Alumni & Friends

Recognition Awards

Outstanding Tiger Alumni Award


Helen Louise Gochis Templeton

Class of 1953

Helen Louise Gochis TempletonHer spontaneity having settled down, this year’s outstanding alumnus at Cowley County Community College and Area Vocational-Technical School still finds time to see the world.


Helen Louise Gochis Templeton, born and raised in Arkansas City and a 1953 graduate of then Arkansas City Junior College, was chosen to receive this award largely for her volunteerism activity that spans several decades. “When I lived in Taiwan I worked in a resource center, more or less as a volunteer, for the expatriot community helping families get settled,” she said. “Particularly the wives. The men didn’t have much of a problem. But the wives were at home with children and we tried to get them settled.” That was from 1983-87, but many things happened in Templeton’s life prior to her experience in the Republic of China, including the time she spent at Cowley.


“I remember it being a very small group of students,” Templeton recalls of her days at the college. “We were Arkansas City Junior College at that time. It was a small but enthusiastic group of students. I think the first year we were in the basement of the high school and the second year in a new building. I remember, too, the year that I graduated the Tigers took second place in the national basketball tournament. I was head cheerleader at the time. It was an exhausting game. I was absolutely devastated we didn’t win.”


Templeton has experienced many triumphs, however, including her being crowned the 21st Queen Alalah in the fall of 1952. “I try to get back at least once a year, twice a year if I can,” she said. “I was back for the 1991 Arkalalah. I do like to get back and participate. It’s a fun time.” It is a trip, in fact, that will prevent Templeton from accepting her award in person Saturday. “I wish there was some way we could have worked it out,” she said. “I am very honored and wish I could be there.”


Templeton’s mother, Velda Gochis of Arkansas City, will accept the award on her behalf.


Templeton attended Kansas State University and earned a degree in biological science upon her graduation from Cowley. Her aim was to be a medical technologist, and she realized that goal in the mid-1950s. Her first job was working at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. But after two years, the West Coast beckoned. “I went with a couple of other gals to the great golden west,” she said. “We lived in San Francisco.” Templeton worked three years at Irwin Memorial Blood Bank in San Francisco, supplying blood to all the Bay Area hospitals.


Having completed that three-year adventure, Templeton set out on an even greater journey — one that would take her to a foreign land. “I and four other gals took a three-month leave of absence to the South Pacific and Far East,” she said. “We were going to Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Bangkok and Japan. It was an organized trip. But somewhere in the middle of it three of us decided we were not going to come home after it was over.” Templeton and her companions arrived in Sydney, Australia shortly before Christmas 1961.


Templeton had $1.12 in her pocket, no job and no place to stay. “I lived very frugally in Australia,” Templeton said. “We bought only items of absolute critical importance. We walked so much because we didn’t have cars. I had to have my shoes resoled two or three times.”


Eventually she found work as a medical technologist at St. George Hospital, where she spent about a year. From there it was on to Europe with a friend, traveling by ship. Templeton finally found a job at the headquarters for the U.S. Army in Heidelberg, Germany. She was a waitress at the officers club, and that’s where she met her husband.


Three months later they were engaged and soon thereafter she left Heidelberg and continued her travels, returning to San Francisco via the Panama Canal in late November 1963, 27 months after leaving on the initial three-month trip.

Templeton was married in December 1963 at the First Presbyterian Church in Arkansas City. Her stay at home, however, was short-lived. Her husband is a native of California, and Helen got a job at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital as head of the blood bank. After seven years, her husband was transferred by International Business Machines (IBM) to Fresno, Calif. That is when Helen became active in volunteer work. “I’ve always been interested in volunteering in certain areas,” she said. “When we lived in Fresno I was president of the newcomer’s club, with 200 members. I also became involved in Fresno taking school children around and animals to classrooms. We were focusing on wildlife conservation and things of that nature.”


Templeton is a travel consultant with an agency in San Jose, Calif., a job she’s held for 13 years. Her movement around the globe has been the result of her husband’s job with IBM. “When we moved from Fresno to San Jose the first time, I had always been interested in travel and wanted to get into that field,” Templeton said. “My husband said you don’t have anything you’re involved in so check it out. I found an agency close to my home that hired me on a temporary basis until I got more training.” Her training included attending night classes during a two-year span at a community college in the Bay Area. Her new career, coupled with her husband’s job, has enabled the couple to see much of the world. “It has been nice,” she said. “I’m sure we wouldn’t have had these opportunities otherwise.”


Templeton has taken trips to Africa (her first love), to the jungles of South America, New Guinea and Borneo, walked the Great Wall of China, crossed into the Arctic Circle, and traveled by special expedition ship to Antarctica accompanied by world renown explorers, adventurers and writers.


All of this after being a timid child, who if she was more than a few blocks from home, would ask in a trembling voice, “Do you know the way back home?”


She is eligible for membership in the Century Club, having traveled in more than 100 countries and on all the continents. She has endured at least three major earthquakes, two major typhoons and more than one exciting airplane landing.