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. So far, honorees have been:
Buffalo Club Members (listed by year of purchase)
1981 – Butch Peschka
1982 – Bob and Dotty Keenan/ D.J. Iannitti
1983 – Don and Delores Gibson/Don Kirkman
1984 – Roy and Marcia Westhoff
1985 – Ed and Bette Moses
1986 – Maloy and Pauline Breitenbach
1987 – Larry and Connie Shell/Danny and Darlene Biggs
1988 – Keith and Pat Bell/George and Phyllis Miller/Virgil Belford
1989 – Jerry and Lois Alban
1990 – Chuck and Ellen Pike/Illa and Phil Grossardt
1991 – Albert Gumbir
1992 – W. R. and Yvonne Robbins
1993 – W. R. and Yvonne Robbins
1994 – Lynn and Nancy Fryberger
1995 – M. E. and Margy Marmie
1996 – Max and Rosie Bennett/Larry and Mona Keenan
1997 – Dale and Yvonne Mitchell/Larry and Lynnae Partridge
1998 – Commercial Federal/Jomax Construction/Straub International/Ward Fee Yard/L.D. Davis Drilling
1999 – Rick and Lois Ball/John and Nancy Francis
2000 – Phil and Kim Grossardt
2001 – Alan Moeder and Gail Reser
2002 – Friends of Jimmie L. Downing
2003 – Friends of Jim and Jo Heaton
2004 – Friends of Dale and Donna Oliver
2005 – Friends of Don and Phyllis Whelan
2006 – Friends of George and Frances Tregellas
2007 – Friends of Keith and Marian Mull
2008 – Friends of Dan and Nancy Peschka
2009 – Friends of A. A. (Al) Yost
2010 – Friends of M. E. “Eustace” Marmie
2011 – Friends of Roger and Mary Lou Murphy
2012 – Friends of the Koelsch Family - June, Ron, and Debbie
2013 – Friends of Tim Miller
Old Bill is still around, residing in the upper level of the Barton Student Union.
It doesn’t take long before new Great Bend area residents hear the name “Tim Miller.” Miller (1940-2012) was one of the area’s greatest businessmen and philanthropists, and his large company Tim Miller Enterprises was honored with the 2011 Business of the Year Award by the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce.
Though Miller lost a brief battle with cancer on June 7, 2012, his legacy lives on, as he is this year’s Old Bill Honoree at the Barton Foundation’s 35th Annual Big Benefit Auction. The Old Bill Honorarium allows auction attendees to make pledges supporting the Foundation’s cause in the name of Tim Miller. See the accompanying list for honorees from previous auctions.
This year’s auction, themed “Denim and Diamonds,” is set for Aug. 24 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Great Bend. Contact event organizer Coleen Cape at (620) 786-1136 or firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets or more information. Tickets will be available until Aug. 16.
Auction items will range from works of art and baked goods to full vacations and much more.
More about Tim Miller
Miller started his first of six businesses, Oilfield Manufacturers Warehouse Inc., in 1972. Miller Plastics manufactures all plastic parts sold by his warehouse business. Miller Ranch encompasses farming and commercial cattle operations. Tim Miller Sales sells trailers manufactured by EZE Load Trailer Manufacturing. The final addition to Tim Miller Enterprises in 1998 was a local hotspot bar in downtown Great Bend, Charlie’s Place. Tim also helped start his wife Loretta Miller’s business “The Gallery,” which is also downtown.
“He was a very, very good businessman,” Loretta said. “But his favorite thing to do was sit at Charlie’s with his friends.”
According to the Chamber of Commerce article about Tim in 2011, while his business ventures were always important to him, his greatest source of pride could be found in his wife and five children.
Loretta said Tim rarely mixed business and family, and came across as a sort of private person.
“He listened more than he talked,” she explained. “He never told you what he was doing, he just did it. He was amazing – all the things he could do. I would get five things on my to-do list and feel overwhelmed, but Tim would never say how much he had to do, he just got it done.”
Foundation Director Darnell Holopirek said Tim was a strong supporter of the Foundation and its efforts to raise funds for scholarships and other enhancements.
“He helped us financially, and believed in Barton Community College as a whole,” she said. “He was community-minded and was involved in everything. Barton was a benefactor of his good thoughts and deeds.”
Holopirek said both Tim and Loretta have been supporters of the Foundation, and in particular the annual Big Benefit Auction.
Tickets for the auction, themed “Denim and Diamonds,” are still available through Aug. 16.
They can be purchased for $35 each or $280 per table of eight by calling the Foundation office at (620) 786-1136, or by sending an email to email@example.com .
The auction is the Foundation’s main fundraiser for academic scholarships and program enhancements. The event is set for 6 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, and the live auction starts at 8 p.m. Keep up with the latest Barton news here: news.bartonccc.edu