Local historian, athletics leader to be honored
SPRINGFIELD, MO — The Evangel University Alumni Association will honor two members of the EU family for their exemplary service, with a special Trees of Honor ceremony during the Homecoming 2018 celebration.
Dr. David Stair will be joined by his family, and Dr. J. Calvin Holsinger will be remembered posthumously.
The Trees of Honor ceremony will be held Friday, Oct. 19, at 4:30 p.m. in the atrium of Riggs Hall Administration Building, at 1111 N. Glenstone Ave.
The Trees of Honor project began as an idea formed by a small group of graduates from the early 1960s and took root following Springfield’s great ice storm of 2007. The idea was to help replace lost trees and restore the natural beauty of the campus.
“With this year’s duo, 33 people have been honored on Evangel’s campus, acknowledging the legacy of service each recipient has provided to the university,” said Hector Cruz, director of alumni engagement. “An engraved bronze plaque has been placed at the base of each tree as a permanent tribute to the person being honored.”
Dr. David Stair is honored for his 38 years of service to Evangel. He joined the faculty and coaching staff at in 1976 and served as athletic director from 1982-2014.
In addition, Dr. Stair served as department chair of the Physical Education Department (now Kinesiology) from 1999 to 2007, coached the Evangel’s women’s basketball team for five seasons (1979-84), and coached the women’s tennis team for six (1977-82).
Dr. Dennis McDonald, the current director of athletics at Evangel, is one of many who has been impacted by Stair. He is a former student athlete and former assistant coach at Evangel.
“Dr. Stair is the perfect example of a servant leader,” said McDonald. “He placed an emphasis on the balanced integration of athletic excellence, academic performance and spiritual growth in our student athletes.”
As a department chair and professor, Dr. Stair was honored with Evangel’s E.M. & Estella Clark Award for Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship and Service in 2004.
Highlights of his coaching career at Evangel include the college’s first national ranking in any sport (No. 17, 1979-80 basketball), the selection of the school’s first female All-America player (Tracy Zinn, 1981), and two state tennis championships (1980, 1981).
Dr. Stair also guided the university to their first conference affiliation, joining the Heart of America Athletic Conference in 1987. Under his administration, Evangel teams won 36 conference championships in 10 different sports from 1988 to 2014, and his teams advanced to a total of 48 NAIA national and regional championship tournaments.
In 2016, Dr. Stair was inducted into his fourth Hall of Fame in recognition of his sterling 38-year career at Evangel University, by The National Association of College Directors of Athletics. He is also a member of the NAIA Hall of Fame, the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame and the Berwick Bulldogs Hall of Fame in his hometown of Berwick, Pennsylvania.
Dr. Stair’s wife, Carol, served 29 years as former President Spence’s administrative assistant and 34 years total at the university. Their daughter, Pam Calvin, is a 1988 grad, and son, David, is a 1992 grad.
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Dr. J. Calvin Holsinger III will be honored with a memorial tree of honor — he passed away at 89 on Dec. 15, 2017.
For nearly 50 years, Holsinger served as a professor of history and a higher education administrator, the last 33 of which were invested at Evangel University (1971-2004). Most of that time, he served as chair of the Social Sciences Department.
Holsinger dedicated much of his professional efforts to the field known as Public History. He served as president of the Museum of the Ozarks, the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation, the city and county Historical Sites Boards, the Celtic Society of the Ozarks, the German-Austrian-Swiss Society of the Ozarks, and the Greene County Historical Society.
He also served on local boards for groups such as the Bicentennial Committee, the Greene County Sesquicentennial Committee, and for six years as a member of the Missouri Humanities Council, the state-based arm of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“Our family is deeply honored that (dad) is being recognized by the Alumni Board of Directors as the 2018 Tree of Honor recipient,” said his daughter, Cori (Holsinger ’78) Hartje of Redman, Washington. “Those that knew him will remember that he was always interested in natural beauty. Trees, flowers and lovely landscaping brought him joy.”
Dr. Holsonger’s passion was in helping Christian universities thrive and recruit the best students and faculty. He believed that the future of the Assemblies of God would be highly impacted by the students that he dedicated his life to educate. He and his wife, Adena, set up several academic scholarships to help the next generation of students.
“These scholarships will continue to bring blessings to future students, just as this tree will be a blessing to those who enjoy its shade and beauty for years to come,” added Cori.
Over the years, Dr. Holsinger’s honors were as varied as the Ozarks Heritage Award, the Sears Award for Excellence in Teaching and Leadership, and the State of Missouri’s Award for Excellence in University Teaching.
Adding impetus to his passion for history, he was married for 59 years to Adena (Seguine) Holsinger, a direct descendent of the Puritans who came to Massachusetts in the mid-1600s.
Evangel University’s unique setting is traced back to World War II, when the land was used as O’Reilly General Hospital. In 1954, parts of the land were awarded to local organizations. The Assemblies of God received a major portion of this land to build its new liberal arts college.
Ninety-three students comprised the first freshman class in 1955. Those “pioneer” students in the first 10 years all lived and studied in the former hospital barracks. Evangel’s first permanent building in 1963 was the Klaude Kendrick Library, named for the school’s first president.
Today, the Evangel campus covers approximately 100 acres of land, roughly half the area that O’Reilly Hospital once covered. At one time, 86 barracks covered our portion of the land. Now, only the original boiler house remains.
For additional information, contact Paul K. Logsdon at 417-865-2811, ext. 7292.