Colby Community College announced the individuals who will be welcomed to the CCC Alumni Hall of Fame. The class of 2018 includes former instructor Vernon Wranosky, long-time friends and supporters Lois and the late David Ferguson, softball All-American Heather Chatwood, and All-American baseball player Jason Chatwood.
A reception will be held in their honor from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17, in the lower level of the Colby Community Building. A brief plaque presentation is scheduled between the CCC men’s and women’s basketball games that evening at approximately 7:30.
The Colby Community College Alumni Hall of Fame was established in 2012.
Each year a committee selects individuals or couples who have made a substantial contribution to the college through personal time, effort and interest, or have contributed in a significant way to the lives of others after being part of Colby Community College.
Wranosky instructed CCC biological sciences for 36 years. His first position after graduating from the University of Nebraska was a one-year stint instructing biological sciences at North Platte Community College to cover for an instructor on sabbatical. When he was notified the primary instructor was returning, Wranosky searched for another teaching post during a time when the competition was heavy.
“We sent out 300 letters of application and received two responses,” he said. “One from a high school in Illinois and the other was from Colby Community College.”
Wranosky and wife Linda came to Colby in the fall of 1971. He was hired to teach microbiology and principles of biology, but over the years the farm boy from Washington County, Kan., added several classes to his grade books including genetics, botany, mammalogy, dendrology and others.
Together with his science department neighbor, chemistry instructor Dr. Max Pickerill, Wranosky was able to help students after they graduated from CCC by recommending them for scholarships.
“Max had some good connections in the engineering department at K-State, and I recommended students at the KU School of Pharmacy.”
Wranosky sat on the selection committee for the open chemistry position in 1974. He recalls Pickerill’s response to college president James Tangeman’s closing question.
“At the end of the interview, Dr. Tangeman asked Max why he was qualified for the position,” Wranosky chuckled. “Max said, ‘Because I’m the best damn chemistry instructor in Kansas!’ And he was.”
Wranosky retired in 2005. Since then, he has served on the CCC Endowment Foundation board. He and Linda, now married 54 years, established a scholarship benefitting biology majors. They have two children, son Vernon III, a mechanical engineer for Burns & McDonnell in Shawnee, and Shannon Heintz, a high school biological sciences instructor in Abilene. Vernon III and Shannon are graduates of CCC.
David and Lois Ferguson
The Ferguson name has been part of Colby Community College since the institution opened its doors.
Ferguson’s parents, W.D. and Clara Daniels Ferguson, were great supporters of CCC at its inception. Ferguson Hall was one of the original buildings on campus.
“David’s parents believed in education,” Lois said. "They both earned degrees from Washburn College, and it was rare for a married couple to both have degrees in 1913.”
David had an appreciation for different perspectives.
“He felt young people at the college need to get diverse views,” she said. “They want to find jobs, but they also need to be able to think critically and be able to express their ideas.”
David and Lois grew up in Colby and attended Colby High School. David moved away for a time and earned a degree from Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.
Although David and Lois eventually moved to Colorado for business interests, they returned to Colby to visit family and friends.
Lois still owns a home in Colby today and visits when she can.
“A small community is the way to go,” she said. “I cherish my small town upbringing.”
Heather Ebert Chatwood attended CCC from 2004-06 as a member of the softball team.
She played for the late coach Carl Adams, who was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame in 2016.
“I will always remember Coach Adams and many of the lessons he taught us,” Chatwood said. “He always called the field his ‘woman’ and would drive around on the quad dragging the infield to ‘take care of her.’ My favorite quote from him is, ’Talk is cheap.’ He said this to us on numerous occasions when we couldn’t quite get it together on the field.”
The infielder from Saskatchewan, Canada, graduated and transferred to Adams State University in Alamosa, Colo. At ASU, her 22 home runs led the nation during her senior year. She also was also the 2008 Daktronics NCAA Division II Player of the Year, South Central Region Player of the Year, 2008 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Academic Player of the Year, First Team Academic All-American and the RMAC Academic Player of the Year. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Performance and Physical Education with a minor in psychology. In 2017, she was inducted into the ASU Hall of Fame.
Her stellar softball career continued after returning home to Canada. She was a Canadian national softball team member from 2010-13, the final year serving as team co-captain. She was a 2010 International Softball Federation World Championship bronze medalist and also earned a silver medal during the 2011 Pan American Games.
Today, she resides in Red Deer, Alberta, with husband and 2018 CCC Hall of Fame inductee Jason Chatwood. The couple met in 2005 while attending CCC and married in 2014. Heather is a middle school teacher currently on maternity leave staying home with their two boys, Tucker and Owen.
Second baseman Jason Chatwood played for the Trojans from 2005-07. He holds CCC career records in at-bats (414) and hits (161) as well as single-season records for at-bats (218) and hits (89). His sophomore season he was a unanimous selection for both first-team All-Jayhawk West and first-team All-Region VI. He also took home the Region VI Gold Glove Award at second base. Nationally, he was a third-team All-American and a member of the All-Academic team.
“I am extremely thankful to have played for Ryan Carter and assistant Matt Dickson,” he said. “I will never forget our playoff run in 2006 and coming one game away from the World Series.”
After graduating, the Alberta, Canada, native transferred to Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. Chatwood started in every game as a Bulldog, playing shortstop his junior year and moving to third base as a senior. In 2009 his Zags team won the West Coast Conference regular-season title and got an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by winning the West Coast Conference Championship series. He was named to the West Coast All-Academic Team.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education as well as a teaching certificate, he stayed for the 2010 season as a graduate assistant coach. He returned home and played for team Canada at the 2013 World Baseball Challenge and has since participated in several national championships playing Senior AAA with the Red Deer Riggers.
As much as he enjoyed playing baseball at Colby, he also appreciates his time in the classroom.
“Some of my best memories in school were in my science classes with Pick. He was an avid baseball supporter. I also enjoyed the many math classes I had with Mr. Olsen.”
Now, Chatwood is the head instructor and teacher at a brand new baseball-softball academy at St Joseph’s High School in Red Deer. Occasionally, Heather takes a break from watching their two sons and heads to the academy to assist with softball instruction.
“We are very thankful for the opportunities CCC presented to us as we are both from Canada but quite possibly would not have met if we didn’t pursue our baseball and softball passions in Colby.”