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Mel and Darnell Holopirek named Old Bill Honoree
37th annual Barton Foundation Auction tickets available
new slt Old Bill Holopirek
Mel and Darnell Holopirek have been chosen as the 'Old Bill Honoree' at the 37th annual Big Benefit Auction for the Barton Community College Foundation. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Buffalo Club Members
(listed by year of purchase)
1981 – Butch Peschka
1982 – Bob & Dotty Keenan/ D.J. Iannitti
1983 – Don & Delores Gibson/Don Kirkman
1984 – Roy & Marcia Westhoff
1985 – Ed & Bette Moses
1986 – Maloy & Pauline Breitenbach
1987 – Larry & Connie Shell/Danny & Darlene Biggs
1988 – Keith & Pat Bell/George & Phyllis Miller/Virgil Belford
1989 – Jerry & Lois Alban
1990 – Chuck & Ellen Pike/Illa & Phil Grossardt
1991 – Albert Gumbir
1992 – W. R. & Yvonne Robbins
1993 – W. R. & Yvonne Robbins
1994 – Lynn & Nancy Fryberger
1995 – M. E. & Margy Marmie
1996 – Max & Rosie Bennett/Larry & Mona Keenan
1997 – Dale & Yvonne Mitchell/Larry & Lynnae Partridge
1998 – Commercial Federal/Jomax Construction/Straub International/Ward Fee Yard/L.D. Davis Drilling
1999 – Rick & Lois Ball/John & Nancy Francis
2000 – Phil & Kim Grossardt
2001 – Alan Moeder & Gail Reser
2002 – Friends of Jimmie L. Downing
2003 – Friends of Jim & Jo Heaton
2004 – Friends of Dale & Donna Oliver
2005 – Friends of Don & Phyllis Whelan
2006 – Friends of George & Frances Tregellas
2007 – Friends of Keith & Marian Mull
2008 – Friends of Dan & Nancy Peschka
2009 – Friends of A. A. (Al) Yost
2010 – Friends of M. E. “Eustace” Marmie
2011 – Friends of Roger & Mary Lou Murphy
2012 – Friends of the Koelsch Family - June, Ron, & Debbie
2013 – Friends of Tim Miller
2014 – Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development
2015 – Mel and Darnell Holopirek

Each year the Barton Community College Foundation Board chooses someone to honor with the “Old Bill” honorarium. This year's honorees are Mel and Darnell Holopirek.
Barton’s Coordinator of Fundraising and Special Events Coleen Cape said the couple truly embodies what it means to be supporters of Barton.

“The Foundation Board of Directors takes the naming of this honorarium very seriously,” she said.  “When choosing an honoree, they consider the years of support and loyalty to the Foundation and its mission.”

This year the decision was an easy one, Cape said.

“In the 11 and a half years that Darnell headed the efforts of the Foundation, there was never a single initiative or event when she and Mel did not step up and personally donate to the cause,” she said.  “Darnell felt deeply that she could not expect others to support any campaign or event if she did not believe in it strongly enough to donate herself.”

Cape said aside from their personal donations it is impossible to measure the impact Darnell herself had on the Foundation.
“Her passion, enthusiasm and boundless energy garnered many new and loyal donors, as well as raising esteem and appreciation for the Foundation in all the communities the college serves,” she said.  “The Foundation is extremely proud to have this opportunity to express our gratitude and appreciation to Mel and Darnell Holopirek, while giving the community they served the opportunity to do the same.”

Cape said the Old Bill tradition has netted nearly $190,000 for scholarships and program enhancements since it was started 34 years ago.
Auction items range from a drone with a camera, a 50-inch big-screen TV, weekend getaway trips and more.  

Auction details
Tickets for the auction, themed “A Ghostly Gala,” are available through Aug. 14.
They can be purchased for $35 each or $280 per table of eight by calling the Foundation office, 620-786-1136, or by sending an email to No tickets will be sold at the door.
The auction is the Foundation’s main fundraiser for academic scholarships and program enhancements. The event is set for 6 p.m. August 22 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, and the live auction starts at 8 p.m.

Who… err… What is ‘Old Bill?’
The Foundation’s Big Benefit Auction had a Western theme in 1981, and the Claflin Fire Department donated the buffalo head to add a bit of humor to the event.
“Old Bill” was sold to the highest bidder and brought in $700 the first year.

The work of taxidermy art was then donated back to the college and it was displayed at Camp Aldrich. It was auctioned the same way every year for the next two decades, raising tens of thousands of dollars for academic scholarships and program enhancements.
It wasn’t until 2002 that “Old Bill” was transitioned to an honorarium. Instead of bids, auction attendees make pledges toward the Foundation’s cause in the name of longtime supporters of the college.

Old Bill is still around, residing in the upper level of the Barton Student Union.