On the evening of Friday, September 23, Alice Lloyd College held its 20th annual Alumna & Alumnus of the Year Banquet to honor two alumni for their outstanding service and leadership. Family and friends gathered inside the College’s historical Cushing Hall to celebrate this special event.
This year’s honorees were Mrs. Earletta Jann Holbrook Stamper, Class of 1977, and Mr. Gary I. Conley, Class of 1968.
Earletta Jann Holbrook Stamper, 2016 Alumna of the Year, is a resident of Kingsport, Tennessee. Earletta Jann grew up in the White Oak Community of Morgan County, Kentucky where she attended Morgan County High School. It was the encouragement of her parents, Earl and Eleanor Holbrook, which inspired Jann to attend Alice Lloyd College where she earned an Associate of Arts Degree in 1977. During the Banquet, Alumni Association President, Dr. Jerry Wayne Slone, a former classmate of Jann’s, honored her by saying, “Jann was a person of character; she was pleasant, perky, and fun. There was never a question about her faith or character.”
The qualities Dr. Slone used to describe Jann Stamper are further evident by all she accomplished after graduating from Alice Lloyd College. She continued her education at Morehead State University earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1979 and a Master of Education Degree in 1981. Morehead State University is also where she met her husband of 36 years, Michael Stamper. Jann and Michael have two daughters and sons-in-law: Deidra and Chris Pitts, and Deanna and Marshall Steinle. They are also blessed with a beautiful one-year-old granddaughter, Addison Pitts.
Following in her parent’s footsteps, Jann used her degrees to start her career in education. Her first positions were in Kentucky and later she taught at Dobyns Bennett High School in Kingsport. Jann holds strong to the belief that “The importance of an education can never be overstated.” She credits ALC as being a foundational pillar in her life and embraces every opportunity to share her ALC experiences with others. Jann currently serves as a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. One of her most gratifying accomplishments is the Earl and Eleanor Holbrook Endowed Scholarship. The Scholarship was established by the Holbrook family to honor their parents and assist Morgan County students pursuing an education at ALC. Jann is a wonderful ambassador for the College, a true servant leader, and an inspiration to others.
The 2016 Alumnus of the Year, Mr. Gary I. Conley, resides in Owingsville, Kentucky, where he owns and operates a cattle farm. Gary is originally from Hindman, Kentucky and is the son of the late Ireland “Pivot” and Olive Slone Conley. Gary earned an Associate of Arts degree at Alice Lloyd College in 1968, and a Bachelor of Science degree from Cumberland College in 1970. Later, he earned a Juris Doctor degree from Northern Kentucky University, Chase College of Law.
Even though Dr. Jerry Wayne Slone did not attend ALC with Gary, he knew Gary well as they were colleagues in the legal profession for a number of years. In reference to Gary’s extensive legal career, Dr. Slone said, “Gary is a legend in the area.” Prior to his legal career, he taught at Knott County High School, but soon into his teaching career he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was trained as a Pershing Electronics Material Specialist and taught American and Western German soldiers to assemble, troubleshoot, repair, and fire the Pershing Missile. For his service, Gary was awarded many medals and honors, he was also entered into the Pershing Guided Missile Hall of Fame.
After serving in the Army, Gary began working at a gas company which he left in 1976 to attend law school. Upon passing the Kentucky Bar, he was admitted to practice law in all Kentucky State Courts, including the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the Kentucky Supreme Court. He was also admitted to practice in federal courts such as the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky, and the U.S. Court of the Appeals for the sixth District in Cincinnati, Ohio. Gary started his legal career as a partner of a local Hindman, Kentucky law firm. In 1980, he accepted a position as corporate in-house counsel with Kentucky River Coal Company and later served as General Counsel and Executive Vice President of both Kentucky River Coal Corporation and its successor, Kentucky River Properties, LLC. His time with the Kentucky River Properties allowed him to know and form many lasting relationships with the people in the area. Even though he retired in 2010, Gary continues to serve as a member of the Kentucky River Properties Board.
In 2012, Gary’s wife, June Smith Conley, passed away following a lengthy illness. A devoted family man, Gary enjoys time and activities with his son and daughter-in-law, Eric and Belinda Conley, and his daughter and son-in-law, Erin and Mike McIlrath, and his five grandchildren: Gabe, Ava, Karys, Olivia, and Jaxon. Gary shares his love for music, travel, and outdoor adventures with his cherished friend, Mindy Thomas.
Appreciative of the opportunities which Alice Lloyd College provided him, Gary assists the school in many ways by providing support and serving as a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. At the banquet, Gary spoke affectionately of the College’s influence on his life and his interest in “seeing how ALC rises to the changes facing the educational system…but I have no doubt it will, because as Alice Lloyd said on many occasions, “The leaders are here.”
To honor the Alumna & Alumnus of the Year, ALC President Joe Stepp and Alumni Association President, Dr. Jerry Wayne Slone, presented the honorees with certificates of appreciation in recognition of their outstanding accomplishments and service to others, as well as their faithful and enthusiastic support of ALC. The honorees were also given a commemorative rocking chair.
President Joe Stepp also shared several remarks at the Banquet. He spoke of a number of exciting updates that the College is going to undertake in the future, and he also gave a brief history of the College. Ultimately, President Stepp’s comments were centered on the honorees and perhaps the recipient’s greatest compliment came when President Stepp reflected on what the co-founders would have said about Jann Stamper and Gary Conley, “Alice would say ‘You have faith as firm as a rock and aspirations as high as the mountains.’ June would say, ‘You will always be a part of ALC and ALC will always be a part of you.” The legacy that Alice Lloyd and June Buchanan instilled in graduates of Alice Lloyd College is one that nurtures passionate leaders, with strong work ethics, that hold true to the guiding principles of the Purpose Road Philosophy. The annual Alumna & Alumnus of the Year Banquet is one of many opportunities Alice Lloyd College uses to honor the countless graduates who take this legacy and apply it to every aspect of their lives.