BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Three alumni from the historic halls of Fort Madison High School mingled easily with about 40 people celebrating their inductions into the Fort Madison Hall of Honor Wednesday evening at Fort Madison High School.
This year’s inductees included Paul Schulte – Class of 1994, Bobbie Moline-Kramer – Class of 1964, and Christopher Smith – Class of 1997.
Schulte is the owner and director of Seither & Cherry Co., an industrial manufacturing company. He said being selected for the Hall is honor and accolade for giving back to the community.
“I think it’s a great thing to be honored by your peers and be giving back to the community. I’ve lived here my whole life,” he said.
He said staying in the area and help building a successful business has been one of his greatest rewards, and he hopes that Fort Madison’s current students give more consideration to staying and building careers here.
“At the end of the day, I hope the seniors decide to come back to Fort Madison and southeast Iowa and engage in business endeavors,” Schulte said.
“I really hope that happens and continues to happen. A lot of my friends are the same friends I have had since grade school. Most have come back to the area and run businesses and worked for different businesses. It really is a good friend group with a strong sense of community.”
Smith is a 1997 graduate and is now the Commissioner for the Michigan Supreme Court.
Smith said he’s not a justice but does make recommendations to the Michigan State Supreme Court justices and he prefers the behind the scenes work.
“This is just a tremendous honor and there have been so many others. Paul was just a few years ahead of me in high school and to be considered on that same level is quite rewarding,” Smith said.
Smith engaged in a lot of extracurriculars while at Fort Madison High School and said that contributed to his current success by giving him exposure to different social groups.
“I was class representative for student council and I did a lot of Key Club work. My last year I was president of the Key Club, which was a community service organization,” he said.
“I did lots of music, show choir, and speech and debate. The part helped with the lawyer part of things. Speech and debate transitions easily into practicing law and even theatrical part of the chorale music helped with that.”
He said being well-rounded in high school is one of the best ways to get ahead out of high school.
“I think the biggest advice is to just put yourself out there, get in a lot of organization and activities,” he said.
And if you throw enough darts – some of them are gonna stick.”
The third honoree is 1964 graduate Bobbie Moline-Kramer, who is a working artist with two galleries in the New York City area and is represented by museums and art dealers out east.
Moline-Kramer said being nominated was ‘a little weird”.
“On one level it’s really a little weird,” she said. “I was without a doubt, the most strange person in high school. I just did not fit and I was certainly not popular with the girls. I hung out with the boys.”
Moline-Kramer was born in Fort Madison but moved away from the area before coming back for her sophomore year at FMHS.
She said she didn’t even feel accepted at the school – until her 45th reunion several years ago.
“I was not accepted. However, the leader of the gang when I was here for our reunion actually came up and apologized to me and that changed my attitude. So when Kieth Heffner called and said he wanted to nominate me I said. ‘Are you sure? I spent a lot of time in the hallways,’ and he said “Yes”.”
She earned her degree in biomedical illustration and then left that field to sell her art and said the transition was made easier because she had already made those business connections.
Her advice for students today?…
“I would honestly tell them to shut up – and learn something,” she said.
“If you can cultivate manners, if you can cultivate being able to talk to somebody, if you can apprentice yourself to a gallery or in your field, do it. Work for free. Waitress at night, but that’s how your going to learn and you will get miles ahead of your roommates,” she said.