Simpson, Tonkinson Named SCC 2018 Distinguished Alumni


West Burlington – Southeastern Community College will host receptions for this year's Distinguished Alumni honorees prior to the May 2018 graduation ceremonies.

Keokuk Distinguished Alumnus Reverend John Simpson will be honored at a reception at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9, at the Pilot Grove Savings Bank Community Room in Keokuk.

West Burlington Distinguished Alumnus Joseph Tonkinson will be honored at a reception at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 10, at the Burlington Memorial Auditorium.

Each honoree will provide a keynote speech during their respective 7 p.m. commencements.

Simpson, a 1976 SCC graduate, notes that the patience and guidance of SCC instructors like Lena Faigle, Fred Karre, Lillian Sutlive, and Raymond Goeke stood out for him. Mr. Goeke nurtured Simpson's love for music and encouraged him to study to become a piano technician.

Simpson went on to receive a bachelor's in Religion and Philosophy at Culver-Stockton College and a master's in Divinity Pastoral Ministry degree from Christian Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1999 and became a pastor at First Christian Church in Fort Madison, Iowa, in 2001. He organized the TBFC praise band and encourages local musicians to participate and grow in their faith commitment.

Simpson has ministered to those who were grieving and those who were dying, and has worked within the community as an advocate for the poor.

After earning his associate's degree from SCC, Tonkinson earned a bachelor's from Iowa Wesleyan University and an M.B.A. from Missouri State University.

His education offered an entry point to perform in the challenging stainless steel industry.
Tonkinson says he feels grateful to have worked on projects including the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park in New York City, New York, the Dallas Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the Branson Landing Amphitheater, Branson, Missouri, and the Pappajohn Bio-Medical Discovery Building at the University of Iowa.

While at SCC, he had the honor of playing basketball for the Blackhawks, which resulted in the team finishing second in the nation in 1965. Team members included Don Edwards, Roger Blalock, Gary Graham, Rick Loghry, Jim Roche, Milan Vorkapich, Virgil Watkins, and Sam Williams. The team manager was Scott Tackleson, with assistant coach Darrell Kolkman and head coach Lloyd Haberichter.

Giving back to the community is an important concept with the Tonkinson family going back several generations. His grandfather, J. C. Tonkinson, was president of the school board that built the Yarmouth High School in 1922. For 25 years, his parents, Paul and Pauline Tonkinson were noted for providing the Yarmouth Christmas light display during the Christmas holidays to the delight of followers in a tri-state area. Continuing with this important concept of giving, he will provide a gift from his estate to the SCC Foundation Legacy Society.

Both pre-graduation receptions are open to the public and include hot and cold hors d'oeuvres and beverages for a free will donation. For reservations, call the SCC Alumni Association Office at (319) 208-5062 by May 4 or email

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