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September 2018

Volume 3 | Number 5

Welcome to Rise

Welcome to the September 2018 edition of Rise Grand Island the alumni newsletter for Grand Island Senior High published every other month by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation. Rise is where we connect with thousands of Islanders across the globe, keeping you and them informed on what’s happening in Purple and Gold land, and reminiscing a little bit as well.

This is Volume 3, Number 5, the fifth offering of Rise this calendar year, our third year as the official publication for alums of Islander Nation. Thanks for reading us and for your comments and support.

We really enjoy hearing from those of you who find Rise in your in-box every other month. Give us a shout, especially if you or a GISH alum you know has done something new, newsy, or newsworthy. You can reach us at

This issue’s At the Top features architect Linda Syverson Guild, Class of 1973, who is also a gifted quilter, an artist whose work captivates the eye and tells a tale, too. Now she wants to add words to the mix of stories. She’s starting a book project, stories about people and places in Grand Island. 

Also in the issue Foundation Executive Director Traci Skalberg takes us inside last month’s GIPS Foundation’s Teacher of the Year Awards, a rollicking, three-Kleenex affair held a few days before school starts each year, which honors the best and greatest in GIPS. She’ll also share some exciting news from Charity Navigator.

The Grand Legacy Update by Leigh Lillibridge, is a shout out for volunteers to become part of making the Grand Legacy Memorial Stadium Project a spectacular success.

Our Class Reunion Update lets you know who is going to party and when in case your class is on deck or maybe you just want to crash another class’s soiree and see a few old friends. We’ve added monthly class gatherings to the lineup so you locals can share a drink or a coffee with old friends. Check it out.

Distant Mirror correspondent, Mike Monk, Class of 1967, has penned a beautiful piece on the books of Beverly Cleary, timeless stories from his youth which he now reads to his grandchildren — who’ve come to love them as much as he did.

A recent cycling accident primed my I’ve Been Thinking column about whether I need to grow up or act my age. See my piece for details … some of which are painful.

As we do every issue, we honor those Islanders who passed away the last couple months in our In Memoriam section.

Per our custom, we’ll see what songs were popular on the radio, what books people were reading, what movies were wooing us to the big screen, and what television shows kept us from our homework each decade during January going back to the 1930s.

We hope you enjoy this Rise as the cool temps and beautiful colors of fall approach. You know, colors like purple and gold. Oh, yeah, and remember … keep pushing on. 

George Ayoub, Class of 1968
Editor, Rise Grand Island

Grand Legacy Update

Volunteers Needed for Memorial Stadium Project

One of the key points which stands out in my mind after reading all the historical data from the 1945-1947 campaign to build Grand Island’s Memorial Stadium was the absolute enthusiasm and true grit the entire community had. Men, women, and students participated in the volunteer fundraising efforts to secure a facility that would provide a legacy for generations to come. Their efforts were grand and vast. They went after all sizes of gifts from nearly every Grand Island citizen. Some of the gifts were sizable for those days, but many others were what generous community members thought they could spare in post-World War II days.

It is our turn to leave a lasting legacy for our community. Help us emulate the volunteerism of the past and join us at one of two Memorial Stadium Campaign Volunteer Trainings on either October 15 or October 22 at 5:30 p.m. For more information or to RSVP contact Leigh Lillibridge at: or call (308) 385-5900 Ext. 1246. 

At the Top

Quilt Project Becomes Book Project

For Linda Syverson Guild, Class of 1973, her quilts are more than the overused colloquialism, “a labor of love.” Her spectacular quilts tell stories, some waking the echoes of a past she and thousands of others lived growing up in Grand Island — from an iconic downtown building to a landscape featuring an expanse of sky of which Nebraskans seem to never tire. (Check out her work at

Now, Syverson Guild, an architect, is turning to the printed word to compliment the beauty and wonder of her stitch. And she has your story in mind to tell.

Her newest project will be a book filled with stories from people who have lived in Grand Island in the past and present. Quilts will play a role in that storytelling, too.

“Grand Island is a community with so many stories,” she said. “I am in the process of collecting stories about Grand Island from people of all ages and on any topic that has Grand Island at its core. I have been working on a series of art quilts based on the architecture of Grand Island for the past 10 years and plan to roll them into a book about living in Grand Island with short stories about what happened there from the 1930’s through WWII, to the present day.”

She used as an example of her “stories” a conversation she had with Fred Schritt, who died in 2016. His GI Body Shop is landmark in Grand Island. 

“A few years ago Fred told me that growing up on Fourth Street, he remembered the stop signs were a slightly elevated area in the center of the street with the word STOP written on each side. People were frequently watching the center of the road rather than the sidewalks along side. He said, ‘The dynamics of driving changed when stop signs were put on posts on the edge of the street.’”

If you have a story to tell of your own and you think it would be good for her book, please write it and email it to her at or mail them to her at Linda Syverson Guild, 6903 Crail Dr., Bethesda, MD 20817.

For those who of you who prefer to speak with someone to tell your story, please call or leave a message with Kim Mettenbrink at 308 382-7667 or Kathleen Nonneman at 308 381-2009.  

Below are two of Syverson Guild’s quilts with a focus on Grand Island. They are entitled “Lessons We Learned,” and “Grand Theatre.”

I've Been Thinking

The Handlebars of a Dilemma

Well-placed among thousands of fine educations we alums have received at Grand Island Senior High are skill sets that include math, science, social science, the arts, and literature. Those educations have been parlayed into success across a variety of fields including law, education, medicine, health care, fine arts, business, technology, civil service, and the military.

Given that broad stroke (and perhaps some purple and gold braggadocio), I’d also like to believe that Islanders know how to think, to solve problems, to find answers, to make the right choice when they find themselves on the the horns of a dilemma.

Or the handlebars of a dilemma.

Handlebars are what I flew over a couple of Sundays ago, and why this column is being written with one hand — the other temporarily occupying the business end of a sling.

I had just turned off Engleman Road and headed east on Old Potash Highway on my bicycle. Some of you might be unfamiliar with this intersection. Grand Island has grown considerably; houses now stretch across what were cornfields when many us were drag racing on country roads or otherwise misspending our youth. Suffice to say, I was on western edge of town.

Old Potash has no shoulder and is well-traveled, so when vehicles roll up behind me — some with good attitudes about sharing the road with cyclists per Nebraska law, some not so much —I move to the right. Also, as a law-abiding cyclist, I stay on the road. My speedometer read 17 mph.

A black mid-sized Chevy passed, but my front wheel dropped off the pavement and within a few feet, into a deep hole. The bike lurched and stopped. I kept going, heading out into the atmosphere, flying free from the constraints of my handlebars, bike seats, and brakes, watching a new subdivision sail past.

Wags who say, “It’s not the fall that hurts; it’s the sudden stop.” have this going for their smart-alecky souls: They’re right.

My sudden stop produced (Actually I bounced a couple times) a high grade shoulder separation, a graphic science fiction novel bruise the size of a baby blanket, and an expressway of road rash on my left side from calf to shoulder. My bike is banged up, too. My helmet — which probably saved my brain and more — has that “lived in” look.

Give me a second. I need to whimper.

With the ER, several medical appointments, and a new physical therapy schedule behind me, I’m ready to tackle the dilemma posed by my very wise wife’s observation: Should a 68-year old be cycling on tires 23 mms wide around the countryside where he encounters  vehicles driven by everyone from (mostly) law abiders to (some) knuckleheads to (a few) road ragers. (By the way, I do not fault the black Chevy although they could have stopped. Nobody stopped.)

The debate is on at my house, and to some extent, among my cycling friends of a certain age. I try to avoid the safer hike/bike trails because they are crowded and have too many users on one side of the trail and their Fidos, tethered with a leash, on the other side. I do ride stationary spinning bikes at the YMCA, both as an instructor and just for good exercise.

But I truly love an early morning ride on the edge of the city when the headwaters of a bright day roll across horizon, the rest of a sleepy world is still abed, and a cadre of cyclists, walkers, and runners nod knowingly to one another in a day-breaking bond.

But the dilemma is bigger than bikes or sneakers or trails or who exercises in first light. The dilemma is a how do I square a 68-year-old body with a mind — when it comes to exercise — that still thinks Carter is in office. I’m not sure whether to act my age or grow up.

Like many of you, I’ve been active my entire life, so set backs and injuries are part of the deal. But I don’t think the purple mess that has taken over my left side for the month is what they meant by an “active lifestyle.” Achieving a good, steady level of fitness should not feel as I did starting September 2.

I learned a few days after my crash that a buddy and Islander alum in Chicago broke bones and suffered a concussion after a bike accident. We commiserated via email, but his experience only clouded my quandary.

I’m waiting until my bike and body regain full strength  to consider where I go from here. If my young exercise mind will somehow sync with an old(er) body? If perhaps a leisurely bike ride rather than a near-death-experience “workout” might do the trick? If AARP might be able to recommend a personal trainer from its pre-geriatric department?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go kiss my helmet and remove the “For Sale” sign my wife has on my bike.

Alumni Reunions

Planning a class reunion?

We can help get you started!
Contact us for your class list and send us information about your reunion. We will post it to our website.

Kari Price, Alumni Coordinator
308.385.5900 ext. 1148


NOTE: Reunion information in this newsletter is current as of the publication date. To see Reunion updates and additions go to our Alumni Reunions page.

Class of 1951

The class of 1951 will hold their bi-annual reunion at the Liederkranz on Friday, October 5th, 2018, Harvest of Harmony weekend. Please call Jim Marsh for details at (702) 946-1000.

Class of 1956

The Class of 1956 wishes to extend an invitation to fellow classmates to join them at their monthly gathering. They meet on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at the Midtown Holiday Inn at 6:00 pm.

Class of 1966

The Class of 1966 wishes to extend an invitation to fellow classmates to join them at their monthly lunch gathering. They meet the 3rd Wednesday of each month at the Platt Duetsche at 1:00 pm.

Shaking the World

I See Hope

We are bombarded with so many negative messages in our world today. Sometimes it just makes me cranky. It becomes difficult to see the good. That is, until you sit in my chair and read the 1000+ nominations that came in this spring for the GIPS Foundation’s Teacher of the Year program. Over 1,000 pieces of paper nominating 327 teachers and staff crossed my desk.

Every story. Every nomination is a testament to the difference our GIPS Staff make. And, those are just the stories that have been written down. For each paper nomination, there are surely 25 more that are only written on hearts. It just gives me hope.

On August 9, the GIPS Foundation presented the 2017-18 Teacher of the Year Awards in front of a standing room only crowd at the Grand Island Senior High Auditorium. The crowd was made up of educators and staff of the Grand Island Public Schools. The event was part of the school district’s welcome back convocation for their staff.  

The Teacher of the Year program, sponsored by First National Bank, is in its 16th year. The GIPS Foundation solicits nominations during the spring of each year from students, colleagues, parents and the community. Nominees must be current teachers, principals, administrators, specialists, counselors, or support staff members (custodians, para-educators, food service, etc.) who are employed by the Grand Island Public Schools. Six awards are made annually by category.

Volunteers, armed with a box of tissues, read through the nominations and select winners. But that is not all! The Foundation staff carefully copy the nominations for processing so we can send the originals to each Teacher or staff member who was nominated. Those packets of love are mailed each June.

The following are excerpts pulled from the nominations with the winner noted below.  

Elementary Teacher of the Year

The world we live in needs bravery and this teacher is just that.  

She is not afraid of taking educational risks in order to offer improved services to her students.  She sets an example for her students that sometimes taking chances can turn into huge successes and are worth it.

She understands that every student has a story.   She is able to embrace this aspect of teaching due to tragic personal events of her own.  She chose the path of resiliency. She sets a positive example for her students understanding that they all have a story and they all deserve the best teacher every day.

She helps us to make the right choices but some students don’t like to do the right choices, but I like to do the right choices so I can make her happy.

Ms. Bianca Ayala, Howard Elementary

Middle School Teacher of the Year

She encourages students not only in math, but in life.

Sometimes the class is disrespectful, but she is never mean about it or mad when she tells us to stop.

She is a teacher that never misses any days of school unless it’s a meeting and she even works on the weekends while everyone is relaxing.  She stays after school until 8 and offers students after school help or first period help.

Mrs. Lori Coble, Walnut Middle School

High School Teacher of the Year

We finished the year with two grand championships, multiple awards for best vocals and best choreography and an award for best sportsmanship.  He has taught us how to sing well and also to be good human beings.

He has inspired me to pursue music education.  I want to be a role model to students and help them discover their love for music.  I want to follow in his footsteps. He often asks us, who do you want to help you leave a legacy? I want to help him leave a legacy.  

Mr. Jeff Vyhlidal, Grand Island Senior High School

Non-Teaching Staff Member of the Year

There is no other way to say, other than She GETS KIDS!

How many people would announce, “Ok first graders, when you are finished eating, take the napkin out of your silverware packet and wipe your faces really well?” 

She goes to see me in my play to support me, even out of school so I thank her for that.

Mrs. Pat Tatro, para-educator Wasmer Elementary School

Specialist/Counselor of the Year

It takes a special kind of magic to work with escalated students and she certainly has it!  She is a huge asset to our district.

She has saved students’ lives.  In one instance, she dropped everything and made our student the priority.  She made sure to get him lunch, she reasoned with him when he second-guessed why he’d even asked for help, she emphasized the seriousness with his family and she even assisted the administrator as they transported the student to Richard Young.  When she is in, she is 110% in and she isn’t going to rest until she knows that a student is okay…and not just her students, but ALL GIPS students.

Ms. Angela Runquist, School Social Worker, Skills Academy at Success Academy

Administrator of the Year

She wears many hats.  She is the head cheerleader.  She encouraged us with Friday Challenges where staff would provide evidence of their growth in our demonstration school work.  Of course, there were always prizes!

She is also the director of Awesome.  You don’t say no to the director of awesome.  One of the jobs of the director of awesome is getting to as many kids as possible to tell them just how awesome they are.

She grows me every day while making me feel like I am the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Ms. Selena Wardyn, Assistant Principal, Walnut Middle School

Each of the Teacher and Staff Member winners selected receive a plaque and a $500 prize as a token of our appreciation. The recipient of the Administrator Award receives a plaque and $1,000 of extra building or department budget authority for their administrative area.

For a complete list of those nominated and the winners throughout the years, click here: GIPS Foundation - Teacher of the Year

Your Legacy. Their Opportunity.

Grand Island Public Schools Foundation Earns 5th Consecutive 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator

At the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation, our attention to detail and high ethical standards means your legacy can be their (students) opportunity.  We don’t just say it. We do it.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation has earned the 4-star rating from America’s largest national independent charity evaluator, Charity Navigator. The four-star rating is the highest award for sound fiscal management practices and commitment to accountability and transparency.  

“We are proud to announce the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation has earned our fifth consecutive 4-star rating,” said Michael Thatcher, President and CEO of Charity Navigator. “This is our highest possible rating and indicates that the GIPS Foundation adheres to sector best practices and executes its mission in a financially efficient way.  Only 10% of the charities we evaluate have received at least 5 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation outperforms most other charities in America.” 

“This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets Grand Island Public Schools Foundation apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness,” relayed Thatcher.

The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation is the first Grand Island non-profit organization to be rated by Charity Navigator. The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation is one of 68 Nebraska charities rated, and one of only 29 Nebraska charities with the 4-star rating. Additionally, the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation is one of just three Nebraska charities outside of Lincoln and Omaha to receive the 4-star rating.

We are so grateful to our donors who help us invest in and create opportunities for the students of Grand Island Public Schools.  We are proud of this 4-star Charity Navigator rating, but more importantly, we are proud of the impact we get to make for the students of our community.

The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation rating and other information about charitable giving are available free of charge on

A Distant Mirror

Growing Up in the 1950's and 1960's and the Wonderful Beverly Cleary

It is July, 1959, 10 a.m. on a muggy Tuesday morning in Grand Island. A mildly ragged but enthusiastic group of five boys aged 11 or 12, some wearing only swim suits, are riding their bikes south to the Platte River, to swim, goof around, and perhaps to try to spear some fish. Having told their mothers what they were up to, they took off, promising only to be home by dinner. No carefully packed lunches had been prepared, no admonitions were given about sunscreen, and in general the boys were on their own. They were told to be careful.

Later that day they returned and worked outside on the wooden fort they were building in one of the boys’ back yard.

The next day most of the Howard enrollment was at the Summer Shows at the Grand Theatre. For one dollar you got to see eight movies over the summer. Most children walked to the Grand Theater on their own. That night a few of the boys rode their bikes to Grace Abbott Park for their Little League Game. Many of the boys’ parents would arrive later by car, but some parents did not attend and their boys were fine on their own.

The following day, Thursday, saw many of these friends again riding their bikes to the Municipal Pool, unattended by parents and swimming all day. Many days that summer started with a 9 a.m. pickup baseball game at Howard School. Self organized, no adults part of it, and played with gusto by young baseball fanatics.

It was not exactly Tom Sawyer, but similar in many ways. But ultimately better, since despite the freedom given children, the parents were assiduously conscious of just what the boys and girls did, and very loving in their direction. What a way to engender confidence, independence, and audacity in the youth.

I hope the Grand Island of 2018 has retained some of this small town flavor. Despite the avalanche of modern technology, the growth of the city, and the simple reality of changing times, I think the geography and culture of Grand Island and general trustworthiness of most Midwestern folks will always provide a bit of that life. But I am sure that parents today are more circumspect and less trusting. I also wonder if it was that moment in time or the geography and culture of Grand Island that made this life possible.

My college roommate grew up in the 1950’s in Manhattan, the heart of New York City. Yet even as a boy of six or seven years old, he rode a public bus by himself to his private grammar school. So I suppose both the era and the location are factors. Middle class American life in the 1950’s and 1960’s is wonderfully captured by the books of Beverly Cleary. Ms. Cleary is adept at describing how a young child thinks, what motivates that child, and how the child perceives the world around him or her. She published her first book, “Henry Huggins,” in 1950, and she is still alive today, at 102 years young. I have mentioned her in this column before, since I am a life long fan. She wrote books that are mostly directed at  beginning readers, or those aged 5-11 or so. The heroes are Henry Huggins, his dog, Ribsy, and his neighbors, Beezus Quimby and her little sister Ramona Quimby. Ramona, ultimately the most captivating character of all is a total delight, and I am no less fond of her because my late mother was named Ramona. I loved the Beverly Cleary books when I was 7, in Ms. Kass Martin’s second grade class, I loved them in college, I loved reading them to my children, and I love reading them to my grandchildren today. I was recently reading “Henry Huggins” to my 5-year-old grandson and 8-year-old granddaughter. While at first uninterested, they quickly became entranced. My grandson had to go to the bathroom, and, being a child of the video age, said to me breathlessly, interrupting my reading, “Grandpa, can you pause it while I go to the bathroom?”

Cleary’s first book, “Henry Huggins,” tells the story of Henry Huggins, a third grade boy who lived in Portland, Ore., in a typical middle class family. Henry finds a stray skinny dog, names him “Ribsy,” and convinces his parents to let him keep the mutt. Henry is required to feed and care for Ribsy, and Risby hangs with him and even is allowed to run loose and wait for Henry under a large tree at the school playground. Henry bonds with Ribsy, and Ribsy immediately makes Henry’s life much more interesting.

Three scenes from the book vividly display the tenor of the times and the values of the 1950’s:
The Bus Ride – The very day Henry finds Ribsy and gives him a home, he is forced to take his new pooch home on a municipal bus. But during the bus ride Ribsy gets away from Henry, bumping into a lady who spills all her groceries, leaving apples on the bus aisle, on which a heavyset man stumbles and falls. Bodies and groceries are strewn everywhere, and the man is left unceremoniously sitting on his bottom in the aisle. In short, all heck breaks loose. But what happens? Do the grown ups shout at Henry and berate him? Do threats or profanity ensue? No. After a moment of befuddlement and surprise, the man in the aisle begins to laugh at the havoc that he sees around him. Soon everyone on the bus is laughing out loud. Would this happen today? I hope so.

The Lost Football – Henry’s older friend Scooter McCarthy, a 5th grader, had received a new football for his birthday. It was a good one, a “genuine cowhide leather” one that smelled wonderful and had that solid thump when you patted it or caught it. While playing catch with Scooter, Henry accidentally throws the ball into the open window of a passing car. The car’s driver speeds on, not stopping. Then, immediately, Scooter demands that Henry buy him a new ball. Henry does not dispute his obligation, but instead tries to figure out how to raise enough money to buy Scooter a ball.

Henry proceeds to liquidate all his assets, but is still woefully short of the $13 the ball costs. But Henry discovers he can make money catching night crawlers, since his fishing fanatic neighbor agrees to pay him one cent for each worm. This means, however, that Henry has to find over 1,000 night crawlers to pay his debt. His parents, however, allow him go to the nearby park, after dark, by himself, for hours.

Finally they join him and help him catch the necessary 1,000 worms. The parents never once suggest that Henry should not have to pay for the football, and they never once offer to pay for him. They are struggling middle class parents. So Henry obtains the necessary money. But before he can buy the ball for Scooter, a stranger appears at the Huggins’s front door. It is the stranger into whose car the ball had been thrown. He apologizes for his delay in returning the ball, but explains that he was driving his sick wife to the hospital and could not stop. So Henry does the right thing, and is rewarded by ultimately having enough money now to buy his own football.

Whose Dog is It? - This is the most telling, most poignant, and best scene in the book. I recently had to hide my tears reading it to my grandchildren. Near the end of “Henry Huggins,” Henry and his friend Beezus, and her sister Ramona, and their friend Robert (all but Ramona are in the third grade) are playing in the front yard. The older Scooter McCarthy, in the fifth grade, comes by riding on his bike, and stops to chat.

Just then an even older boy, maybe 14, rides up on his bike. Henry’s dog Ribsy, seeing the strange boy, starts barking like crazy. The boy stops and calls to Ribsy, “Dizzy, hey Dizzy, Dizzy.” Soon Ribsy runs to boy for a joyful reunion, since the boy had been Ribsy’s original owner. The boy explains that Ribsy escaped from a dog sitter when the boy and his family were on vacation. Since Ribsy had shed his collar and license, there was no way for the boy to find his dog, and no way for Henry to identify the owner.

Henry had now cared for Ribsy going on two years. He had spent money on the dog, but more importantly, it was his dog, and he liked his dog. The other boy said he would pay for the expenses Henry incurred in caring for “Dizzy” but that Dizzy was really his dog and had been so since the dog was a puppy. So did this older boy simply grab Ribsy and ride away? No. Indeed he understood how Henry felt. Henry’s friends also came to his defense, and now praised Ribsy, for the first time ever. But even they understood how the older boy must feel as well. So on the spot, this group of kids, from age 5-14, decided how to resolve the matter. They agreed to let the dog decide.

Henry and the strange boy each stood on the sidewalk, about 40 feet apart. They then placed “Ribsy/Dizzy” in the middle and both boys were allowed to call the dog. Whichever boy Ribsy/Dizzy selected would be the owner. Scooter agreed to supervise the contest. The importance of this contest cannot be exaggerated. After Scooter said “Go,” both boys yelled wildly, calling Ribsy to come to them. At first Ribsy just yawned and sat down. Then Ribsy went about half way to Henry, then stopped and scratched a flea. The strange boy now called out “Ribsy” instead of “Dizzy,” which Scooter ruled to be permissible. Finally Ribsy went the remaining distance to Henry and nestled up at Henry’s feet. Ribsy had chosen Henry. All agreed this was fair, and after Henry agreed the boy could come and play with Ribsy whenever he wanted, the boy rode away.

There were no screaming matches, no threats, no resort to adults, no police involvement, no lawyer demands. Yet justice was served.

Would this possibly happen today? Again, I very much hope so. So if you have children or grandchildren, or if you yourself (like me) simply enjoy a great children’s book, I cannot highly enough recommend the books of Beverly Cleary.

* * *
Lists of Favorite Books

My column in the last newsletter setting forth the favorite books lists compiled by my class of 1967 buddies and me drew little response. I did, however, receive a wonderful list of top 20 from my pal and fellow newsletter scribe and editor, George Ayoub. George’s list is as follows:

1. “To Kill A Mockingbird” — Harper Lee
2. ”A Tale of Two Cities” — Charles Dickens
3. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” — Mark Twain
4. “Shoeless Joe” — J.P. Kinsella
5. “Catch 22” — Joseph Heller
6. “The Grapes of Wrath” — John Steinbeck
7. “The Monkey Wrench Gang” — Edward Abbey
8. “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” — Thomas Hardy
9. “A Clockwork Orange” — Anthony Burgess
10. “Slaughterhouse Five” — Kurt Vonnegut
11. “A Confederacy of Dunces” — John Kennedy Toole 
12. “The Catcher in the Rye” — J.D. Salinger
13. “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” — Junot Diaz
14. “Boy’s Life” — Robert McCammon
15. “Heart of Darkness” — Joseph Conrad
16. “The Killer Angels” — Michael Shaara
17. “The Prince of Tides” — Pat Conroy
18. “Les Miserables” — Victor Hugo
19. “A Christmas Carol” — Charles Dickens
20. “On the Road” — Jack Kerouac 

Once again, do not be shy and feel free to submit your list. We would love to see it. I can be reached at

In Memoriam

July and August memorial list of GISH Alumni

RONALD HOFFMAN, Class of 1953, died June 5, 2018, in Gardena, Calif. He was 82.

LOVA (NIETFELD) KLAWONN, Class of 1958, died July 4, 2018, in Aurora. She was 78.

LOIS ANN (DOMBROWSKI) ALVAREZ, Class of 1972, died July 8, 2018, in Grand Island. She was 64.

FRED BARTENBACH, Class of 1977, died July 10, 2018, in Bellevue. He was 58.

JAMES 'JIM' COCHNAR, Class of 1975, died July 15, 2018 in Grand Island. He was 61.

CARL NIELSEN, Class of 1984, died July 18, 2018, in Omaha. Carl lived in Grand Island. He was 53.

ROBERTA (BLACK) JOHNSON, Class of 1947, died July, 22, 2018, in Lincoln. She was 89.

NORMA (VAN GORDON) KRAMER, Class of 1950, died July 23, 2018, in Grand Island. She was was 86.

JACK RICHARDSON, Class of 1965, died July 30, 2018, in Grand Island. He was 71.

ROBERT 'R.D.' ROBERTSON, Class of 1950, died July 31, 2018, in Grand Island. He was 85.

BOB RUSSELL SR., Class of 1955, died August 2, 2018, in Omaha. He was 81.

CAROL (SPENCER) HEYING, Class of 1954, died August 3, 2018, in Lincoln. Carol lived in Grand Island. She was 82.

MARTHA (LARSEN) SUNTYCH, Class of 1949, died August 5, 2018, in Grand Island. She was 86.

BOB JUSSEL, Class of 1976 , died August 7, 2018, in Grand Island. He was 60.

PERRY NELSON, Class of 1966, died, August 8, 2018, in Lincoln. He was 70.

JOHN MCCUNE, Class of 1963, died August 9, 2018, in Plymouth, Minn. He was 73.

BETTY (JOHNSON) KELLY, Class of 1943, died August 10, 2018, in Grand Island.

ROGER PETZOLDT, Class of 1968, died August 18, 2015, in Marquette. He was 68.

NATHAN 'NATE' WALDEN, JR., Class of 1965, died August 18, 2018, in Grand Island. He was 70.

DENNIS MASON, Class of 1982, died August 20, 2018, in Grand Island. He was 54.

GEORGELEN 'GEORGIA' (BENSE) MAHON, Class of 1953, died August 24, 2018, in Aurora. She was 82.

MARY PUENTE, Class of 1952, died August 27, 2018, in Grand Island. She was 83.

DOUGLAS 'DOUG' ROBARCHEK, Class of 1961, died August 29, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C. He was 75.

BRANDON KIMBLE, Class of 2000, died August 31, 2018, in Grand Island. He was 39.

To report an alumni death since February 28, 2018, please send an email with the first name, last name, class year and maiden name if applicable to

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