January/February 1997 WSU Alumni News

Good for WSU

An avid Shocker fan and supporter, E. George Fahnestock '69 wins the 1996 WSU Alumni Recognition Award.


George FahnestockTomoko Matsuda joined WSU's women's volleyball team as a walk-on, playing without any financial assistance from the athletic department.

This semester, Matsuda receives a full scholarship through money raised by the Student Athletic Scholarship Organization (SASO). Meanwhile, members of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity sleep comfortably in a warm house, and children at the Wichita Children's Home have a safe place to stay, clean clothes and perhaps a special toy to comfort them.

E. George Fahnestock '69 is the last person who would take credit for any of this, yet he has spent countless hours making good things happen at WSU and in the wider community.

"He's been a great asset to the entire university," says WSU Alumni Association President Esther Headley '79/80. "He gives graciously of his time and mind and heart and soul."

Susan "Susie" Anderson, current president of SASO, agrees, calling him an "inspiration."

Why does he give so much of himself?

"He does it because of a genuine love for the university and community," says his wife, DeeAnne.

Fahnestock himself explains, "Once you provide yourself the opportunity to hear the message that some of these organizations put forth or see what they're trying to accomplish, it becomes infectious. It draws you to try to make a difference to those who are less fortunate or haven't had the opportunities I've had. Thank God for the Children's Home and the Boys and Girls Clubs. Thank God for the people hwo work to give these kids something. I can't make all the difference, but I can help."

Fahnestock advises and helps raise much-needed funds for many univerisity and community organizations. Associates comment first on his enthusiastic, energetic style of leadership, which motivates others to volunteer.

"Anything he gets involved with, he gets involved with 100 percent," says David Anderson, president/owner of Dealer's Leasing Inc. and long-time friend. "When I look at him. I think maybe I should get more involved. I would not have given of my time to the extent that I have without his example."

Fahnestock is the third-generation of Wichita heating and air conditioning contractors. Because his parents promised to help with costs if he spent his freshman year at WSU, Fahnestock stayed in Wichita.

"They were very wise," he says. "They knew if I enjoyed the full experience of college at WSU, I might stay here. After that first year, roots were beginning to grow, and I wasn't going anywhere."

Fahnestock worked his way up through the family business, blending charm and good business sense, to eventually become a successful sales manager. In 1980, because of a series of mergers and acquisitions, he left the no-longer-family-owned business and in 1982 opened Fahnestock Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. Legal wrangling over a non-competition agreement and the recession of 1982 made that first year difficult for the fledgling company, but he maintained a positive attitude and inspired others to see the opportunities behind the obstacles.

A proven businessman and active volunteer, Fahnestock is also a proud family man. He obviously adores his family and stresses the importance of spending time with his two young children, Eddie, 4, Haley, 1, and his grown son, Eric, 28. When people tease him about his young family, saying, "I'm glad it's you and not me," Fahnestock happily replies, "I'm glad it's me, too."

Like his family life, much of his volunteer work centers on children and young adults. "As I reflect on the things I've gotten active in and like to stay involved with," he says, "they have a lot to do with kids." A selected list of his involvements include the Wichita Children's Home, Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Sedgwick County Inc., both the Boy and Girl Scouts of America, the United Way and, of course, Wichita State.

Ever since his days as an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in business administration and playing intercollegiate baseball, Fahnestock has been associated with WSU. He has participated in the mentor program, belongs to the Shocker Hellraisers and has chaired the Shocker Auction, which raises funds to support the mission of higher eduction by supporting the WSU Alumni Association. He also is a past president of both the alumni association and SASO.

He currently serves on WSU President Eugene M. Hughes' athletics program enhancement committee, created to study the feasibility of initiating football and equivalent women's programs at WSU. Fahnestock is excited but realistic about the prospect of football returning to WSU.

"Football was part of my life," he says. "I think it's a necessary part of the university experience. If it's feasible, let's bring it back. If not, let's wait."

Citing activities such as parents' day and homecoming, as well as university program such as marching band, Fahnestock explains that football's reach goes far beyond athletics.

"Those that are in the know, know that WSU has a tremendous music department," he says. "Marching band is a vehicle to expand (music students') talents. If you have a 100-member marching band and each member has a friend or two who come to WSU because of that, what would that do for our overall population?"

He emphasizes that the enhancement committee will strive to gather all pertinent facts and is determined to apply common sense to all the information it pulls together.

"We will make recommendations to the president based on all the information we can possibly accumulate," he says. "If it's good for WSU, we'll be able to find that out. If it's good for WSU, we'll be able to fund it. If it's good for WSU, it should happen."

People see Fahnestock as having the talent and personality to bring people together, to reach consensus on what will work best for WSU and to make the difficult possible.

"He is solution-oriented, a diplomat," says Joe Verbeckmoes, assistant athletic director of development. "He has the ability to bring people to the middle, to get people to put personal preferences aside to determine what's best for the university."

His ability to gather information, study a problem from all angles and bring people together to work toward a solution has benefited the university far beyond the number of hours actually served.

"His feelings about the university are contagious," Susie Anderson says. "He inspires others, has been extremely positive, and has been invaluable to the university, especially during rough times."

"He took every opportunity to boost the athletic programs," says Verbeckmoes, remembering those rough times. "He stepped into the line of fire, in front of civic organizations, radio call-in shows, in front of every group and never flinched. He had guts, fortitude and enthusiasm. He found people who were Shocker fans at heart and pulled them into our organization. They are all still with us."

His service to the community and the university has been extensive. His desire to do the right thing for WSU has been consistent. But more than anything else, his legacy will be the number of new volunteers he has spurred to action.

"He has the tendency, by his example, to raise the bar for the rest of us," David Anderson says. "He sets the standard that all of us other folks measure ourselves by when it comes to voluntary commitments."


A Printer's Printer

Edward W. "Pete" Armstrong '42, who earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Wichita, is chairman and principal owner of McCormick-Armstrong, Wichita, and has been selected as the 1996 WSU Alumni Achievement Award honoree.

Good for WSU

E. George Fahnestock '69, the 1996 WSU Alumni Recognition Award honoree, is an avid Shocker fan.

A True Gentleman

Michael P. Tilford, former associate vice president for academic affairs at Wichita State and dean of the WSU Graduate School, is posthumously recognized as the 1996 WSU Faculty Recognition Award honoree.

Call Her 'Mom'

LaVona Spender '71/71/74, WSU University College advisor and instructor, is the 1996 Distinguished Service Award winner.

Most Likely to Succeed

Brian Wells '87 is the 1996 WSU Young Alumnus Award recipient.