PLEASANT HILL — The Newton Local Schools inducted two new members into its Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 11 at its annual alumni banquet.
Wesley Hiser, of Casper, Wyoming, was nominated by Chuck Martin. Donna Wilberding, of Piqua, was nominated by Rob Schultz of Bellbrook, Jody Smith of Ludlow Falls, and Rick Perkins of Pleasant Hill.
Wesley Hiser Class of 1958
Hiser graduated in 1958 from Newton High School. He was an honor student, a member of the track team, an FFA member and performed in the junior and senior class plays.
According to his 1958 senior yearbook, Hiser wanted to be a large-animal veterinarian.
Hiser attended The Ohio State University. According to his nomination, after two years of courses, he spoke to local veterinarians who convinced him not to go into that field. He then decided to obtain his medical degree from The Ohio State Medical School. Hiser interned in Los Angeles, California. While there, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was sent to Fort Sam Houston, then Fort Benning and was assigned to the 7th Special Forces. He also served with the 5th and 10th Special Forces.
Hiser spent 13 months on tour in Vietnam. He received the Bronze Star for his service and was also awarded the Combat Medics Badge.
In 1976, Hiser served as a pulmonologist at the Wyoming Medical Center.
Hiser admitted Vice President Dick Cheney several times and also cared for Cheney’s father.
Hiser was awarded the Physician of the Year Award in 2015 by the Wyoming Medical Society.
“Wes is a very humble man. His story needs to be told to our students as an inspiration to them. His service to his country and to his fellow man shows his concern for others. His work in the medical field is outstanding. Wes is an example of one of the finest students who have graduated from Newton High School,” stated Martin.
Retired Spanish and English teacher Donna Wilberding
Wilberding taught English and Spanish at Newton Local Schools for approximately 20 years and returned to teach for several more years after retiring in 1995.
Nominees noted Wilberding’s active role in their student life including Spanish Club activities. Their memories included dinner trips to Casa Lupita to practice their Spanish skills and hosting the annual Spanish Club dinner. Nominees Schultz and Smith noted her guidance taking students on trips to Mexico and Europe. They recalled “the experience of haggling with vendors in the canal boats on the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, sampling a “sip of tequila (with parental permission, of course) at a Mexican cantina, exploring the streets of Taxco, parasailing in Acapulco and more.”
“Donna also supported her students personally, attending band and choir concerts, athletic events, proms, recitals and more. Donna was an ever-present face in the stands for Newton Athletics,” Schultz and Smith shared. “Donna has spent most of her life supporting Newton Schools, Newton students and the Pleasant Hill community. To her students, she is a beloved teacher, a mentor, and a life-long friend.”
Co-nominee Rick Perkins also recalled Wilberding’s impact on his life in his nomination. Perkins shared memories of his high school experience including Spanish club and trips to Mexico with Wilberding. He also shared how Wilberding “has been an integral part of nearly every highlight of my lifetime and has been there to share those moments with me.”
“It’s unbelievable how many people she has maintained such wonderful relationships with and that love and respect her to this day. I can’t think of anyone else that would be more deserving of a chance in the Newton Hall of Fame than Senora Wilberding. She has certainly inspired many hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals. Of those, many have gone into Spanish education and other education roles because they were so inspired by the consummate professional. This woman is a treasure to Newton High School and certainly should be included in the Newton High School Hall of Fame,” Perkins shared.