations. She has supported Alumni Office efforts to maintain contact with University graduates by supervising arrangements for dinners in the Phoenix and Denver areas. We wish we had seating at this dinner tonight for the over 100 Graceland students who have been supported by the endowed scholarship that she and her husband maintain. Perhaps one of them will one day be recognized for outstanding community service inspired by their memories of people like Beth and Dan who helped to make their “Graceland Experience” possible.
Graceland has not been the only recipient of Beth’s commitment to the worth of persons and to a more equitable and just world. Her achievements to the broader community are noted in the write-up for this year’s DSA award. It is our honor on this occasion to welcome Beth into the illustrious ranks of the Graceland alumni family. She now adds another top-flight University to her resume.