Charlie Cardinal and students cheer on the Cardinals

Editor’s Note: The following class notes reflect news about Ball State alumni that was received and processed during Fall 2020 semester and published in our Winter 2021 print issue of Ball State University Alumni magazine.


Gary Wasson, ’68, Fort Wayne, IN, was honored in August 2020 with Indiana’s Circle of Corydon Award, which recognizes Hoosiers for remarkable contributions to the betterment of Indiana and its people. Wasson served as executive director of the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission, director of operations for the Grand Wayne Center, Park Board commissioner, and as a board member of the Southwood Park Neighborhood Association. He championed establishment of a convention center and park at the center of the city, spurring the interest from hotels and restaurants. He also helped bring Fort Wayne’s minor league baseball team to its downtown.


Peter Joffre Nye, ’72, Oak Harbor, WA, a freelance journalist, noted the release of a second edition of Hearts of Lions: The History of American Bicycle Racing in May 2020 by University of Nebraska Press. The book builds on the 1988 edition published by W.W. Norton. Nye has been published in more than 100 publications, including the Washington Post, USA Today, Humanities Magazine, and Sports Illustrated.

Renee Tobia Patterson, ’79, Gary, IN, and her husband, Archie, are entering their 32nd year managing rental properties at their company, Tobia Investments LLC, in northwest Indiana. Having acquired and sold almost 100 properties, they maintain a steady portfolio of 20 to 30 properties. “We have found that there is a huge need in the community for decent, affordable and well-kept housing for many people looking to live comfortably until they can afford to purchase,” Patterson said.


Catherine J. Rush, ’80, Wickliffe, OH, wrote In Pursuit of Danny: A Life-Changing Encounter with a Baby, a book about a child with disabilities in the 1960s, published by Covenant Books. She is president of Knowhere2turn and co-owner of Twisted Sisters Handmade Treasures.

Jim Keller, MA ’82, New Fairfield, CT, co-writer of the play A Pitch from Satchel Paige with his father, Loren, was the winner of the New York New Works Festival in Manhattan. The two-act, one-character theatrical play portrays Paige, the great Negro leagues pitcher who preceded Jackie Robinson and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as its first electee of the Committee on Negro Baseball Leagues in 1971.

Jeffrey L. Wyckoff, ’84, Fort Wayne, IN, was promoted to assistant vice president, field examination officer for Lake City Bank in Warsaw, IN, the sixth largest bank headquartered in the state.


David L. Hildebrand, ’91, Seymour, IN, owner of a fitness center in Salem, IN, and his wife Melissa, a defense attorney, have co-authored You Matter — Your Personal Health Revolution, released in May 2020. The self-help book explores reasons people choose to be, or not to be, healthy and offers long-term approaches for sustaining good health.

Henry O. Hall, ’93, Fort Wayne, IN, president of Skytech Products Group, received an Award of Distinction from the Miller College of Business in 2020. He was one of four alumni honored.

Shelley Meador, ’93, Indianapolis, senior vice president and chief human resource officer at Allegion, PLC, received an Award of Achievement from the Miller College of Business in 2020. She was one of four alumni honored.

Mark Hardwick, ’93 MBA ’99, Muncie, IN, now leads First Merchants Corporation as CEO. Hardwick, a member of Ball State University’s Board of Trustees and a former Ball State men’s basketball player, also serves as a board member of Meridian Health Services, Cardinal Properties Inc., the Miller College of Business Advisory Board, and on the investment committee of the Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County.

Jan Behounek, ’96, La Grange, IL, has joined FGM Architects as a principal, working in the firm’s Chicago office on higher education projects and business development. She is a board member of the Chicago Building Congress.

Julie Beasley, ’97, Houston has authored two children’s books on hurricanes. H Is for Harvey, released in 2018, portrays the struggles, heartaches and compassion of those caught in Hurricane Harvey’s rising waters. My Name Is a Hurricane?, released in August 2020, gives children context on why hurricanes are named, who names them, and more.


development for Omaha Steaks. Prior to joining the company nearly five years ago, he held leadership roles at Gordmans Stores and Kohl’s Department Stores.

In our Summer 2020 issue, we incorrectly reported on the current job of Ball State Alumni Council President Kelli Lawrence, ’01. She is, in fact, CEO of an Indianapolis-based home building company. We apologize for the error.

Lucy Riles, ’02, Woodland Hills, CA, published author and podcast host, teamed up with her dog, Duchess, to compete on The Pack, a global adventure series celebrating the bond between 12 teams of dogs and their humans. Hosted by gold medalist skier Lindsey Vonn, The Pack premiered on Amazon Prime Video worldwide Nov. 20, 2020. Riles’ latest book, Mom vs. Dad: Whose Side Are You On?, co-authored with her husband, Tom, was also released in November 2020.

Jonathan Lamb, ’04, Yorktown, IN, was named Small Business Administration and United States Department of Agriculture Business and Industry business development officer for North State Bank’s government lending division. A former commodity floor trader, commercial real estate developer, and public speaker, he authored a best-selling book on economics.

Matthew D. Sparling, ’05, Fort Wayne, IN, a principal with MKM architecture + design, received The American Institute of Architects’ Indiana Young Architect Award for 2020. The award recognizes proficiency and exceptional accomplishments of licensed, member architects 40 years or younger. Sparling was recognized for developing design solutions to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Walter Litzlbauer Jr., ’06, Indianapolis, is the owner of A-TIN Transport services, an acronym for “Assisting Those In Need.” “And we truly try to assist those in need,” said Litzlbauer, an avid volunteer since 2008 involved in youth sports and coaching with the Municipal Gardens and the Dad’s Club at Riverside in Indianapolis.

Meredith McGriff, ’07, Bloomington, IN, CEO of Hoosier Films, a regional film distribution company, headed up the Hoosier Films Annual Festival — presented completely online in September 2020. The festival featured the work of several Ball State students and alums: Purple by Erin McDowell, ’12; Cold Creek, directed by Dylan Query, ’19; and Popsy, directed by Jac Kessler, ’11 MA ’19. In 2020, Hoosier Films launched its channel on Roku to make its regional streaming service more accessible on televisions.

Justin Proctor, ’08 and ’10, Liberty, IN made Independent Banker magazine’s annual list of 40 Under 40: Emerging Community Bank Leaders. The honor bestowed by Independent Community Bankers of America recognizes the nation’s up-and-coming community bank innovators and influencers. Proctor, executive vice president and director of lending at Bath State Bank in Bath, IN, was recognized for his passion in supporting his customers and communities during the pandemic. He is a member of Ball State University Young Alumni Board.


Michael Butler, ‘05 MBA ’11, Muncie, chief technology officer at First Merchants, a financial services holding company in Central Indiana, received an Award of Achievement from the Miller College of Business in 2020. He was one of four alumni honored.

Jeffrey Payne, ’11, Muncie, IN, director of program management for Progress Rail, a Caterpillar Company, received an Award of Achievement from the Miller College of Business in 2020. He was one of four alumni honored.

Angela M. Parks, ’12, Greensboro, NC, is employed in Danville, VA, as a social work therapist and mental health therapist. Before relocating last Fall with her family, she mentored and life-coached women from diverse backgrounds referred by partnering agencies in Muncie.