Stegman exhibits spirit of Billy Adams

(09-26-2011)

Article By Julie Waechter

From his home, decorated with mementos of his family's farming heritage, Don Stegman '61, '64 has expansive views of both the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountains. This vista has been a constant in his life, just as has Adams State College. The retired English professor has shown constant loyalty to his alma mater, earning him the 2011 Billy Adams Award, to be presented at Homecoming, September 30. For information and tickets call 719-587-8110.

"Don represents the ideals of Billy Adams by championing the value of a college in rural southern Colorado," said Director of Alumni Relations Lori Laske '91, '01.

"Adams State is part of me," Stegman said. "I'm still involved with sports, the theatre, music, and cultural events."

He's active with the ASC Alumni Association, not only attending local reunions, but also serving as an ambassador for the Alumni Office at out-of-town gatherings. At the recent ASC Athletics Hall of Fame dinner, Stegman had the honor of presenting the medal to inductee Jim Colbert '61, '65, a former classmate.

"I hadn't seen Jim since 1965, but we still feel close. That pride and good feelings have stayed with us."

Stegman has been a consistent financial supporter of the Grizzly Club and the alumni scholarships, and created a scholarship in memory of his late wife, Joyce Stegman '77, who died in 2005.

"Don's relationship with Adams State goes back more than 50 years," noted Adams State President David Svaldi. "He was instrumental in bringing me to ASC. He and Joyce worked very hard to help me and my family connect with Alamosa and the ASC community. He was the unanimous choice among Executive Team members for this recognition. His is a special Adams State Great Story."

That story started the day Stegman, a "farm boy" and recent graduate of Monte Vista High School graduate, declared, "I've got to go to a bigger town." But his boss at Boyd's market, Ralph Mann, handed him a fifty-dollar bill and said: "Try college." In 1957, that $50 covered one quarter's tuition at Adams State. So Stegman enrolled and was "hooked." He would become the first in his family to earn a college degree.

Stegman recalls when the Student Union Veterans Memorial was opened in 1957. "Those were exciting times. We had big bands in the ballroom, and a bowling alley."

Stegman's mentors as a student and eventual faculty colleague were Don Brooks and Budge Threlkeld. "They took me under their wings. They helped me to be a good classroom teacher, and I emulated them. They had great enthusiasm and knowledge of the subject matter."

As a professor, Stegman said he most enjoyed teaching expository writing, as well as working with theatre productions. "I am so proud of ASC's theatre program. It's right up there with Creede Repertory Theatre. I can't believe how wonderful the new theatre building is--it was a long time coming," he said.

Laske noted, "He has assisted thousands of students as a professor, and helped many of our alumni to go on to successful careers. He still keeps in contact with many of those students. He went above and beyond for ASC and still does in retirement."

Don Stegman on paper 1957

  • Enrolls at ASC 1961
  • Earns B.A. in English/Speech/Theatre at ASC
  • Begins teaching public school in Kansas 1964 * Completes M.A. in speech/theatre, English/education at ASC
  • Joins English Dept. faculty 1967
  • Doctoral work in linguistics & writing 1981
  • Publishes Clarity in English Grammar Instruction text book 1993
  • Begins transitional retirement from ASC 1996
  • Publishes Mostly Marvelous - An Overview and Oral History of Adams State College 1966-1981