An engineer and a published author are this year’s Tracy Area High School Wall of Fame inductees.
Don Edwards and Neal Vahle will be inducted into the school’s Wall of Fame at Thursday’s American Education Week Banquet at 6:30 p.m. at The Caboose.
A 1956 Tracy High School graduate, Edwards lives in Lincoln, Neb. He retired as Emeritus Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and Emeritus Professor, Biological Systems Engineering from the University of Nebraska, where he later served as Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. He received his BS and MS degrees from South Dakota State University in Agricultural Engineering. He got his PhD degree in Agricultural and Civil Engineering from Purdue University. He was named a Distinguished Engineer alumnus from each school.
Edwards, who worked in Marshall for the Soil Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, is the only engineer to hold Fellow membership recognitions in the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, American Society of Engineering Education, National Society of Professional Engineers and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology and served as a national, state and local officer on all of the organizations.
Edwards’ teaching resumé included research and administrative work in high education.
“Through teaching and advising, I have worked with many thousands of students and adults,” he wrote in his biographical submission to TAHS. “It is rewarding to see the success of the students.”
Edwards’ community work includes Kiwanis Club president, and terms on rural township and domestic water boards in Michigan and Nebraska and on city, county and state planning commissions in numerous states.
He has also traveled to all US states and more than 30 countries, conducting teaching and research workshops and overseeing international student study groups.
Edwards and his wife, Judy, a retired school teacher, have four children and 11 grandchildren.
Neal ‘Corky’ Vahle
Vahle graduated from THS in 1950 and lives in San Francisco, Calif. He is the author of 12 published books, including a hometown book on Scrapper/Panther athletics, which he worked on with Tracy’s Dick Donaldson. He also co-authored a book titled Dr. Jack on Winning Basketball with NBA Hall of Fame coach, Jack Ramsay, who died in 2014.
Other books he authored include: The Unity Movement: Its Evolution and Spiritual Teaching and A Course in Miracles: The Lives of Helen Schucman and William Thetford. He also worked with former Major League All-Star and manager Buddy Bell on the book Smart Baseball: How Professionals Play the Mental Game.
Vahle, who participated in the March on Washington in 1963 where Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, worked in the Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President during the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson (1960-66). He proposed alternatives to budget requests — alternatives that were considered by the Budget Director in making decisions on the content of the president’s budget.
Vahle got his B.A. from St. John’s in 1954 and earned his PhD from Georgetown University in 1967 and his Master’s from The Catholic University of America in 1967 and besides being a published writer, was also an educator. He served as adjunct professor at The Catholic University of America (1970-71) and George Mason University (1971-74).
Vahle said his biggest success was in developing a rationale for eliminating a $800 million submarine tender from the Navy shipbuilding program.
Vahle served as editor of World Affair, History: Review of New Books, Current, New Realities, Resource and Unity Magazine. He also supervised editorial staffs, coordinated the work of editorial boards, solicited articles and wrote, reviewed and edited manuscripts.
“The managerial skills I used in my professional life came in part from watching my mom run Vahle’s Sweet Shop from the time I was a kid,” Vahle wrote in his submission to the school. “My father began the store on Front Street in 1927, and my mom ran it from 1936, when he became postmaster, to 1949 when we sold it. I have such fond memories of downtown Tracy.”
Vahle’s community service includes serving as the first president of Our Lady Queen of Peace Federal Credit Union in Arlington and managing the political campaign of an Arlington, Va., Board of Supervisors candidate in 1963.
Vahle has three sons, one daughter and eight grandchildren, ages 10 to 25.
• • •
This year’s Outstanding Student Achievers at Tracy Area Elementary School include Devin Carter, Natalie Cook, Hailey Gernentz, Jordyn Hanson, Hannah Larson and Gina Yang.