The Aksarben Court of Honor will welcome six new members during this year’s Aksarben Coronation & Scholarship Ball.
“As individuals, our 2017 honorees have been exemplary in service, leadership and giving,” said Aksarben Women’s Ball Committee chairwoman Karen Nelsen, whose committee plans and runs the coronation and ball. “As a group, you can see how fortunate we are to live in such a generous and engaged community.”
The Aksarben Coronation Ball Committee and the Women’s Ball Committee jointly announced the honorees’ names. The coronation is scheduled Oct. 28 at Baxter Arena.
This year’s honorees:
John E. Christensen
John E. Christensen, chancellor emeritus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, will be inducted in the Education category.
Christensen retired last month after capping his 40-year education career with 10 years as UNO chancellor. An Omaha native, he previously served UNO as a vice chancellor, dean, department chairman and faculty member.
Academic expansion and campus development were hallmarks of his time as chancellor. New buildings were constructed and others renovated. UNO also became a doctoral-granting university. In athletics, the university completed a transition to Division I from Division II. Enrollment, retention, graduation rates and other indicators hit highs.
Along the way, Christensen fostered partnerships between the university and other organizations that enhanced support and services for students, including those who were the first in their family to attend college.
Christensen, the first UNO alumnus to become chancellor, earned a master’s degree there in 1974.
He and his wife, Jan, have been married nearly 45 years.
Betsy and Robert Reed
Betsy and Robert “Bob” Reed will be honored in the Business and Industry category.
Bob Reed, executive chairman of Omaha-based Physicians Mutual Insurance Co., was 35 and working his way up the company’s management ladder in 1974 when his father-in-law, company president Frederick Rahn, died in an auto accident.
A few days later, Reed was named president and chief operating officer. He led the company for 40 years.
During that time, Physicians Mutual’s insurance offerings expanded and the company also expanded its operations to all 50 states.
Reed’s volunteer efforts have helped organizations including the Boy Scouts of America, Mid-America Council; College of St. Mary; Creighton University; Creighton Prep; Stratcom Consultation Committee; and United Way of the Midlands. He is an emeritus member of the Aksarben Board of Governors.
His wife, Betsy Jo Rahn Reed, is a former second-grade teacher who later became a full-time homemaker and community volunteer. Her work has benefited such Omaha-area organizations as the Assistance League of Omaha, Catholic Charities, Creighton Prep, Duchesne Academy, Omaha Community Playhouse and Omaha Symphony.
Carol and Dave Van Metre
Carol and Dave Van Metre will join the Court of Honor in the Service to Youth category. Carol will be inducted posthumously.
Dave, of Mount Vernon, Iowa, arrived in Denver in 1955 to play football at Colorado College. The couple met at the school and married in 1960. Carol earned a bachelor’s degree in art education the same year and taught elementary school in Denver, her hometown.
In 1967 the couple arrived in Omaha, where Dave began a career in investing with Chiles, Heider & Co. and successor firms until he retired in 2004. Until 2000, he also was a co-owner of Travel and Transport, which the Heider firm acquired in 1974.
In their youth, Dave and Carol both excelled at sports.
She was an accomplished equestrian. His honors included being named Player of the Year for the Rocky Mountain Region in 1959, the same year he received an honorable mention for All-American and was named All-Conference Receiver.
In retirement, the couple became known for leading fundraising efforts to build or renovate 25 Omaha fields, stadiums and tennis courts.
The Van Metres also ensured that new weight equipment was installed at Omaha-area Boys & Girls Clubs, in all Omaha School District high schools and middle schools, and at Mount Vernon High School.
Omaha psychologist Jack Stark is an honoree in the Sports category.
A Hastings, Nebraska, native, Stark began his career at Lincoln Public Schools, where he helped children with behavior disorders. Later, he worked for the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Physicians Clinic as director of medical psychology.
A move to sport psychology in 1989 was the beginning of 15 years as team psychologist for Husker football. For the past 14 years, Stark has worked with Hendrick Motorsports, which has a NASCAR race team.
His passion for sports work led him to help athletes at Creighton University, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, many Nebraska high schools and schools in other states. Team dynamics, games and practices are a focus of that work, but Stark also has assisted players with personal and mental health issues.
For 30 years, he has provided free services to Omaha-area high school athletes for a minimum of 30 hours a week.
Stark’s accomplishments have included helping professional and college sports teams achieve 20 national championships, authoring the book “The Championship Formula (How to Transform Your Team into a Dynasty)” and delivering more than 1,000 teamwork and leadership presentations.
Jack has been married to Shirley for 46 years.
ON THE CALENDAR
Golf Fore Kids, Child Saving Institute, Players Club at Deer Creek, $750/foursome, childsaving.org/golfforekids.
Liberty Mutual Golf Invitational, Nebraska Kidney Association, Iron Horse Golf Club in Ashland, $1,200/noncompetitive team, $1,400/competitive team, 402-932-7200 or kidneyne.org.
RiteCare Classic Golf Tournament, Scottish Rite Foundation of Omaha, Pacific Springs Golf Course, $100, scottishriteomaha.org/golf.
Flight for Excellence Golf Tournament, Skutt Catholic High School, Tiburon Golf Course, $120, skuttcatholic.com.
Links to a Cure Dinner and Golf Benefit, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation-Nebraska Chapter, Embassy Suites La Vista and Arborlinks in Nebraska City, $200, 402-330-6164.
Remembering Our Fallen Fundraiser, Patriotic Productions, Starlite Ballroom in Wahoo, $50, Bill Williams, 402-612-0210.
A. Len Leavitt Swing with Pride Golf Open, Roncalli Catholic High School, Players Club at Deer Creek, $150, 402-571-7670, ext. 111.
Help Build a House Golf Event, Gesu Housing, Champions Run, $150, 402-614-4776.
AFA Golf Scramble, Air Force Association, Willow Lakes Golf Course, $70, Bill Mavity, 402-960-1525.
Championship Luncheon featuring Gabby Douglas, Nebraska Families Collaborative, Lauritzen Gardens, $75, nebraskafc.org.
Stephen Center Golf and Give, Stephen Center, Shadow Ridge, $200, 402-715-5445.
Lincoln’s Finest, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation-Nebraska Chapter, The Jasmine Room at The Grand Manse in Lincoln, $75, 402-330-6164.
Jesuit Academy Golf Tournament, Jesuit Academy, Indian Creek Golf Course, $150, jesuitacademy.org.
Swing for Scholarships, Nebraska Methodist College, Eagle Hills Golf Course, $380/foursome, 402-354-7256.
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