Westminster College honors alumni

Westminster College President Barney Forsythe (right) hands David Marshall, Westminster Class of 1964, a certificate of The Order of the Golden Legion — a honor given to graduates of 50 years or more — during the Alumni Awards Convocation on Saturday.

Westminster College President Barney Forsythe (right) hands David Marshall, Westminster Class of 1964, a certificate of The Order of the Golden Legion — a honor given to graduates of 50 years or more — during the Alumni Awards Convocation on Saturday. Photo by Brittany Ruess.

Westminster College recognized its distinguised alums Saturday inside the Church of St. Mary Aldermanbury for its 2014 Alumni Awards Convocation.

Eight alums were honored individually and the Westminster class of 1964 was inducted into The Order of the Golden Legion — a society of alums who’ve been graduated for 50 years or more.

After being presented with their awards, the recipients gave acceptance speeches.

Dick Marshall, 1962 graduate, presented the first award of the convocation — the 2014 Jack Marshall Alumni Loyalty Award, which was named after his brother who dedicated much of his life to the college before his passing.

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Brock Ayers, Vice President of Investments at Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, speaks about his love for Westminster College on Satuday at the Alumni Awards Convocation after receiving the 2014 Jack Marshall Alumni Loyalty Award.

“Those who knew Jack knew his love for Westminster was unparallel,” Marshall said.

The recipient of the award was Brock Ayers, 1982 graduate and Delta Tau Delta fraternity member.

Ayers is the vice president of investments at Wells Fargo, LLC, Westminster Board of Trustees member and founder of the Westminster College Blue Blazers Investment Committee.

In his acceptance speech, Ayers said he can relate to the weekend’s theme “Our Roots Run Deep.” His brother is a fellow alum, and his two daughters and future son-in-law are students.

“So, you can see it runs pretty deep in our family,” Ayers said.

The five lifetime achievement awards were then given out, the first being to Peter Dobelbower, vice president, general counsel and chief legal officer to the Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

Dobelbower described his first visit to the campus, saying he knew right away Westminster was the place for him. He became emotional when talking about his love for the college, which helped him achieve his academic goals after struggling as an underclassman.

“God knows I needed a lot of inspiration and Westminster gave me that,” Dobelbower said.

David Marshalll, 1964 graduate and retiree from the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, accepted his lifetime achievement award and expressed his thanks to the college and his family, specifically his parents.

“I’m so appreciative to my parents,” Marshall said. “They gave me the gift of this education and it came with no strings.”

James “Pat” Murphy, medical director of the Murphy Pain Center and 1981 graduate, spoke about a mysterious force at Westminster that helped him, he said, become who he is today. Murphy is also the president of the Greater Louisville Medical Society.

“(Westminster) makes people achieve things that they might not otherwise be able to,” Murphy said.

James Spriggs II, 1989 graduate, is the chair of the political science department at Washington University in St. Louis.

Looking back, Spriggs said he attended a small liberal arts college instead of a massive state university because he was able to receive individual attention and advice that he may not have received otherwise. The guidance, he said, influenced his career path for the better.

“I realized here that I wanted to study law rather than practice it,” Spriggs said.

Greg Willard, 1976 graduate and partner at Carmody MacDonald Law Firm in St. Louis, said his success as a law firm partner, former White House staff assistant to President Gerald Ford and family man can be traced back to one man — Bill Parrish, former dean chair of the history department.

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Bill Parrish (right), former Westminster College dean and history department chair, talks with former students Saturday inside the Church of St. Mary Aldermanbury after the college’s Alumni Awards Convocation. Parrish was the focus of Lifetime Alumni Achievement Award honoree Greg Willard’s speech as Willard thanked Parrish for being his professor, mentor and, most importantly, friend throughout his life on campus and afterward. Parrish, who is also the author of “Westminster College: An Informal History 1851-1999,” also gave a speech on twentieth century Westminster College presidents on Saturday.

Willard said Parrish has been his teacher, mentor, role model, sounding board, inspiration, confidant and most importantly, friend.

To describe their friendship, Willard quoted William Butler Yeats: “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.”

Two more recent graduates earned the 2014 Young Alumni Achievement Award — Sara Hart Weir, class of 2004, and Donald Wood, class of 2000.

Weir is the vice president of the National Down Syndrome Society and Wood is the vice president and foundation executive director of the Arkansas Hospice, Inc.

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