Distinguished Alumni Class of 2009
Pictured from left are members of the Oxford Area Hgh School Distinguished Alumni Class of 2009: Barry D. Keys, Dr. Wanda K. Jones, Dr. Holcombe E. Grier and Vernon M. Ringler. Inductees were presented with handmade wooden bowls created by former teacher Scott Gold.
Vernon M. Ringler, Class of 1953
Vernon Ringler, a fourth generation Oxfordian, graduated in 1953 from Oxford Area High School. He then went on to pursue his business degree at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.
After graduating from college Mr. Ringler joined the U.S. Marine Corps for three years and had the opportunity to see the world aboard a ship in the Mediterranean while serving our country. After completing his active duty with a good head on his shoulders and a good education, he returned to his hometown to take over Ringler's Appliances with his brother Bill. After that he was involved with several other vital businesses in Oxford such as the Oxford News Shop, which at one point sold up to 1,000 newspapers a day.
Mr. Ringler was not just an avid businessman but also played several key roles in the Oxford community. From about 1970 to approximately 1980 he was chairman of the Board of Directors of Jennersville Hospital, or Southern Chester County Medical Center as it was known back then. He also served as vice-president of the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce and as a member of the Board of Directors of Coatesville Savings Bank, making Mr. Ringler an important asset to our community.
Mr. Ringler now spends his time managing his business with his wife and researching and preserving our local history. Both he and his wife are actively involved in preserving and remodeling buildings in town to their original splendor. - Diana Gomez, Class of 2009.
Holcombe E. Grier, Class of 1968
Dr. Grier graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, received his Master's Degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and then trained at the University of North Carolina. Today he is the Associate Chief of Pediatric Clinical Oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
When Dr. Grier was beginning his career, the cure rates for pediatric cancer were about 20 percent. Now, due mostly to the research Dr. Grier and his colleagues have done, the cure rates for some forms of pediatric cancer have gone up to 80 percent.
Dr. Grier specializes in several types of bone cancer, such as Ewing's Sarcoma, Osteosarcoma and Rhabdomyosarcoma, as well as Oncology, the study of cancer and tumors. He has done important research on the detection and treatment of Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer found mostly in teenagers and young adults. He has also done research on end-of-life care of children with cancer.
During research, Dr. Grier urges his colleagues to be open with their ideas and discoveries, which has contributed to their success. He has had research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Journal of Pediatric Oncology and the New England Journal of Medicine. This writing focuses mostly on his research of bone cancer, but also includes some writing he has done on the "effect a cancer diagnosis has on every member of the family."
In 1992, Dr. Grier received the Janeway Award for Excellence in Teaching from Harvard Medical School. Also in 2008, he got the chance to throw out a first pitch at a game for his favorite team, the Boston Red Sox. Today he is the Vice President of the American Society of Pediatric Hermatology-Oncology and serves on the Executive Committee of the Children's Oncology Group.
The children that Dr. Grier works with do not remember these big words or fancy titles. They remember his optimism, his smile, his cool bowties and his banjo. And we remember that before his success, he was once a student at Oxford Area High School. - Samantha Murray, Class of 2009.
Wanda K. Jones, Class of 1971
Many of us face obstacles in our lifetime that shape and mold us into who we are. Dr. Wanda K. Jones is no different.
Dr. Jones struggled with the early death of her father, but eventually found her way. With her adventurous and brave grandmother as a role model, Dr. Jones graduated from Oxford Area High School in 1971 and went on to Penn State University to obtain a degree in medical technology. She earned her doctorate in Public Health Laboratory Practice from the University of North Carolina.
Dr. Jones has worked in an inner city blood bank's hemotology lab, in a small town hospital as a technologist and microbiologist, and for a state public health laboratory as a laboratory improvement consultant. She .joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta in 1987 as an HIV laboratory trainer, and from 1990 to 1994 was the CDC's Assistant Director for Science in the Office of the Associate Director of HIV and AIDS. She was named the CDC's Associate Director of the Office of Women's Health (OWH) and was appointed OWH director in 1998.
Dr. Jones now works as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2002 she was the leader of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Heart Truth campaign.
Dr. Jones believes that an important issue facing young girls today is having respect for their bodies. "Everything from how you treat your body, how you care for it, how you work for it, not poisoning it ... all come from having respect for your body," says Dr. Jones. "You have the power and the control." - Breanna Davis, Class of 2009.
Barry D. Keys, Class of 1978
Barry D. Keys graduated from Oxford Area High School in 1978 and soon after completed his basic training in the U.S. Navy. Today Mr. Keys is a successful engineer and has worked for many large companies across the United States.
After basic training, Mr. Keys received additional education from the Naval Nuclear Power School and was assigned to the U.S.S. Long Beach where he served for the next four years. Upon leaving the Navy, Mr. Keys attended junior college and then transferred to the University of Washington where he earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering. In 1986 he rejoined the Navy, this time in the Navy Reserve; he continued on this path of service until July 2009 when he retired from the Navy Reserve at the rank of Commander.
During his time in the Navy Mr. Keys developed a training simulator for nuclear submarine crews, served as Production Supervisor for the U.S.S. Nimitz and the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, oversaw the dismantling of nuclear submarine reactors, managed ship overhauls and trained Navy personnel.
For three years Mr. Keys and his family lived in Oklahoma where he worked as a plant engineer for Goodyear Tire and Rubber. While living in Oklahoma, he retuned to college and earned a Master of Science in engineering and technology management from Oklahoma State University.
For a time he was employed as Electrical Engineering Manager for WASHEX in Wichita Falls, Texas. After leaving WASHEX, he took a position at Shell Pipeline Co. in Houston where he worked both on and off shore.
Mr. Keys later worked for Shell Exploration and Production as the Business Opportunity Manager. In this position he developed manufacturing strategies for the mass production of new devices for the conversion of oil shales and oil sands into usable oil.
Today Mr. Keys is back at Shell Pipeline where he serves as Chairman of the Board for the Ship Shoal Pipeline Co. and the URSA Pipeline Co. Beyond his work at Shell, he gives lectures at Texas A&M University.