Welcome West Branch High School Alumni Association West Branch, Michigan

CLASS OF 1951

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Reservations made for 2017 Banquet

Jean Ouderkirk Valley
Phyllis Hall Morris
Ruth Goldy Klug
Bill Winslow
Geoerge & Ann Hewson Bray
Clara Hagerman Robertson
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Chester Surline, Supt
Hollis Miner, Principal
Erik H. Kaas, Class President
Margaret Schrot,Class Sponsor
Alan Murray,Class Sponsor
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Class of 1951
Joan Allen Richardson
Gwen Baird Thomas
Don Benjamin
John Bennett, Jr.
Jackie Boman Smeiser
Barbara Brandel Carroll
George Bray
Ruth Burkett VanLiere
Don Byron
Dick Chapman
Stanley Cottle
Leo Drabek
Wanda Dunbar Reilly
Edmund Durfee
Mary Lou Ellis Dunne
Shirley Fox
Ruth Goldy Klug
David Gussman
Clara Hagerman Robertson
Phyllis Hall Morris
Viola Hall Hawley
Marjorie Hasty Fletcher
Ann Hewson Bray
Henry Huck
Erik Kaas
Harry Kenyon Jr.
Beverly Loomis Palm
Duane Loomis
Marlene Lucas Bamfield
Mary Lucas Nestle
Betty Marshall Graham
Betty Mattice
Bill McCracken
Frances Moore Piar
Dale Munn
Emma Jean Ouderkirk Valley
Joe Petrovish
Paul Richardson
Harley Sappington
Joyce Sergent Kohler
Peggy Steinhauser Rau
Don Thompson
Shirley Vincent Awrey
William Webster
Bill Winslow
June Wolfe Maxey 
Marvin Zimmerman
Arthur Zink
William Palm
Wayne King
 
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Leo Francis Drabek, 85, passed away Monday, June 5, 2017, at The Brook of West Branch.

Leo was born Nov. 12, 1931, in Huron County to Peter and Marion (Chiotti) Drabek. With the U.S. Air Force calling him to serve, he married his sweetheart Aileen and left the area and traveled the world with his family until his retirement from the Air Force as a senior master sergeant. Since his retirement in 1971, he lived in St. Helen. He continued to serve our country through his memberships and active participation in Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3775, American Legion Post 103 and the National Rifle Association. Leo practiced his faith as a member of the Ogemaw Hills Free Methodist Church in West Branch.

Leo is survived by his children, Jeffry (Geneva) Drabek of Little Rock, Ark., Norman (Deborah) Drabek of O’Fallon, Ill., Larry (Jeanne) Drabek of Gladwin and Laurie Drabek of Belleville, Ill.; nine grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and brothers, Thomas Drabek (Suzanne) of Bay Port and David (Sally) Drabek of West Branch.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Aileen; and brothers, Bruce, Robert, Gary and Jimmy.

Marjorie Ann Hasty Fletcher, 84, of Bay City passed away May 15, 2017, at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.

She was born in Whittemore on April 12, 1933, to the late Dr. Earl Andrew and Mildred (Albertson) Hasty. Marjorie was a graduate of Michigan State University and was a Spartan fan. She loved cooking and gardening and was a past president of the Bay City Garden Club. She had served as a co-chairman of the Charity Ball and been a kindergarten teacher in Midland. She had also worked at Hudson’s and Meadow Creek Clothiers. On June 22, 1957, she married Richard B. Fletcher, and he survives her.

She also leaves three children, Ann Marie Christian, Richard B. (Debbie) Fletcher Jr. and Sarah E. (Harold) Middleton; 10 grandchildren, Stephanie Marie (James) Brewster, Kyle (Kelli) Christian, Richard Christian, Matthew Ropp, Jaclyn Harper, Baylee Middleton, Brandi Middleton, Lisa Mieske, Jason Mieske and Brad Mieske; her great-grandchildren, Leah, Willie, James, Lilah and Fletcher; as well as a sister, Helen Jennings; and a sister-in-law, Janet Hasty.

She was preceded in death by a brother, James E. Hasty; and a brother-in-law, William P. Jennings.


Jacquelyn Glee “Bohlinger” Bashaw
7-24-33 to 2-27-17
 
Jackie passed on to eternal life with her family by her side. She was preceded in death by her husband, Richard Joseph Bashaw II, her son Richard Joseph “Joe” Bashaw III, her parents, Russell and Agnes “Glee” Bohlinger, her brother Michael Bohlinger, her sister Mary Sue (Wayne) Jackson and many family and friends. She is survived by her daughter Amy (Kevin) Lynch of AuGres, her son, David “Jay” (Debra) Bashaw of Howell. Her grandchildren; Jason Chen, Joshua (Chelsie) Bashaw, Brent Lynch, Jenelle (Sreesh) Lynch - Valiyaveettil, Lauren (Charlie) Lynch-Heath, David Bashaw, Cody Bashaw, Janel (Chris) Muszynski, William (Britney) Jones, Christopher Downes and Michael Vermeesch. Her great grandchildren; Isabel, Hudson, Michael, Marlowe, Keaton, Brooklyn, Maevyn, Matteo, Aubrey, Damen, Clayton and Klara, as well as her sister Sharon (Robert-deceased) Newbecker, Charles (Joan) Bohlinger and Jane (George) Miller.
Cremation has taken place, with the funeral to follow on April 1st, 2017 at St. Mark’s Catholic Church in AuGres, MI at 11:00 A.M. The family will be available at the church for visitation between 10:00 and 11:00. Burial will follow at Linwood Cemetery in AuGres, followed by a luncheon at St. Mark’s Church. Jackie made her final wishes very clear. She asks that everyone wear bright colors and celebrate her life. No flowers please….she has requested balloons
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Donald R. Thompson Sr., 83, passed away Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, at his home in Jacksonville, Fla.

Don was born April 15, 1933, in Flint, the second son and last child of John and Ethel (Miller) Thompson. Don’s younger years were spent between Flint and Sault Ste. Marie. When he entered high school the family settled in West Branch. He was active in football, basketball and baseball, and was chosen co-captain with best friend Erik Kaas for his senior football team. Don graduated with the class of 1951.

After many short-term jobs, Don entered the U.S. Navy in February 1952. The Navy took him to many states and schooling. His final stint for the Navy was an assignment to Norfolk, Va., where he served as an electronic technician. There his primary duty was flying with combat air crews practicing anti-submarine drills over the Atlantic Ocean. He completed his Navy enlistment March 15, 1956.

Completing his Navy tour, Don had many jobs that took him around the world, including a three-year post in the Philippine Islands. In 1965 Don was back in the states working at a surveillance project for government. At that time he earned a Bachelor of Business degree from Southern State College in Arkansas, graduating cum laude. When that job was completed Don moved his family to Saginaw. During this time he was a jobber selling specialty chemicals and lighting.

In 1978 Don bought 40 acres in Clare, where he met his wife Katherine Archbold House. Together they established Thompson Sales, Inc. After a successful 30 years in business, Don retired at age 78. Don retired to Jacksonville, Fla., and became a “sunbird,” returning to Michigan to get out of Florida’s hot sun.

Don is survived by his wife, Katherine; children, Donald (Tuyet) Thompson Jr., Regina (Kirk) Hale, Richard (Tamara) House, Robyn (Mike) House-Guettler, Michael and William House; grandchildren, Donald (Heather) Thompson III, Erik (Jenessa) Thompson, Christopher (Martha) Thompson, Corey (Heather) Hale, Katie Hale, Trisha House, Leah (Andrew) Hernthiasong and Relin House; great-grandchildren, Saree, Grace, Leander and Violet; his godchildren, John Boyd, Amanda Boyd, Ava and Allen; his “favorite” niece, Susan Thompson Hull and her family; and special friends, Sharilyn Boyd along with Art and Edna Robinson.

Don was predeceased by his parents; son, John Thompson; and brother, Dr. John Thompson.

A memorial service will be held Dec. 3, 2016, at 11 a.m. at the Clare Chapel of Stephenson-Wyman Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family would be grateful for donations made to Haven Hospice, 8301 Cypress Plaza Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32256. An online guestbook is available at www.stephenson-wyman.com.


Obituary for Wanda Lee Reilly

Wanda Lee Reilly, age 83, passed away on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at The Villa at West Branch. She lived in West Branch, MI for all of her life. Wanda was born on April 26, 1933 in West Branch, MI to Alfred and Mary (Thomas) Dunbar. She owned and operated Wanda’s Beauty Salon for 30 years. Wanda enjoyed spending time with her family.

Wanda is survived by her children, SueAnn (Bill) Healey of Lupton, MI, Mary Ann (Larry) Kartes of Alger, MI and William (Kelli) Reilly of Standish, MI;
grandchildren, Aaron, Nathan, Brenda, Scott, Kent, Jock, Brandi, Robert, and Melissa; great grandchildren, Sharydin, Shaylee, Trevor, Kevin, Cayla, Joshua, Jordan, Samantha, Luke, Alexis, Ashley, Ayden, Abigayle, Heavan and Madelynn; sister in laws, Bonnie (Dalton) Wiltse of Lupton, MI, Patricia (Keith) LaFountain of Lupton, MI and Anna Mae Illig of Standish, MI; brother in laws, Hank (Elsie) Reilly of Burton, MI and Kenneth McPherson of West Branch, MI. She is preceded in death by her parents, Alfred and Mary Dunbar, loving husband, Robert Reilly, and son, Jack Reilly.

A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, June 4, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. at the West Branch Community of Christ Church. High Priest Richard Hamilton will officiate.

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Obituary for Peggy Lou Steinhauser Rau Hamilton

Peggy Lou Steinhauser Rau Hamilton, age 83, of West Branch passed away in her sleep on Thursday, November 12, 2015. She was born to Jennings and Grace (Loder) Steinhauser on August 27, 1932. Peggy was a lifelong resident of West Branch, MI. Peggy married John “Jack” Rau Sr. on September 18, 1954. Together they raised four children. Peggy worked at the St. Joseph Catholic School for many years as a secretary. After Jack’s death, Peggy remarried Lorn “Dail” Hamilton and with it came step children and grandchildren to add to her much loved family. Peggy enjoyed ceramics, bowling, and fishing. She rarely missed any of the grandchildren’s’ sporting events and activities.

Peggy is survived by her sister, Rosemarie Pearsall of Tawas, MI; daughters, Marcia (Jeff) Young of West Branch, Debbie (Ron) Dale of West Branch, Sherry (Ron) Moorhouse of West Branch, and Lorn “Bud” (Michelle) Hamilton of West Branch; daughter-in-law, Marta Souter of Newaygo, MI; grandchildren, Nathan Young of West Branch, Kari Young of Bay City, MI, Allison Young of Mt. Olive, NC, Amanda Dale of Prescott, MI, Kristen Dale of West Branch, Tanya Dale of West Branch, Jack (Monica) Rau III of Mancelona, MI, Nicholas Rau of West Branch, Ronnie Moorhouse of West Branch, Jeff (Claresa) Moorhouse of Clio, MI, Wendy LaPoint of West Branch, Jennifer (Patrick) Morse of West Branch, and Randy (Carman) Hamilton of West Branch; great grandchildren, Jonathan Chandler, Wyatt and Jeremy Young, Tabitha Moorhouse, Tristan Moorhouse, Lauren Morse, David LaPoint, Jill LaPoint, and Hannah Rau; and several nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her parents, husband, Jack Rau Sr., husband, Dail Hamilton, brothers, Ralph, Paul, and Junior Steinhauser, and sons, Mark and John Rau Jr.

Visitation at Steuernol & McLaren Funeral Home in West Branch will begin on Friday, November 13, 2015 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. with a Scripture Service at 7:00 p.m. On Saturday, November 14, 2015, Peggy will lie in state at St. Joseph Catholic Church in West Branch beginning at 9:00 a.m. until the Celebration of Life Mass at 10:00 a.m. She will be laid to rest at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. Father Patrick Maher will officiate

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Frances Mae Piar, 81, of Highway M-35, Negaunee Township, went home to be with the Lord Friday morning, April 24, 2015, with her husband by her side and under the care of hospice at their vacation home in Apache Junction, Ariz.

Frances was born Aug. 5, 1933, in West Branch to Abraham Frank and Erma Mae (Embury) Moore and graduated from West Branch High School, class of 1951. Following high school, she met Junior JD Piar, and they married July 25, 1953. Together as a team they owned and operated Custom Asphalt Paving, with Frances overseeing all office operations, until retiring in July 1990.

Mrs. Piar was strong in faith and was a member of Redeemer Lutheran Church, Marquette. She was one of the founding members of the Hiawathaland Snowmobile Club and was a longtime member, and also belonged to the Gold Wing Motorcycle Club. Frances loved to travel, motorcycle and camp across country with both her husband and son, Kelly.

Surviving are her loving husband of 62 years, Junior JD Piar; son, Kelly Alan (Heidi) Piar of Chicago; two grandchildren, Madison Alena and JD Evan Piar; and their mother, Amy Piar.

She was preceded in death by her parents; and her daughter, DeanAnn Piar, on Dec. 7, 1971

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Obituary Gillett, Betty Louise (Stillwagon) – of Clio, age 81, died Sunday, October 5, 2014 at Maple Wood Manor in Clio. . Betty was born on March 1, 1933 in West Branch to the late Lawrence and Leota (Teeple) Stillwagon. She was a lounge singer in the Flint known as "Betty Kelly" and performed with Connie Kay and Sherm Mitchell in the 50's. Betty also worked as a bartender at the Cloverleaf for over 10 years. She was a member of Saints Charles and Helena Catholic Church. Betty enjoyed singing, writing poetry, playing scrabble and flower gardening. She always had a cup of coffee. Surviving are: children, Kitty (Monte) Beaudry of Rose City, Matthew Gillett of Flint, Martin Gillett of Rose City, Joseph Gillett of Clio; granddaughter, Kala Beaudry; great-grandchildren, Brooke and Paul Beaudry; sisters, Jennie Raymond of Clio, Peggy (Pat) Flynn of Lincoln Park; best friend, Donna Saxton; many other loving family members and friends. She was preceded in death by: a son, Michael Kelly; granddaughter, LeeAnn Gaddy

Edmund F. 'Bud' Durfee

Died May 8, 2013

Edmund Franklin “Bud” Durfee, 82, of Roscommon, died May 8, 2013 at his home.

Mr. Durfee was born in West Branch on April 13, 1931. He moved to Roscommon in 1985. He married Carole Sharrow, who preceded him in death. He then married Patricia Davis on Aug. 8, 1998, in Roscommon.

Mr. Durfee owned and operated Durfee’s Welding of West Branch. He enjoyed fishing, hunting and bird watching. He had an appreciation for wildflowers.

Surviving are his wife, Patricia; children, Shelley (Rick) Glanton of North Carolina, Sharon (Gary) Jameson of West Branch and Sharlene (Jon) Suvada of Roscommon; four stepchildren, Thomas Davis of Milwaukee, Wisc., Timothy Atherton of Oshkosh, Wisc., Daniel (Denise) Atherton of Howell and Tamara (Larry) Mugerauer of Oshkosh, Wisc.; siblings, Shirley Perkins, Dr. Michael (Rose) Beasley and Patricia Beasley, all of West Branch; eight grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Preceding him in death besides his first wife, Carole, were his son, Edmund James Durfee; infant daughter, Mary; infant granddaughter, Melissa; and brother, James Durfee.

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Mary Martin Molzan
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Mary Martin Molzan
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George & Ann Hewson Bray
Recalling memories of the "Forgotten War"..
Class of 1951

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Picture Below
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George Bray (wearing helmet) and fellow soldiers take a break during training in Hokkadio, Japan, in 1951, before being
 shipped to Korea.
 
 

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George Bray (center) is pictured in Chorwon Valley, North Korea, in May 1951, during one of his times spent on the front line.

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...from the Ogemaw County Herald..by
Elon Brissette/Staff Writer/reporter
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...Serving in the "Forgotten War" is something George Bray will never forget.
Photographs and mementos of his days spent on Old Baldy and Pork Chop Hill are now adhered to scrapbook pages for Bray to share his stories with his grandchildren and others who may come along asking about his Army days.  And his memories of the time he spent in Korea are as vivid as the memory book displays.
After enlisting in the U.S. Army January 7, 1951, at 18 years old, Bray trained at Camp Polk, La. HIs division then moved to Hokkaido, Japan, to help fill in until December for the National Guard, who were short-handed.  Then, Bray volunteered three times to go to Korea, being turned down each time.
"They took my friends, and I was left behind, and I thought I wasn't going," Bray said. "Then, they took the whole division over."
Bray said the first time on the front line was uneventful, but he will never forget the bitter temperatures.  "It was so beastly cold," he said. "We didn't have any heat and about froze to death."
"We go to these (Army) reunions and all the men say the never want to be cold again," Bray's wife Ann said.
In February 1952, Bray was put on the front line again and encountered Chinese soldiers for the first time as he was on an ambush patrol.
"That's a lot like deer hunting." He said. "Like you're waiting for deer, but you wait for their patrols."
When I was sitting on the ground, I heard water like a little stream and heard a sound. Later on, the moon came out and it got real bright. I was about half froze and looked to my left and noticed five guys coming up the rice paddy, and we all fired at the same time. We all took off running because we weren't sure if we were going to run into any more."
They also weren't sure if they would run into any more enemies when checking bunkers.  The U.S. Army used the same bunkers on Pork Chop Hill during the day that the Chinese Soldiers used at night. Every morning, the Army would have to make sure nobody was in the bunkers they wanted to use.
"We didn't know if anyone would be waiting for us, but luckily there never were," Bray said.  "You just had that feeling (when)you made a corner you would encounter one or one was waiting for you."
At the end of May, Bray and his division traveled to an area in front of a barren hill, later to be known as Old Baldy. Around June 5, Mustang fighter planes began bombing the area.
"That afternoon we heard machine guns and saw people running over the hill," Bray said. "We jumped up and started shooting. It ended up being the A Company. We were shooting at our own men."
Bray and his fellow troops were not informed their own soldiers were in that area and began firing at the people running down the hill. Because the soldiers were roughly 800 yards away, nobody was hit.
A few days later, Bray saw a green flare light the sky, which was an announcement from the Chinese that they were starting their artillery. They shelled Bray's division for about 20 minutes and then stopped.  The army finished digging foxholes before the firing began again at night.  It lasted for about an hour and a half, then stopped again.  The lieutenant warned Bray and the other soldiers that it was not done and they should expet the Chinese infantry the next time they hit.
When the infantry came that night, Bray described the experience as a scene out of the movie "Saving Private Ryan."
"That's how it was, people running around screaming." he said, "You didn't know who to shoot at, so we didn't shoot. Spent most of the time trying not to get hit."
"It was dark so all you could see were tracers. They were just flying all over (every) which way. You'd look around periodically, but you didn't dare shoot at them becaue you didn't know if they were your guys or theirs. That was probably the worst of the lot up there on that hill."
Shortly after, Bray and his fellow troops traveled up Old Baldy to "hold the hill again" for the night. The Army ws instructed to go to the top of the hill to show themselves to the Chinese, baiting them to come out. After they did that, they got back into their foxholes and heard a grenade explode.
"They were calling for our medics to get a medic to get up there." Bay said. "Of course, we knew better than that. I heard a mortar round coming, and just as I reached up and pulled my helmet down, shrapnel went flying and something hit me here (left shoulder)and I thougt it killed me."
"It was just a part of a pack board that just stung when it hit me."
While on reserve again in August, Bray noticed the names of the whole company he trained with posted on the bulletin board for soldiers who were going home. But his name wasn't listed.
"I thought, 'Here we go again',"he said.
After fighting a downpour for 12 days and 12 nights, and helping haul Japanese artillery pieces for the lieutenant who wanted them for decoration, Bray said it was his time to go home.
"Next thing I knew, my name came up on the list and I got out of there," he said. "Hallelujah".
Besides the shooting, explosions and fighting, there were some entertaining things that happened in Korea. Bray said it wasn't all gruesome, including  time when Korean workers were bringing breakfast for the U.S. soldiers and lost some of the food on the trip.
"One Korean kid slipped and fell and scrambled eggs were flying all over the place as he slid down the hill," Bray said. "It's funny now. It wasn't then."
During his trip back home, Bray said he had his last $52.10 stolen on the ship, had coffee spilled in his lap from a welcome home committee, got stuck in a snowstorm and had to sleep in his car, and then was pulled over by the Michigan State Police for having out-of-state plates. But, he made it back home to West Branch after being honorably discharged January 9, 1954.
While Bray was in Korea, he had exchanged letters with Ann(Hewson), a girl he went to high school with.
"I was in college while he was gone, but we wrote the best we could," Ann said. "His writing conditions weren't as good as mine. I had a desk and a lamp and he had a hole and a candle..."
"If you could find one," Bray added.
The couple married in May 1954.
The have a daughter, Jan Collins; a daughter-in-law, Sandy and grandchildren, Mallory and Eden Collins, and Kimberly and Michael Bray. They lost their son, George "Bill"William, in 1997.
The Brays had the chance to take a two-week-long tour in Korea at the end of 2001, which was a trip that George looked forward to.
"In South Korea, when you get up to the DMV (Demilitarized Zone), it looks like it did when we were there," he said. "It was interesting to see how the country (in other areas)had been built up"
Currently, Bray works for the Ogemaw County Clergy Association Food Bank ordering food to stock in the basement of the Trinity Church. He and Ann reside in West Branch.
 
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February 27, 2009...
Dan Benjamin, brother of Don Benjamin from the class of 1951..has shared the following...
Don lived in Homa,Lousiana,  died Nov 20,2008  in Bradenton, Florida.. He is survived by his children, Kathy, Denna, David and Michael....and 6 grandchildren. He died of heart problems along with other complications.  
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50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
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Bill Winslow (1951) Darlene Clemens Winslow (1954)

King Burt and Queen Phyllis
Ogemaw County Fair 2014



UNKNOWN ADDRESSES

Dick Chapman
David Gussman
Henry Huck
Betty Mattice
Mary J. Lucas Nestle
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DECEASED CLASSMATES
Dick Bashaw
7-26-2011)
 
June Wolfe Maxey
(May 31,2013)
 
Betty Marshall Graham
 
Mary Lou Ellis Dunne
 
Don Benjamin
(November 8, 2008)

John Roger Bennett

Jackie Boman Smeiser

Willy Bragg
 (2001)

Barbara Brandell Carroll
 (2001)

Ruth Burkett VanLiere

George Carroll
(February 8,2006)

John W. Coulter

Shirley Fox
(2001)

Erik Kaas
(May 30,2004)

Bill McCracken

Dale N. Munn
(August 1, 2002)

William Palm

Joe Petrovich

Harley D. Sappington
(1995)

Marvin Zimmerman

Arthur Zink
(1998)
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