Nelson, Wiebe inducted into GCHS Hall of Fame
By RACHAEL GRAY
When students graduate from Garden City High School, their lives often take different paths. Some stay close to home while others live and travel far away.
But most remember their upbringing and the qualities and life lessons they learned while at GCHS.
Two of those graduates were honored Friday evening.
Stewart Nelson and David Wiebe were inducted into the GCHS Hall of Fame.
Nelson graduated from Garden City High School in 1972 and Wiebe in 1964. Friday night their paths crossed as they were recognized during a ceremony.
Dr. George Hopkins introduced Nelson, and called him a leader and someone the community can look up to.
He received a bachelor of science degree in architectural studies from the University of Nebraska. He is a longtime resident of Garden City and currently serves as the managing partner in the architectural firm of Gibson, Mancini, Carmichael and Nelson PA.
Nelson has been the project architect for the new Garden City High School, Garfield Early Childhood Center addition, former Garden City High School Courtyard enclosure, Garden City Community College Student/Community Services Building, Finney County Administration Center, St. Dominic Parish Center, Garden City State Bank, and Finney County Courthouse renovations, along with many building projects outside the community. He also has given back to Garden City through many leadership positions in associations and organizations.
Nelson said Friday he was honored by the induction. He said he and his wife had always intended to move to a bigger city.
"That's been 35 years ago and we haven't looked back," he said.
Nelson said it's been an honor to design buildings in and around Garden City.
"After 37 years I'd like to think I've had a part in the growth and development of this city," he said.
Attorney Michael Collins introduced Wiebe, and remarked on Wiebe's successes in both the church and in patenting 10 designs on turbines and engines. Wiebe is a 1964 GCHS graduate. He earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Kansas. He also graduated with honors with a master of divinity from Emory University in Atlanta. He works as the chief engineer at Siemens Energy, gas turbine division in Orlando.
He was a pastor who founded a Haitian-American Church and was appointed pastor of Northwood United Methodist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla. The church leadership from the state had expected the church to close in a few years because its small membership no longer matched the ethnicity of the neighborhood. Instead of closing, Wiebe re-established the church as a predominantly Haitian-American congregation.
As an engineer, he led the design of the prototype afterburners for the F-22 military jet fighter engines. He holds 10 U.S. patents and 21 patents pending on military jet engine components and industrial gas turbine engine components, according to a press release from USD 457.
Wiebe also said he was humbled by the experience to be honored at GCHS.
"Garden City has meant a lot to me," he said.
Wiebe said when he graduated high school he didn't know what he wanted to do as a career.
"I had aspirations to be something great, but I knew that probably wasn't possible," he said.
Wiebe said he became interested in engineering and it became both a career and passion, as did his call to the ministry.
"I had a feeling it was something I should do," he said.
GCHS principal James Mireles said the feeling of honoring GCHS graduates is sentimental.
"I've been here 12 years and I've watched a lot of these honorees come in. We put two in a year. It's always interesting to see them come back. A lot of the inductees come back," he said.
Mireles showed the kiosk display in the Commons Area at GCHS, where students and community members can flip through photos, information and bios on those in the Hall of Fame.
"That's been working about two days," he said.
Mireles said the kiosk is informational.
"I think it's neat. People always say, 'I know this person, but what did they do.' Now the history is up there," he said.
Mireles began Friday night's ceremony.
The first Hall of Fame inductees were inducted in 1985. The Hall of Fame currently has 54 members.
"This shows GCHS produces graduates second to none," he said.