Fall 2017

Night of Stars Star


On Oct. 2, 1970, one of two planes carrying Wichita State football players, coaches, university administrators and boosters crashed in the Colorado Rockies, claiming 31 lives. The university community and the nation reeled from the tragedy, but came together to organize a nationally televised benefit show at Henry Levitt Arena. As the Night of Stars telecast was being arranged, a second tragedy occurred: Marshall University’s team plane went down on Nov. 4; Marshall would share in the telecast proceeds.

The telethon, which was broadcast on Nov. 28, 1970, was spearheaded and emceed by Monty Hall hn ’71, star and producer of the TV show “Let’s Make a Deal.” Bill Cosby, Mac Davis, Leif Erickson, Phil Ford, Mimi Hines, George Gobel, Humble Pie, Marilyn Maye, Minnie Pearl, the Young Americans, Lou Rawls and Kate Smith made personal appearances.

A year later, Ernest Balay ’53, who was serving as president of the WSU Alumni Association, and Ethel Jane King, who had been hired in 1966 as the association’s first executive director, awarded Hall the first honorary membership in the association.

During the presentation of honorary alumni status (hn), Balay reported, “He called on personal friends, giants in the entertainment business, to provide a quality show that was seen over 205 stations across the United States, a remarkable feat.” Proceeds raised at the “Night of Stars” event benefited those most directly affected by the tragedies. Today, the WSU Foundation maintains the ’70 Football Memorial Scholarship Fund; donations can be made online at foundation.wichita.edu/give.

Hall returned to Wichita State in 2013 as emcee of that year’s Rockin’ the Roundhouse fundraising event for the WSUAA, which was held at Charles Koch Arena. This honorary Shocker died Sept. 30, 2017 in Beverly Hills, Calif.



For Love of Prairie

Donald A. “Doc” Distler, whose German last name – appropriately enough for a biologist – means thistle, was a member of Wichita State’s biological sciences faculty for more than 50 years.

A Conductor's Touch

Jay C. Decker ’56 – Wichita native, 1955 winner of the Naftzger Young Artist Award for his cello performance and music education graduate of the University of Wichita – was first tapped as conductor of the WSU Symphony Orchestra and concurrently associate conductor of the Wichita Symphony in 1971.

Vocalist of Note

In May 1981, when she walked across the commencement stage, LaVerne L. Baker ’56/56/81 claimed the distinction of becoming the first African American to earn a doctorate at Wichita State.

Vivacious Shocker

E. Jean (Cline) Curry '48/76 served as president of Wheaties and was named Homecoming Queen during her senior year.

Shocker Historian

George Milo Platt, WSU associate professor emeritus of public administration, received the 1997 WSU Recognition Award from the WSUAA.

Night of Stars Star

Monty Hall hn '71, star and producer of the TV show "Let's Make a Deal," emceed the 1970 Night of Stars nationally televised benefit for those directly affected by the Wichita State football plane crash.

Sports Hall of Famer

Don W. Lock '70 was a two-sport standout athlete at the University of Wichita from 1954 to 1958.

Motion Graphics Pro

Navarro Linzey d’Artagnan Parker ’97 was an Emmy-winning motion graphics animator who posted more than a decade of experience in post production and motion graphics in Los Angeles, San Diego and Wichita.

In Memoriam

Leaving lasting legacies are these Wichita State University alumni and friends.