These Central supporters go above and beyond to show their spirit.
Kris Brandt Vaughn ’90
Service to Central is just part of life for Kris Brandt Vaughn ’90 of Flower Mound, Texas. Ever since graduation, she’s been giving back to the school that she says gave her so much.
“Whenever someone seems surprised that I figured out a problem or I came up with a great idea, I say, ‘that’s because I have a liberal arts education!’”
Vaughn, along with husband Trent ’90, has served in nearly every role as an alumni supporter of Central. She’s been chair of the Alumni Advisory Council, a member of the National Advisory Council, organized alumni events in Dallas, served as reunion chair multiple times, is a member of the Heritage Roll of Honor and was an Omaha area alumni rep.
Today, Vaughn’s daughter Grace is a first-year student at Central, and frequent visits to the Spirit Shoppe have made Vaughn known to the staff as the “lady from Texas who likes long-sleeved T-shirts.” Vaughn’s closet is brimming with Central apparel so “everyone in Texas knows I went to Central College.”
Perhaps the most sensational moment of Central super-fandom for Vaughn came when she, Trent, Grace and son Grant delivered Jaarsma Bakery treats to Harry Smith ’73 on air during the CBS This Morning show in New York City in the late 2000s. She had them shipped to their hotel while on vacation. Vaughn says, “All the news anchors were eating Dutch letters and we were wearing Central shirts, so we got in a plug for Central.”
Lori Humphrey Fegley ’80
Her family is full of Central connections, including husband Brian ’80, children Allison ’08 and Peter ’11, her sister and brother, and her father, who worked at Central as assistant vice president of business.
Fegley, who lives in Cedar Falls and teaches kindergarten, has loved Central since her family moved to Pella when she was eight, when her dad took a job on campus. She and her siblings had fun riding their bikes over the old bridge—“the one with no steps” she says—and she “always knew I was going to Central.”
Today, Fegley’s home is something of a shrine to the college. Central memorabilia can be found in every room, from the custom lamp in the kitchen to the basement “Champion Room” to the garage holding two cars with Central license plates. The Champion Room displays everything from a framed Central basketball jersey to pennants and Central-themed artworks. In summer months, passersby can even spot a Central C mowed into the Fegley’s lawn.
Fegley’s kindergarten class is in no doubt of which school she supports. “At school, I have a cupboard door devoted to Central posters, etc. It has been a long tradition that before the Central-Wartburg football game, my students sign a banner or make individual GO DUTCH signs for one of my bulletin boards,” she says.
But it’s not just “stuff” that ties Fegley to Central. She cherishes the “lifelong relationships” she’s built with friends and community members. In January she took part in the alumni trip to Merida, the Yucatan, and says the sense of Central community in Mexico was powerful. She attended a jazz combos concert, and the first four rows were filled with Central supporters—current students, faculty, staff and alumni. “We were all there because of Central,” Fegley says. “It brought tears to my eyes.”
Jim Danks ’64
Jim Danks ’64 has spent much of his life thinking about how to help Central and its students. He’s filled about every role available for a Central supporter: student, faculty member, coach, committee member and volunteer. But he’s also there behind the scenes, offering an encouraging word to a student or sitting in his seat at football games—he’s had season tickets for more than 30 years.
“I enjoy meeting young people,” he says. “I’m a big fan of Central because of the successes I see, whether they are in athletics, music or any other area.” Danks says Central provided him with “a great education and a number of opportunities, and I learned to convey my ideas and thoughts to people anywhere in the world.”
After graduating with a physical education degree, Danks worked at a high school for two years before teaching and coaching at Central until 1974, when he went to work for Pella Corp. After retirement, Danks returned to Central to serve as director of development for three years. Today, you’ll often find him on campus, attending events, volunteering or just saying a friendly hello.
Fans for Life
Alumni have experiences in college that stay with them for life as cherished memories. But for several Central cross country and track runners, that wasn’t enough. They wanted to mark their Central spirit permanently on their bodies. In a tradition that dates from the early 2000s, some of the runners on Central’s men’s cross country and track teams have gotten tattoos that show their Central spirit. It’s a tradition that isn’t officially handed down, but sort of organically continues as newer generations of runners see the tattoos of older teammates. From 2001 to 2014, runners share what the tattoos mean to them.
Morgan Parker ’00
“We thought it was fitting to get (a tattoo of) the running man with a Central “C”. There were four of us (that year) who decided to get a lasting mark … I got it to mark that I was part of something special, something I was proud to be identified with.”
Chris Lauman ’01
“This is something that will always be with me. It represents running, which I still love to do when I have time; it represents Central, which gave me many opportunities and experiences that I’ll never forget, and it represents a great group of guys that I had a chance to be a part of and will never forget.”
Seth Comfort ’03
“I made lifelong friends through running. Running thousands of miles with these guys creates a bond like nothing else. I am proud to have attended Central College and be a Dutchman! That is something I will have with me throughout my life; this tattoo was a small way to show that.”
TJ Weiler ’06
“When I was a freshman I knew there were some upperclassmen/alumni that had similar tattoos. I had wanted one and thought it was a cool idea. … I loved my time at Central and I met some great people and we had some amazing times. When I see my tattoo it reminds me of those people and those times and makes me grateful for all of them.”
Brent Ewing ’13
“We developed a VERY close-knit team during my years at Central. We were teammates and best friends that had shared a similar dream, to elevate the Central College cross country program to a place where it had never been before. Before long, several of us began talking about getting tattoos. It was almost like a commitment or an act of brotherhood. It was something that we all wanted to do so we all got tattoos on our shoulders so you would be able to see them when we raced with our jerseys on.”
Cody Doughan ’14
West Des Moines
“Only a select few have the tattoo really, so that makes it special. It shows we are a part of a family … Running is our family and the tattoo is a permanent representation of that.”
Eli Horton ’15
“My tattoo is a constant reminder of my time at Central and all the hard work I put into running and competing for Central cross country and track. From time to time I will look at my tattoo and remember the great moments I had with my teammates and my coach.”
Nathan Busker ’89 jokes that some of his friends claim they have never not seen him wearing Central apparel. But the joke is close to the truth. Busker owns so much Central-branded gear he could go for weeks wearing a different item each day.
Living in Oakland, N.J., where he is pastor of Ponds Reformed Church, Busker sees wearing Central apparel as a way to be an ambassador for the college, as well as showcase his Central pride. “It provides an opportunity to share,” he says. “People may see a shirt and ask ‘Where is Central?’ and it gives me a chance to tell them about it.”
Central pride runs deep in the Busker family. In addition to Nathan, his wife Kara ’89, children Noah ’16 and Mary ’20, his two sisters and father all attended Central. On Kara’s side the Central graduates include her sisters and brother, her parents (one of whom, Richard Glendening ’62, taught economics at Central for many years), her grandmother, two aunts and one uncle.
Busker says the family promotes Central because they value the foundation they received. “I love going back because there’s something that helps to re-center us when we’re back on campus,” he says. “You’re reminded of those values you learned of constant growth, critical thinking and analysis and the love of learning.”
The Buskers also learned to be global citizens at Central. “My family travels all the time and we blame Central for that,” Busker says.
Showcasing their Central pride has become something of an obsession. In addition to license plates, bumper stickers, coffee mugs and apparel, the family often chooses to wear Central gear for any family photos. The first outfit Busker’s son Noah wore was a Central bodysuit, and no matter the weather, Busker has a Central coat and matching hat ready to go. “We may be the biggest fans east of the Mississippi River,” he says. “But the family looks good in red, so how can we lose?”