Alumni in the News

Mr. George E. Hall – B.S., Economics (Business), 1976

Ogden Standard Examiner

After three hours stuck on a boulder in the middle of the Rogue River in Oregon last summer, Nate Pierce and his 12 year-old granddaughter, Ashley Croyle, began to think no one was going to come to their rescue. Then, Pierce said, just like out of a storybook, they saw a man zip-line across the river, landing on the rock. “He lands on the rock and said, ‘Hi. My name is Norm. This looks like a lot more fun than kayaking down the river,’ ” Pierce said. “He could see my granddaughter was nervous, so he told her he would need her help and put her to work. She pitched right in and wasn’t nervous at all anymore.” Their rescuer, Norm Goltra, was from Logan. Pierce and his granddaughter are from Ogden. Both were in Oregon to vacation on the river with other family members. While riding down the rapids, Pierce’s boat overturned, trapping the duo on the boulder. “We had a rescue kit, but there was so much weight on the boat, it wouldn’t budge,” Pierce said. “We were really fortunate that Norm was very experienced in river rescue. I never thought we would be physically injured, but I was very worried we would lose our boat and all of our gear, and you know, after five hours, when we were finally on the bank, we discovered we hadn’t lost one thing.” Goltra is one of 13 Utahns being recognized as an Every Day Hero by The American Red Cross. They will be honored during a March 20 luncheon at Union Station in Ogden. “Our heroes are our volunteers, our blood donors, people who take our classes or those who make a financial contribution to help us help others here in Utah,” said Julia Wulf, chief executive officer of the Blood Service Region in Utah. “During Red Cross Month, we thank them and encourage everyone to discover their inner hero by giving time to help people in our community.” Goltra, who will receive the Preparedness award, will be honored along with: Amir Jackson, who has positively affected the lives of more than 6,000 children in Northern Utah. Jackson, who will receive the Education award, started the Nurture the Creative Mind Foundation in 2006 with a mission to empower youths through education, creativity and character development. The foundation supports after-school programs by helping children grow in the areas of music, radio, visual arts, photography, painting and creative writing. Most of the kids are underprivileged and are not charged for their participation in this life-changing program. Washington Heights Church Pastor Jimi Pitts will receive the Community Service award. Pitts leads members from the congregation and community in an annual large-scale service project. Communities served include Ogden, Bountiful and Morgan. Each year, 400 to 500 people spend a week working on various projects such as reroofing homes, yard cleanup, painting and city improvements. The First Responder award goes to Lukus Counterman, who encountered an automobile accident in Atlanta while traveling to work on Feb. 22, 2013. His quick action saved the life of a man who was trapped in mud under his SUV. Counterman enlisted the help of others to move the vehicle enough so that Counterman could pull the man free. Because the victim was trapped facedown in the mud, he most likely would not have survived much longer. Robert Combes and Kyle Wood will receive the Good Samaritan award. On May 22, the technicians were working in Syracuse when they smelled and saw smoke coming from the roof of the home across the street. While a co-worker dialed 911, the two entered the home through the open garage door and found a woman sleeping on the couch. They quickly ushered her to safety, then removed cars from the garage to avert dangerous explosions. While the home was a complete loss, a life that could have been lost was saved by their decisive actions and selfless bravery. The Standard-Examiner did not receive photos of Combes and Wood. The Military award goes to Hoyt Kelley. As a member of the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II, Kelley became a decorated war hero by parachuting into Southern France on Aug. 15, 1944, during Operation Dragoon. The regiment’s critical contribution to the Normandy invasion helped bring about the liberation of France. The unit also spent three months in Belgium fighting the Battle of the Bulge. Kelley received a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts during the three years he served in WWII. His unit also received a special presidential citation for heroism during the Battle of the Bulge. In addition, Kelley was presented the Chevalier Legion of Honor, the most prestigious military decoration in France that is given to noncitizens. The Lifetime Achievement award will be presented to George and Mary Hall, who have worked tirelessly to enhance the quality of life in Ogden through a lifetime of support and service to the community they love. The Halls have teamed up on many projects through the Ogden School Foundation board, Weber State University Alumni Association board, RAMP, and Community Foundation of Utah. The Lifetime Community Service award will go to Reed and Martha Richards. Reed Richards’ experience as an attorney has equipped him to advocate for victims’ rights in the state of Utah. For more than 20 years, he has been able to work on the county and state levels to establish children’s justice centers in Utah. He has also helped pass legislation impacting and implementing victims’ rights and works with groups across the state that provide education and training to organizations on domestic violence and child abuse. During her career as an educator, Martha Richards created programs to help children exceed reading guidelines at the elementary level. She also served on the Weber County Library Board of Trustees, the United Way board and the PTA Council of Representatives, and served as president of the Junior League of Ogden.