A military hero, a writer-professor-historian, a circuit court judge, a medical doctor and a psychologist make up the 2019 class of the Madras High School Distinguished Alumni honorees.
The committee for MHS recently announced its 2019 group, and will honor them on Sept. 27, throughout the school day and at the Homecoming football game that evening.
Honored this year are the late Tommy Tucker (class of 1999); Jarold Ramsey (class of 1955); Dan Ahern (class of 1977); Antonio Pena (class of 1982) and Shilo Tippett (class of 1991).
This is the third year of the program, which honors MHS graduates in various fields of excellence and inspiration. Throughout its three years, the program has selected former students that represent the Anglo, Native American and Hispanic cultures.
A focus of the program is to inspire current students to excel, to showcase that, although they live in a small town, they can have big dreams and reach them.
Pfc.Tucker served in the U.S. Army 101st Airborne. He was tragically killed in the Iraq War in 2006, during an insurgent attack at a checkpoint he was guarding. Known as a good friend, hard-worker and musically gifted, Tucker's death shook the community as few occurrences had before or since.
Then Gov. Ted Kulongoski spoke at his memorial service, noting that Tucker's "bravery on the battlefield will not be forgotten." A statue in Tucker's honor adorns the town square in from the Madras City Hall.
Ramsey was a student leader at the University of Oregon, English professor at Rochester University in New York, and is a published author and poet, and one of the leading experts on Native American literature.
The grandson of homesteaders who arrived in the area before Jefferson County was formed, Ramsey and his wife, Dorothy, returned to live on the family farm on the Agency Plains upon retirement. Back home, he immediately became a community leader, spearheading much of the work of the Jefferson County Historical Society, including being publisher of The Agate, the JCHS's twice-yearly publication.
Ramsey recently earned the Charles Erskine Scott Wood Distinguished Writer Award for lifetime achievement.
Ahern retired as the presiding judge of Oregon's 22nd Circuit Court in March of this year. Ahern was a standout athlete at MHS, graduated from Reed College and the University of Oregon School of Law. After a short stint as an attorney in Madras, he ran for Jefferson County judge, the lead administrator of county government, at age 29, and won handily.
The position also entailed serving as the juvenile judge, an element of the job Ahern loved the most. He served seven years at county judge before being appointed by Gov. Neil Goldschmidt to a judgeship in 1996.
Pena was a stellar student at MHS, especially in science classes. He graduated from the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Following graduation, Pena maintained a practice in Phoenix, Arizona, for 18 years, then moved to Houston, Texas, where he worked as director of clinics. He now maintains a private practice in Portland.
Pena's brother, Porferio, is also a doctor, and a first-year honoree of the MHS alumni program. The two work together in their Portland clinic.
Tippett earned a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Oklahoma State University after graduating with a psychology degree from the University of Oregon. She began her career at Seattle Veterans Administration Medical Center, where she specialized in treating PTSD, anxiety and depression.
A Wasco member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Tippett returned to the area in 2011, believing that there was a need for her services in the Madras-Warm Springs communities.
The MHS committee behind the program is urging the public to attend the Sept. 27 assembly when the honorees will be introduced and will address the students at 11:10 a.m.
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