Alumni features

2013 Alumni Award Recipients



Lenna Mae Gara '49
Lenna Mae Gara continues to express a long-held passion for peace by attending a monthly vigil with her husband, Larry, in Wilmington, Ohio, where they live. They began organizing peace vigils and demonstrations during the Vietnam War era. Lenna Mae took on a similar commitment to juvenile justice in 1972, when she learned that children had been—and were being—held in the Clinton County jail only as runaways. Her campaign to end jailing of juveniles who hadn't committed serious crimes led to establishment of the Clinton County Youth Service Bureau and to subsequent action through the Wilmington League of Women Voters. She also attempted to raise consciousness about environmental concerns in her city and county, in addition to co-founding the Wilmington Writers' Group. >>> more

Jack Earl '56
Jack Earl has been a widely known ceramic artist for more than 40 years. One of his porcelain sculptures was chosen for "Objects USA," an exhibition that toured the country from 1969-71. Shortly thereafter came his first solo exhibition, at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts (now the Museum of Arts and Design) in New York City. He has since had numerous solo shows in major U.S. cities, and his varied sculptures have been part of group exhibitions nationwide and abroad. The list of museums displaying Earl's art includes the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Art Institute of Chicago. The Lakeview, Ohio, resident has won two awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and, in 1997, he was named a fellow of the American Craft Council. >>> more

Angong Acuil '05
Once a young refugee from civil war-torn Sudan, Angong Acuil is now a diplomat in the United States embassy of her two-year-old nation of South Sudan. She came to Bluffton in 2001 through a connection—established years before—between her father and Isaac Riak, also a one-time Sudanese refugee and subsequent Bluffton graduate. Acuil worked in the Washington, D.C., office of Mennonite Central Committee until 2007, when she returned to Sudan as a beginning diplomat in the capital of Khartoum. A native of southern Sudan, she went home to help register voters for the January 2011 referendum in which South Sudan was created. She joined the new nation's diplomatic corps that April and, in May 2012, moved on to a four-year assignment at its U.S. embassy in Washington. >>> more

Dr. Ronald Friesen
Dr. Ronald Friesen is a professor emeritus of economics, which he taught on campus from 1969-2004. Last year, he and his wife endowed the Ron and Phyllis Friesen Student Discovery Fund in business studies, through which they hope to encourage Bluffton students to travel globally. In the early 1960s, they spent three years in what is now Tanzania, where Friesen taught high school mathematics in the Teachers Abroad Program created by Mennonite Central Committee. At Bluffton, the Inman, Kan., native developed a course on Economic Implications of War and Peace, and was known for using current events as examples of economic problems for students to solve. >>> more