Morenci Distinguished Alumni 04.07.10

Written by David Green.

Three Morenci alumni will be honored April 17 at the annual Morenci Education Foundation dinner. A graduate from the 1940s, one from the 1950s and one from the 1980s are in line to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award.

William Van Arsdalen

1947 graduate William Van Arsdalen earned a degree in education from Albion College, then joined the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He later earned a master’s degree from Michigan State University.

His teaching career began at the Chesterfield school southeast of Morenci. Bill later taught in Brooklyn, Mich., and finished his 42-year career in Hillsdale.

He taught history, physical education and mathematics at the middle school level and also served as a boys and girls basketball coach.

He led the staff at Hillsdale’s Davis Middle School for 14 years as the school principal. In 1994 he was chosen by his colleagues as Teacher of the Year.

Upon retiring in 1994, Bill rejoined the Kiwanis Club and traveled throughout Michigan as a district governor and lieutenant governor.

Bill has been involved with the Hillsdale United Methodist Church, Hillsdale County Senior Citizen Board, United Way of Hillsdale County, Hillsdale County Fair Board and Hillsdale Community School Board of Education.

In 1956 he married Joan Guss from Hudson and they are the parents of a son and a daughter.

Glen Smith

Glen Smith was the valedictorian of the Class of 1954. He went on to earn a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate from the University of Michigan, studying chemical engineering.

Glen spent his career working as a research scientist with the Mead Paper Corporation in Chillicothe, Ohio. He developed national and international patents for paper pulp processing and traveled the world as a corporate consultant. He also served on several professional societies in his field.

Glen volunteers in a variety of civic and church organizations, ranging from the annual Gus Macker basketball tournament to community musical and theatrical performances. He recently began working with the Stephen Ministries which trains lay people to assist others in need.

Glen is also a skilled woodworker who has built items to benefit non-profit organizations.

Glen married Carolyn Boyers of Wauseon in 1959 and they are the parents of four children.

Janice Clelland Donnell

Janice Donnell earned a degree in geography/earth science from Central Michigan University following graduation from Morenci Area High School in 1983.

She also served with the National Guard signal battalion in Adrian. After her marriage in 1988, she served as a National Guard platoon leader with a maintenance battalion in Carthage, N.Y., earning second lieutenant rank as a reserve commissioned officer.

Annual training resulted in deployment to Germany and Italy. She earned a master’s degree in education in Hawaii.

While living in New York, she served as a community development coordinator with a county planning department. The Donnells now live in Virginia where Janice works as a substitute teacher.

At the many communities where the Donnells have lived, Janice has served as an elementary school volunteer, a Sunday School teacher, an Awana Kids leader and as a volunteer with Mothers of Preschoolers and Moms in Touch. She was formerly involved with a prison ministry project and her family still entertains residents of nursing homes.

Janice and her husband, Chuck, are the parents of two daughters.

Guests have until April 10 to sign up for dinner tickets. Tickets can now be purchased with a credit card at the foundation website (

The auction fund-raiser will begin around 7 p.m. The public is invited to the auction even if not attending the dinner.

 Adam and Gail

 Morenci graduates aren’t the only people to be honored at the April 17 Morenci Education Foundation dinner. A pair of distinguished transplants will also be commended.
Adam and Gail Johnson lived in Garden City, Mich., Springfield, Ill., and Washington, D.C., before taking the lead from Adam’s brother—a Gamble’s store owner in Chelsea—and purchasing the Gambles hardware store in Morenci in 1980.
Their immersion into Morenci life includes Adam’s role with the local and county United Way, the Kiwanis Club and the Rex Riley Scholarship project. He also served on the Morenci Board of Education.
Adam and Gail have both been active in the Morenci Business Association (now Chamber of Commerce) and Gail was instrumental in leading the annual community-wide garage sale effort.
Gail was also a member of the Morenci Child Study Club and taught mathematics at Siena Heights University.
The Johnsons’ children Ron and Jennifer are both Morenci graduates.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016