HUNTINGTON, IN Friday, April 19, 1996 - A local couple and an internationally known recording artist will be awarded honorary degrees by Huntington College as the school celebrates its 1996 commencement exercises on May 18. The event will mark the school's 98th graduation ceremony. Don and Emmy Purviance of Huntington and contemporary Christian musician Ken Medema have been selected for the distinction.
Don Purviance will receive the Doctor of Commercial Science degree in recognition of his longtime service as industrialist, innovator, and civic leader. Mr. Purviance began his 40 year career with the Majestic Company in the accounting department and worked his way up through the ranks to become president and general manager. Ahead of his time, Mr. Purviance saw beyond the traditional distinctions between white collar and blue collar workers. He viewed all his employees as a team and rewarded them well. In 1950, Purviance pioneered a profit-sharing plan for Majestic personnel. During the quarter century Purviance headed the company, Majestic grew to become America's leading fireplace manufacturer. His success earned him the presidency of the Indiana Manufacturers Association and a directorship on the Profit-Sharing Council of America.
Mr. Purviance has shown a deep and abiding commitment to improving the quality of life in Huntington County. He has served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, the Community Chest, the Huntington Library Board, the County Development Committee, and the Huntington College Foundation. He spearheaded the establishment of the United Way in Huntington County. He has served on the boards of directors of the United Way, YMCA, Salvation Army, Huntington Hospital Foundation, Council on Aging, Junior Achievement, Red Cross, Little League, Samaritan Center, LaFontaine Country Club, Peabody Retirement Community, and Community State Bank. He is an active member of First Presbyterian Church and has served as president of the Presbyterian Foundation. He was named Chief of the Flint Springs Tribe in 1978.
His wife, Emmy, will be awarded the Doctor of Public Service degree in recognition of her own outstanding achievements. Throughout her life, Mrs. Purviance has been a model of volunteerism and neighborliness. She has served as a member and treasurer of Tri Kappa. She has served on the board of directors of the Central School PTA. She was City Area Coordinator for the March of Dimes. She has served the YMCA as a Tri-Hi-Y sponsor, a member of the board of directors, and swim team coordinator. She was actively involved in the establishment of the Dan Quayle Center and Museum.
Mrs. Purviance's efforts to preserve historic Huntington landmarks are well known. She has been an active member of the Huntington Historic Review Board and Huntington Alert. She has served on the board of directors of the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. In the 1980's, Mrs. Purviance spearheaded the renovation and restoration of the abandoned LaFontaine Hotel in downtown Huntington. She served as development chair, and later, president of the board of the LaFontaine Center, a 66-apartment senior citizen apartment complex now located in the historic hotel building.
Mrs. Purviance was named Chief of the Flint Springs Tribe in 1987. She has also been recognized by the Herald-Press as the newspaper's first Huntington County Citizen of the Year. The Governor of Indiana bestowed on her the state's highest distinction, naming her Sagamore of the Wabash.
Ken Medema will receive the Doctor of Humanities degree. Medema, who will deliver the commencement address at Huntington College this year, is an extraordinary Christian musician, poet, and entertainer. Medema effectively demonstrates that music can be used to do far more than entertain. On stage, Medema becomes motivator, teacher, futurist, drill sergeant, trainer, host, cheerleader, prophet, insightful friend, and member of the family. A master of improvisation, Medema will ask for an idea or story from the audience and then compose a song on the spot. Whether delivered as pop, rock, rhythm-and-blues, rap, or a traditional hymn, Medema's songs always touch the heart.
Medema began his ministry of music in 1970 when he started composing original material for his work as a music therapist in a psychiatric hospital. He now performs his unique artistry full time around the world. Medema appreciates the diverse ways in which people express themselves musically and uses a rich variety of styles to share his concerns for the planet, the nuclear arms race, social justice, and human spirituality. Blind from birth, he understands the importance of inclusivity and sensitively seeks to challenge his listeners to dream and work for a world of justice and peace.
Medema's commencement address will be entitled "Let's Pretend." He will draw his remarks from Joel 2:28-29, "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit." Medema will deliver his challenge to the graduates in song, blending poignant stories with his own unique musical stylings.
Commencement will begin at 3 p.m. May 18 on the front campus lawn. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved to the Merillat Complex for Physical Education and Recreation. The public is cordially invited to attend.
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