Leafs News
King, Pletcher Recognized With MLAC Champions of Character Awards
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Leafs - Mon, Oct. 9, 2017

GOSHEN, Ind. — Stan King, a 1961 Goshen College alumnus, and Justine (Clemmer) Pletcher, a 1972 alumna, received the 2017 Dr. Roman Gingerich and Dr. Ruth Gunden Champion of Character awards Friday morning as part of a special Homecoming Weekend convocation.

Since 2005, the Maple Leafs Athletic Club has presented the awards annually to one male and one female they feel are great examples of the college's core values in their own lives through their work in their occupations and communities. The awards are named after Gingerich and Gunden, who were pioneers in the history of the Goshen College athletic department.

"Building champions of character is what we try to do every day," said athletic director Josh Gleason. "It's a privilege to recognize people who have taken that and used it to positively influence the communities around them."

More information, including past winners of the award, can be found at the Champions of Character award page.

Stan King ('61) - Dr. Roman Gingerich Champion of Character Award

Tennis has always been an important part of life for Stan King '61 since he first took up the sport as a second grader at boarding school in South India.

At Goshen College, King was a member of GC's first intercollegiate tennis team, playing no. 1 singles and doubles throughout his college career and winning all but two of his roughly 40 singles matches.

His first season as a Maple Leaf coincided with the debut season of intercollegiate tennis at GC in the fall of 1957, coached by none other than Roman Gingerich himself, a man King admires for his yeoman efforts to bring intercollegiate athletics to GC.

"I am grateful for my GC experience: it was positive and a good one," said King. "It gave me a strong foundation and direction for my life. Turning down a tennis scholarship at Western  Michigan University in favor of GC was, in retrospect, a crucial decision for me."

After receiving his degree in biology from Goshen, King completed his master's and doctoral degrees in plant pathology at The Ohio State University before embarking on a 30-year career in agriculture research, mostly in Nigeria, Kenya and India. His research focused largely on disease resistance in three coarse-grain cereal crops (pearl millet, sorghum and corn) grown in semi-arid areas of the developing world. One composite variety of pearl millet developed from this work added over $50 million annually to the income of pearl millet farmers in India during the late 1980s.

Soon after returning to Goshen with his wife Bonnie '65 and retiring in 1997, King took up coaching tennis, first with the girls team at Goshen High School (8 seasons) and then at GC, where he coached the men's team for 17 years. His GC teams had a 106-103 overall record, breaking Gingerich's record for wins by a coach in the program.

"It was a privilege and great opportunity for me to coach tennis, especially at GC," King said. "My career as a plant pathologist was interesting, fulfilling, and a great fit. To top that off with coaching tennis was like icing on the cake."

In retirement, King enjoys staying active by volunteering in the Goshen community, following local and international news and reading. Stan and Bonnie enjoy traveling and staying in touch with family and friends they've made over the years. They look forward to visits with their two sons, Matthew '92 and David '00, and their families, including three grandchildren who live in Colorado. Stan and Bonnie attend College Mennonite Church in Goshen.

Justine (Clemmer) Pletcher '72 - Dr. Ruth Gunden Champion of Character Award

As a student-athlete, Justine (Clemmer) Pletcher '72 had a number of different role models, especially Dr. Ruth Gunden and Berdene Wyse, her field hockey coach, both of whom "exemplified Goshen's motto of 'Culture for Service'" and made impacts on her life.

When Pletcher graduated from GC with a degree in elementary education, she started teaching at New Paris Elementary School in New Paris, Indiana, where her classroom guidelines were simple: "Treat Others Right and Do the Right Thing." She stayed involved with the GC field hockey program, officiating a number of home games and even serving as interim coach in 1980.

"Hockey was a huge part of my love of college," she said. "I found wonderful friends, enjoyed the release from academic pressure and simply had fun! I do not remember scores or records, but I do remember the camaraderie and sharing with my coaches and teammates. I knew that I was accepted, encouraged and valued, as I played hockey, learned to be a teacher and grew as a person of faith. Berdene Wyse led us with joy, intensity and respect. That was how we played and treated all we met."

When the Pletchers started a family, Justine stayed at home with their two sons, Nate '00 and Todd '05, for 10 years before returning to teaching at Middlebury Elementary School.

Pletcher remained involved with Maple Leaf athletics as her husband Ken taught, coached and served as the athletic director at the college for a number of years, and as both of their sons played soccer during their time as students at GC. The Pletchers have also been loyal members and supporters of the Maple Leaf Athletic Club, the official support group of GC athletics.

In 2008, Pletcher retired from teaching after 26 total years. Since then, she's volunteered in school programs, supervised GC student teachers and participated in children's education activities at church.

Traveling has become Pletcher's first priority in retirement, especially to visit her children and new grandson in California and Australia. When she's not visiting her sons and their families, she enjoys reading, knitting and being outside to exercise. The Pletchers attend College Mennonite Church in Goshen.