Willis Anderson MBA ’79 is an active tennis player at age 75, ranking first in senior singles and doubles in the state of North Carolina and ranking nationally in doubles play. At WCU, he played four years of Catamount baseball and was co-captain for the 1960 season.


Joanne Gibson MAEd ’67 and Mel Gibson MAEd ’67 won medals in the finals of the N.C. Senior Games in Raleigh in September. Competing in the 70-74 age group, Joanne won third place in the standing long jump and Mel won first in the running long jump and second in the standing long jump. The couple lives in Hampstead, on the N.C. coast.


North Mecklenburg High School renamed its basketball court in honor of Leroy Holden, longtime basketball coach and athletic director. Holden won more than 400 games at North Meck and led the Vikings to the 1987 N.C. 4A state championship game. “It’s an honor,” Holden told the Lake Norman Citizen. “I’m very humbled by it. I spent a lot of time in that gym, a lot of hard work. It was a lot of fun. I have a lot of memories.” Holden left North after the 2009 school year.


Donald G. “Petie” Davis Sr. was inducted into the Surry County Sports Hall of Fame in November. Davis, a longtime teacher and then principal at Dobson Elementary, coached basketball at the school for 24 seasons, baseball for 19 and football for three. In his 43 seasons as basketball and baseball coach, he amassed approximately 400 wins with teams scheduled for 12 games per season. He logged only one losing season in basketball and never had a losing season in baseball.


“School Segregation in Western North Carolina: A History, 1860s-1970s,” a book by Betty Jamerson Reed MAEd EDS ’82 EdD ’00, earned the author a 2012 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, initiated in 1945, are a prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.


Doug Tallent retired from his position as retail banking manager at First Citizens Bank in Asheville after 36 years in the banking industry.


Sherry R. Willis MAEd ’84 EdD ’10 retired Jan. 1 from Hickory Public Schools as principal of Southwest Elementary School and was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in recognition of her 37 years of outstanding work in the area of early childhood education. The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is among the highest honors the governor can present to North Carolinians and is designed to recognize individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state. Willis is married to Tony S. Willis ’74 MBA ’76.


Annitra Jean Allman is a longtime educator in South Carolina and was recognized as one of five finalists for 2011 South Carolina Teacher of the Year. Allman, who earned graduate degrees at Cambridge College and the University of South Carolina, began teaching in 1976 at Mullins Junior High School. She was named South Carolina Science and Mathematics Teacher of the Year in 1989 and was assistant principal at Mullins High School from 2002-08.


Mike Mayfield was named vice provost for undergraduate education at Appalachian State University in November. Mayfield, a professor of geography, had served in the role of interim vice provost since 2010. As vice provost for undergraduate education, he is responsible for providing the vision for the first- and second-year experience on campus. He also will continue to work with the Appalachian community on university undergraduate initiatives. Mayfield received his master’s and doctoral degrees in geography from the University of Tennessee. He has been a member of the faculty at Appalachian since 1988.

Artist Karen Stinnett had two solo exhibitions of her work: “States: Paintings of the American Road” at Performing Arts Center Gallery, Illinois Central College, and “Small Prints Retrospective” at Firehouse Gallery, Rogue College, Grants Pass, Ore. Shown here, “Florida Highway Overpass” (2012), 8 by 10 inches, oil on masonite.


Susan Balentine runs her own pottery business, Nature’s Beauties, in Waynesville. A member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, Balentine sells work in the guild’s shops and also holds an annual holiday sale at her studio.

Janet W. Millsaps MPA ’99 is new director of service innovation and performance management at WestCare, which includes the Harris and Swain hospital campuses. In her newly created role, Millsaps will focus on the customer experience at the hospitals. Millsaps started at WestCare Health System in 1995 and has served the last three years as MedWest chief human resource officer.


State Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, was reappointed as chairman of the Senate Rules Committee for another two years. Political observers consider the committee important because, among other responsibilities, it decides where to assign bills and whether amendments are appropriate and deserve a vote.

Rick Gammons was a professional commercial photographer for 28 years until retiring in 2008. He lives in Archdale and is spending his time building a second home in Beech Mountain, riding his motorcycle and traveling. He has also developed an interest in cichlids, koi and goldfish.


Peter Fenn is an associate professor in the physician assistant program at Campbell University. Fenn formerly was senior physician assistant with Raleigh Emergency Medicine Associates at Rex Hospital for the past 16 years. He lives in Coats with his wife and children.

Valerie Harlan has joined Meadowlands Racetrack as director of marketing. Harlan comes to the position with marketing experience at casinos in Atlantic City and Pennsylvania, including Caesars, Showboat, Harrah’s Chester and various Trump properties. She lives with her husband, Jeb Rehmann, in Galloway Township, N.J.

Col. Beth Lohse MS ’08 was promoted to full colonel in the U.S. Army in August. Lohse has had numerous assignments around the world, including serving in Desert Storm, and currently serves as a primary care provider with the Aid Station/Joint Medical Augmentation Unit, Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg. She has received five Army commendation medals, three Army achievement medals and humanitarian service medals for her work during hurricanes Katrina and Rita.


Kim Corzine MS ’85 EDS ’93 is director of the N.C. Teaching Fellows Program at WCU.


Eddie Fox was promoted to colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. He has served in Somalia and two tours in Iraq, including time in Fallujah. Fox, formerly a place kick holder on the Catamount football team, is the son of Sue Fox ’84 MAEd ’88 and Jim Fox ’71, both longtime educators in Western North Carolina.

Tracy Hardy Krein has accepted an adjunct teaching position with the National Institute of Corrections, an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice-Federal Bureau of Prisons. As an instructor, Krein provides training in leadership, management and specialized corrections topics for staff of state, local and federal corrections offices throughout the U.S. Krein currently is the medical administrator for the Greenville (S.C.) County Public Safety Office, where she oversees all medical and psychological services for the County Detention Center.


David Keech has been promoted to regional human resources manager for Sharp Business Systems, part of Sharp Electronics. Keech formerly was the human resources manager for Charlotte Copy Data prior to its acquisition by Sharp. Keech lives in Charlotte and was the 2010 chapter president for the Charlotte Area Society for Human Resource Management, a group of 350 HR professionals in and around the Charlotte area.

Kent Reed was among the top five brokers in the Georgia Association of Business Brokers Million Dollar Club in 2012. Reed, owner of Murphy Business and Financial Corp. in North Atlanta, is a licensed Georgia real estate agent and has worked as a business development executive and retail marketing specialist. A member of the East Cobb Rotary Club, Reed and his wife, Tracey ’87, have 8-year-old twin boys. He enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, fishing and music.


Jill Barker ’92 MSA ’00 is principal of Haywood County’s Bethel Elementary School, which in November won the National Title I Distinguished School Award for sustained student achievement. The award is based upon three consecutive years of high academic performance in schools with high poverty rates. The recognition came with thousands of dollars to be used toward enhancing and supporting student learning at the school. “Regardless of social economic status, children can learn when they have strong teachers,” said Barker, who is married to William A. Barker ’88.

James R. Bartholomew is president of Le Cordon Bleu North America, one of the largest providers of culinary arts education worldwide. Bartholomew previously was vice president of campus operations with Universal Technical Institute, a nationwide provider of accredited technical training, primarily for professional automotive and marine technicians. Bartholomew, who earned an MBA from Wake Forest University, is based out of Schaumburg, Ill.


Lisa Duff was named Great Smoky Mountains Association’s first-ever marketing and membership director in December 2012 and relocated to Gatlinburg, Tenn., for the position. Duff’s responsibilities include increasing the organization’s membership base by broadening awareness for GSMA’s work to preserve Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Anne Lough MME taught an introductory mountain dulcimer class in November at WCU’s instructional site at Biltmore Park Town Square in Asheville. Lough, a traditional musician, has performed and taught for 35 years.


Jeffrey M. Leatherwood ’99 MA ’04 has written “Nine from Aberdeen,” published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in the United Kingdom. The book, which tells the story of America’s very first bomb squads in World War II, forerunners of the modern U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal branch, is based on his master’s degree thesis from WCU. Leatherwood earned his doctoral degree in U.S. history in 2009 from West Virginia University.


Carrie R. Norman has joined Virginia Tech as communications manager for the Division of Administrative Services. Norman is responsible for the planning and execution of a communications program to bring awareness of achievements and news within the division. Prior to coming to Virginia Tech, she was director of marketing at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and Savannah Law School in Savannah, Ga.

Carcinoid cancer survivor Kenneth Todd and his wife, Jennifer Lail Todd ’00, are among survivors and family members who share their stories in a video produced by the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation titled “Faces of Hope.”


William Talley III is director of bands at Asheville High School and led the marching band in its performance at President Barack Obama’s 2013 inauguration parade in Washington, D.C. Ashley Tetrault ’10, the Asheville High color guard instructor, also marched in the parade.


Tommy Dennison has joined the staff of the Small Business and Technology Development Center in Western Carolina University’s College of Business. As a business counselor at the SBTDC, Dennison will counsel, train and provide support for owners of small and midsized businesses, concentrating on the seven westernmost counties of North Carolina. Dennison has worked with owners of small businesses for more than five years, and most recently served as director of industry training and director of the Small Business Center at Southwestern Community College. He also has experience in financing as a former branch manager for SunTrust Bank and loan officer for the State Employees Credit Union.

John Scott Jr. coaches the defensive line at Texas Tech. He joined the Red Raiders after spending the last three seasons as special teams coordinator and defensive line coach at Georgia Southern. A four-year Catamount letterman, Scott’s total of 31 tackles for a loss ranks 10th all time in WCU history. Scott, whose career includes several years of professional football, returned to his alma mater to coach for three years beginning in 2006. He and his wife, Stephanie, are the parents of a son and daughter.


Mark E. Finley is a contract division manager for BEST Inc., specializing in the design, installation and repair of commercial roofing systems in North Carolina and the surrounding states.

Rowena Nichola Hall is Teacher of the Year for R.E. Davis Elementary School in Sumter, S.C. She has taught reading, writing and social studies at the school since 2008. Active in the world of education, she also has served as a cultural exchange teacher at a school in a rural community in Kingston, Jamaica.


Cathy Adams recently published her first novel, “This is What it Smells Like” with New Libri Press in Washington state. After 12 years in Asheville, where she taught at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and Montreat College, she recently moved to Xinzheng, China, where she teaches English composition for Fort Hays State University through Sias International University.

Tim Eckberg is the first-ever head coach for new men’s and women’s golf programs at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. Eckberg comes to Stritch after playing professional golf on a variety of mini-tours throughout the Southeast and tallying five professional victories. He played two years for the Catamounts while twice being named team captain, team most valuable player, and TIAA-CREF Southern Conference All-Academic. The Wolves will open up competition starting in the 2013-14 school year.

Robert Steininger MPM was recently promoted to senior vice president at BB&T. Steininger joined the bank in 2001 and works from the organization’s Corporate Project Office.


Cynthia Goans Jarvis MS recently joined JCPenney as director of talent for the East region.

Lt. Bradford Shirley is police chief of Boiling Spring Lakes. Shirley came to the job from the Graham Police Department, where he served as division commander for criminal investigations, including work with juvenile crimes, domestic violence, property crimes and crimes against persons.


Heidi Allison MSA, principal of Barnardsville Elementary School in Buncombe County, is a recipient of the 2012 Mars Hill College Educational Alumni Leadership Award. Allison has spent almost her entire educational career in Buncombe County Schools, first as a teacher at North Buncombe Elementary, then as assistant principal at Haw Creek and Hominy Valley elementary schools, before returning to the North Buncombe district in 2010. She and her husband, Shane, have two children.

Reality television personality Rachel Reilly married Brendon Villegas in September, and the wedding was featured in a December episode of “My Fair Wedding” with David Tutera on the We television network. Reilly and Villegas met on CBS’s “Big Brother” in 2010 and have since appeared as a couple on “Big Brother” (which she won) and “The Amazing Race” (also on CBS).


David Abel MS ’11 practices anesthesia at Frye Hospital in Hickory. He has lived there with his wife, Natalie, and their three children since 2011.

Brothers Bradan Dotson (vocals and guitar) and Galen Dotson (keyboards) are members of the band Antique Firearms, which has released a second full-length CD, “Vicious Behavior,” and plays regionally, including gigs at Asheville’s Bele Chere and the Orange Peel.

Deana Lewis Kaplan is the donor communication manager for the Alpha Phi Foundation in Evanston, Ill. Kaplan previously was an account executive at Make It Better magazine in Wilmette, Ill.


Brandy Mills MS won the 2013 Spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award from Mission Health, where she has been a nurse educator for two years.

Pfc. Joseph W. Reily has completed 13 weeks of training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C. Training included drill, marksmanship, physical fitness, martial arts, swimming, military history, customs and courtesies.


Rick Davis recently retired from the Hickory Fire Department after 27 years of service. Davis started as a firefighter and progressed to the ranks of senior firefighter, fire apparatus operator, captain and battalion chief.

Catherine Connor Scully recently signed with literary agency Donadio & Olson for her young adult series “Jennifer Strange.” Scully wrote the beginning of her “Jennifer Strange” novel for a TV pilot writing class led by Terry Curtis Fox at WCU. She was recently appointed the young adult section editor with the Horror Writers Association and works as a brand manager for Micromeritics, an international particle science research company, where she manages all aspects of graphic design and branding for domestic and international advertising. At WCU, she was a member of the Honors College and the international English honor society Sigma Tau Delta, wrote entertainment articles for the Western Carolinian, was nonfiction editor for the campus literary magazine “Nomad” and presented poetry research on T.S. Eliot at the 2008 National Conference on Undergraduate Research.


Jacklyn C. Bush MS ’12 graduated from the U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I., and was commissioned as an ensign. She is now assigned to the USS Vicksburg at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Fla., as the combat information center officer.

Natalie Case is administrative director of Cherokee Tribal Child Care. Case has more than 12 years of experience in the child care field and started with Cherokee Tribal Child Care as a teacher in 2008. She lives in the Whittier community with husband Chad and children Cash and Dayzee.

Adam Dries is a broadcast assistant with minor league baseball team the Hickory Crawdads and a procurement officer for the city of Charlotte.


Kevin Cannon retired from his law enforcement career in June after 25 years of service with the Tarboro Police Department and the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office.

Coast Guard Seaman Rebecca J. Oates graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Recruit Training Center in Cape May, N.J.


Lauren Gray was named one of nine Gen Y careerists to follow on Twitter by Business Insider. Gray, who tweets at @laurengray, is a junior account executive with Hunter Public Relations in New York City.

Rory Pederson is track operations manager with the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

Thomas Stern MHS founded a health services organization, AV.E Health, which offers assisted vacations for individuals with dementia and their family aregivers.