On Tuesday evening, at the annual banquet, the Neosho Schools Charitable Foundation honored two men, one as Distinguished Alumnus and the other as Distinguished Educator for 2019.
Tom Higdon, a 1963 graduate of Neosho High School, was named Distinguished Alumnus. Higdon continued his education at Joplin Junior College, (now MSSU) earning an Associate degree in 1965 and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Missouri Southern State College in 1967.
Higdon served in the United States Army from 1967-1970 in Vietnam where he was an officer who worked in military intelligence. He received a Bronze Star with oak leaf clusters for his service. He married Gail Garner in 1966.
After his service, Higdon returned to Neosho and job at Bank of Neosho, which became Community Bank and Trust. He retired in 2016 with 51 years of service at the bank.
On the civic scene, Higdon has always been active. He has served as past commander of the American Legion post in Neosho, as past president and member of both the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce and the Lions Club. He is a member of both the Neosho Masonic Lodge and Neosho Shrine Club. For the past 40 years, he has led the New Teachers Tour each August, welcoming new educators to Neosho. He's also been active in the Newtonia Battlefield Association. Higdon is also an avid historian.
"There are three things I've developed throughout my life," Higdon said. "One is certainly service to my community, well communities, Neosho and Newtonia. Many of you know I love history and I've spoken to many organizations and schools. There's nothing better than talking to students, to see someone's eyes light up in the audience. I love that. The third thing that means a lot to me is family and friends."
Long time Neosho math teacher George Morehead was honored as Distinguished Educator.
Morehead graduated from Chanute High School in 1958. He served in the United States Air Force from 1961-65. He then received an education degree from Pittsburg State University in 1968 followed by a Masters in Math, also from PSU in 1972.
He taught at Osawatomie, Kansas from 1968-1979 and moved to Neosho in 1979.
At Neosho High School, Morehead taught math to generations of students from 1979-2010. He also taught courses at Crowder College for 28 years.
As a volunteer, Morehead works with Faithful Friends Animal Advocates, as a Bright Futures lunch buddy with Neosho students, with Meals on Wheels and Boy Scouts.
Neosho Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jim Cummins introduced Morehead.
"It's my pleasure to introduce Mr. George Morehead. He inspired me, like so many others, to love math. I was fortunate to have wonderful teachers who allowed me to respect my love of math. What was great about Mr. Morehead is that he wanted everyone to learn math. He was a patient man, an encourager, someone who was loved and respected by those who didn't love math."
Both Higdon and Morehead received plaques in honor of the recognitions along with a standing ovation from the crowd.
Dr. Phillip Witt, Associate Vice-President of the Crowder College CTEC Program served as the keynote speaker. He spoke about the need in the workforce for young people to be educated in trades, equally important to an academic education.
The banquet was well-attended by around 80 people.