Below are the inductees into the Great Bend High School Hall of Fame:
2008 – Skip Yowell, Jack Kilby and John Keller
2009 – Jack Bowman, Sean Murphy and Tim Weiser
2010 – Jenny Allford and Glenn Opie
2011 – Don Halbower and Dan McGovern
Before a packed Highland Hotel banquet hall Friday afternoon, Great Bend High School recognized will be two of its own, one who has touched the lives of students and one who has served presidents.
Honored during the 2012 GBHS Hall of Fame luncheon were former longtime GBHS Principal Don Halbower, and 1960 GBHS grad and attorney for the California Supreme Court Dan McGovern. An induction ceremony took place Friday night between the girls’ and boys’ basketball games in the GBHS gym, followed by a public reception in GBHS’s Jack Kilby Commons
“The Hall of Fame is designed to honor past students, faculty and residents who have made an impact in their school and beyond,” said David Meter, Unified School District 428 activity director. This year’s inductees exemplify that tradition.
First up was Martha Mettscher, who served as GBHS secretary for 27 years, many of those with Halbower. She introduced the retired educator.
“It’s not just the outside shell that is important,” she said. An imposing figure and an ex-Marine, Halbower established wonderful working relationships with the office staff, teachers and students. “That’s what makes him the man he is today.”
She then related stories from each of his children telling how much their father meant to them, and stories from former colleagues telling what a great person he was to work for.
“Don, thank you for your service,” Mettscher said.
The tall Halbower then took the microphone. “May I please have your attention for these announcements,” he joked, recalling what he used to say over the school’s public address system each morning.
“Great Bend is a great place to raise a family,” he said. He had opportunities to go elsewhere, but chose to stay.
“I’m glad I chose to go into education,” he said. “I want to thank the community for making it that way.”
Former cheerleader and fellow 1960 GBHS grad Peggy Grove welcomed McGovern. “He’s improved our environment and our country. His decisions have impacted our universe.”
She said there is a comet named Daniel. “What a perfect metophor for Dan.”
People like McGovern are rare, special and only get recognized on occassion. The comet will next be visible in 2016 and “I’m really interested in seeing what Dan will accomplish by 2016.”
McGovern has served as an attorney in numerous federal agencies, served presidents, traveled the world and been privy to top secret government intelligence reports. But, “the purpose of this is not to honor Don and me,” he said.
The reason for a hall of fame is to provide a variety of examples for students. “Who knows what will provide that spark.”
Even though the “adult Dan” tried to be blasé about the honor, “the 17-year-old Dan still inside me thinks this is totally cool.”
But, “I accept this award as a representative of the class of 1960,” he said. He cited classmates who did great things, such as research in Austrailia or just holding down a steady job to support a house full of children. “Honors are great, but most of us go to work to put bread on the table and a roof over our family’s heads.”
This marks the fourth year for the HOF. Past inductees include globe-trotting JanSport founder Skip Yowell and microchip inventor Jack Kilby.
After the nominations come in, a committee made up of administrators, teachers, School Board representatives and local residents make the final determination. Nominees must be students, teachers or community members who have made a significant contribution to community or country.
A display case in the GBHS commons contains plaques and memorabilia paying tribute to all the recipients.
Below are the bios of the HOF inductees:
Don Halbower was born and raised in Anthony. He graduated from Anthony High School in 1951 and attended Southwestern College in Winfield as a music major. After deciding that music was not the field he wanted for his future, he enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps so that he could return to college on the G.I. Bill. This was during the Korean Conflict.
Halbower served one hitch in the Marines in the Second Air Wing as a flying radar operator in a night fighter jet squadron. After leaving the Corps, Halbower enrolled in Emporia State University as a science major. During the enrollment process, he met his future wife Patricia Kramm.
They were married in June of 1955 and now have three grown children, David, Leslie and Eric. They also have nine grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
The two graduated and Halbower was hired as a physics and chemistry teacher in Junction City. He was also under contract as an assistant football coach and head tennis coach.
During the next two summers, Halbower was awarded a National Science Foundation grant and continued working toward a Masters Degree in School Administration, which he received in 1959. He was superintendent of schools in White City for three years and for two years in Stafford. After serving as a superintendent for five years, the opportunity came to become principal of Great Bend Senior High, he accepted the position in 1964.
During his 28 years as principal, Halbower was actively involved with many school-related organizations. In the community, he has been or is active in the American Red Cross, Bend and Barton County Planning and Zoning Board, American Legion, Great Bend Noon Lions Club, Argonne Rebels Drum and Bugle Corps, . Barton County Emergency Preparedness Committee, Jack Kilby Memorial Committee and Meals on Wheels.
Dan McGovern is being honored for his service in an extraordinary variety of high level positions in the administrations of President Reagan and the first President Bush, as well as the California state government.
McGovern graduated from GBHS in 1960. In 1964, he received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Fort Hays State University, which awarded him an Alumni Achievement Award in 1987. He pursued graduate study in philosophy at the University of California at Los Angeles, and received a law degree from UCLA in 1970.
Upon graduation from law school, McGovern joined the California Attorney General’s Office in Los Angeles. As a result of his distinguished appearances before the California Supreme Court, McGovern was invited to become a research attorney on the court’s staff, where he served from 1973 to 1981.
In 1981, McGovern joined the Reagan administration and became the second-ranking attorney on the State Department’s staff of 90 lawyers.
In President Reagan’s second term, McGovern became the general counsel, the top lawyer, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
During the administration of the first President Bush, McGovern was the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the western United States. At the end of the Bush administration, McGovern took some time off to write a book. The Campo Indian Landfill War: The Fight for Gold in California’s Garbage was published in 1995.
In 1997, after a period of private practice in San Francisco, McGovern returned to government. He was appointed the general counsel of the California Department of Transportation. In 1999, McGovern returned to the staff of the California Supreme Court, where he continues to work.
McGovern has been married for 46 years to Carolyn (Gilmore) McGovern, a native of Hays. Carolyn recently retired from a position supervising a group of editors and graphic designers for the California Administrative Office of the Courts. Their daughter, Katie McGovern-Pizzi, a graduate of New York University Law School, provides free legal services to poor people in Portland, Maine. Katie and her husband Rich are the parents of a toddler, Reilly Alice.