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Vernon L. Pack '50

According to Vernon L. Pack ’50, the 2012 recipient of the Mary B. Thomas Award, his main complaint in life is that “there are too many people in the U.S. that I haven’t met.”

Perhaps it is that jovial spirit, in addition to his distinctive voice, his rich sense of humor, his generosity to worthy causes and his computer-like memory for historical facts that make it impossible for those who have met Vernon Pack to ever forget him.

Vernon was born in Washington, D.C., in 1925 and raised in northern New Mexico by his adoptive father, Arthur N. Pack. Vernon graduated in 1943 from McCurdy High School, a United Brethren mission school in Santa Cruz, New Mexico. He served in the U.S. Navy for three years during World War II before coming to

Otterbein in 1946 as the University’s first student from New Mexico. As an Otterbein student, Vernon wrote for the Tan & Cardinal for four years, including a semester writing the column “Surprise PACKage.” He was also an interfraternity sports official, a member of Student Council and the vice president of his freshman class.

After graduating from Otterbein, Vernon earned his master’s degree in education from The Ohio State University in 1958. For more than 28 years, he taught social studies to sixth and seventh grade students at various schools in the Columbus area, with a special emphasis on his favorite subject, Ohio history. Vernon retired from teaching in 1979.

Still an avid historian, he has a “personal library” of nearly 20,000 slides dealing with Ohio, more than 170,000 clippings about the Buckeye State and 600 books about Ohio or by Ohioans. Vernon enjoys writing about Ohio history and has had 75 articles published, as well as three mini-books.

He was the longtime historian/archivist of the Rotary Club of Westerville and served on its editorial board for 20 years. He has been an active member of the American Legion Post #171. Since 1951, Vernon has been a member of the Westerville Historical Society, serving four years as president and founding its newsletter.

He has received many awards including the Sertoma Club’s Service to Mankind Award in 1995. Westerville’s City Council presented him in 2001 with a Certificate of Recognition. In 2008, the Columbus Ohio Metropolitan Area Church Council bestowed to him its Living Faith Award.
According to Vernon, his favorite “worthy group” is Otterbein. He stays involved with Otterbein because it is “one way that an Otterbein graduate can demonstrate his appreciation to a remarkable institution.”

Vernon’s unassuming nature and his personable warmth quietly deflect attention from this humble man. But make no mistake, this prolific philanthropist has helped transform his beloved alma mater through his generosity, passion and commitment. The Vernon L. Pack Scholar and Distinguished Lecture Series,
established in 2000, has brought some of the pre-eminent thinkers and leaders of our time to this campus including the likes of Dr. Steven Pinker, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Fareed Zakaria and Dee Dee Myers. Through the Vernon L. Pack Fellowship, students are supported in their research efforts in order to strengthen their community service projects and programs.

His generous support of the Department of Music has helped that group maintain its high standards. And, as just one example among many of his life-long loyalty to his friends, Vernon endowed the Eugene C. Reynolds Speech/Drama Award in honor of his classmate and fellow Otterbein class officer.

It is most fitting and fortunate that the life of this remarkable historian is forever intertwined with the history of Otterbein. As President Krendl has said of Vernon Pack, “the spirit in which he gives to others is inspiring—the spirit of giving not for his own benefit, but for the benefit of others. It’s an honor to walk alongside him on his journey.”

Mary B Thomas Award Seal

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Cathy Carson, Director of Donor Relations & Stewardship
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