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ACE Retiree Update

December 2015

The Very Best of Holidays to You All!

Another year is nearing its final hours. It is hard to believe that we will be jumping into 2016 in the matter of a few days. ACE has had a successful year in 2015 but is planning for even a better 2016.

In this issue of ACE Retiree Update, you will hear from Jack Sperbeck and Bob Sams. Delmar Hatesohl is our featured life member. We were saddened to hear of the passing of Wayne Swegle. Also, Hal Taylor and Larry Whiting are remembered as two memorable ACE leaders. And we’ve included information on the upcoming Memphis meeting as well as a very brief update on the current business of the ACE Board.

Wishing you the very best of holiday seasons. May you enjoy your family and friends, good health, fun travels, creative hobbies and fulfilling volunteerism, this season and throughout 2016.

Bob Furbee, ACE Retiree Director

ACE Memphis, June 2016

It’s hard to fathom, but the 2016 annual conference is a mere six months away—June 12-17. ACE will be meeting in Memphis next year. It would be great if you could consider joining us. A full afternoon and evening are planned for Sunday, June 12. First we meet as a retiree group. This meeting then blends into the ACE president’s reception before we all attend the general membership reception. This is at no cost to you except for the cash bar at the latter event. You are welcome to stay on for the entire meeting or any portion. Retirees get a discount on full or partial registration. Also, make sure that you take advantage of the room discount should you stay in the conference hotel. Registration takes place next spring.

Also, Janet Rodekohr, Judy Winn, Tom Knecht and I are submitting a proposal at the Memphis meeting for a 45-minute moderated panel on how to make best use of and enjoy your retirement years. Nancy Peterson led a similar session a few years ago and there have been several requests for a repeat session. Please join us if you plan to be at the meeting. We would welcome your comments and contributions.

The Retiree Award of Excellence has been a featured award presented at the conference for the past few years. Consider nominating a retiree!  The nomination form is on the ACE website. The deadline is March 1, 2016.


ACE Board Business

Your ACE Board continues working on a number of issues including improving the organizational website and improving the annual conference by including more outside speakers and integrating research into the fabric of the meeting. On a smaller scale, Janet Rodekohr and I continue to work with ACE Executive Director Holly Young on ways to recruit and retain retirees as life members. Also, Janet and I are preparing a document outlining retiree director duties and responsibilities.

Personal Updates

Jack Sperbeck

  • Jack Sperbeck reports that while he’s spent way too much time at Mayo Clinic the past year, his esophageal cancer is gone. Now he's spending his time enjoying his golf game as well as his social buddies and grandchildren, of course.

Evie Engle

  • Adding to last issue’s travel schedule, Evie Engle and her husband, Tom, also volunteer for a Portland-area program, Store to Door. They are back-up drivers who deliver groceries to home-bound people in the Portland metro area. It is a great organization that helps people continue to live independently.

Bob Sams

  • Since retirement from University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources last summer, Bob and Judy Sams did some long postponed updates to their Davis, California home and, for a long list of reasons, decided to sell it and relocate. It's a long story as to how, but they chose to buy a house in Corvallis, Oregon. While not the only reason, it helped that they have some ACE friends there. Family in Portland and a raging seller's housing market in Davis added to the list for relocating. They moved in June of this year and have been enjoying the Willamette Valley immensely. They've been warned that it rains a little there, but they’ve lived in central Pennsylvania. How hard can it be? Bob is now focusing on trout to be caught, wine to drink, food to eat, birdie putts to be made, places to go, and family to enjoy. But he also wants to stay connected with all of you and, he hopes, benefit from and contribute a little to our profession and our avocation.


The Passing of Wayne Swegle

Ted Hutchcroft reports that long-time ACE member and award recipient Wayne Swegle passed away on October 15 at the Green Hills Retirement Community, Ames, where he had been living for the past year. There was a memorial service in West Des Moines. Many old timers will remember Wayne from his time as an editor of Successful Farming, as assistant to Secretary Butz, as president of the National Millers Federation, and chair of the agriculture committee of the National Planning Association. He completed his career as director of public affairs and communication of Winrock International in Arkansas. He also was a consultant in India and Pakistan for the Ford Foundation.


Most Memorable ACE Character/Personality

Hal Taylor

Jack Sperbeck submitted Hal as one of several memorable personalities. Hal Taylor, retired head of communications at USDA, stood out for his leadership, fierce loyalty to ACE and the profession. He (strongly) pushed the discipline into the modern communications era--an early pioneer with his trusty Apple II. Jack says that he always looked up to Hal who was a POW in WWII and wrote a book on his experience.

Larry Whiting

Bob Sams doubts any of us who made (or are making) a living communicating for the Land Grant system would have any trouble calling our work a career and identifying ACE as our community of interest. But it took a special person with a unique ability to communicate directly to Bob to fully convince him of the fact that it was more.

It was at the 1993 ACE meeting in Miami. Bob had just started a new job at Penn State and it was his first ACE meeting. Like some of us, he found himself doing a job he didn’t even know existed until he was doing it, leading a communications unit serving cooperative extension and the experiment station. He had a good understanding of plant and animal agriculture and related industries in the state and a totally unproven self-confidence in his ability to motivate talented people to advance organizational goals. However, he had no idea how rewarding being part of a community dedicated to service, science, and excellence would be.

At that Miami conference, Bob went to a session led by an intense, impeccably dressed, older gentleman whose presentation impressed on him a commitment to integrity, accuracy, and professionalism that left him excited, motivated, and not a little humbled. His name was Larry Whiting and he was clearly a standard bearer in ACE, in Ohio, and in our profession.

Larry was profoundly concerned about the transition of “ag com” jobs from academic (or quasi-academic) positions to staff jobs evaluated by performance measures, not a group of academic colleagues. His argument was that the professional demands of academic peer review, the requirement to contribute practical scholarship, and institutional status would be lost. The results would be damaging to the profession, to effective dissemination of research, and to the system.

From Bob’s perspective, the question of academic (let alone tenure-track) positions in agricultural communications at Penn State had been decided so completely in the negative that fighting to reverse it would come after windmill jousting became an NCAA scholarship sport.

However, Bob could also see both the potential and the reality of the risks Larry feared in the issues Bob was facing. Over the course of the next couple of days, Larry managed to convince Bob of the urgency of building a commitment to professionalism and excellence into everything we do. He also convinced him that yes, Bob was, by God, a professional, that he had found my life’s work, and that he would be very proud to consider himself Larry’s peer.

Larry’s impact on Bob was formative. Also, part of his role was to convince Bob of the benefit of ACE and of his obligation to contribute as best he could to ACE’s vitality, value, and professionalism. However, the greatest value of Larry’s influence on Bob came from the many, many others in ACE who have taught, criticized, supported, corrected, and inspired him.

Calendar – Upcoming ACE Meetings

Memphis – June 12-17, 2016
New Orleans – June 11-17, 2017

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