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Distinguished Alumni to be honored at Homecoming
Oct. 5, 2009 --
State University Alumni Association will honor four outstanding
individuals in its 26th year of recognizing distinguished
alumni. The Distinguished Alumni presentation ceremony will be held at
halftime of the Homecoming football game on Saturday, Oct. 24.
This year’s honorees are: Wayne and
Virginia Baker, business and community leaders of Jonesboro; Jake Bell,
a theatrical stage manager and technical production manager of New York
City, and Dr. F. M. Wilson of Jonesboro, a noted physician.
Wayne and Virginia Baker
For the first time in its history, the ASU Alumni Association board of
directors has voted to present a joint Distinguished Alumni award,
feeling that the achievements of this year's recipients, Jonesboro
residents Wayne F. Baker, Class of 1955, and Virginia Robinson Baker,
Class of 1945, could not be separated.
They met as A-State students, with Mr. Baker's education interrupted by
military service during the Korean War and to help his father on the
family farm. After his graduation, he convinced Mrs. Baker to trade her
teaching career to join him in business ownership. In 1959, they
established W. F. and V. R. Baker Enterprises, reflecting the
partnership that included Baker Rentals and Sales (the first business of
its kind in this area), Baker Health Care Specialties (also the first of
its kind in the area), and Northeast Arkansas Fence Company, many of
whose fences are still standing strong after 50 years.
Reflecting their love for the alma mater which brought them together,
Mr. and Mrs. Baker are solid supporters of ASU. When a new basketball
court was needed, the Bakers donated nails and nailing machines to
install wood over the existing asphalt.
Mrs. Baker, a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta alumnae group, has served
as advisor to the sorority over the years. She also serves the Craighead
County Community Foundation, working to improve this area's quality of
life. Along with his own service on the Craighead County Community
Foundation, Mr. Baker serves on the of the Arkansas State University
Campaign Leadership Council, the Chancellor's Cabinet, ASU's College of
Nursing and Health Professions advisory board, and the Pi Kappa Alpha
alumni group. Their service has made them cherished members of the
community, the ASU family and their own extended family of nieces and
Jake Bell of New York City is a 1974 graduate of the Department of
Theatre in the College of Fine Arts. He set his sights on Broadway and
attained his goal five years
after graduation when he became stage manager for the 1979 national tour
of the Broadway production of "Grease."
In his subsequent 30-year career, he has served as stage manager and/or
technical production manager for many of the most successful and longest
running shows in Broadway history, including "Cats," "A Chorus Line," "Dreamgirls,"
"Les Miserables," "Phantom of the Opera," "Miss Saigon." and most
recently, "Wicked." He presently has eight companies of different shows
running in New York, Las Vegas, and touring the United States. He is
also currently working with the conceptual team in the planning phase of
a new musical, "Spiderman."
As owner of Jake Bell Production Management Services, Mr. Bell is a role
model for others in the technical management side of theater, and
continues to serve as an excellent resource for ASU's theatre faculty
and students concerning theatre practices in New York. He is an annual
donor to the Theater Department's scholarship fund, donates theatrical
memorabilia, and provided his testimonial regarding the quality of
education he received at ASU and how it helped him become a success on
Broadway. His success and dedication to ASU led to his receiving the
2006 College of Fine Arts Outstanding Alumnus Award, when he met with
students to share his story.
In addition to his professional responsibilities, Mr. Bell is also
involved with NYACK Center, a non-profit organization serving
underserved children, and the Friends of Rockland Lake and Hook
Mountain. He and his wife Regina Rodwell-Bell have two children, Spencer
Dr. F. M. Wilson
Dr. Francis Marion Wilson of Jonesboro, A-State Class of 1948, has spent
the majority of his professional life in service to the university and
A native of Caraway, he graduated from Caraway's Central High School in
1940. He joined the Civilian Conservation Corps in January 1941, and
enlisted in the U. S. Navy in 1942, where he served throughout World War
II aboard ship as a medical corpsman.
After his military service, he enrolled in A-State in January 1946, and
graduated in August 1948 with a bachelor's degree in biology. He
attended the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, receiving a
bachelor of science in medicine in 1951 and an M. D. in 1953. His
three-year surgical residency was at Harlan Memorial Hospital in Harlan,
Kentucky, followed by two years of surgery residency with the V.A. in
St. Petersburg, Florida.
Dr. Wilson served on the surgical staff of St. Bernards Medical Center
from 1965 through 1982. Among his many medical affiliations are the
American Board of Surgery, American Medical Society, American College of
Surgery and the Craighead-Poinsett County Medical Society, in which he
served a term as president.
Throughout his busy medical career, he also served Arkansas State
University. Dr. Wilson was athletic team physician from 1965-80; ASU
Student Health physician 1991-96; Indian Club president 1971-72, and
president of the Fast Break Club 1996-98. Serving both students and the
community's healthcare, he established the Wilson-Wisdom Nursing
scholarship. Dr. Wilson was awarded emeritus status from ASU in 1996.
He also supports our heritage as a lifetime member of the Craighead
County Historical Society, where he received the Griner Award for Best
Article in 1998. Dr. Wilson is married to Dorothy Ann Wilson; they are
the parents of Carl, Gary, Dana, Paul, Rachel, Mary, and Leland.
Since 1984, the ASU Alumni Association’s board of directors annually
selects Distinguished Alumni award recipients from nominations submitted
by the public. Selection of nominees is based on community service,
professional achievement and service to ASU. For more information,
contact the ASU Alumni office at 870-972-ALUM (2586) or e-mail