Article Category Archives: Class Notes

Band Alumni and Friends Reunion 2017

The Band Alumni and Friends reunion is scheduled for June 9-11 and all alumni members of the marching bands, wind symphonies, concert bands and jazz bands are encouraged to attend. Members of the NEMO Singers, Cantoria and University Orchestra are also invited to join.

The weekend will include:
a Friday evening gathering at the Dukum Inn;
some special musical events on Saturday morning,
including a special recognition of the 50th anniversary
of the Phi Mu Alpha Jazz Festival;
a barbecue at the lake;
golf at the Kirksville Country Club;
campus tours;
and a gala banquet Saturday evening.

Special guest include Roger Cody, David Nichols, Richard Weerts, Dale Jorgenson, Gregory Jones and retiring professor Randy Smith.

Official sign-up for the event can be found at bandalumni.truman.edu under “Band Alumni and Friends Reunion 2017.” Band alumni who have not signed up for the band alumni roster are encouraged to take a moment to do that also.

Enjoy the opportunity to play some jazz with Dr. Cody, have one more opportunity to play “Shenandoah,” or join in playing Holst’s “First Suite” one more time!

What’s new with you?

Let us know what you have been up to, such as information about your job, honors and milestones, weddings, births and other personal news you would like to share with your fellow alumni. Information may be edited due to limited space.

In memoriam
Family members and friends are encouraged to send obituaries of deceased alumni to: Office of Advancement, McClain Hall 205, 100 E. Normal Ave., Kirksville, MO 63501.

Submit your news for Class Notes online at alumni.truman.edu.

A Teacher on the Watch

Mike Leech (’75, ’77)

Teachers are known for a lot of things. They are held in high regard for working in a selfless profession, often for low wages. They impart wisdom and are associated with peaceful childhood memories, so the idea of a teacher being a key component in keeping the country safe from enemy attacks might sound like some sort of Indiana Jones spinoff. In the case of education alumnus Mike Leech (’75, ’77) though, it is what he has done every day for nearly 40 years.

Leech is an intelligence officer at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. A civilian servant, he works with the Army’s material development team providing support and threat assessment for new programs.

“What I’m doing is helping soldiers make the United States safer in one form or another,” Leech said. “I’m working to give soldiers tools to help them do their job better.”

This career path may seem like an odd fit for someone with education degrees, but Leech’s well-rounded background makes him a valuable team member. He is responsible for effectively communicating intelligence information to both engineers and policy makers.

“One of the things you have to be good at when you are in the intelligence world is being able to teach people,” he said. “Basically it’s developing a story based on facts and then delivering it in a form that will come across to the people you’re briefing. A lot of the things I learned in Kirksville carried over.”

Leech joined Truman’s ROTC program when he was working on his master’s degree. Having served in the Army for four years, he is an ideal liaison between soldiers on the ground and those developing new programs.

“The reason I decided to go into ROTC in graduate school was because I felt I owed something to the country. I owed something back,” he said. “It’s the feeling of the need to do something a little more than just living and working.”

Leech comes from a long line of veterans and can trace back his relatives’ service to the Civil War.

“That’s always been a tradition in my family,” he said. “None of us ever retired from it, but we were there and we all did our time.”

Despite going to college to become a teacher, Leech knew once his active duty ended he wanted to work in the security sector for the government. After his service, he returned to his hometown of Oskaloosa, Iowa, and sent out more than 300 resumes. By 1985 he was a military analyst at the Space and Missile Defense Command in Huntsville, Ala. All totaled, he served 31 years there in various intelligence capacities. Much of his time was spent working on the Patriot missile program and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system.

“I worked in missile systems to defend the U.S. by shooting down the bad guys’ missiles,” Leech said. “I have spent most of my life working to defend the United States.”

During his time in Huntsville, Leech’s day could have entailed anything from conducting research in his office to working with prototypes in the field.

“We were taking good ideas and putting them into a useful form and taking them out to soldiers and letting them experiment with them,” he said. “It was a lot of fun and a lot of new things to do – always something interesting.”

In a few years, Leech will have reached 40 years of service, and he plans to retire to a profession that is a little less stressful than having to assess the threat capability of the country’s enemies. He would like to finally get into the classroom and teach at the high school or junior college level.

“Maybe I can still do something worthwhile. I think that’s why I got into teaching to start with – because I wanted to do something worthwhile with my life,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to pass on some of this knowledge.”

See Campus Again

The galleries at photos.truman.edu provide visitors the opportunity to see campus anytime, no matter where they may be. Updated regularly and archived for several years, photos are organized into specific galleries based on subject matter. Categories include individual commencement ceremonies as well as photos from various seasons of many Truman athletic programs. There are also hundreds of photos of Truman’s remarkably scenic campus, the Kirksville community and special events such as Move-in Day.

Anyone wishing to travel a little farther down memory lane can visit the Truman Digital Library, which has online copies of the Echo yearbook from 1901-2007. The collection can be found at digitallibrary.truman.edu.

Bringing Hope to Victims of Violence

Brandi (Brown) Bartel (’04)

As a journalism graduate, Brandi (Brown) Bartel (’04) has always made it a habit to stay on top of the local news. She frequents community meetings and public events, and she is always up-to-date with nearby police, media and prosecutors. However, despite her degree, Bartel is not chasing after a potential scoop. When she tunes in for the crime reports, she is wondering which ones might bring her tomorrow’s new clients.

Bartel is the executive director at The Victim Center in Springfield, Mo., which serves men, women and children who have survived any type of violent or sexual crime. The nonprofit agency offers free-of-charge intervention, advocacy, court support and counseling, as well as prevention education programming for the community. Annually, the center helps about 3,600 crime victims, and more than 15,000 individuals participate in their prevention education programs.

Once she graduated from Truman, Bartel began working as the center’s project director, writing and managing its grants. Initially, she just wanted to work for a nonprofit, any nonprofit, at which she could use her skills to help others. That changed abruptly.

“After only weeks into my tenure, I saw how the organization was able to change lives, and save them,” she said. “I saw hope in our clients’ faces, and I knew the mission of The Victim Center was making a direct impact on the citizens of our community.”

Only four years later, she was promoted to The Victim Center’s assistant director. Having seen Bartel’s potential early in her career, her boss quickly became her mentor.

“She gave me opportunities to learn and grow,” Bartel said. “I gradually worked my way up to executive director through several promotions, largely because I applied myself and took advantage of seminars and courses that allowed me to cultivate my nonprofit leadership skills.”

Bartel oversees The Victim Center’s 18 employees and more than 100 volunteers. The center’s staff and volunteers stay busy responding to hospitals for sexual assault cases, going to court with victims, counseling traumatized clients, assisting victims with protection orders and many more related services. Facing such an emotionally demanding profession, Bartel and her staff choose to focus on each day’s positive outcomes.

“Because of our work, adults can go back to work, children excel in school again, parents are stronger, families are healthier and our community is safer,” she said. “Clients sincerely thank us for saving their lives and often tell us that we gave them back hope. It can be an emotional roller coaster because you see the worst of humanity, but at the end of the day we feel good about the work we do to make a difference.”

The center has made a significant impact on the Springfield community, but Bartel still sees problems in the way society treats victims of violence. She and the center continue to work on dispelling the fear and shame that surround their clients.

“I still hear people blame victims for what happened, or for not being able to ‘save’ themselves,” Bartel said. “A lot of victims still don’t report the crime. But, slowly, I do see things changing in a positive direction.”

As awareness of The Victim Center’s accomplishments increases, so too does the demand. Since 2013, the center has seen 60 percent more people seek out its services, making it challenging for Bartel and her staff to keep up with the need for help. Like many nonprofits, The Victim Center could use more space, more staff and more funding. Bartel is working with her board to develop a strategic plan over the next three years that will specifically address those challenges, and she credits her experiences at Truman for preparing her to think about such complex scenarios.

“The liberal arts education I received at Truman gave me a solid platform for success,” Bartel said. “Directors have to be well-rounded individuals proficient in problem solving, critical thinking, organization, collaboration and communication. Some of these skills can come naturally, but they can also be learned through experience.”

Bartel’s daily responsibilities depend on that diverse expertise. Each day can bring a new task, from meeting with donors and community partners, to reviewing financial reports or even being interviewed by the media about crime-related stories. The work Bartel does is proof individuals with a liberal arts education are the ones best prepared to help society as a whole.

“It’s important that we talk about these issues and learn as much as we can about violence and abuse so that we can lay the foundation for safer and healthier generations to come,” she said. “Until then, we still have a lot of work to do.”
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— KAIN KNEIB

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A Match Made in Stokes

Al and Sheryl (O’Day) Tamberelli

Gold is the traditional gift for a 50th anniversary.

Al and Sheryl (O’Day) Tamberelli celebrated theirs with Pagliai’s Pizza and a Bulldogs football game. Last fall, the couple made the trip to Kirksville from their home in Aurora, Ill., to take in a game at Stokes Stadium and revisit the place where they met 50 years ago to the day.

A New Jersey native, Al came to the University to play football, but an injury had him watching the Oct. 1, 1966, football game against Pittsburg State from the stands.

“I sat behind the cutest girl with the bluest eyes, and I knew she would be ‘the one.’ I just had to find out who she was,” Al said.

The girl with the blue eyes was Sheryl O’Day, an education student from Fort Madison, Iowa, who just happened to be in Al’s English class. When he figured that out, he ended up borrowing her notes so he had a reason to meet up with her. The rest, as they say, is history. They were engaged after just three months of dating, and although Sheryl’s response to Al’s initial proposal was “I’ll get back to you on that,” they were married within two years.

Before they graduated in 1969, Al and Sheryl lived in married housing in Fair Apartments. On their return trip to Kirksville, they got to peek inside their former home, which is currently being used as office space for faculty members.

“It was nice to go in and see what was our apartment. The youngsters working there were so gracious to allow us to reminisce,” Al said.

The Tamberellis toured much of the campus the day before the game, including the “kennels” and several other buildings. They were pleasantly surprised with how the University has kept up with the times in terms of technological and academic advances while still maintaining a small-school atmosphere. They even experienced some of the community hospitality firsthand when they looked a little lost at times.

“Everyone was so welcoming, helpful and friendly and just went out of their way to make it a great visit,” Al said. “Students stopped us on campus to ask if they could help us find some place or if we needed help.”

Al and Sheryl are no strangers to exploring new places. With their two children grown, the retired educators enjoy travelling. They have visited Mexico and several island countries along with many of the U.S. states. They even lived in Europe for a while where Al coached football in Finland. They are currently planning a visit to Iceland as well as a two-month trip to see national parks from the Midwest to the west coast.

Whatever the couple decides to do, Al has some simple rules for enjoying their time together.

“Treat every day as though it was your first date. Try to make each other happier tomorrow than you did today,” he said. “Be willing to compromise and treat each other with the utmost respect. Never go out the door, go to sleep or hang up the phone without saying I love you.”