Colby Community College alumnus Mark Winger will posthumously be awarded the honorary associate degree during commencement on May 17 at the Colby Event Center. A committee of college employees selects the recipient to highlight an individual's distinguished contributions to Colby Community College and Thomas County.

Raised on a farm in Johnson, Kan., Winger graduated from Stanton County High School before completing a degree at Colby Community College. He continued his education at West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M University) in Canyon, Texas, where he was honored as the Outstanding Senior in the Division of Agriculture. Later, while raising a family and working full time, he earned a master's degree in agribusiness from Kansas State University.

Winger married his high school sweetheart Tonya in 1986, and they moved to Wayne, Neb., where Mark began his banking career.

"He always went home to the family farm to help with harvest," said Tonya. "During one of those trips, he stopped in Colby to visit his former Colby Community College instructor, Virgil Jones. Virgil convinced him to apply for a job at the Federal Land Bank in Colby. Mark got the job, and within a couple of weeks, we moved to Colby and made it our permanent home."

The couple raised their family in Colby. They had three sons: Chaz (Dakota) of Oakley, Zane (Morgan) of Sterling, Colo., and Gage (Kinley) of Colby. They also have five grandchildren: Kobee, Easton, Archer, Mesa, and Canyon.

Mark continued his career with Farm Credit of Western Kansas for 30 years, serving as Chief Credit Officer at the time of his passing on Dec. 16, 2020.

"Mark loved learning and always had stacks of notebooks filled with personal goals and topics he was researching," Tonya said. "He was an avid reader and a big supporter of the Pioneer Memorial Library and its book sales! He was fond of historical and aeronautical museums, exploring the state of Kansas and the world. He enjoyed a sailing trip in the Caribbean, as well as international trips to China, Africa, and India."

Winger served his community in many ways. He assisted with and supported Colby athletics at all levels. His civic work could be seen in the Colby Rotary, where he was named a Paul Harris Fellow. In leadership, he was on the Prairie Museum of Art and History board, was president of the Chamber of Commerce, board chairman and director of the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership (KARL) organization, and a Thomas County Leadership graduate. CCC knew him well through his terms on the Board of Trustees and the Endowment Foundation board.

"Mark was very proud to have graduated from Colby Community College," Tonya added. "He will always be remembered for his smile, his kindness, and his generosity. He loved life, and he loved serving others."

The fifty-ninth Colby Community College commencement ceremony begins at 6 p.m. on May 17. It will be streamed on