OKOBOJI COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT HALL OF FAME
This page highlights a few graduates of Okoboji Community Schools who have "Pioneered their Pathway" and have gone on and accomplished great things after leaving our school system. Please check back frequently for updates as we will continue to grow the list of honorees.
Okoboji Class of 2000
OHS graduate of 2000, Stephanie Fisk is tackling one of the world’s most daunting issues. While traveling abroad, she came face to face with the dark realities of human trafficking. Currently residing in Malaga, Spain, she works with an international non-profit called MATTOO (Men Against the Trafficking of Others.) Stephanie can be contacted via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.
Arnolds Park Schools - 1920s
Attending Arnolds Park Public School in the 1920’s, Maynard Reece combined a love of nature and a talent for art which made him America’s foremost wildlife painter. He is the only five-time winner of the Federal Duck Stamp and his work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Sports Afield, Life and Saturday Evening Post. Mr. Reece currently resides in Des Moines and can be contacted at maynardreecegallery.com.
Okoboji Class of 1987
After graduating OHS in 1987, Jill Hemphill attended the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Minnesota Law School. After 17 years at Coopers & Lybrand LLP, now PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, she joined General Electric as Tax Counsel.
Jill travels worldwide specializing in expatriate taxation, global equity compensation, and employment tax issues. With over 300,000 people in over 100 countries, GE's products span the energy, health, home, transportation, and finance industries.
Jill credits an excellent educational experience at Okoboji (Milford) and states, "I had the good fortune of having coaches and teachers who set high expectations and provided encouragement and guidance along the way."
Jill states, "One teacher, in particular, helped me develop an important skill that has been a key factor in my professional success. After taking one of her English classes, this teacher, who was also the Speech Coach, specifically asked me to join the speech team."
"I had never considered joining, but she convinced me to try. Knowing my passion for sports, she helped me develop a speech on sportsmanship, and I went on to excel in speech competitions. This experience enhanced my confidence and skills for public speaking, which has been a key to my professional success."
Okoboji Class of 1973
Rod Simonson honed his entrepreneurial skills in 1980 by opening a restaurant in Milford. Soon after, he bought the franchise ownership to six locations across Iowa.
His home-grown enterprise, Land Mark Products, manufactures food products sold to convenience stores under Piccadilly Circus Pizza and Day 'n Night Bites brands with over 1,000 locations nationally and distribution centers on both the east and west coasts.
This low-profile person can be found working diligently behind the scenes on several community projects. With Pioneer Spirit, Rod is an example of achievement through hard work and persistence.
Arnolds Park Class of 1963
Combining technology with energy resources, Tom Smith is President/CEO of Geophysical Insights, a software company devoted to developing neural network software for geophysicists and geologists who are predicting where to drill for oil and gas. Along with wife, Evonne, their first company, Seismic Micro-Technology (SMT) was sold in 2007. SMT had grown to 150 employees across four international offices – Houston, Texas: Croyden, UK: Leoben, Austria and Singapore.
Graduating from Iowa State University in 1971 with B.S. and M.S., Tom maintains his ties to Ames. ISU awarded Tom the Citation of Merit for National and International Recognition in 2002 and Distinguished Alumnus Lecturer Award in 1996. He serves on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Advisory Board and ISU Foundation Board of Governors.
Crediting much of his success to his education, Tom stated, “Without Arnolds Park and my family there, I would have never succeeded in Ames. You have to wisely choose your next direction and be stubbornly determined to do your best. Life is an adventure in learning, so treat it like your book. There are chapters filled with sadness and others with joy. Hopefully, we meet each challenge with dignity and grace, but nonetheless, each chapter is part of our story. My heart lies on Lake Okoboji.”
Dallas Cook Dotson
Okoboji Class of 1999
Dallas Dotson combined her passion for healthy skin with entrepreneurial prowess to create a lucrative business. Established in 2007, Okoboji Skin Care is a medical skin clinic located on Highway 71 in Okoboji that caters to a multitude of skin care and retail needs. A seasonal satellite called Fleshtones is located in the Central Emporium in Arnolds Park.
Her enthusiasm for being a business owner is contagious. As a licensed therapist, she utilizes her artistic background as well as her love of science and skin to serve clients and resolve skin issues. Dallas was recently featured in The Ladies Room, a collection of interviews of successful women with passion, connected with a purpose.
Dallas shares her philosophy with those wanting to follow in her footsteps, “No matter where you are in life, it’s important to always be yourself. I love to see individuals grow and change and blossom into who they are. We can all help each other out along the way by appreciating and accepting one another. We are all kinds of kinds.
Major Lance Dorenkamp
Okoboji Class of 1999
Precision and performance are two hallmarks that define Major Lance Dorenkamp (Class of 1999). Attending Iowa State University, Lance was honored as the top graduate of the ISU Air Force ROTC Class of 2003 as the recipient of the Governor’s Cup and was selected as Wing Commander.
Major Dornenkamp was deployed eight times in combat zones during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn. He has also delivered humanitarian aid to Haiti and Pakistan. Currently, he is assigned to US Air Force 349th Refueling Squadron at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, KS as Assistant Director of Operations.
Reflecting on his education, Major Dorenkamp states, “My experience within Okoboji Community Schools enabled me with a foundation toward a lifetime of learning. Okoboji was where I learned how to learn. It gave me the tools to eventually become a professional pilot and military officer. I also had the chance to broaden my interests with sports and music programs at incredible facilities. While these are now only hobbies, they are some of my main outlets for relieving stress in what can be a pretty intense line of work.”
Betty Meyer Farmer & Mary Meyer Hemphill
Okoboji Class of 1942 & Okoboji Class of 1940
Betty and older sister Mary were practically inseparable. Graduating in 1942 and 1940 respectfully from then Milford High School, they found their way into history. Along with classmates Sarah Jane Chaffin and Toinette Jensen, the four young ladies joined the Waves during WWII in 1944 as featured in the Des Moines Register.
After long bus and train rides, Betty and Mary arrived scared and homesick in New York for boot training. Pulling seniority rank, Mary always got the bottom bunk! Since both girls had dictation and shorthand skills, they were assigned to the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Arlington, VA until their discharge at the end of the war. Both sisters returned to Milford, married local boys and raised their families. With a twinkle in her eye, Betty said her time in the military was “an adventure and it was fun!”
Many OHS alumni have answered the call to duty to serve our country in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and National Guard. It is with gratitude and sincerity that we say “THANK YOU!”
Dr. Nate Noble
Okoboji Class of 1995
Dr. Nate Noble knows what it is like to be different. He has dealt with Tourette Syndrome - a neurological condition that causes a person to make involuntary body movements or vocal noises-since second grade.
To most, this condition would be a hindrance and perhaps a road block, but not to his teachers and certainly not to Nate. “I needed to move and touch people, and blurt out things, shake my head and make noises. But it doesn’t mean I wasn’t smart. So I think that formed me in some way.”
Through perseverance and determination, Nate earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa. From there he went to medical school at Des Moines University. After completing a residency in pediatrics at Blank Children’s Hospital, he went to Iowa City for fellowships in developmental behavioral pediatrics and clinical genetics.
Dr. Noble was chosen to develop and lead the new Children’s Developmental Center at Blank Children’s Hospital which opened in 2012. The Center provides early diagnosis and treatment of developmental and behavioral disabilities. Through his philosophy of turning negatives into positives, Dr. Noble is truly changing the world, one child at a time.
Kristin Hansen Dennis
Okoboji Class of 2002
Kristin Hansen Dennis was recently inducted into the IATC (Iowa Association of Track Coaches) Hall of Fame. While at Okoboji, she earned 13 State Championships and made history by being the only woman to win the triple distance sweep three years in a row. Her long list of accolades followed her to the University of Missouri where she continued her athletic success while earning Academic All-Big 12 every semester.
“Being an athlete at Okoboji was a great experience. I felt so much encouragement and support from fellow classmates, teachers, family, and the community. This kind of support helped me become the athlete I was. And academically, I was given an education that helped me excel in my academics in college despite being a busy student-athlete.”
Okoboji Class of 1996
Pursuing his musical interests, Brian attended the University of Northern Iowa with degrees in Saxophone Performance and Jazz Studies with a Chemistry minor. With a sense of adventure, he joined a show band for Carnival Cruises enjoying interesting people and cultures. He returned to Iowa State University to pursue a field in engineering.
Brian currently resides in Milford working in product development which combines his electrical and mechanical background. Fueling his passion for music, he performs with the St. Joseph’s “Holy Rockin’ Roller” Band, “Jazzed Up” Big Band, Okoboji Summer Theater and provides lessons to aspiring musicians.
Okoboji Class of 1998
The next time you log onto a computer or use an app on a cell phone, think of Kevin. His technology skills were honed by working at R&D Industries while in high school after which he graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering.
Kevin went to work for Microsoft in Seattle and later became an independent software consultant. He is a national speaker now with for internet giant Google working in product development. He is on the prestigious Dart team which is a new web programming language developed to structure web apps.
Okoboji Class of 2000
Performing in high school musicals, choir, band and jazz band laid a firm foundation for one of Okoboji’s finest vocal standouts. While attending Simpson College, John discovered opera. His vocal and acting skills led him on a journey across the nation from Seattle to New York City and many cities in between.
John has also performed in Tokyo, Moscow and London singing under the master batons of Placido Domingo, James Levine, Sir Mark Elder and Sir Andrew Davis. His vocal jewel is singing with the New York Metropolitan Opera-a dream only a few have achieved.
This master opera singer still attends concerts. Why? “Because Okoboji schools laid a foundation and NEVER discouraged, only encouraged my appreciation of SHARING music at the highest level.”