2013 Alumni Winners

Richard Thayer

Richard ThayerDick Thayer graduated from Clifford High School in 1937 and lived the rest of his life as a resident of Bartholomew County. With the outbreak of World War II, Dick was drafted in 1941, and became a member of the Army Air Corps. He became a waist gunner on a B 17 bomber stationed in England. During a bombing run over Germany in 1944, Dick's plane was severely damaged by German fighters and anti-aircraft fire. Though wounded, Thayer continued operating his gun while administering first aid to another severely wounded crewman. For his heroic actions, Dick was awarded the Purple Heart, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and was nominated for the Medal of Honor. While recuperating in the hospital, Dick was called back to fill in with another crew on yet another raid. The plane was shot down, but Dick and two other members of the ten-man crew survived. German soldiers captured the airman, and Thayer was imprisoned in the infamous Stalag 17 Krems, Austria from March 1944 to May 1945.
Richard Thayer returned to Hope after the war and married his sweetheart, Evelyn Miller. The couple had four children. Dick served as Sheriff of Bartholomew County from 1946-1950. He then served as Mayor of Columbus from 1952 to 1956. He later served as a Councilman for Bartholomew County and as Constable of Hawcreek Township. Thayer was presented the Columbus Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award. Dick was a farmer for the rest of his life. He was a member of the Hope United Methodist Church and Hope Post 229 of the American Legion. Richard Thayer's life was one of extreme patriotism, community service, and dedication to his family and his God.

Dr. William L. Riley

Dr. William L. RileyBill Riley graduated from Hauser High School in 1962 and continued his education at Indiana University, earning both a bachelor and masters degree. In 1975 Riley completed his work on his Doctoral Degree form IU, majoring in School Administration. He was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army in 1966, and entered active duty in 1968, as a member of the Medical Service Corps. From 1969-1970, Lt. Riley was assigned to the 24th Evacuation Hospital in South Vietnam. He was awarded the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service while in South Vietnam. After his discharge from active duty in 1970, Bill became a fifth grade teacher at Parkside Elementary School in Columbus, Indiana. Riley's career in education continued with an emphasis on school finance. He was Director of School Finance for the State Department of Instruction, Assistant Superintendent of Public Education, Associate Superintendent of Business Services for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation, and the Fiscal Policy Analyst for the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. During his tenure with the State Department of Education, he was responsible for collecting data concerning property tax assessment, tax capacity, tax rates and accountability, and was primary point person for implementation of PL 191-206. He retired from the Indiana Department of Education in 2007.
Dr. Riley has written many articles on school finance and has made many public presentations on the topic. He is Post Commander of American Legion Post 229 in Hope, a member of the Scottish Rite, Murat Shrine, and the Bartholomew County Shrine Club. His years since retirement have been filled with involvement in many volunteer organizations. Bill and his wife Linda were married in 1968. They have two children and three grandchildren. The Rileys are members of the Taylorsville United Methodist Church in Taylorsville, Indiana, and Bill is a volunteer fireman with the German Township Fire Department. Dr. Riley has been the recipient of many prestigious awards most noteable,Sagamore of the Wabash. In addition, he received many awards from the Indiana Association of School Business Officials, including the highest award from that association, the John H. Young Lamplighter Award in 2010. Dr. Bill Riley's life has been one of dedication to public education, community involvement, volunteerism and patriotic service to the United States.

Dr. Charles H. Fields

Dr. Charles H. FieldsCharles Fields graduated from Hauser High School in 1984. During his high school tenure, he was a member of the band, the golf team, and graduated in the Top Ten of his class. After graduation, he joined the United States Air Force, eventually earning the rank of Staff Sergeant. Dr. Fields earned a Bachelors Degree from the University of California at Irvine in 1992. He then went on to the University at Berkeley where he earned a Masters in 1993, and a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1997. In 2008, Charles was recognized by NASA as a "Highly Qualified" astronaut candidate. Dr. Fields' career has involved research in satellite communications, advanced statistical process control for semiconductor manufacturing, and statistical process control, which are military electronic warfare systems.
Dr. Fields is a private pilot, and through his achievement, he has become a lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol. In this capacity, Fields has flown many missions involving counter drug and border security. He flew space shuttle recovery missions and has been involved in the search and rescue of personnel. Dr. Fields was appointed manager of the Archer program which is a custom-designed system of hyper-spectral imaging hardware and software. Hyper spectral imaging supports CAP missions in the areas of search and rescue, counter drug, disaster relief, and homeland security. He is the author of over 80 journal and conference publications. He is also a Boy Scout Den Leader, a volunteer substitute music teacher, and plays several instruments for a Big Band in the Los Angeles area. Dr. Fields and his wife, Vanessa, live in Santa Rose, California where he enjoys surfing, golfing, skiing, and tennis. Dr. Charles Fields is a man who rose from humble beginnings to become a multi-talented person who provides invaluable service to the defense, security, and well-being of the United States.