The Medallion, Three accept highest alumni honor

Posted May 01, 1986

A volunteer, a journalist and a veterinarian received the Kansas State University Alumni Medallion this spring, the most prestigious of alumni association honors. 

The recipients were Dr. Clark C. Collins, of West Point, Neb., Mary McDonald Hewson, of Larned, Kan., and Carl P. Miller, Sr., of Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Medallion provides recognition for the achievements of K-Staters. Nominees are selected for outstanding work in their chosen fields, significant contributions to community, state or nation, and humanitarian service to society.

Dr. Clark C. Collins

Dr. Clark C. Collins, West Point, Nebraska, is a veterinarian who has made significant contributions to both animal and human medicine.

A 1941 graduate, Collins was the catalyst in the formation of the St. Francis Memorial Hospital Foundation of West Point. From its inception in 1962, the Foundation has provided funding for advanced medical equipment and technology at St. Francis. 

His work as a veterinarian continues a family tradition started in 1906, when his father graduated from Kansas City Veterinary College, the first of four Iowa farm brothers to become veterinarians. Clark Collins followed tradition.

"I started my college education at the University of Nebraska," he said. "Total cost was $392 for two semesters. My next four years I attended Kansas State for the cost of about $625 per year.

"K-State had a world-wide reputation as an institution where you not only received the basics, but practical knowledge," Collins said. "At that time, there were only 11 veterinary colleges in the U.S. Enrollment in all four classes was limited to 200 to 250 students."

Collins remembers Dr. Eldon E. Leasure ("A quiet, practical person"), Dr. "Beanie" Frank and Dr. W. M. McLeod ("Taught anatomy and was tops"), but calls Dr. E.J. Frick his mentor.

"He taught small animal surgery, but was number one in finance," Collins said. "He would take groups into the 'Drug Room' and expound on investments. He said, 'Buy cheap term insurance and invest in real estate.' I should have listened better — I bought the other kind. I would have been worth more today."

Collins returned to West Point and became a pioneer in using movies to document his practice.

"I bought an Eastman Kodak camera and projector back during World War II and used it to film diseases of all kinds and surgical procedures," he said. "It was something new at the time." Those films were shown at veterinary conventions and later became used in teaching at Kansas State and other universities.

When Collins wasn't practicing he found time for civic work. Double family tragedies (the death of his wife from kidney failure and the serious illness of a young son) set him working to get the best medical facilities possible for West Point. He was instrumental in obtaining the first artificial kidney machine in Nebraska and in forming the hospital foundation in West Point, an organization he has served as president for more than 20 years.

"The financial and moral support give to the hospital by the Foundation is one of the principal reasons (it) has been able to stay in operation through some very difficult times," P. M. Moodie, a West Point attorney, said. "Dr. Collins has been the leader and the driving force behind the Foundation and must be credited with its success."

Collins has performed research on drugs for humans for several companies, helped found two new businesses to improve the economy in West Point (a manufacturers of feed and medicated prescription feeds and a soybean processing plant) and still found time to serve for 13 years as a volunteer fireman, as president of the West Point Lions Club and of the Izaak Walton League.

"He epitomizes what the general practitioner in an average Nebraska town is all about," Dr. Leo Lemonds, author of "A Century of Veterinary Medicine in Nebraska," said about Dr. Collins.

"Farmers have always told me that I work hard and I play hard too. Actually I enjoy my practice and it is still number one," Collins said, giving credit to his wife, Evelyn, for constant support. "The woman I married in 1957 not only raised my family (of four children), but is the driving force behind me. She deserves this (Medallion) honor. She is something else."

Mary McDonald Hewson

Mary Hewson, a 1948 graduate in education from Larned, Kan., has dedicated much of her life to supporting Kansas State and education from the pre-school to the post-graduate level.

A mother, farmer, substitute teacher, tutor, community leader and exceptional volunteer, her work for K-State was recognized in 1983 when she was one of 10 national finalists for the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education Volunteer of the Year Award.

A former member of the KSU Alumni Association Board of Directors, member of the Alumni Long-Range Planning Committee and a member, with her husband Ken, of the KSU Foundation Presidents Club, Hewson remains a treasured advisor to University administrators and staff.

She is a civic leader, active in the Presbyterian Church, the Daughters of the American Revolution, P.E.0., 4-H, the YMCA, and "HEAL," an acronym for HELP Eliminated Abuse Locally, a group she helped establish to combat drug use by teenagers. The Hewsons are active in the Kansas Farmers organization, and were awarded the Pawnee County Outstanding Family Farmer Award in 1980 by that organization.

Hewson has counseled hundreds of high school students, keeping in contact with them as they arrive on campus at both Kansas State and other universities. She works tirelessly to teach high schoolers about the importance of higher education, works to get them into a university and works to keep them there.

"You have to like young people and want to see them get ahead, and you have to follow up," she said. "We (she and her husband) have a standing deal with our students. We say, 'You can call collect any time.' They need to know they can reach out to someone."

Hewson's mentor was a high school history teacher. "He really encouraged me, told me all the things I needed to take for college," she said. Her brother's family provided her first year fees, and she said she had a "strong motive" to attend K-State — she was in love with Ken Hewson '43, '49, an instructor in mechanical engineering.

"I had tutored since I was 14 and I loved math. I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I also would have loved to be a doctor," she said.

Hewson has long been recognized as an exemplary alumna. President Duane Acker, in supporting her nomination as CASE Volunteer of the Year, said she has "Provided constant attention and assistance to the University." Former National Alumni President Linton Lull echoed Acker's statement.

"She is one of the most dedicated, hard-working leaders I have known," Lull said. "She works with great enthusiasm and gives freely of her time and resources for the benefit of the KSU Alumni Association and the University."

Hewson said alumni "need to care a lot about their university, even if they are 3,000 miles away.

"You need to care about what happens and play a part in what you can, whether it is financially, as a student recruitment volunteer, as an academic supporter."

She said K-State alumni, whether they believe it or note, have the knowledge to encourage them to look at KSU. You can feed them a lot of malarky, but they know you are sincere."

One of the things alumni can do is education parents about KSU, she said. "There are so many things that parents don't know can be done... about finances, counseling," Hewson said. "The University can be an extended arm of the family."

What have been the mountain-tops — and the pits — in Hewson's life?

"We haven't had the ups and downs because we stay active," she said. "I don't have time to get down."

One of Hewson's college friends, Pat McCrary Hunt '48, of Springfield, Mo., told her that her "young college years were enriched because of our friendship."

"Mary, I salute and thank you for being a friend and mentor. You have wings of an eagle and fortunately I was carried under one of them."

Carl P. Miller, Sr.

Miller, who attended Kansas State from 1916 to 1919, is a retired journalist who has made substantial contributions to society through his career and through his involvement in Rotary International.

Born into a newspaper family that returned to Kansas in 1905 after the California gold rush, Miller worked his way through college by reporting news and sports for several daily paper — including The Collegian, where he answered to editor Milton Eisenhower '24.

Miller returned to Belleville in 1919 to take over the family-owned Telescope until his brother, A.Q. (with whom he later owned nine California newspapers), graduated from K-State in 1925. Miller left for the west with his wife and young son to become assistant financial editor of the Los Angeles Times and secretary/manager of the Los Angeles Stock Exchange.

In 1929 Miller was chosen to begin The Wall Street Journal's Pacific Coast edition — one week before the stock market crashed. "For 13 years it was a struggle," he said. The paper survived and became a model for several other Wall Street Journal editions. Miller remained the Pacific edition's executive director until retiring in the mid-1060s. He now lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.

"Truly, I have to say that my life has been in journalism," Miller said. "I never wanted to switch out of it. I don't know what I'd do different."

Miller's second career, as a Rotarian, began when he joined the organization as a young man. Another organization almost got him instead.

"I first heard about Rotary in Manhattan, when I was covering the meetings. When I moved back to Belleville I wanted to organize a Rotary Club, but national wrote back and said Belleville wasn't big enough, so I formed a Lions Club and was its first president. I had to drop Lions when I went to L.A."

Miller's influence in Rotary increased, and when he became the organizations international president in 1963, he introduced a program that would have long-lasting effects. His "Matched District and Club Program," designed to cultivate international  goodwill, increased tremendously Rotary's World Community Service projects and youth exchange by pairing Rotary districts around the world for cooperative work.

"I was well aware that Rotary had truly become an international organization... there were three times as many clubs outside the U.S. as in the States," he said. "I thought, 'We've got to take advantage of the international aspect. We've got to get these people together to solve problems.' It's been a great program."

To encourage and continue a program of this magnitude, Miller and his wife, Ruth, in 1985 provided a gift of $1 million to the Rotary Foundation. "We thought, 'Rotary has been much of our lives. Let's give the organization a major contribution,'" he said. "We've been very happy with (our decision)."

Earnings from the Carl P. Miller World Community Service Endowment Fund (about $100,000 a year) are used to stimulate the development of service projects involving Rotarians in clubs or districts in two or more countries.

Miller's work has been internationally lauded. He has been decorated by the governments of 10 nations and has received honorary doctoral degrees from Kansas State, Pepperdine University and the University of California.

Miller credits his wife for her enormous support. "She's been with me every minute. Every day we were on the merry-go-round together," he said. 

The Wall Street Journal was with him every step of the way, also, he said.

"Rotary didn't want a retired man for president, and The Wall Street Journal gave me a leave of absence with a secretary. They recognized the value of international public relations.

"I was national president of Sigma Delta Chi (Society of Professional Journalists) in 1936, and I was fortunate to be with an organization (Wall Street Journal) that appreciated public relations. I was given the time to devote to other organizations. It's my nature to want to get involved in things."

In addition to his work as a Rotarian, Miller served as president of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and on the board of several organizations.

"I don't know what I'd do different," he said. "I've been happy in everything I've done."