2012 Distinguished Alumni Press Release

Contact Bethany Kendrick, Director Public Relations
Labette Community College | (620) 820-1212

LCC Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients Announced

Labette Community College announces that the 4th Annual Distinguished Alumni Award recipients for 2012 are: Shirley Chalker, of Parsons, KS; Louise Holmes, of Fredonia, KS; Kenny LaForge, of Parsons, KS; and Joe Renfro, of Parsons, KS. The Distinguished Alumni Award was developed by the Foundation and Alumni Board of Labette Community College to honor alumni of LCC that have proved to be successful individuals within their communities, careers, and families. The recipients for 2012 will be honored at a luncheon on May 11th, 2012, and at commencement that evening.

These four individuals are all alumni of LCC and have accomplished many great things in the years following their time at the college. The following biographies give insight to how they have made an impact on whom and whatever they are involved in and why they are deserving of this award.

Shirley (Callahan) Chalker was born and raised in Parsons, KS. She attended Parsons Schools and graduated from Parsons High School in 1959. She married Hugh Chalker in 1960 and later attended Parsons Junior College. She graduated from PJC in 1964 with an Associates of Arts Degree. Shirley attended Pittsburg State University for a semester before the birth of her second child.

Chalker then worked for the city of Parsons water department for approximately three years and then went to work for Commercial Bank in the bookkeeping department in 1969. She retired from the bank as a Vice President in April 2009 after 40 years.

Chalker has been active with the Labette Community College serving on the Alumni Board, and after merging with the Foundation, serving two terms on the Foundation and Alumni Board. She is currently a member of the Capital Campaign Steering Committee and has taken numerous college evening courses over the years.

Chalker has three children, Brad, Greg, and Susan and seven grandchildren. Husband, Hugh, passed away in January of 2005.

Chalker is a member of Soroptimist International of Parsons, treasurer for the Proud Animal Shelter, and treasurer of Wesley Preschool Board. She is a member of Wesley United Methodist Church where she plays in the JuBELLation Ringers hand bell choir and sings in the church choir. Chalker is also a member of the Kansas East Conference of the United Methodist Church, Inc. Board of Pension and Healthcare Benefits. Chalker has served for the last few years as membership chairman for the Parsons Area Concert Association and also works part time for Carson Wall Funeral Home. She enjoys helping organize trips with Main Street Travel, playing golf, and being a member of a Tai Chi exercise group.

Louise (Frame) Holmes was born in Parsons in 1937, the daughter of Howard and Kathryn Stallard Frame. She was a 5th generation Parsonian and attended Lincoln, McKinley, and West Junior High School. She graduated from Parsons High School in 1955 and from Parsons Junior College (PJC), as salutatorian in 1956. At PJC Louise was active in band, Student Council, Pep Club, and intramural athletics.

On March 4, 1956 she married Dwayne “Homer” Holmes, also a former student of PJC.
While Homer served in the armed forces in Okinawa, Louise continued her education at St. John’s Hospital School of Medical Technology in Joplin, MO. Following graduation she served as Laboratory Supervisor at Mercy Hospital in Parsons.

When Homer returned from Okinawa to finish his enlistment at Ft. Riley, Louise worked at the Colt & Colt Clinic in Manhattan as a Medical Technologist and an X-ray Technician.

Following Homer’s discharge from military service they moved to Pittsburg, KS. Louise worked for Dr. Howard Elliott serving as a Medical Technologist, X-ray Technician, and Medical Assistant. She also found time to take some classes at Pittsburg State University.

A break in her Medical career came when they spent two years in Warrenton, MO. During these years she stayed at home with two young sons, Dee and Darin.

A move to Greensburg, Kansas in 1964 found Louise once more as a Laboratory Supervisor and X-ray Technician at Kiowa County Hospital. A daughter, Mendy, was also welcomed into the family during the family’s residence in Greensburg.

From Greensburg the family moved to Altamont. Louise worked part time in the Laboratory at Labette County Medical Center during the 3 years they lived in Altamont.

In 1971 the family moved to Fredonia, KS where they still reside. Louise began part time work in the Laboratory at St. Margaret’s Mercy Hospital, later to be Fredonia Regional Hospital (FRH). During her 34 years at FRH she worked as a Laboratory Supervisor, Medical Technologist, X-ray Technician, and Infection Control Practitioner. Louise served on many committees at the hospital, including Quality Assurance. Duties also included Infection Control education for hospital employees. As in most small hospitals, much of the time she was on call 24/7. Hospital extracurricular activities included the hospital employees committee, hospital Christmas activities, assisting in building numerous homecoming floats, and directing the hospital sponsored bed races. She currently is active in the FRH Auxiliary, and serves on the FRH Board of Trustees. Louise has spent a total of 48 years in Health Care.

Louise has been active in her community. She has served as President of the USD 484 Board of Education and President of the Fredonia Arts Council, where she is currently a member of the board of directors. As a Charter Member of the Fredonia Child Care Center, she helped establish the Child Care Center in 1972. She recently served a term on their board of directors. Also, Louise is also a member of the Fredonia Library Board of Trustees, the Secretary of Sacred Heart Church Parish Council, and she volunteers for Meals on Wheels and the Bloodmobile.

Louise was active in preserving the Historic Gold Dust Hotel in Fredonia. She performed in several fundraising productions and she was a member of the Gold Dust, Inc, Board of Directors. She has also served on the Fredonia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Louise has also enjoyed performing in several community stage productions and playing flute in the community orchestra.

Louise has assisted her husband with Junior Golf, Junior Olympics, youth canoe trips and assisted Santa Claus as Mrs. Claus, because of her interest in the young people of Fredonia. She is currently a member of the Fredonia Black and Gold Booster Club and has served as chairperson of the BPW Homecoming Queen Pageant. Louise and Homer have hosted three foreign exchange students.

Louise and Homer have 3 children Dee Holmes, Fredonia, Dr. Darin Holmes, Fredericksburg, TX and Mendy Mitchell, Grand Prairie, TX.  They are the proud grandparents of 7 grandchildren (one an LCC nursing school graduate) and 7 great grandchildren.

Kenny LaForge grew up attending Parsons Schools and graduated from Parsons High School in 1971. He then went on to receive his Associates Degree from Labette Community College in 1973. After LCC, LaForge went on to the University of Kansas and graduated in 1976.

Having grown up in the construction business, LaForge entered the electrical field during his youth in 1977. After college he served as a field superintendent for three years. In 1980, LaForge purchased a small business which is now known as Interstate Electric. The business has grown consistently throughout the years. The firm has performed work in many surrounding states but primarily in Kansas and Oklahoma.

In 1990, LaForge started a second business, LaForge Construction Corporation, which primarily does utility related construction projects throughout the region. At this time, he currently owns both businesses and operates them on a daily basis. He is proud to have left a small footprint on many construction projects throughout Parsons and the region over the past 30 years.
LaForge has two daughters, Kenna and Kate, who both live in the eastern United States and are recent college graduates. LaForge lives in rural Parsons with his wife, Debbie. He has been active in numerous local organizations and a supporter of many others. Currently, LaForge is a member of the local Rotary Club and a 30 year member of the Associated General Contractors of America. He served two terms on the Parsons U.S.D. 503 school board. LaForge was also one the founding directors for the Parsons Educational Foundation, which assists the students of Parsons. He has also served on numerous boards and committees for the City of Parsons and is a member of the Board of Kansas Food Bank. LaForge is now serving on the steering committee for LCC’s Capital Campaign in their fundraising efforts for a new health science building, endowed scholarships, and deferred maintenance.

Joe Renfro grew up attending school in Altamont. He graduated from Labette County High School in 1995. He was a four-time Kansas State Placer in high school wrestling with one of those being a State Champion title. His high school wrestling record was 126-16. After high school, he attended Labette Community College for two years and then transferred to the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. While at Labette, Renfro was an Academic All-American and a two-time wrestling All-American, which means he placed 5th or better at the national tournament. He was also an All-American at UNK. Renfro was a member of the “Team of the Decade” at both Labette and UNK. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree, Renfro went on to Ft. Hays State University where he obtained his Master of Liberal Studies in Health and Human Performance.
After graduate school, Renfro moved back to the Southeast Kansas area and began working as the Labette Community College assistant wrestling coach under the legendary Coach, Jody Thompson. After Thompson’s retirement, Renfro took over the position of head wrestling coach and has since had many outstanding career achievements.

Renfro holds an overall dual record of 117 wins, 25 losses, and 3 ties. Under his leadership, there have been 62 Academic All-Americans and 55 All-Americans. Renfro was named the West/Central District “Coach of the Year” in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, and 2012. In the past ten years, the LCC wrestling team has not placed lower than 3rd at the West/Central District Qualifier; the team placed 1st seven times in those ten years. Since 2006, the wrestling squad has attended the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Team Dual Nationals. In those six years, the team has not placed lower than 3rd. They were National Runner-Ups in 2007, 2010, 2011, and 2012; they received 1st place in 2006. In 2008, the LCC wrestling team was awarded the NJCAA Wrestling Coaches Association “Academic Team of the Year” and in 2009 Renfro was awarded the “Bob Bubb Coaching Excellence Award” by the National Wrestling Coaches Association. Renfro has been awarded NJCAA Wrestling Coaches Association “Coach of the Year” three times; the title was given to him in 2005, 2010, and 2012. In both 2007 and 2010, LCC had the national Runner-up team at the NJCAA National wrestling tournament. In 2005 and 2012, the LCC wrestling team was the National Champions.

Renfro married his wife, Elisabeth, in 2003. They have three children together, Lincoln, 7; Isabella, 6; and Jace, 4. Renfro enjoys watching his sons’ wrestle, watching his daughter dance, camping with family, and turkey hunting. He is a member of the Parsons Knights of Columbus.

For more information about the Distinguished Alumni Award or to nominate someone for next year, please contact, Lindi Forbes, Executive Director of Alumni and Foundation at LCC, at (620) 820-1212 or by e-mail at lindif@labette.edu.

Nominate Someone

To nominate someone please send a letter and brief biography to:

Labette Community College Alumni Association
200 South 14th Street
Parsons, KS 67357

Or use the:
Online Nomination Form

If you have questions, please e-mail Lindi Forbes, Executive Director of the Alumni Association, or call (620) 421-6700, ext. 1212.