Congratulations to our 2015 class of Alumni Hall of Fame!
Walter P. Worland, John E. Moenning, B. Wayne Addison, Jerry Rogers, Brian C. Samuels, Josh Bleill, R.J. Bodkin
These individuals have set themselves apart from their peers through their achievements, involvement and impact on their personal, professional, and/or local communities over a number of years. Their stories are connected with the threads of educators, colleagues, friends, family and neighbors who influenced their lives and spurred them to passions beyond themselves.
Class of 1942 | Greenfield High School
Walter P. Worland
On December 7, 1941, Japan launched an attack on Pearl Harbor, forcing Americans to become irrevocably involved in WWII. Many Americans were deeply moved to serve and defend our country — individuals who clearly understood the value of hard work and self-sacrifice. Walter Worland was among those selfless men answering the call of duty — a generation called “America’s Greatest” by Tom Brokaw.
A lifelong resident of Greenfield, Walter attended Greenfield High School where he greatly enjoyed the subject of history and clearly remembers his history and geography teacher, Russell Bratton. He was on track to graduate in 1942, but left school to join the Army Air Corp to serve his country rather than complete high school among friends and family. In May 2014, the Greenfield-Central School Board awarded Walter an honorary delayed high school diploma at the G-CHS commencement ceremony. In an interview by the media Walter shared his appreciation for his many friends who supported him. “I think friendship is the best thing…that keeps you going.” And he hopes that his fellow graduates will carry on his legacy of service. “I’ve been very fortunate. So I have a lot to share. There are so many people out there that could share more,” he concludes.
Walter married Virginia Griffey in 1943 and worked as a printer at the Greenfield Daily Reporter upon his return from the service. With his education and his experience at the Reporter, he was able to become the Editor and Publisher of the Hancock Journal. He retired in 1988 as the Editor of Freemason Magazine in Franklin, Indiana.
Walter Worland has lived a productive life throughout his 92 years. Nominator Linda Gellert chronicles Walter’s impact, saying, “His service in the Greenfield community is extensive, where he still logs volunteer hours with Greenfield Rotary, American Red Cross, American Heart Society, Meals-on-Wheels, Santa’s Helpers, the James Whitcomb Riley Home Museum, and numerous other activities as a member of the Greenfield Trinity Methodist Church. Walter served as a member of the Greenfield City Council for 12 years and was assistant to Mayor Hurley for four years. He served on Hancock County’s first Planning Commission and then again from 1988 to as recently as 2007. He sat on the Zoning Appeals Board and was a precinct committeeman for the Democratic Party. He is currently a proud member of American Legion Post No.119 and has been an active member of Rotary for 30 years.”
A true philanthropist, Walter has generously benefitted Hancock County and its citizens. Education has always been important to Walter and in 2003 he established five substantial college scholarships through the Hancock County Community Foundation. The Walter P. and Virginia M. Worland Greenfield Central Junior High School Library, dedicated in 2010, was named in honor of Walter and Virginia’s personal and financial commitment to community and their passion for improving life-long learning. More recently, Walter has been a major donor for two healthcare projects: the Hancock Regional Hospital Hospice Care Unit and the newly constructed Hancock Regional Hospital Cancer Center. As a patient at the cencer center himself, Walter’s image is now being used for their current advertising campaign. You might have seen his picture on their billboards!
Walter’s dedication to a life of service is evident. He has been the recipient of many honors and awards. A Freemason for more than 64 years, Walter has earned distinction in the Scottish Rite (33rd Degree), York Cross of Honor, Murat Shrine, and the Knights Templar. In 2013, Walter was surprised at his 90th birthday party with the prestigious Distinguished Governor’s Award. Senators Mike Crider, Beverly Gard and Representative Bob Cherry personally bestowed the award to Walter for his lifelong community involvement and public service. This award, one of the highest tributes given out by the State of Indiana, is solely granted at the discretion of the Governor to Hoosiers who have uniquely brought admiration and respect to the state through their character and accomplishments.
Reflecting back on Walter’s life, connecting his commitment to his community and country, Linda Gellert states, “It is apparent that our country, our state, our community, and our school corporation have benefited from his energy and leadership. Walter Worland is the epitome of the high standards set by the Greenfield Central School Foundation Hall of Fame.”
Walter’s goddaughter Debbie Wilkerson says, “Walter is a beacon to us all to make a commitment to the present and future of Hancock County. He often says ‘We should all do what we can, to support our community and the education of our children.’ ”
Class of 1975 | Greenfield-Central High School
John E. Moenning, DDS, MSD
After high school John attended Miami of Ohio and Indiana University for his undergraduate degree. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from IU School of Dentistry, had a general practice residency and a 3-year residency in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. He then received his master’s degree from IU School of Dentistry, where he focused on orthognathic (jaw) surgery research. Additionally, he completed a fellowship at Baylor University Medical Center in Texas. Over the last 25 years he has helped build a private practice with Indiana Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates with 15 doctors, over 100 employees, and 11 locations in the Indianapolis area.
Driven by his concern for the safety of those exposed to anesthetic gases in their work environment, John was awarded a patent for a new nitrous oxide delivery mask system called the Safe Sedate Mask. He has three additional patents for anesthetic products and has helped in the development of the ISO-Gard Mask from Teleflex Medical for the Post Anesthetic Care Unit in hospitals.
John has published more than 20 journal articles regarding various aspects of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. He has also served on the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Committee on Practice Management and is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Indiana University School of Dentistry.
Beyond these innovations, John has had the opportunity to do mission work in Ecuador and mentor dental students. He has given free services for many patients through the Donated Dental Services. Through his professional experiences and his service to others John feels he has been allowed to, “share with others in a way that was similar to the way my teachers in Greenfield shared their values with me.”
John considers himself to be a fortunate man who has benefitted from the love, support, encouragement, and mentorship of many individuals — people and experiences that have helped shape the foundation of his life which is based on Faith, Family and Friends. John shared his thoughts:
“First, I have tried to live with faith. A faith based in a belief in God and to believe in his path for my life.
“Second, I have had love and solid support from my family. I have been blessed with a wonderful wife, Teri, whom I met in 5th grade at Harris Elementary school, three great children, two precious granddaughters, two enjoyable sons-in-law, my parents, and my in-laws. I live, and have grown up in, an environment with a strong belief in family values.”
John’s third foundation stone is shaped by friends — many he met in school and include Greenfield teachers. He recalls teachers he calls “wonderful” including Mr. Spacey, Mr. Hinderlighter, Mr. Mandel, Mr. Busby, Mr. Myers, Mr. Caldwell, Mr. Harpring, and Mrs. Griffin. John adds, “Oh and my favorite teacher — one you all may know — was Mr. Apple. Wait a minute — he was my best friend in school. They expected me to behave and do what I needed to do in school. In sports the same principles were demanded. The atmosphere around the teachers was always one of being friendly and supportive, but also one that encouraged me to do my best.”
John recalls, “I had a close group of friends in junior high school and as we started high school we were merging with Maxwell. We all were anxious about the kids from the north, but the atmosphere that the high school developed made for an easy transition. We were all one family. As a result our closeness grew and we became very good at team sports — especially football.” John was part of the Greenfield-Central State Championship Team his Junior year and notes, “We never lost a game until our Senior year.”
John continued, “These home town qualities of the school carried over for me as I moved onto college to play football and study. It was a hard task, but one that I had been prepared to handle because of my faith, family, friends, and the atmosphere of Greenfield Central. These experiences helped shape my desire to try my best in all opportunities and to keep me grounded in the values of my home town.”
John would like to encourage today’s students who now walk the hallways of Greenfield-Central schools. He says. “Build yourselves a foundation based on faith, family, and friends. You will never regret the decision. Develop principles based on persistence, endurance, an opportunistic attitude, and to always try to be consistent in your efforts. These principles can be the glue to hold your foundation together. Your teachers want to help put these principles in place and support you in your education and experiences. You are their family of students and they care for your future. Finally, I ask that you take to heart the words of Calvin Coolidge, our 30th President of the United States, because all of you will have different talents, temperaments, and situations but can share one common motto to create your own success. Press on.”
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination with God’s help are omnipotent.” —Calvin Coolidge
As John expresses his appreciation for being honored this evening he responds simply, “Thank you very much.”
Class of 1977 | Greenfield-Central High School
B. Wayne Addison
“He always puts others first.” Those words in a nutshell describe Wayne Addison in every aspect of his life whether working with offenders in the probation department, spurring on young people on the playing field, or encouraging auction audiences to give lavishly for a cause. A lifelong resident of Hancock County, Wayne has generously shared his time and talents to make life better for others.
Wayne humbly begins his story in the halls of Greenfield-Central High School. He says, “While in school, I participated in football and track. I was a member of the 1975 AA State Runner-Up football team. It’s probably not a good academic statement to mention, however my favorite class in high school was Chorus. One of my favorite teachers was our Choir director Charles K. Wright. I credit him with giving me confidence in myself with a microphone to appear and speak before a live audience. I had a deep voice in school, just like I do today. I was moved up to the Concert Choir as a freshman and sang with the Junior and Senior Class. I was also one that was called on to emcee many of the Choir events. I think the class I took that helped me the most was from business teacher Mrs. Helene Andrews. She taught typing and note taking. I was fabulous at typing and have used my skills every day since that time. Note taking, well, I never understood that too much, but typing was a great thing to learn.”
Wayne earned a double major in Criminal Justice and Corrections plus Radio and TV from Ball State University. He had a minor in Real Estate as well. It was also during his college days that Wayne became a licensed Auctioneer in 1979. Following graduation, Wayne obtained his Real Estate Broker’s License.
Wayne began his criminal justice career in 1982 when he was hired as a Probation Officer in Hancock County. He was the first that had to obtain certification through the Indiana Judicial Center. Wayne notes, “Our Probation Department was pretty small back then and on July 1, 1983, I was appointed as Chief Probation Officer of Hancock County. I am now in my 33rd year as a Hancock County employee and Probation Officer.
Another area of service Wayne is proud to have been part of are his 20 years as a Hancock County Sheriff’s Department Reserve Deputy. Honored as a Reserve Officer of the Year twice, Wayne spent 10 years as the Commander of the Reserve Division.
As Wayne’s career in criminal justice continued, he also devoted time to the auction business. Wayne says, “I am a second generation auctioneer as my father, W.B. Addison, started our business, ‘Another Addison Auction’ in 1966. I have always enjoyed working the auction business and have been very successful in conducting charity auctions over the years. The year after my dad died, I was able to sell over $1,000,000 for various charitable events. I continue to do as many charitable events each year as I can and am blessed to have a very successful auction business as well.”
As Wayne’s son, Kyle, began to prepare to be part of the auction business, they located an auction school in Iowa to attend. Wayne states, “I had never attended auction school. In 1979, all a person had to do was take and pass the State Certification examination to become an auctioneer. I wasn’t going to send Kyle to auction school by himself; so I enrolled and attended auction school with him. I am now a graduate of the World Wide College of Auctioneering in Mason City, Iowa.” Kyle is now the third generation Addison Auctioneer and continues to work with Wayne.
Wayne has taken his skills learned at Ball State and G-CHS, added his 36 years of experience in the auction business and combined them with his engaging personality and “aw shucks” persona to become a premier auctioneer — one that conducts approximately 25 volunteer benefit auctions every year. It is impossible to gauge the full amount of money raised over the years, but it can be said with confidence that the impact on the lives of people around the globe has been priceless. Some of the charities and organizations that have been the recipient of his service include: Hancock Regional Hospital, Rotary Club of Greenfield Gift of Life Auctions, various classes and clubs of Greenfield-Central schools, Children’s Organ Transplant, Diabetes Association, American Cancer Society, Relay for Life, many churches, Kenneth Butler Soup Kitchen, numerous individuals suffering from various illness or injury, Hancock County Public Library, Boys & Girls Scouts, Cub Scouts and Brownies, Boys & Girls Club, various sporting events, and he was even flown to New York for another Gift of Life Auction in Long Island.
Numerous organizations have recognized Wayne’s contributions to society and his commitment to do more than the expected in affecting the lives of youth, individuals in the community, and people he doesn’t even know halfway around the world. He has been honored with the 1999 Hancock County Farm Bureau Service to Youth Award, several Rotary awards including the Distinguished Service Citation and the 2003 Rotarian of the Year, the 2006 Set a Good Example Foundation Todd Kaminski Community Service Award, the 2008, Indiana Judicial Center Order of Augustus award winner — a very special award as it is the ultimate award a probation officer can receive in the State of Indiana, and the 2012 Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce Governmental Community Service Award.
Wayne has also devoted himself to Greenfield schools and youth through his years of coaching. He began coaching with the Greenfield-Central Football program in 2000 and also coached its throwing events for the track and field teams for four years. He has coached in the Greenfield Youth Football League, Seventh Grade, Eight Grade since 2004 as well.
Additionally, Wayne serves with the Community Corrections Advisory Board, the Hancock Literacy Coalition, Leaders In Navigating Knowledge (LINK), the Rotary Club of Greenfield (25+ years), and the Hancock County Community Foundation Grant Committee. Wayne and his wife, Carrie are the parents of Kyle and Katey.
Class of 1977 | Greenfield-Central High School
Jerry Rogers is a gifted and accomplished insurance agent. Says his nominator, Wayne Addison, “Jerry is one of the most successful insurance agents Indiana Farm Bureau has ever had. He has won about every award and designation given by the company.”
Jerry began his Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance career in 1984 in Hancock County. Since then, he has achieved numerous Trailblazer awards, becoming a Lifetime Member of the elite President’s Club after having been initially inducted into the President’s Club in 1993. Jerry has 15 Top Ten finishes, 18 National Quality Awards, 11 consecutive Career Agent awards and is one of five agents in the company to have received the prestigious Premier Agent designation — Farm Bureau’s highest honor — for nine consecutive years. As an insurance agent, Jerry strives to serve the community, not only to meet customer’s needs but to exceed them.
However, the area of community service has caused Jerry’s star to burn even brighter. Says Wayne, “Jerry is a person with a big heart. I have seen him stand in lines for hours to obtain autographs from various sports figures. He will then donate the items to various groups to use in charity auctions. He has donated thousands of items over the past 35 years. I know this for a fact because I have been the auctioneer who has sold the items.” These benefit auctions and fund-raisers have helped sick and injured people in the community. They have also benefitted church needs, the Boys & Girls Club of Hancock County, various Greenfield-Central sports groups and clubs, Rotary fund-raisers, and in particular the Rotary Gift of Life Auction that provides funds for young heart patients, often in third world countries, with no options for life-saving surgeries. ”It doesn’t really seem to matter,” continues Wayne, “if Jerry hears of a group that is doing something to raise money, he is willing to donate an item for the cause.”
Jerry has shown compassion for and served people near and far — in particular as a key contributor to so many benefit auctions. His passion has been to help the sick, encourage the young, bolster those in need, and bring relief to those less fortunate.
Jerry has also served as President of the Rotary Club of Greenfield and the Greenfield-Central Athletic Cougar Boosters, Chair of the Greenfield Youth Baseball Association (GYBA) Fund-raising, GYBA board member, Bradley United Methodist Church board member, Hancock County Boys and Girls Club board member, plus chair and initiator of the Cougar Cuisine Fund-raiser. Additionally, he has been a speaker for local education events and for the Life Insurance and Marketing Conference in Texas.
Jerry has devoted his time and resources as a coach as well, working with numerous basketball and baseball teams for 22 years. Teaching fundamental skills has been an emphasis as he has worked to extend the Little Cougars League in Basketball and continues to give of his time to Greenfield’s youth while coaching baseball.
Jerry shared a few thoughts about the lessons learned earlier in life as he studied, worked and played during his high school years. He notes that he found that, “Honesty is always the best policy. Steve Foreman and I mentioned a lot of seniors were skipping school to go the Indianapolis Speedway in May 1977. We asked Mr. Jackson if we could get a pass for the afternoon to go the Speedway. He admired our honesty and granted our request.” Jerry also participated in football, basketball and baseball at Greenfield-Central and learned that, “attitude, character and enthusiasm are the keys to success.”
However, Jerry says the best thing that he ever learned was, “People don’t care how much you know, but how much you care.”
Jerry received his degree in Public Relations and Business from Ball State University in 1981. He and his wife, Julie — a G-CCSC teacher, are the parents of two G-CHS graduates, Derek and Shelley.
Class of 1993 | Greenfield-Central High School
Brian C. Samuels, M.D., Ph.D
“One thing that I have learned is that we all need mentoring, no matter where we are in life. But, at the same time, we can all be mentors to those around us. What makes someone a good mentor is simply the willingness to actively engage with someone else on a personal level and get involved.” With those words, Brian Samuels offers a glimpse as to how he has excelled in his profession and the reason he seeks to invest in others.
A 1997 Magna Cum Laude graduate of Wabash College, Brian earned a combined MD/PhD from the Indiana University School of Medicine in medical neurobiology. During his educational career he received multiple awards for his leadership and research including the Raymond Paradise Award for Graduate Student Research in Pharmacology and Toxicology, M. H. Aprison Award for Graduate Student Research in Medical Neurobiology, Indiana Medical Scientist Training Program Scholarship, and the Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis Chancellor’s Scholar Award for the top PhD thesis work and citizenship.
Following an internship at Methodist Hospital, ophthalmology residency at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and a clinical and research fellowship at the Duke Eye Center (Duke University), Brian began his career as a clinician-scientist. Brian joined the ophthalmology faculty at Indiana University School of Medicine for three years before returning to UAB where he is now an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology.
His brother Doug Samuels noted Brian’s continued care for patients who suffer with eye disease, but adds, “Brian hopes to have an impact on society beyond his own clinic by focusing on research that will help create a better understanding of why these eye diseases develop and progress. He hopes to develop new treatment options for patients suffering from diseases that threaten their sight such as glaucoma.” The recipient of significant grant funding at the local and national levels, Brian has been able to develop an independently funded research laboratory focused on discovering new treatment options. He has been awarded both a U.S. and International patent for the potential use of a novel drug to treat glaucoma. With great appreciation Brian says, “I have had the opportunity to work with some of the greatest thought leaders in glaucoma and vision research.” His peers have recognized his contributions with several research awards, including: the American Glaucoma Society Clinician-Scientist Award, the Indiana CTSI Young Investigator Award, and the ARVO/Alcon Early Career Clinician-Scientist Research Award.
Recently, because of his background in cardiovascular research, neuroscience research, and vision research, Brian was asked to join NASA’s Prospective Observational Study of Ocular Health in ISS (International Space Station) Crews. This study brings together a diverse team of scientists investigating why astronauts that spend extended periods of time in space experience visual impairment. It has given him the opportunity to work with some of the country’s leading scientists on a very unique problem. Their work will be critical to allowing astronauts to stay in space for longer duration missions; including the mission to send humans to Mars.
Brian observes, “As part of my research program, I have been fortunate to mentor several wonderful students in my laboratory. I have found that watching my students achieve success is often more gratifying than having success myself.” Two of Brian’s medical students won research scholarships based on work that they completed in his laboratory. Which brings us back to mentors.
Brian notes several favorite teachers as part of his G-CHS and Maxwell education. “There were many teachers that had a lasting influence on me,” he says. “Mr. Smith, Mr. Myers, Mr. Rihm, Mr. Harpring, Mr. English, Ms. Jenkins, Mr. Wilkinson and Mr. Potter. Mr. Potter really was one of the best English teachers I ever had, and I still have C.E. Potter’s ‘Guide to Grammar and English’ to this day. I also really appreciated Mr. Janelsen from Maxwell Middle School.
“While all of these teachers had a positive impact on me in one way or another, Mr. Jim Bever undoubtedly had the greatest influence on me. Mr. Bever was my science teacher in middle school, but he was also the head athletic trainer at Greenfield-Central while I was in high school. The opportunity to get involved in athletic training (i.e. sports medicine and rehabilitation) was appealing. Mr. Bever expected a lot from each of us, but also treated us with a great deal of respect. He expected each of us to maintain good grades, learn the skills required to help care for and rehabilitate the athletes, and also learn to manage emergencies that arose during athletic competitions. It is not difficult to see how this experience led me down a pathway toward becoming a physician. Yet, Mr. Bever’s influence in my life went way beyond what he taught us in the classroom and the athletic training room.”
During a difficult time Brian says, “I trusted him and was honest about what was happening in my life. He let me know that he was truly sorry. What he did next, though, changed my life and in my mind makes him possibly one of my greatest mentors. He said something along the line, ‘I am sorry that you are going through all of this and I will help you any way I can, but you also need to know that the way you are acting, and the fact that you are letting it affect your grades, is simply unacceptable.’ It left an impression. It was the first time that someone I respected, other than my parents, had been that brutally honest with me and held me accountable. I needed it. I am not sure where I would be right now if Mr. Bever had not stepped in and taken a leadership role in my life. I owe him a debt of gratitude.”
Brian has been married to Anna for seven years. They welcomed their first child, Tara, this past Spring. He is amazed at the changes he witnesses in her weekly. The Samuels live in Hoover, Alabama, near Birmingham. Brian’s mother, father and step-mother still live in Hancock County.
Class of 1995 | Greenfield-Central High School
While serving in Iraq, Corporal Josh Bleill (USMC) was severely injured in an IED explosion. Josh awoke five days later with the news of the loss of two friends and both of his legs. Service and sacrifice were in Josh’s DNA. “My father was a Marine. He was a fighter pilot and my grandfather on my mother’s side served in World War II,” said Bleill. He felt serving his country was something he needed to do. He wanted to go so someone else wouldn’t have to. Josh eventually faced the biggest challenge of his life.
Josh grew up playing sports. He played multiple sports at Greenfield-Central High School and played lacrosse during his college years at Purdue University. He became a Marine. He was used to being extremely fit and active. But, at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C. he had to start at the beginning and learn how to regain his mental, physical, and spiritual equilibrium. It was a very difficult road. He so appreciated the support from family and friends from home, in Indiana.
At Walter Reed, Josh was encouraged by others who had similar experiences. He also participated in some unique opportunities such as traveling to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to become certified for life in SCUBA diving through the SUDS (Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba) program. It was during his recovery that he first was given a glimpse of a new purpose for his life.
Josh said, “I was recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C. the year that the Indianapolis Colts won the championship, so they were going out to meet President Bush and stopped by the hospital.” It was a treat. They wanted to hear Marine stories and Josh wanted to hear football stories. Colts owner Jim Irsay sought him out. He told Josh, “Come see me about a job when you get home.”
Josh is now the Community Spokeperson for the Indianapolis Colts, a position he has held since 2008. Jim Irsay, described Bleill as “very talented, bright-eyed and skilled.” He knew Josh would touch many lives. The position has been a springboard for Josh to share his story and experiences with hundreds of thousands of people across the nation — to inspire and motivate them to get past their limitations and meet the challenges they each face. Josh now gives over 300 speeches a year.
The local, state and national groups Josh speaks with are diverse, ranging from the 85th National FFA Convention to the Women Helping Women celebration; various universities to the local elementary schools in Greenfield; the 2014 National Prayer Breakfast in Indiana to the Set a Good Example Foundation banquet. He has inspired people with debilitating disease, encouraged young students, and walked beside those struggling to cope. He has met Presidents and Generals, but more importantly he has taken the time to meet young amputees to give them hope for the future — to meet with Veterans to thank them for their service.
As he travels around the country, Josh Bleill tells others about his good family and his faith, about the special place Greenfield is, and lets them know, “I can still live my life. The world is going to keep turning.” He wants everyone with a disability to know it’s not an ending, it’s a new challenge.
Along the way, Josh wrote his story. His book, One Step at a Time: A Young Marine’s Story of Courage, Hope and a New Life in the NFL tells people about his “one bad day.” Readers have been inspired by his undying enthusiasm, infectious joy, and sense of humor.
Josh is the recipient of the Purple Heart, which was given to him by President George Bush. He has received local and national recognition for his sacrifice and inspiring story, plus has had amazing opportunities — including working with a National Dance Choreographer and Actor Bill Pullman in the creation of “Healing Wars.” He was the subject of a story on 60 Minutes narrated by Scott Pelley. In 2015, he became a recipient of the Indiana Jefferson Award.
Josh volunteers for the Semper Fi Fund/America’s Fund which provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post 9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Josh also has served on numerous Boards and committees — just recently agreeing to serve on the RTV6 Jefferson Award Board helping select future honorees.
In Josh’s talk at the National Prayer Breakfast he says, “Bad things happen. Oct. 15, 2006, was the worst day of my life. My world went black. We all have bombs going off in our lives, things we don’t see coming that change your life forever. Some say that God only gives you what you can handle, but that’s not true. He gives you more, to push you to the point where you have to come to Him.”
Says nominator Susie Broome, “Josh has always been a humorous and charming young man. That he has persevered in building a fulfilling life for himself is not a surprise. He continues building a successful career and is an inspiration to all of us.”
Josh and his wife Nikki are the parents of Ali and Gunner.
Class of 1995 | Greenfield-Central High School
R.J. Bodkin credits the solid foundation for his career and life to the lessons learned while at Greenfield-Central schools. Says R.J., “While in school I didn’t realize that some of the most important lessons were learned on the football field, basketball court, and track. Things like teamwork, accountability, self-reliance, leadership and taking care of your teammates are all lessons that I learned.”
R.J. earned his degree in Aerospace Engineering from Tri-State University where he was also a founding member of its football team. He began his career in the Hancock County Engineer’s Office. After five years, he transitioned from Civil Engineering to his passion in Aerospace Engineering, working for a small rapid proto-type firm in Hampton, Virginia.
“My career has literally taken me from Greenfield to the stars,” says R.J. It began with his work and management on a drive-train and rotor system test platform for a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) as well as rotor blades and rotor systems for helicopters and tilt-rotors. R.J. adds, “One that I am most proud of participating in designing, building and testing is the Sikorsky X-2’s rotor blades. The Sikorsky X-2 won the 2010 Collier Trophy, for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America. It is very rewarding to know that I was part of the team that brought that technology to life.”
R.J. continued his reach for the stars with another contracting firm for NASA where he worked a flight project called IRVE-II (Inflatable Re-entry Vehicle Experiment-II). IRVE is pioneering the inflatable heat shield technology designed to protect vehicles re-entering the atmosphere. “The goal is to launch larger vehicles into space and to land on moons or other planets, states R.J. “The technology of inflatable heat shields is necessary because it allows the lander to be as large as possible while keeping it safe through re-entry.” Assisting in the successful launch of IRVE-II led R.J. to be hired as a NASA Aerospace Engineer to work on the next iteration, culminating in the launch of IRVE-3 in 2012. Subsequently, he was honored for this work by receiving the 2010 NASA’s Steps Toward Space Team Award for IRVE-II, and the 2013 Outstanding Team Achievement for IRVE-3.
R.J. is now a lead contributor for the development of alternate inflation sys-tems that will be used for planetary exploration initiatives, including initiatives regarding travel to Mars. His current focus is on HIAD 2 (Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator) as the inflation technology lead, supporting the Human Architecture Team (Humans to Mars group) with HIAD expertise, numerous other studies, plus preliminary design work for an Orbital Reentry test.
Says nominator Ryan Hammons, “Being able to call yourself a NASA engineer means that you are one of the brightest minds in your field in the entire world. To be involved in a project that could one day help put a man on Mars is an incredible accomplishment. How many people can say that they are a part of something that has the potential to alter the course of human history?”
R.J. is also pleased to be able to encourage students and has volunteered at numerous schools, including G-C elementary schools, both speaking to classes and to individuals. He happily provides advice to students concerning entering the field and the opportunities available.
Gratefully, R.J. says, “My Greenfield-Central education provided the foundation that my career has been built upon. I have occasionally looked back on my life and realized how fortunate I am to have grown up in Greenfield and to have been taught and mentored by so many fine individuals. Not only was the school instrumental to my development, but the town is also a very special place.”
While R.J.’s first day of his Freshman year in Mr. Cline’s class was disconcerting, R.J. says, “But, I have come to look back at Mr. Cline’s class as one of the foundations my career is built upon. Mr. Ludwig came in early to tutor me in Chemistry, even though I wasn’t in his class. Mr. English introduced me to Calculus, and that foundation clearly helped develop my career as an engineer.” R.J. continues, “Coaches Potter, Combs, Fink, Ludwig and Phillipy all taught me important lessons. The one I remember most, being that sometimes you have to pick yourself off the ground when life doesn’t work the way you expected it to. Their interest in improving me as a student-athlete directly led to my scholarships to Tri-State. I served as a cadet for Coach Angle and Mrs. Siurek. One of their lessons was sometimes a leader has to do unpopular things. Mr. Kern taught me that it was ok to disagree with people and have spirited debates, without personally attacking the other person.”
R.J. noted that Mr. HolzhauRecovering at Walter Reedsen made a significant difference. “He taught me many lessons in the shop about the problems of turning a good idea into an actual product. That is something I would recommend to anyone interested in being an engineer; get your hands dirty, build things, learn what can and can’t be built. As an education system we need to spend more time on that. I came out of college and could tell you what a ‘perfect’ vehicle looked like, but it couldn’t be built. I work with many interns at NASA and that is a recurring problem; we teach them to use their engineering tools to analyze the problem without thinking about whether or not that vehicle is able to be manufactured.”
Reflecting on the importance of his roots in Greenfield, R.J. says, “My whole life is built upon the many lessons that I learned at Greenfield-Central High School. I was fortunate to grow up in a town that straddled the line of urban and rural. I had an amazing family that taught me if I could dream it, I could do it. I had an extraordinary group of teachers and mentors that added to the foundation my family started. I am honored to be inducted into the Greenfield-Central Alumni Hall of Fame and hope that I live up to the honor you have bestowed upon me.”