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Distinguished Service Award

This award is given by Graceland University to recognize achievement in a chosen field, service to community, state and nation, good citizenship, humanitarian service and contribution to society. The recipient must be a living alumni of Graceland, and it must be 10 years since they were enrolled at Graceland.

2022 Recipient: Everett Graffeo ’58

Everett GraffeoEverett Graffeo received an Associate of Arts degree from Graceland College in 1956 and remained at Graceland to become a member of the first graduating class in 1958 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion. During his time at Graceland, he was a recipient of the Gold Seal award and quarterback for the Yellowjackets. It is also during his time at Graceland that he met Judy Yarrington, a Graceland student from Michigan. The two were married his senior year and welcomed their first child, Steve, the summer before Everett went off to the University of Indiana to pursue and ultimately receive his master’s degree in Recreation and Park Administration. Everett continued his education through an internship with the Department of Parks and Recreation in Philadelphia, PA as well as his French studies at the Monterey School of Languages.

As Everett continued his educational pursuits, his family expanded, with the addition of their daughters, Angela and Juli. For 40 years, the Graffeo family served together as an appointee family in the Community of Christ in a variety of assignments ranging from the Central Kansas district to French Polynesia and the Hawaiian Islands. During their time in French Polynesia, Everett received the Medal of Honor of Youth and Sports from the French Government for his outstanding work with the youth of Polynesia. The Graffeo family would later find their way back to Lamoni where Everett would continue his outstanding work with youth by serving as Campus Chaplain at Graceland, assistant head coach in football, and coach of the competitive swimming program that was started under his direction.

Everett went on to serve as an ordained apostle in the islands of the Caribbean, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Southeast U.S islands of the Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, the Philippines, and India, but his work with youth was not finished. He provided leadership for fourteen years to Spectacular and directed the first International Youth Forum at the Community of Christ Temple in 1993. He was ordained as the Presiding Evangelist and served in that office until retiring in 2000.

In the last 22 years of “retirement,” Everett served on the Shaw Family Foundation Board during the reconstruction period of the Shaw Center, continued to make an impact on the lives of the youth by serving as a high school substitute teacher, and has enjoyed various past times such as publishing a book on poetry, marathon canoe racing, beautifying the landscape around him and spending time with family. His 65 years of marriage to Judy has blessed them with three children, eight grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren.

Throughout all of the travel, experiences, and people he has met throughout his life, Everett says, “The friends made at Graceland have remained the closest friends throughout the years.”

  • 2021 - Brent Ruoff ’77

    Dr. Brent Ruoff first started thinking about the world of medicine and critical care after a serious bout with apendicitus while a camper at church reunion. Now, reflecting on 42 years as a hospital administrator and ER doc with Washington University School of Medicine, Ruoff knows exactly what he’s most proud of: mentoring young doctors and other career medical professionals with a holistic approach to taking care of sick people.

    Ruoff, graduated in just three years, summa-cum laude from Graceland in 1977. A chemistry major and star player on the Yellowjacket tennis team. He only regrets not attending Graceland a fourth year missing out on making more friends before venturing to med school at the St. Louis University School of Medicine.

    Brent made up for lost time on “the Hill” by volunteering a week each summer for the past 24 years heading up the SPECTACULAR infirmary team. All those years ago he saw the need and stepped up to the plate. Ruoff fell in love with SPEC in 1973 and hasn’t missed many since.

    Dr. Ruoff had to be talked into accepting the Distinguished Service Award, recognition and being in the spotlight are things he can do without. However, his lifetime of service deserved recognition and we can thank his wife Kim for convincing him to accept!

  • 2019 - David Vaughan '75

    David Vaughan ’75 received the Distinguished Service Award. Vaughan, of Summerland Keys, Florida, earned a Bachelor of Arts in biology and chemistry from Graceland in 1975. He credits professor Nick Hartwig for directing him toward his life’s work. During an independent winter term in Grand Cayman, his passion for the world’s oceans and the thousands of species that live beneath the surface awoke. David went on to earn a Master of Science in biology and microbiology from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a PhD in botany and plant physiology from Rutgers University.

    Vaughan, a renowned aquaculture researcher, has designed, built and operated many marine aquaculture projects, programs and businesses. He initiated the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution’s Aquaculture Division, and he built the Aquaculture Development Park and the Aquaculture Center for Training, Education and Demonstration. Vaughan developed the Center for Marine Ornamental Research, which is now incorporated as Oceans, Reefs and Aquariums Inc.

    In 2005, Vaughan became a senior scientist at the Mote’s Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration Center in the Florida Keys and program manager for the Coral Reef Restoration Program. It was while working in his lab that Vaughan discovered a process to speed up the rate of growth for coral. Using a process called micro fragmentation, he and his crew are able to produce hundreds of corals in a day. Vaughan postponed his retirement to work on restoring corals at Florida’s Reef Tract, the third-largest coral reef in the world. He is now the president and founder of Plant A Million Corals LLC, which was created for the purpose of training marine biologists all over the world in coral restoration and replenishment.

    For the past 32 years, Vaughan has made a name for himself worldwide with numerous published papers and notoriety on his coral growth research. In 2008, he won the Eugenie Clark Scientific Explorer Award from Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, and in 2018, he received The Parker/Gentry Award for Excellence in Conservation/Environmental Biology from The Field Museum. Vaughan has also single-handedly restored and grown over 50,000 corals, and over 100,000 more working with others. He credits his time at Graceland for giving him the drive and passion for this lifelong love and mission.

2018 Dr. Gary McLean
2017 Dan Whittemore
2017 Beth Whittemore
2016 Michael Wiley
2014 Kevin Barth
2013 Don Brown
2012 Mark Thoman
2011 Jim Ash
2011 Stu Waite
2011 Michelle Waite
2010 MaryBeth Evans
2009 Jac Kirkpatrick
2009 Sherri Kirkpatrick
2008 Coral Johnson
2008 Kim Johnson
2007 Sam Hansell-Oliver
2007 JR Shaw
2007 Carol Shaw
2006 David Irby
2005 Norman Swails
2005 Bill Higdon
2004 Larry Fairchild
2004 Barbara Howard
2004 Ken McClain
2004 Cynthia McClain
2004 Richard Howard
2003 Paul Edwards
2003 Richard Resch
2002 David Easter
2001 Dwayne Shannon
2001 Dot Shannon
2000 Fred Hausheer
1999 Leonard Boswell
1998 Roger Launius
1997 Vicki Ross
1996 Don Mehlisch
1995 Barbara Higdon
1995 Jim Henson
1994 Berna Thompson-Cummins
1994 Barney Parker
1993 Roy Schaefer
1992 Marilyn Miller
1992 L.A. Wintermeyer
1991 Barbara Potts
1990 Jim Barker
1989 Dan Waite
1989 Jim Rae
1988 Frank Hough
1988 Scott Fisher
1987 F. Bishop
1986 Harry Engle
1985 Bob Bruch
1984 Richard Guthrie
1983 Wally Smith
1982 Emily Spillman
1982 Kisuke Sekine
1981 Mae Feeney
1981 Teresa Carpenter
1980 Dwight Vredenburg
1980 Earl Higdon
1979 Mary Cochran
1978 Merle Harmon
1978 Jane Mercer
1977 Lee Travis
1976 Bruce Jenner
1976 Thomas Cochran
1975 Bob Brackenbury
1975 Evelyn Barritt
1974 Paul Roberts
1973 Sandy Sandage
1973 Kenneth Keown
1972 Arthur Church
1972 Kelley Anderson
1971 Wallace Smith
1970 Charles Grabske
1969 Malcolm Ritchie
1969 Dr. David B. Carmichael
1968 Ray Carmichael
1967 Milton Young
1967 Roy Cheville
1966 Lemuel Curry
1965 Deane Edwards
1965 Ed Gleazer