Recognized by the Northeastern State University Alumni Association for their personal achievement and community service, three outstanding alumni will be recognized during the homecoming football game on Oct. 6.
Distinguished Alumni Joe Gilbert of Barnsdall and Willard Jones of Tulsa, and Outstanding Young Alumnus Dr. Michael Kayser will be recognized during halftime of the game against Missouri Western State at Doc Wadley Stadium.
Gilbert, who earned a bachelor's degree in 1954 and a master's of education in 1970 from NSU, just completed his 58th year of teaching at Barnsdall High School. He coached the BHS baseball team to the state title in 1980. In 24 seasons as a basketball coach he received only one technical foul when he rushed onto the court to help an injured player. Some of his current students are grandchildren of his former students, and a feature on his life and career appeared in USA Today and on ESPN.com.
Today Gilbert serves as athletic director and coaches fast-pitch softball in the fall, girls basketball in the winter and slow-pitch softball in the spring. He lives in Barnsdall with his wife Joyce.
"I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for NSU," Gilbert said. "After just one week a school, you couldn't run me off. I loved the place because everyone treated me nice. The entire faculty at Northeastern was interested in me. I still love the place."
Jones, a 1973 graduate, is pastor of Greater Cornerstone Church and has worked to help citizens reclaim the South Haven neighborhood in west Tulsa.
As executive director of the Greater Cornerstone Community Development Project, Jones spearheaded efforts to raise funds and build a $7.2 million, 21,700-square-foot community center in the South Haven district of west Tulsa. He is president of the Southwest Tulsa Minister’s Alliance, a member of Tulsa Together and a past executive board member of Habitat for Humanity. In 2011 he was named one of "25 People Making a Difference" by Tulsa People magazine.
The community center Jones has helped create will offer services directed to low income families, including medical and dental clinics and social, vocational and educational programs. Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Family and Children's Services and Goodwill Industries of Tulsa will have branch facilities in the center.
"I learned some good skills at Northeastern State University along the way and was encouraged," Jones said. "Northeastern State is a place for all seasons, there is no doubt about it. And for my season spent there, I am forever grateful."
Kayser, a soccer academic all-American while attending NSU, is a medical geneticist at the Medical Director Center for Genetics at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa. His specialty is inherited conditions which require genetic testing for diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Oklahoma Magazine recently named him one of its "Top 40 Under 40" and he was among the genetic experts who worked to identify victims after Hurricane Katrina.
Serving on several local and state committees that promote clinical research, Kayser is an acknowledged expert on Alkaptonuria, a rare inherited genetic disorder that results in toxic acid accumulation in the blood. He lives in Broken Arrow with his wife Tasha.
"I think there is a lot to learn from rare diseases," Kayser said. "We learn a lot about how things work for healthy people from studying rare diseases. You would be surprised how treatments that are used every day come out of rare diseases. How do you learn how something works without studying when it is broken?"
In addition to being recognized at the homecoming game, the outstanding alumni will be formally honored during the 15th annual Emerald Ball on Dec. 8. For more information about homecoming and the Emerald Ball call the NSU Alumni Association at (918) 458-2143.
Published: 9/13/2012 10:25:04 AM