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Nancy Evanson and Tom Evanson.  Courtesy photos.

(May 19, 2023 2:14 PM) Jackson College awarded honors to outstanding alumni and community members at the Jackson Honors Night celebration during graduation week, recognizing recipients of the Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Distinguished Alumni Award, the Captain Zenneth A. Pond Emerging Alumni Award, and the Jackson College Distinguished Service Award.

Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Distinguished Alumni Award

Thomas ‘67 & Nancy ’68  Evanson

Tom and Nancy Evanson have served Jackson County with distinction both professionally and personally for decades. Both started their higher education journeys at Jackson College after graduating from Michigan Center High School, and they are grateful for the foundation it provided.

“Without Jackson College as a starting point, it would have been difficult for either of us to have gone on to college immediately,” Thomas said. “It provided a great core educational experience for when we went on to a four-year school.”

The Evansons have been married 53 years and have two adult children and six grandchildren, who also all live in Jackson.

Thomas Evanson

Thomas Evanson has years of experience as an investment and business advisor. He works as a financial consultant with TKT Consulting, Inc. Previously, he was chief financial officer at Melling Tool Co. for 20 years, where he managed the financial health of a multi-national, family-owned company. Since 1970, he has been licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in Michigan, served as controller for Gelman Sciences, and accountant for Ernest & Ernest, a national CPA firm.

The Jackson native has served as a board member and/or trustee for many local groups: former director of Allegiance Hospital, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, John George Junior Student Loan Fund, Jackson YMCA, Jackson Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Center Alumni Scholarship Fund (founding and current administrator). 

Nancy Evanson

Nancy Evanson gave of her time and talent as a teacher and leader helping children to learn. She taught kindergarten through second grade and was a gifted and talented instructor at Napoleon Community Schools. She also taught second grade at Michigan Center Schools.

As a teacher in early elementary school, she observed how many students struggled with reading, writing, and essential life skills. She was a certified reading recovery instructor and certified reading specialist. Upon retirement, she developed a reading program, calling it “Level Library,” which today is part of area school libraries. She has been a leveled reading advocate and fund raiser/donor with both Jackson Public Library and Napoleon Schools.

Caring for her community, Evanson served as a troop leader and fund raiser/donor for Girl Scouts of America. She has also volunteered for PEO (Philanthropic Educational Organization) in Jackson. She graduated from Michigan Center in 1966, graduated from Jackson College in 1968 and from the University of Michigan in 1970 with her bachelor’s degree in education.

2023 Captain Zenneth A. Pond Emerging Alumni Award

Ridge Bollheimer

Ridge Bollheimer ’16 has founded three businesses and keeps busy building them all.

A farm store and farm-raised meat can be found at Lane View Farm LLC in Cement City.

Hunter’s Ridge Services, LLC, is Bollheimer’s auctioneering service. The 2023 Michigan Auctioneering Champion got his start in auctioneering after participating in 4-H animal auction. He has served as auctioneer at the Jackson College Sportsman’s Banquet which raises funds for baseball and athletics. He is also chair for the Hillsdale County Farm Bureau Young Farmers.

With his fiancé, Lindsay Meckley, they operate Sunshine Acres Trail, LLC, a farm with 14 acres of sunflowers for photography, exploring the sunflower trail, and offers country concerts.  

Between the three businesses, Bollheimer employees seasonally, about 10 part-time employees. If that is not enough, in the fall, he serves as a hunting guide for the Legends Ranch north of Grand Rapids.  

“I like the flexibility of having our own businesses; the harder we work, the more reward.  I love what I do and am very thankful for that,” he said. He credits his fiancé Lindsay – whose family owns Meckley’s Flavor Fruit Farm – for helping in all aspects of the business. Their partnership is part of their success. 

Bollheimer is a Napoleon High School graduate who earned his Associate in Business Administration from Jackson College.

2023 Distinguished Service Award

Ron Douglass

For launching the “band that was waiting to happen,” Jackson College recognizes the director who made it happen, Ron Douglass.

After teaching at Michigan Center schools for 19 years, the summer of 1987 brought Douglass new opportunities. First, Jackson Symphony Orchestra Director Stephen Osmond asked if he would put together a band for an outdoor concert. An invitation to local musicians went out, and a group of about 70 performed at Ella Sharp Park.

Shortly after, Lloyd Weldy, director of the Potter Center, asked Douglass why he hadn’t applied for the music position at Jackson Community College. Weldy took Ron up to the balcony of the Harold Sheffer Music Hall and asked if he could “imagine a concert band on the stage.” The College hired Douglass, who then began a new chapter in his teaching career. Potter Center patrons who played an instrument were invited to the first rehearsal. A full band was born from that first night! After the band’s first concert, a review dubbed the group ‘’the band waiting to happen.”

Douglass taught Music Theory, and Music Understanding, created two musicology courses, created the African Drum Ensemble, directed jazz activities, team-taught humanities and served as department chair. Oh, and the concert band!

In addition, Douglass served as principal trombonist of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra for 48 years. He created Trombonefest in 1985, unique to Jackson and one of the outdoor summer concert series.

Ron and Chloe have been married for 53 years. They have three adult children, Robert, Cora and Peter. Another son, Henry, was lost in an auto accident in 1998. Following his retirement in 2010, Douglass continued to conduct the Concert Band until 2016. Today he is happily a member of the trombone section.

2023 Distinguished Service Award

Dr. Edward Mathein

Dr. Edward Mathein ‘61 is a lifelong advocate for education and is widely known in Jackson, where he was born and raised. The impressive list of his accomplishments includes 38 years of dedicated leadership at Jackson College. That service began with the Alumni Association and the Jackson College Foundation Board of Directors. From there he went on to serve with distinction on the Board of Trustees for nearly 25 of those years, serving as Board Chair from 2008-2012.

He graduated in 1961 from Jackson Junior College and practiced dentistry for 50 years until his retirement and continues to serve at the Center for Family Health Dental Clinic.

Mathein is deeply committed to giving back to his community, seeing it as a way to show gratitude for their support. Growing up in a family of teachers and being an alumnus himself, he appreciates the value of education, a cause close to his heart. During his tenure as trustee, he represented the College on the Michigan Community College Association Board and as MCCA state treasurer. In 2019, he was honored with the Trustee Leadership Award from the Central Region of the Association of Community College Trustees.

Over the years, he has served many community organizations, including the Jaycees, Lions Club, United Way, Michigan Heart Association, Starr Commonwealth Advisory Council and more. For his service, Dr. Mathein received the Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Distinguished Alumni Award from the College in 1996, the same year he was nominated for Jackson Citizen of the Year. He received both the Jackson Host Lions Distinguished Service award for 2010-2011 and Lion of the Year award for the Central District in 2017. Upon finishing his service to the Jackson College Board of Trustees, he was appointed Trustee Emeritus.

He is married to Jeanine, and they have two adult daughters.

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