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2015 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners
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Michael G. Farrow, PH. D. is a 1957 graduate of Altoona High School and a resident of Altoona, PA. Dr. Farrow earned his bachelor degree in biology from Juniata College, a Masters degree in genetics from West Virginia University and a PH.D. in human genetics from West Virginia University Medical School. He served as the Director of Genetics, Toxicology, and Teratology Animal Testing Laboratories at Wyeth Pharmaceutical Company, where he expanded preclinical testing capabilities and initiated a preclinical testing program for the safety of new medical devices. He established the Genetic Toxicology Association. He was a valued consultant for government agencies and companies seeking approval from entities such as the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency. In his retirement, he has focused his interest in history and preservation by writing and publishing a comprehensive historical account of the 175 theaters of Altoona and Blair County, Pennsylvania.


Edward E. Mackey is a 1959 graduate of Altoona High School. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY where he earned his BS in Engineering and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1964. His military service included duty stations in the United States, Europe, and Vietnam. He commanded an artillery unit in support of the 12th Marines near the North Vietnam border during the First Tet Offensive. He was awarded the Soldiers Medal for heroism, The Bronze Star, the Vietnamese Medal of Honor, The Army Commendation Medal, and was inducted into the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall of Valor in Pittsburgh, PA. Mackey earned a Masters of Business Administration in Finance degree from the Wharton Graduate School, University of Pennsylvania in 1971. He served in an advisory position to senior management of FMC Corporation at the world headquarters in Chicago; was a member of the investment firm of Babbitt, Meyers & Company, a member firm of The New York Stock Exchange; and retired as a Senior VP – Investments from Merrill Lynch. He was selected as a 2010 David Brady awardee, Merrill’s highest national award for service above and beyond for clients, colleagues, and community.  


Harry C. Smith graduated from Altoona High School in 1951 with vocational training specializing in metal spinning. This training provided the foundation that led to a successful and accomplished manufacturing career. Smith began his career with Goodyear Aircraft, advancing through the management training program, a program typically attended only by college graduates, to manager of factory operations analysis. After a brief employment with Clark Equipment Company, he joined GKN Automotive Components, Inc., from which he retired as the first vice-president and general manager of the GKN’s Alamance Facility in NC. This facility provided the first domestic source of front-wheel-drive shafts to North American based automobile manufactures. He was a leader who inspired enthusiasm with a vision to improve products and services. Smith was instrumental in developing community training programs through the Alamance Community College to train local residents in the fine art of manufacturing CV joints. In addition to his professional accomplishments, Smith is well respected for his community leadership where he has served in many service organizations.


Ronald M. Smelser is a 1960 graduate of Altoona High School. Smelser an accomplished scholar in German studies and history, taught at the collegiate level for 45 years, 41 years at the University of Utah, from which he retired in June 2015. Nationally recognized as an author and authority on Germany and its history, he has written extensively on Germany, the Nazi Party, and the Holocaust. His expertise led to his certification by the United States Attorney General as an expert historical witness for the Office of Special Investigations of the Justice Department in denaturalization and deportation cases against Nazi perpetrators. His list of published books and articles is extensive as is his list of awards, accomplishments, and honors. Of his many accomplishments, he was awarded the Alumni Achievement Award from Juniata College in 1996 and was honored by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum with the opportunity to write a preface to the Museum’s tour book. Smelser’s interest in Germany began in Altoona by playing in bands at the local German clubs. Smelser attended Juniata College where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree. He continued his study in German universities while working toward earning a Master of Arts degree and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.


The Reverend Kenneth R. Arthur, a 1954 graduate of Altoona High School, passed away on October 5, 2010. Rev. Arthur was admitted into full membership of the Central Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1961 where he remained a member for over 40 years. He began his pastoral ministry serving three churches over 13 years before being appointed to the United Methodist Home for Children where he was elected administrator in July 1971 until his retirement in 2006. Rev. Arthur transformed the home for orphaned children into a residential care facility providing a wide array of services for abused, neglected, and abandoned children. He expanded the services and facilities to include an emergency shelter, community outreach counseling services, and a foster care program. Rev. Arthur received an A.B. Degree from Lycoming College in 1958 and graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree in 1961. He was recognized with numerous awards and accolades for his service to the community. He served as chaplain to the General Assembly of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg; the Senate for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and was Chaplain of the Day for the Congress of the United States in Washington, D.C. 

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