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Oscar W. Neale Fellowship

Hero Awards

Initially started as a scholarship created and funded by the friends and family of Casey Gazdik, a health promotion/wellness major who was suddenly struck ill and died from blastomycosis (a rare lung infection) in 2001, was transformed into the Hero Award. Starting in 2016, we started offering two CPS Hero Awards! One recognizes a student hero and a second award recognizes a faculty/staff hero.

Student Hero Award

The Student Hero Award honors one College of Professional Studies student each year who has done something heroic. In some cases the recipient has overcome a challenge, in other cases they have been advocates for something bigger than themselves, and in yet other cases, they have helped someone in need. The award will include a $1,000 scholarship.

Emma (Dix) Geiser

School of Education

Emma founded Operation Sparkle, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering the lives of area high school girls for a prom experience–free of charge.

Lada Xiong-Vang


Lada is leaving a positive impact on her community for future generations by applying what she is learning as a graduate student to economic development projects in Wausau.

Jason Bush

School of Education


Jose Saul Vasquez

School of Business and Economics

Jose has a passion for service and helping others and founded a non-profit, Sharing Joy, to honor the memory of his sister.

Madyson Main

Demonstrating consistent determination to serve the greater good and those in need, Madyson traveled to a special needs orphanage in Romania to work with children with severe physical, mental and emotional challenges.
Oscar W. Neale Fellowship

Student Hero Award

The Student Hero Award honors one College of Professional Studies student each year who has done something heroic. In some cases the recipient has overcome a challenge, in other cases they have been advocates for something bigger than themselves, and in yet other cases, they have helped someone in need. The award will include a $1,000 scholarship.

Honored Heroes – Student

Casey was a UWSP health promotion/wellness major in 2001 when he was suddenly struck ill and died from blastomycosis. Casey loved the outdoors and was an avid hunter and fisherman. This scholarship was created by his friends at UWSP and initial funding came from a walk-a-thon organized by Casey’s friends and classmates

David Hurlbut (1934-2020) was born in Stevens Point and attended grade school, high school (P.J. Jacobs) and UW-Stevens Point, graduating from UWSP in 1956.

Dave was a five-sport letterwinner while at P.J. Jacobs High. He received all-conference and aII-state recognition while playing on the 1951 undefeated and #1 ranked high school football team. He also played on the UWSP 1955 undefeated football team and was inducted into the UWSP Athletics Hall of Fame.

Fresh out of college Dave went to work for Nekoosa – Port Edwards Paper Company. He later joined American Family Insurance Company where he became a highly successful insurance agent. He was later promoted to the position of District Manager in the Racine – Kenosha area.

Dave retired in 1994 and settled in Lakewood, Wis., with his wife Jan. He was an avid fisherman hunter, gardener and golfer. He also served his community as a member of St. Mary’s of the Lake Catholic Church in Lakewood. Dave was the president of the St. Mary’s building fund and they just recently completed a huge and very successful remodeling project at his church.

This tribute was made by Joe Sanks. Dave and Joe were best of friends for 77 years. Joe can proudly say the Dave is and will forever be his HERO.

Leanne “Sis Parmeter” Sanks (1935-2020) married the love of her life Joe Sanks of Stevens Point in 1956. The couple settled in Stevens Point, and Lee worked for Dr. Nelson in Wisconsin Rapids and for Hardware Mutual Ins until 1959, when they moved to Janesville.

The couple were members of the Elks Club and the Janesville Country Club, they enjoyed many years in Janesville, until retiring in 1997 when they moved to Manitowish Waters. Lee enjoyed golfing, swimming, water skiing, boating and snowmobiling.

Leanne passed away April 8, 2020, after a courageous six year battle with cancer.

Bill Nuck (1941-2020) and his wife Sara Ann (CC) married in Stevens Point on Sept. 12, 1964.

Bill was a graduate of Wauwatosa East High School then attended UW-Stevens Point where he played football and was on the 1961 all-conference championship team. Bill enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in September 1960 and served until July 1966.

Bill’s professional career included many sale positions in Stevens Point. He was actively involved in the community and civic service, including Stevens Point Police and Fire Commission, Goerke Park Sports Complex, City of Stevens Point Common Council, UWSP Quarterback Club, and Marine Corps League Central Wisconsin Detachment.

His spiritedness included his dedicated time to announcing UWSP football, basketball and hockey games, co-chairperson for the Georke Park Sports Complex, which included the renovation of Georke Field and the construction of K.B. Willett Ice Arena, named after his father-in-law.

Bill passed away on Aug. 11, 2020, and is survived by his wife CC and four daughters.

A loving husband, dad and grandpa, James A. “Jim” Shafranski (1932-2020) was a proud veteran of the Korean War and had joined the Army at age 14 as an underage service member and ultimately served in the Counter Intelligence Corps, stationed in Germany. Jim was a member of the Knights of Columbus, Monsignor McGinley Council 1170 of Stevens Point, where he served as Grand Knight for two years. He was the Grand Marshall of the Sand Lake 4th of July parade for the past 40 years–an honor he loved! Jim truly loved people and you always knew what to expect: warmth, friendship and a bunch of fun.

He married the love of his life, Barbara Tuszka on Sept. 20, 1958. They enjoyed 62 wonderful years of marriage. Jim was employed at Consolidated papers for 39 years.

Jim also loved anything Badgers, Packers, his children and grandchildren and all of their activities and the concession stand that went along with that. He loved sports, fishing, and family time at the Cabin on Sand Lake. He loved his travels with Barbara and was an avid military patch collector.

He is survived by his wife Barbara, their five children, 15 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Kamil Mahdi (1953-1982) was an assistant professor of business administation at UW-Stevens Point. A native of Baghdad, Iraq, Mahdi and his wife Samela came to the U.S. in 1977. He earned a master’s degree fom Long Island University and was a Ph.D. candidate at UW-Milwaukee.

Prior to coming to America, Mahdi served as an assistant to the president at Tech Consult, a business consulting firm in Iraq. He was also a partner of Transcontinental Consultants, a business consulting firm in Washington, D.C., which he help found.

Herman (Hans) Vetter (1935-2020) was an owner and executive vice president of Vetter Manufacturing, a nationally recognized producer of wood windows and patio doors. Started by his grandfather in 1893, Vetter Manufacturing was a cornerstone of Stevens Point for more than 100 years.

Hans leaves a legacy of support for a variety of volunteer and healthcare organizations, including the Special Olympics and the Boy Scouts. He was a board member for the St. Michael’s Foundation, Portage County American Red Cross and United Way of Portage Country.

In 2014, after seeing the devastating effects Alzheimer’s can have on families and caregivers, Hans and Sherri established the Vetter Family Alzheimer’s Endowment in honor of his two sisters who suffered from the disease.

Hans was a life-long athlete who received All-Conference and All-State recognition playing on the undefeated and #1 state ranked football team at P.J. Jacobs. He also played football for St. Thomas University and continued playing sports throughout his life. He was well known for hosting tennis tournaments at his home; creating the Vetter Invitational Racquetball Tournament, which featured some of Stevens Point’s fiercest talent; and in his later years, organizing a cut-throat family ping pong tournament featuring the coveted Brett Favre trophy.

Hans had a special affection for young people. Throughout his life, he loved spending time with his children, step-children and grandkids. During his retirement years, he also had a very special connection with the littlest children he would ferry back and forth to school as a bus driver. He treasured the very special notes and treats they’d share with their beloved “Mr. Bus Driver.” Hundreds of children have been the beneficiaries of Hans’ patience, laughter and mentoring. He was a man who truly made a difference.

The oldest son of Herman (Buzz) and Dorothy Vetter, Hans was known for his kindness to all, sense of humor, athletic prowess, love of Packer football and the ability to turn every stranger into a friend. He married his high school sweetheart, Jacqueline Dell Viertel, in 1957 and had three children. He lost Jackie to cancer in 1977. Fortunately, Hans was a blessed man who found love again with Sherri Schwartz. They were married for 40 years, building a Brady Bunch life with their combined six children.

Bob (1928-2016), as he was called by family, friends and generations of customers of the Emmons Stationery Stores, served his community through his family business, his lifelong membership in the Church of the Intercession, as a board member, member and supporter of civic organizations, and his volunteer work, before and after he retired. He saw each customer, from individuals seeking special paper for a letter to corporate clients for whom he designed and outfitted their office interiors, as a means of helping people solve their problems. He cared about all their projects no matter the size and offered materials and creative ideas to meet their needs.

As his work with designing office interiors grew, Bob established Emmons Office Design Service that provided customized interior designs and furniture. His work that introduced a modern sophisticated design can be found in numerous offices, small and large, regionally and nationally.

The Emmons family was long involved in the Stevens Point business community. Newton Emmons was a partner in a lumbering concern in the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1902, Charles Emmons (Robert’s grandfather), opened a grocery and meat market which in 1916 became C.E. Emmons & Son when Myron Emmons joined as a partner. This business closed during the Depression but later Myron and Irene Emmons, Robert’s parents, opened Emmons Stationery and Office Supply Store. Robert graduated from P.J. Jacobs High School in 1946 and after he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a year, he returned to Stevens Point to lead the family business after his father fell ill.

Under Bob’s leadership, Emmons Stationery steadily expanded for more than four decades, from its original downtown store on Strongs Avenue to a store near UW-Stevens Point, and additional retail stores in Wisconsin Rapids, Appleton and Wausau. The Emmons businesses provided employment for numerous people, some devoted employees working their entire career with “Mr. E,” as he was known. Bob took special pride in providing opportunities for young interior designers in the Emmons Office Design Service. He continued to lead the company until his retirement.

In addition to his tireless work at the family business, Bob lent his support to the Stevens Point business community as a board member of Citizens National Bank. He was also as a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Stevens Point Rotary Club.

Bob and his wife Dorothy Ann Emmons (née Wilcox) were married on September 8, 1951, and she preceded him in death in 2001. They were active members of the Episcopal Church of the Intercession. Bob served on the church vestry and led countless church efforts and events, including hands-on restoration of the church rectory.

In retirement Bob pursued additional ways to serve others, as a driver for the American Red Cross and volunteering for Operation Bootstrap, the local food pantry. He enjoyed woodworking, painting and photography. Bob enthusiastically attended and supported performances of the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra.

It was often said that Megan O’Malley never met a sport she didn’t like. Megan swam, played soccer and tennis, ran cross country and participated in triathlons. She was an excellent windsurfer and spent a lot of time on skis with her siblings and parents. Megan captained and led the downhill ski team to nationals her senior year at Wisconsin. Her decision to become a physical therapist allowed her to combine her compassion for others with her passion for fitness and athletics. Megan died in an automobile accident in 1992 at age 25.​

Richard W. Hurlbut, Ph.D., age 63, of Waupaca, passed away suddenly on Friday, June 6, 2014, at Ministry St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield. He was born in Stevens Point on October 23, 1950, a son of the late Kenneth and Elizabeth (Swan) Hurlbut. As evidence of a life well lived, Rick was surrounded by loved ones including family and longtime personal friends during his peaceful passing.

Hurlbut obtained his doctorate degree from UW-Madison in 1980. Since 1981 he has been a practicing psychologist in Stevens Point. Hurlbut was past-president of both the Wisconsin Psychological Association and the Society of Clinical and Consulting Psychologists. He was also the president of the Wisconsin Psychology Foundation and was an elected member of the Wisconsin Representatives for the American Psychological Association. His professional awards, honors and accolades are too numerous to list.

Rick’s love of people and adventure took him all over the world. He and his then-wife Connie Haack-Hurlbut, whom he was married to for 24 years, often flew in a private plane Rick piloted. He loved boating on the Chain, sailing in the Virgin Islands, scuba diving in Australia and especially his 35 years of attending the Indy 500.

Rick was passionate about music and never missed an opportunity to attend a live show. His love of the Rolling Stones, straight-forward Blues and anything that kept the body moving was well known to his friends.

Rick was a voracious reader, often reading multiple books at a time. He quoted Shakespeare, Vonnegut and Follett with equal ease and affection. He was a master conversationalist and always had a fresh joke to accompany his warm smile. He lived for baseball and celebrated in great style when his Boston Red Sox finally won the Series.

Rick deeply understood and consistently practiced the true meaning of friendship. He never turned down an opportunity to help a friend or offer his wise advice when asked.​

Carl Wohlbier was born Dec. 14, 1931, in Chippewa Falls, a son of the late Walter and Thora (Thompson) Wohlbier, Sr. He grew up in Chippewa Falls, attended local grade school and graduated from Chippewa Falls Senior High School in 1949.

He was inducted into the U.S. Army May 31, 1949. He served during the Korean War and was honorably discharged Aug. 7, 1952.

Following military service, he worked as a commission highway surveyor before attending the University of Eau Claire. In 1954, he transferred to Central State Teacher College in Stevens Point (now the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point) and graduated with a degree in conservation and general science in 1958. During his time at the university, he was a charter member of the Siasefi.

He was married to Kathryn Greaton June 20, 1959, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Stevens Point.

He became an employee of the Junction State Bank. He started as an assistant cashier and became bank president. While at the bank, he also owned Wolhbier Insurance Agency. In 1990 he retired from Junction State Bank and focused on his insurance agency. About two years later, he sold his insurance business to concentrate on his retirement.

He was a member of the Masons, belonging to Evergreen Lodge 93. He was also a member of the ROMEO breakfast group, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Jaycees, the Izaak Walton League, the Kiwanis Club and the Portage County Bankers Association. In earlier years he was a Boy Scout leader.
Carl Wohlbier was a HERO to many people, and he certainly was to us! Carl arrived on the campus of UWSP in the mid 1950s, after serving with the U.S. Army in Korea. He was a founding member of the school’s new fraternity, the Siasefis, and was elected president for two of its first couple of years. After graduating with a degree in natural resources, he joined the Junction City State Bank, which he served and lead for his entire career.

After Carl and Kay married, we became close friends. The Wohlbiers oldest child, Kristin, and our oldest, Kurt, were born in the same hospital, two months apart in 1960. Then our friendship just grew.

Although Carl was a banker all his life, natural resources were always close to his heart. He maintained a close relationship with the department at UWSP, and friendships with many, especially the chair of the department, Dan Trainer. He was a hero to many people in that field as well.

Carl was always proud; however, quite private about his military service. That all changed when about two years ago, he was honored with a flight to Washington D.C. to visit the the War Memorials in our nation’s capital. Again, a hero to so many!
Carl loved Kay, his children, grandchildren, tennis, golf, fishing, the Romeos, UWSP and life in general!

We all loved him, and he is, and will be forever, our HERO!

-Judy Anderson and Dick Cable

Wilhelmina was a courageous, adventuress, creative, strong, spiritual, and very giving and caring woman. She stood like a mountain in front of any problems. She had a great free spirit that transitioned to everyone that ever met her. She was a proud woman.

John began his career at UWSP in 1952 as dean of men and coach for football and wrestling; his 1955 football team remains the only undefeated squad in Pointers history. In 1957 John became the executive director of the WIAA where he served until his retirement in 1986. John championed the introduction of women’s sports into high school athletics, and further served the sports he loved through his extensive participation on a number of national and Olympic-level rules committees and governing boards.

John was inducted into eight state and national athletic halls of fame, was selected Man of the Year by the U.S. Wrestling Foundation in 1981, and received the Red Smith Sports Award in 1992. He also served his community as a member of St Paul’s Methodist Church, Kiwanis, Youth Baseball, the Stevens Point Country Club & Hot Shots, and was instrumental in the growth and expansion of the YMCA, his favorite work-out locale. In 1975 he received Stevens Point’s Distinguished Service Award and was honored as one of the community’s 150 Most Notable Citizens.

John’s indomitable spirit, which so endeared him to each and all, shall live on in our fond memories of this special ‘Coach’ who enriched so many lives along his way!

Margaret is a member of the inaugural group of honored heroes. She was the mother of Frank O’Brien the long-time athletic director at UW-Stevens Point. In addition to Frank, Margaret raised four other children while working to support her family. Special gifts to this fund were given in her honor and memory after her passing in 2007.