NWC News Desk

Dick Wilder addresses Northwest College graduates at May 16 commencement

Posted May 5, 2009

POWELL, Wyo. - Over 155 students are expected to participate in commencement exercises Saturday, May 16, at Northwest College. The ceremony will be highlighted by two student speakers, a member of the college's 1946-47 class and a faculty member. The action gets underway at 10:30 a.m. in Cabre Gym in Powell.

Featured speakers are students Pamela Garman and Tiffani Kennedy, NWC alum Dick Wilder and Robert Stothart, recipient of the 2008 Distinguished Faculty Award.  

Garman and Kennedy's prowess as partners on the college debate circuit this year earned them a ranking in the top 10 percent of the nation in parliamentary debate. Both hale from Townsend, Mont., and are graduates of Broadwater High School.

In addition to her stellar performance on the NWC Forensics Team, Garman was also active in Student Senate and Phi Theta Kappa. She graduates with a double degree in political science and communications and plans to transfer to Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore., to study political science. Her parents are Jack and Mary Garman of Townsend, Mont.

Kennedy also served on the Student Senate, this year as vice president. She graduates with a degree in political science and plans to transfer to American University to complete a degree in international relations with a focus on African affairs. Kennedy is the daughter of Tami Kennedy of Townsend, Mont. 

Stothart is an assistant professor of English and English as a second language. He is one of the founders of the Northwest College Writers Series, now in its fourth year. Throughout his eight-year tenure, Stothart has been active in the NWC Multicultural Events Series and a sponsor for the International Club. He was selected by his peers last spring to receive the 2008 Distinguished Faculty Award.

Powell native Dick Wilder will speak to graduates as the 2009 Distinguished Alumni. When it comes to alumni, you can't get any more experienced than Wilder, who was a member of Northwest's very first class in 1946-47.

His memories of Northwest didn't include a campus or many of the activities now associated with the college - in 1946, NWC classes were held after hours in the Powell High School building. A good number of his fellow students were World War II veterans taking advantage of the newly available GI Bill.

Wilder enrolled in a rigorous pre-pharmacy curriculum at NWC but still found time to participate in the new college's Ping Pong Club. He transferred to the University of Wyoming where he picked up a bachelor's degree in pharmacy in 1950.

After his UW stint, Wilder made a beeline back to Park County to put his education to work at Cody Drug, which he owned and operated from 1951-91. Over the years, he added to his business resume Wilder Enterprises, Eastgate Shopping Center and Skyline Motor Inn.

In 1995, Wilder received the Business of the Year Award from the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce, 20 years after receiving the Bowl of Hygeia from Wyeth (a pharmaceutical company) for leadership and service to community.

Wilder's long list of leadership and service to community features 23 years as a volunteer fireman (including a stint as fire chief and secretary-treasurer for the Park County Fire District No. 2 Board of Directors), service to the Trinity Lutheran Church Council (including service as president), plus membership and terms as president on the Riverside Cemetery Board, Cody Country Chamber of Commerce, Buffalo Bill Dam Visitors Center and Park County Historical Society. Wilder was also a long-time member of the Northwest College Foundation Board of Directors.

He served in the U.S. Army Air Force from 1944-45 and has been a long-standing member of the American Legion, Lions Club and BPOE (Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks).

Wilder and his wife Marjorie raised four children in Cody - Rick, Steven, Jean Ann and Thomas.