WSCC inducts three into Mentors Society at Founders Day Dinner

Shown left to right are 2012 inductees to the West Shore Community College Mentors Society who were honored on Friday during the annual founders Day Dinner. Show seated left to right are dr. Charles Keil, Joan Schoenherr and Lee Schoenherr. Standing in the back is Marge Keil. (Ken Grbowski News Advocate)

SCOTTVILLE — West Shore Community College officials honored Manistee County’s Dr. Charles Keil and Mason County’s Lee and Joan Schoenherr as the 2012 inductees during the 45th Annual Founders Day Dinner held Friday evening at the college.

Keil is a former WSCC board of trustees member who served 20 years in that capacity, while the Schoenherr’s have been major supporters of the college’s “Advancing from To Great” major gifts campaign. They have a multi-year pledge to the campaign of $2 million, and WSCC Board of Trustees named the campus center after them for that generous contribution.

WSCC president Charles Dillon greeted everyone to the dinner and told the history behind it.

“We are here because on March 6, 1967 the people of our region voted to create West Shore Community College,” said Dillon. “People voted to tax themselves to create this college, and so tonight we celebrate our 45th birthday. West Shore has become an essential and permanent contributor to the educational, social, recreational and economic fabric of our region. We provide high quality education, but do so much more.”

Including this years inductees, a total of 43 people have been inducted into the Mentors Society since the college first began recognizing them in 1987.

Those previous inductees include: Leonard Bestrom, Barry Bourdo, Arnold Carlson, Oliver DeJonge, Bruce Draper, John Eaton, Ellen Elder, Maurice Goodreau, Helen McCarthy, Ivan Pelter, Dean Raven, William Anderson, Roger Baerwolf, Richard Bourgault, Larry Bradford, Robert Bradley, John Bulger, Dennis Cawthorne, Donald Clingan, Leonard Gavigan, Dorothy Hall, Morgan Hall, John Ham, Robert Harrison, Fred Killen, Kang Hoon Lee, Bayard Lyon, Beth McCarthy, Martha Paine, William Paine, Daryl Peterson, Milan “Budde” Reed II, Sadie Riffle, Richard Seemuth, Ruth Stephens, Kenneth Stephens, Dale Sutton, Leo Teholiz, Thomas Van Buren and Ronald Wood.

WSCC board president James Jensen served as the major speaker on the evening, and he pointed out what the mentors society individuals have meant to the college. He also told how the tradition started with the Mentors Society.

“In 1987, the college celebrated its 20th anniversary with the first Founders Day celebration,” said Jensen. “That evening the Mentor’s Society was born with the recognition of 11 people for their leadership in the founding and development of the College.

Twenty five years later, 29 more names have been added to the Mentors Society and tonight three more distinguished individuals, Lee and Joan Schoenherr and Dr. Charles Keil, will be added.”

“Founders Day celebrates the unbroken line of people who formed the college’s strong foundation, from Dr. John Eaton and his first administration, to Dr. Bill Anderson, to professors, students, and alumni, trustees, donors of the distant and recent past, to current alumni, to members of the present-day administration, faculty, staff, trustees, and student body.”

In presenting Dr. Keil for induction, Jensen focused on his dedication to the college in serving on the board of trustees.

“Dr. Keil served 20 years, making him the third-longest serving trustee in the college’s history,” said Jensen. “He served as the board secretary from July 2005 to June 2009 and also served as the chair of the board policy and personnel committee from July 2005 to June 2009. He was always ready, willing, and able to deal with all issues that came before the board and did so, with integrity, fairness, dedication, and humor.”

Jensen pointed out that the legacy of Dr. Keil was the willingness to share his time, wisdom and counsel, which has strengthened West Shore Community College in many ways. He added that what Dr. Keil did will continue to benefit students for many decades to come.

In accepting his award, Keil said there is a simple philosophy he has followed in life.

“A wise man once said I know three things,” said Keil. “It is better to tell the truth than lie, it is better to be free than a slave and it better to know than be ignorant. That last part is the one we are interested in at West Shore Community College.”

The inductee praised the efforts of past and current presidents for helping build the college into what it is today. He also said the millage that was passed to provide capital improvements was another key into making the college a success.

Jensen said that the Schoenherr’s contribution to the college has been just as significant.

“Theirs is an investment in the region’s educational and economic future and we are truly heartened by the support and generosity of the Schoenherr family,” said Jensen. “The impact of the gift will be felt at the college forever. It is truly a legacy.”

Joan Schoenherr spoke of her days as a teacher and the importance of getting a good education. She said it is the reason they support the college and continue to do so.

All three inductees were presented with the traditional engraved chairs and will have their plaques added to the Mentors Society display at the college.






Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at

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