Three outstanding K-State alumni received the alumni association's Medallion Award during commencement exercises in May.
They are Von Eastman Eulert, a Wichitan noted for her service to the visually-impaired: Edward J. King, Jr., a Kansas City businessman and philanthropist, and T. Russell Reitz, an agriculturalist and Manhattan community leader.
The Medallion is the most prestigious of the alumni association's honors. Eighteen alumni have received the award since the program was begun in 1969. The awards are based on a criterion of humanitarian service to society. Service to Kansas State University is not a requirement. The selection of the recipients is made by a secret panel of alumni and faculty members.
Mrs. Eulert, who studied in the College of Home Economics in the late 1930s and early 40's, began pioneering braille services in Wichita, Kans. in 1966. She had signed up for transcription lessons as a project she could do at home, and a year later she became the first braille transcriber to be certified by the Library of Congress in math and science. She now donates her days to braille work, teaching workshops, updating braille procedures and transcribing textbooks.
She has written articles explaining braille rules and developed codes for ancient numerations and electron dots used in chemistry textbooks, and has designed hand tools for brailling math and science diagrams. She has also served on a team of experts in an activity that advanced the use of braille recorded on magnetic tape.
Mrs. Eulert is a national consultant for braille transcribers of chemistry textbooks, served as vice president of the National Braille Association and was chairman of the NBA Mathematics and Science Braille Committee for six years. She works closely with the Library of Congress services for the blind, is a member of the Mathematics and Computer Braille Code Committee of the Braille Authority of North America and is a consultant for the World Council for the Blind in Geneva, Switzerland.
In 1978 Mrs. Eulert was named the 1978 Volunteer of the Year for the Midway-Kansas Chapter of the American Red Cross and in 1982 received a Volunteer Action Award from President Reagan.
She is married to Arnold E. Eulert, an executive at Beech Aircraft. They have one son, Mark E. Eulert, of Andover, Kans.
The Medallion selection committee felt Mrs. Eulert's vocation of helping the blind made her a natural for the Medallion Award, Larry Weigel, alumni association executive director, said.
"Her work with the blind started as a hobby and then developed into a lifetime career," he said. "It became a tool for helping others."
"Nowhere in human service is there an individual who personifies the spirit of volunteerism more than Von Eulert," said Margot Ray, chairman of volunteers, Midway-Kansas Chapter American Red Cross.
K-State President Duane Acker said "Von Eulert's leadership in making the world of knowledge available to the visually-impaired through braille transcription is highly revered in this state and in our nation.
"Most importantly, her work is appreciated by thousands of visually impaired persons whose lives have been greatly enriched by the materials made available to them," he added. "Her dedication, persistence and attention to her mission distinguish her as an exemplary person in the area of human services."
Mrs. Eulert gave her family credit for her success.
"If it hadn't been for my family I would never have been able to do what I have.
"It's ironic to receive an award for something you love so much and really can't do without," she added. "It's been fantastic and I'm so thrilled to receive the Medallion. It's an honor to receive an award from your own people."
Edward J. King Jr., Shawnee Mission, Kans., is a Kansas farm boy who repaired radios to work his way through engineering school and became the founder and president of King Radio Corp., a leading manufacturer of communications systems for the aircraft industry.
King, a 1943 electrical engineering graduate, has combined his technical expertise with his leadership abilities to become a highly successful businessman. His accomplishments in avionics have contributed greatly to this nation's department of defense and his considerable support of all levels of education has had an impact throughout the nation.
Immediately following graduation from K-State King worked for RCA in New Jersey, then returned to Kansas City and joined Aireon Corp. as a design engineer. In 1948 he formed Communications Accessories Co., which was purchased by Collins Radio in 1955. In 1959 he left Communications Accessories to form King Radio.
King, who served as president of the KSU Foundation Board of Trustees, contributed entirely the funds to construct the K-State International Student Center. In addition to his alumni association and Foundation activities, he has been a member of the College of Engineering Advisory Council and served on the Durland Hall, Phase II, Fund-Raising Advisory Council.
He is married to the former Carolyn Innes. They have five children: Mrs. Frank (Shelly) Theis, Kansas City, Mo.; Edward King, Lawrence, Kans,; William W. King, Creswell, Ore.; Ron Innes, Lawrence, Kans., and Shannon Innes, Merriam, Kans.
"His phenomenal success as an engineer and a manufacturer reflects enormous credit on the education he received at K-State," James A. McCain, KSU President Emeritus, said of King. "Certainly he ranks in the very top bracket of successful and enlightened business leaders in the field of electronics and aeronautics."
Weigel said King's quiet service to K-State and his contributions as a businessman and humanitarian strongly supported his selection.
"It's interesting to note that Ed's contribution to the International Student Center was prompted by his belief that we live in a global society, and that there was a need to give international students a sense of belonging," Weigel said. "The Center has given students from all nations a place to gather and interact with American students, as well as provided a strengthening in communication."
"K-State is pleased to honor Edward J. King, Jr. for his high professional achievement and for his continuing service to this university," President Acker said. He has made impressive contributions to his alma mater in time, talent and energy to a variety of projects. His contribution to the International Student Center is appreciated daily by K-State students, faculty and staff who use the center as a place for communications between peoples and cultures."
At a reception for the Medallion recipients, King said one of the special things about receiving the award was getting to wear a cap and gown.
"In 1943 we had zero commencement exercises. The procedure was to go up to a window in Anderson Hall and receive your diploma," he said. "To wear a cap and gown is a special occasion for me because it was my first time.
"Receiving this award makes me very thankful," he added. "Thankful for a grandfather who soon after the Civil War came out to Kansas, for a farm background that gave me strength and values, and for a basic education — the foundation of everyone's career."
The third Medallion recipient, T. Russell Reitz, a 1927 agriculture graduate, has been an outstanding influence in the town of Manhattan, Kans. He has excelled in both his vocation of federal service and in his chosen field of community service.
Reitz worked for 36 years in several different federal agencies and was a leader in developing personnel and conservation programs in extension, agriculture and forest service until he retired in 1969. He served more than seven years as the Plains Shelterbelt Project Assistant Director, was the State Director of the Kansas Soil Conservation Service and served as a State Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service officer.
He has been Mayor of Manhattan three times and has served on the city commission since 1971. In 1975, Reitz received the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen Award. He has worked to raise money for the Riley County Wharton Manor Building, the Riley County Historical Museum, a new swimming pool and a new sewer system. He supported the creation of the Riley County Law Enforcement Agency and served as its first chairman.
Reitz organized and developed the Friends of Music group at K-State, helped form the KSU Historical Society and continues to be an annual contributor to K-State in many ways.
He has been active for many years in local and national affairs of the Methodist Church. He has served as president of the Kansas Council of Churches and received an award from that group for outstanding interdenominational work.
He and his wife, Helen, have been residents of Manhattan since 1934, they have two sons, Dr. Roger Reitz '55, and Dr. Leland Reitz '59, both of Manhattan.
"Having served with over 200 elected officials spanning a period for 32 years, Russell is the rare exception in approaching his position as a city commissioner with a controlled ego and never expecting or even wanting praise for his work, nor does he seek the limelight in any official undertaking," Don Harmon, Manhattan city manager, said of Reitz.
"Russell's service in many areas typifies the Medallion winner," Weigel said. "The selection committee was impressed with his commitment to many causes. He cares about people and because of this his leadership has helped generate successful outcomes for many projects, both on the K-State campus and in the Manhattan community."
"T. Russell Reitz exemplifies the finest in professional achievement and community service. To his profession, he brought innovation and dedication, and to his community he gives faithfully and generously of his energies," President Acker said.
"His leadership on city governmental boards and in volunteer associations has greatly enriched Manhattan and the lives of its people. It is a great pleasure for K-State to recognize the most unique and impressive role he has played in his profession and in his community."
Reitz said his service to others has been a lifelong goal, and that receiving the award was an honor.
"When I think of the Medallion Award I have a failure to properly address the subject," he said. "It was a wholly unexpected thing, and I'm very honored."