Congratulations to our 2019 class of Alumni Hall of Fame!
Mike H. Edwards, David Parker, Debbie Brinkman Wilkerson, and Rick P. Edwards
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 1969 | Greenfield High School
Mike H. Edwards
The “Greenfield Gunner” aka Mike Edwards has been a staple on the basketball court since his playing days at Greenfield High School in the 1960s. He earned the nickname for his prolific scoring ability (2,343 points in high school with no 3-point line) and leading the state of Indiana his senior year averaging 36.4 points per game. He was named a high school All-American. He was the recipient of other awards and recognitions as a result of his stellar high school career including induction into the Greenfield-Central High School Athletic Hall of Fame and the Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004 and 2003 respectively. Mike was also named to the Indiana High School Basketball Silver Anniversary Team in 1994.
After high school graduation, Mike chose to attend the University of Tennessee where he became an integral part of the Volunteers basketball team, playing under legendary coach Ray Mears. While there he distinguished himself again, earning recognition as a two-time all-SEC player and was named the 1972 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Men’s Basketball Player of the Year. The university honored him again in 2009 choosing him to be a part of the Tennessee All-Century team which commemorated the greatest 20 players in program history.
Mike was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 1973. He played one year of professional basketball in Mexico. In 2010 ESPN voted him the 46th Best Indiana High School Basketball Player in history.
Once his professional playing days wound down, Mike turned his attention to sharing his knowledge and skill acumen with high school and college-age young men by teaching the game he loved to new generations. Younger youth benefited too during the many years of basketball camps he conducted. A wellness and physical education teacher for over 30 years at the high school and college levels, Mike was also either an assistant or head basketball coach at the schools in which he taught. Mike taught and coached at Carson Newman University, Emory and Henry College, Farragut High School and William Blount High School, where he invested over 30 years in the lives of young people.
Mike has shared his life and offered inspiration to others off the court as well. He has taken the time to speak to organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of Tennessee, drawing on his own experiences actively engaged with the Boys and Girls Club of Hancock County where he spent many, many hours while growing up in Greenfield. Mike is a host for the longest running sports radio show in Tennessee, “The Sports Page,” a 2.5 hour weekly program on Saturday mornings. And, Mike has also authored two books, The Last Tiger, and Don’t Give Me the Scores, Just the Stories: Tales from the Ray Mears Era and More. Says Mike’s nominator, Charlie Hart, about the 1995 book The Last Tiger, “The book gives an in-depth account of the final year of Greenfield High School prior to consolidation. While focused on the basketball team, his work is arguably the most detailed work ever created about Greenfield High School.”
Mike retains his high school nickname all these years later. Says Charlie, “He is still referred to as the “Greenfield Gunner” by those in our community and in Tennessee. This fact is incredible considering that he has not lived in Indiana since 1969. He continues to represent Hancock County with humility and dignity.”
Now retired from teaching, Mike and his wife of 46 years, Debbie, live in Maryville, Tennessee. They have one adult son, Brett. Mike enjoys working with plants and flowers in the yard, following University of Tennessee sports and collecting memorabilia centered around his passion for the Indianapolis 500. Congratulations, Mike!
Class of 1975 | Greenfield-Central High School
David Parker began his journey in agriculture while a student in the Greenfield-Central schools. Beginning in Jr. High Agriculture and FFA, David’s future was shaped as teacher Bob Cherry and then high school Ag teacher Chuck Thompson pushed everyone to be the best. Says David, “FFA taught me leadership, team-building, decision-making – all skills that I use every day in my professional life. It was my honor to become the first Indiana State FFA President from Greenfield-Central.”
David went on to excel at Purdue University while studying for his BA in Agricultural Economics. He was part of the Purdue Student Association, working in the Indiana Statehouse on behalf of Purdue students. He was in several honoraries, Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, and was also chosen to be a commencement student speaker.
David has had an extensive career in agribusiness. He has spent his entire career helping individuals and organizations improve their performance. David was an original management team member of Agri Business Group which became the largest agribusiness consulting firm in North America. He was a Co-Founder of Agricultural Speakers Network and ABG Ag Services, an agricultural technical research company. Currently David is Executive Vice President of FLM Harvest and also serves on their Board of Advisors. Additionally, he leads OTM his private consulting business. Specializing in strategic planning, sales and marketing, financial management, value-based solutions and branding initiatives, his focus is on the people side of the business. David is a nationally known speaker and facilitator, having delivered over 3,500 presentations, workshops and planning sessions for small, large and Fortune 500 companies in North America, Europe and South America. His focus is on the entire agribusiness value chain with a special emphasis on ag retail. David’s contributions in mentoring industry professionals from new employees to seasoned CEOs and business leaders has been invaluable. He has had an important hand in the advancement of agribusiness in the broader society by serving as a spokesman on behalf of the industry.
David gives back to his community in service as well through the Purdue Alumni Association and Alpha Gamma Rho’s National Board of Directors. David was honored to be the first recipient of the Special Boilermaker Award for service to the Purdue community. He received the Alpha Gamma Rho Grand President’s Award for contributions to the agricultural industry while under 40 years old and its Brother of the Century award only given to 1% of its approximately 60,000 living alumni.
Reminiscing, David says, “My high school memories actually started before high school, with the 1969 New Castle Basketball Sectional. The championship game pitted the two schools that were soon to become Greenfield-Central: Hancock Central and Greenfield High School, of which my fellow honoree, Mike Edwards, was the star. It became apparent that Greenfield was going to win the game. The cheerleaders from both teams met and made a decision that cemented my love for Greenfield-Central. They started to chant: “This is Cougar Country!” And G-CHS was born in all of our hearts.”
Additional impactful experiences included musicals and plays, making wonderful friends, and being a member of the first high school Football State Championships team. David adds, “I would still run through a wall for Coach Busby today. He was a stickler for teamwork and responsibility. We had such a connected group and every win was a team effort.” David greatly appreciated his teachers and administrators, “Mr. Tidrow, our principal, was simply one of the most genuine, warm-hearted, and fair people you would ever hope to meet: skills we all hope to emulate.”
David notes, “G-CHS is where I met my lovely and talented wife, Ann. We have made a wonderful life together and have our fantastic son, Clint, and it all began with shared experiences and memories at G-CHS. David and Ann live in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he enjoys golfing, football and racing. He has a passion for travel, wine, politics and volunteerism. He is still active in the family Hampshire sheep business in Indiana. Well done, David!
Class of 1976 | Greenfield-Central High School
Debbie Brinkman Wilkerson
Debbie Brinkman Wilkerson was first introduced to dance by a local dance instructor, She showed promise and attended the Butler University Jordan College of the Arts to pursue her dream. Rather than perform, she returned to Greenfield to teach. Wilkerson Dance Studio began in an empty room in Debbie’s mother’s house and grew to be a Greenfield institution of 43 years that has positively affected the lives of over 10,750 young people for three generations.
Debbie credits her high school counselor, Mr. Gardner, for recognizing her desire to have dance as her career and finding ways that G-C could help her accomplish that dream. She also fondly remembers Glenn “Doc” Barrett, G-CHS’ drama director, as a “gentle, enthusiastic, brilliant man who had so much passion for the stage and his students. Doc encouraged me to dance, choreograph and teach. He got me involved in community theater and made me choreographer for many of his shows. It was here that I found my gift for teaching, and he encouraged me as I started my dance studio. I try to encourage passion and instill confidence in my dancers like he gave to me.”
Many of Debbie’s graduates have studied dance in college, worked in professional ballet companies, or own their own dance studios. Others have danced for Disney Productions or been members of the Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders or Indiana Pacers Pacemates. They learned confidence, camaraderie and an appreciation of the arts. Debbie has assisted them in pursing their own dreams.
In 1982 Debbie became a member of Dance Educators of America, receiving her lifetime membership in 2012. She has also earned accreditation with the International Dance Teachers Association. Debbie was a professional dancer at the Pan Am Games opening ceremony, produced by Walt Disney World and televised world-wide. In 2015 and 2016, she choreographed the Pink Glove Dance for Hancock Regional Hospital, a dance video entry into a contest promoting Cancer Research and Awareness.
Beyond her own studio and activities, Debbie enjoys nurturing youth in her community. Debbie oversees the Greenfield Parks and Recreation’s dance oriented programs, Golden Girls and Junior Blue Fusion. Both programs develop young dancers and helps the G-CHS dance program to be award winners. The Parks Department recognized her in 2011 for outstanding service to the City of Greenfield. Debbie also assists G-CHS in its musical stage productions. For over 10 years, she has given time and energy to being the Director of Choreography, spending hours providing choreography and technical dance instruction. She has created a curriculum and taught a high school class called Dance Lab. Debbie is the treasurer of the Ricks Centre’s Friends of the Theatre Board of Directors. She was instrumental in reviving the Greenfield Christmas show, now called the Christmas at the Ricks, which debuted in 2018.
Debbie shares, “I am privileged to oversee the dance education of each child that comes through my door. I am a big proponent of teaching children more than dance. We teach self-confidence, respect, manners, inclusion, leadership and so much more. I truly believe that it takes many people to raise a child and I hope that my studio plays a positive and important role.”
Debbie is honored and esteemed by myriad individuals and community organizations. Says Ellen Kuker of the Parks and Recreation department, “Debbie’s professional approach to her programs and her dance studio is a testament to the great reputation she and her programs enjoy in our community. Girls thrive under Debbie’s leadership.” Debbie is the source of many grateful people from G-CHS, former students, employees, and dance coaches, to parents and community members. All credit Debbie with instilling self-confidence, creating passion for the arts, helping others accomplish great things, and changing lives.
“I did not appreciate the impact that my mother had on my career until much later in my life,” says Debbie. “My mother, Ann Brinkman Schreiber, was an entrepreneur at heart. Through starting and running several different businesses during my childhood, she showed me that trying something new and even failing was ok.” She encouraged her daughter and taught Debbie the nuts and bolts of running a successful business. “The most important thing she taught me, and the message I would want kids to have, is ‘don’t let fear of failing keep you from trying,’” concludes Debbie.
Nominator Tim Adkins says, “Debbie’s roots are in Greenfield, where she has remained true to the community that helped raise her and allowed her family to blossom.” Debbie and her husband, high school sweetheart Steve, are the parents of Ross and Jesse. Congratulations, Debbie!
Class of 1980 | Greenfield-Central High School
Rick P. Edwards
Rick Edwards is Vice President and CFO of Hancock Health and Hancock Regional Hospital. He has worked there since 1991. He is accountable for the leadership and administration of the hospital’s fiscal functions and operations in the areas of finance and information management, building services, nutritional services, Hancock Wellness Center, Health Information Services, property management, and performance improvement.
Rick began his schooling at Eden Elementary School. He adored Mrs. Lewicki and Mrs. Parrish and learned much from them. He is especially fond of his time at Maxwell because that is where he learned to love math, due to the influence of Mr. Paul and Mr. Janelsen. These teachers became mentors to him, and along with Mr. Watkins and Mr. Hurley, they gave him an example of the kind of person he desired to become. High school teachers helped move him into preparation for college. “Mrs. Pasco’s business course was especially the foundation that made me enjoy and love finance.”
After graduating from Greenfield-Central High School, Rick went on to receive his BA from Purdue, an MBA from the University of Indianapolis and additional hospital management and executive programs and certifications from other institutions and schools. Rick is a Fellow of the Healthcare Finance Management Association and a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. He has established a strong foundation of knowledge, credentials and in-depth understanding allowing him to adapt and grow to meet the needs of an ever changing healthcare environment.
Rick has become an exceptional leader. Dianne Osborne, his nominator and Board Trustee of Hancock Regional Hospital, says, “ Professionally, he is greatly responsible for the excellent financial condition of Hancock Health in a challenging national healthcare environment. His prudent stewardship of the organization’s finances, accounting, facilities and multiple services distinguishes Hancock Health among its peers.” Rick’s remarkable leadership and administration of the hospital’s budget and over 900 employees has been noticed and greatly appreciated.
Rick’s servant heart also is displayed in his willingness to be extensively involved in his community. Rick has chosen to be actively engaged with Mohawk United Methodist Church, the American Red Cross (he was named an Outstanding Volunteer in 1995), the Boys and Girls Club of Hancock County, the Set A Good Example Foundation, and the Hancock County Community Foundation (HCCF). While on HCCF’s Board of Directors, he also served as its Chairman and in other committee roles. Rick served with the Healthcare Financial Management Association for 8 years.
Rick believes his career with Hancock Health to be fantastic and a great opportunity to make a difference for future generations to come. He firmly believes that the Lord has given us each individual strengths. He is using his strengths to make things better for a community that he and his family love. It is very satisfying. That attitude is why Dianne believes Rick exemplifies the servant leader described in Robert K Greenleaf ‘s essay The Servant as Leader which says, “A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.”
Rick loves working and living in the community where he grew up and enjoying continued friendships from his school days. He met his wife Susan here. He is proud of his community and the deep roots his family has here. They recently chose to invest even more in their community and the future of its citizens by establishing the Rick P. and Susan J. Edwards Community Development Fund with the Hancock County Community Foundation. Rick says, “It is a great honor to be included in the Alumni Hall of Fame.” He and his wife have two adult sons, Ethan and Luke.
Dianne concludes, “Rick lives and works each day as a quiet, humble servant leaders reflecting positive light on Greenfield and Hancock County.” Thank you, Rick!