August 5, 2019
Story by Brandon Steinert and Coleen Cape
The Barton Community College Foundation Board has chosen to recognize Kevin and Nancy Sundahl with the “Old Bill Honorarium” at its annual Big Benefit Auction, which is set for 6 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Great Bend Columbus Club. The honorarium allows auction attendees to donate to a scholarship in the name of the honoree.
“Kevin and Nancy Sundahl were the perfect choice to be honored this year with the Old Bill Honorarium,” Foundation Director Coleen Cape said. “As the college prepares to begin its 50th year of educational excellence, what could be more fitting than to honor two members of the first Barton class? Kevin and Nancy are not only alums of Barton but after college, they moved back to Great Bend and stayed active in all areas of the college and community. They are true ambassadors of Barton Community College and the City of Great Bend.”
Those wishing to contribute to the honorarium in the name of the Sundahls but cannot attend this year’s event may do so by contacting the foundation office at (620) 786-1136, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Sundahl Family Endowment
The Sundahls have also recently established an endowed scholarship, which is something Nancy said had been in discussion for quite awhile.
“Our family has strong ties to Barton Community College,” she said. “It has played a huge role in our lives and in the life of our community. We decided to establish this endowment as our way to ‘pay back’ the college for that role and at the same time to assist the college in continuing its mission of touching the lives of others by helping them to receive an excellent education.”
The couple were among the students in the very first class to embark on their college career at Barton Community College in the fall of 1969 when the college opened.
Kevin, who was the first athlete to be recruited to play basketball and run track at Barton, came from McPherson and Nancy was from Great Bend. They met in Biology class.
It was an exciting time for the two students at the newly established community college; Kevin leading on the basketball court and Nancy as a cheerleader for the Cougars. With their membership in this inaugural class, they were instrumental in the college’s history – involved in the selection of school colors and mascot, as well as naming the newspaper and yearbook.
After receiving their diplomas as members of Barton Community College’s first graduating class, Kevin went on to Sacred Heart in Wichita and Nancy went to K-State. The basketball star and cheerleader were married in 1973 and returned to Great Bend. They immediately continued their involvement with Barton and Kevin served as assistant men’s basketball coach. Neither Kevin or Nancy have ever faltered in their support of Barton Community College; both continue to be actively involved to this day with the Booster Club (Kevin is a Hall of Fame member) and with the Foundation Board of Directors (Nancy has served two terms).
All three of their sons, Shane, Kris and Lukas, attended Barton and followed in their dad’s footsteps on the basketball court.
“The boys received a great foundation here at Barton and it served them well when they transferred to K-State,” Nancy said.
As the Foundation celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017 and the college enters its 50th year of service in the fall, Nancy said it seemed like the time was right for them to move ahead with their goal of establishing an endowment for scholarships to Barton Community College.
About the Old Bill Honorarium
In 1981, the Claflin Fire Department donated a stuffed buffalo head to the foundation auction. This unique item was christened as “Old Bill” and quickly became a mainstay of this annual event being auctioned off each year since. To date, Old Bill has netted about $230,000 in support of academic scholarships and program enhancements. Since 2002, the money generated from the sale of Old Bill has taken on an additional purpose – to honor loyal supporters and donors to Barton Community College.
This year’s theme is “Reflections – Through the Years” and tickets are $45 each or $360 per table of eight, available until Aug. 12. No tickets will be sold at the door.
The doors open at 6 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Great Bend Columbus Club with complimentary beer and food available until 8 p.m. The live auction will begin at 8 p.m.
This year’s auction is underwritten by Advanced Therapy & Sports Medicine, UMB Wealth Management, Nex-Tech, ILS and Spectrum CPA Partners, LLC. The Big Benefit Auction is the most successful and longest-running fundraiser for the Barton Foundation. The money raised supports academic scholarships and enhancements to programs and facilities to directly impact the learning experience of Barton students.