Alumni & Friends

Recognition Awards

Outstanding Tiger Alumni Award


Terry & Lyle Eaton

Class of 1955

Terry & Lyle Eaton Forty-two years ago, Terry Hodkin and Lyle Eaton took a college algebra class from Henrietta Courtright. Little did they know it was the beginning of a relationship that has held together to this day.

Terry and Lyle became friends in the class and soon began studying together. They were engaged, and a few years later joined hands in marriage. Today, on this the 40th anniversary of their graduation from Arkansas City Junior College, the Eatons have been named two of the Outstanding Tiger Alumni for 1995.


Both are humbled by the award. “It’s unbelievable because we have an outstanding class,” Terry said. “It was just a bunch of good people.” Good people with a vision. They had a plan for their lives and have made significant contributions to the community.


Terry teaches math and is coordinator for General Education Development, Adult Basic Education and English as a Second Language programs at Cowley. She joined the college in 1980.


Lyle operates Mid-West Electric Supply in Arkansas City. He served one term on the college’s Board of Trustees from 1978-82. Both have been long-time supporters of the college. “I really feel honored,” Lyle said. “There are so many other people who ought to be getting this besides me. I can name you many people who deserve it far more than me. They’ve been much, much more dedicated. They’ve put a lot more in it than I have.”


The couple are still grateful for the award, and both have extensive credentials that prove they are worthy of the honor.


Terry has made a difference in the lives of thousands of people. She and her GED staff at Cowley have worked with around 5,000 students throughout the years, and hundreds earned the GEDs. There are 299 students currently enrolled who have a GED. “I work with the GED program and I’m able to give people a second chance who really need one,” Terry said. Her work as an educator hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 1993 she received a Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas at Austin. In 1994 she gave a presentation to a national audience of community college faculty in Austin. And she also received the Kansas Adult Education Association Master Adult Educator Award. The award is presented to an individual who exemplifies professional adult education instruction in Kansas.


In March 1994, Terry was one of 40 people chosen to participate at the Working Conference on Adult Mathematical Literacy in Washington, D.C.


And earlier this year, Terry received another prestigious award when The Salvation Army of Arkansas City named her the 1995 recipient of the Harry Long Award, given annually to a person who makes a significant contribution of time and energy to community programs.


Despite all the awards, Terry remains modest. As long as she can help someone succeed, that’s all that matters to her. “I feel real good about Cowley,” she said. “Since I worked on the bond issue with Henrietta Courtright way back when and we worked hours and hours for Dr. (Gwen) Nelson, I’ve had a real feel for the college.”


If ever there was a historian for the college and the community of Arkansas City, it’s Terry. She has presented countless programs on Arkansas City history to clubs, civic groups, public school classes and to Leadership Ark City. At an early age, Terry began to save newspaper clippings and other mementos documenting events through the years. She is a charter member and past president of the Arkansas City Historical Society, and she has been historian for the Central Christian Church since 1962.


At the college, Terry has watched every building go up, and she knows everyone that the buildings and/or rooms are named for except one. Archi San Romani died when Terry was a child. “I wish all of our students could have known all these wonderful people,” Terry said. “That makes Cowley so special. “I have a lot of pride. I remember the hole in the ground before it became Galle-Johnson Hall. I’ve watched us go from the basement of one building to all of these.”

Lyle also has found time to be involved in the community. He is a 35-year member of the Kiwanis Club, is a charter member of AC Industries, is a member of the Arkansas City Area Chamber of Commerce, is a past member of the chamber board of directors, and is a member of the Central Christian Church. He worked 14 years at Gordan-Piatt Energy Group at Strother Field, then joined Mid-West Electric Supply in 1974.


Lyle recalled his four-year term on the Board of Trustees. “We saw the first dorm built and that was a good thing,” he said. Lyle said after Terry was hired and one of his children enrolled at Cowley, he didn’t seek a second term on the Board.


“It didn’t seem quite right,” he said. “There may not have been a conflict of interest there, but why put yourself in that situation?”


Lyle didn’t reveal much about his days at ACJC, only that he probably would study more if he could do it all again. “What I remember most is I didn’t study as hard as I should have,” Lyle said. “There were several things I did. Farming, hunting, fishing, girls. Almost anything except school.” Lyle is proud of the community college concept. He said the college “is an excellent industry” for Arkansas City and surrounding area. “Not everybody’s university material,” he said. “The junior college is an excellent place to find out many things. It’s a stepping stone from high school to a four-year college. And probably I never learned how to study until I was in college. “Another thing, if you are not university material, I don’t think there’s any better place to find out than at a community college. Everybody needs some type of additional education, whether it be vo-tech, college or other specialized schools.”


Lyle has experienced that. In the fall of 1956, Terry enrolled at Southwestern College and Lyle went to Oklahoma A&M, now Oklahoma State University. The choice of four-year schools was easy for Lyle because the mascot for A&M, Pistol Pete, was his grandfather, Frank Eaton. Lyle studied heating and air conditioning at A&M.


Lyle said one important responsibility instructors have is relating to the students in their classes. And with the diversity of students enrolled in community colleges, it’s even more critical. “There’s a lot of people with Ph.D.’s and so on, but if they can’t relate to the students they’re teaching, they aren’t doing their job,” he said. “I really think my wife and my daughter (LeeAnn Sturd) and others have done a great job relating to people.”


A fellow classmate from 1955, Dwight L. Ayling, had this to say about Terry:

“She has not looked for recognition for her deeds unselfishly done for those handicapped, ill, dying or perhaps mentally being beyond the capability of making decisions on their own. Terry grew up in Ark City engulfed in love. She has shared that wealth of love by reaching out and making Ark City a great place to live. I commend her, and deem it a privilege to call her my friend.”


The Eatons have three children, LeeAnn Sturd and Curtis Eaton, both of Arkansas City, and Stacy Tener of Nashville, Tenn. They also have four grandchildren.