Three graduates of Davenport Central High School have been selected to the school’s Hall of Honor and will be recognized during ceremonies next month.
“This is our 20th year, and 57 men and women have been inducted into the Hall of Honor so far,” said Don Fisher, the former Davenport Central principal who founded the project. Plaques and brief biographies of each inductee are displayed at the high school.
Honorees are selected every two years. This year’s group includes:
n Perry Lafferty, an Emmy-winning TV executive who brought to the screen such famous shows as “M*A*S*H” and “All in the Family.”
n Patsy Sue (Patti) McCormick Manus, who has worked nationally on behalf of people with developmental disabilities.
n Randy Wayne White, a fiction writer whose novels are regularly on the New York Times best-seller list.
A committee chose this year’s inductees from dozens of nominations.
Lafferty is a 1935 graduate who was already writing and producing high school plays before going on to Yale University and New York City. He was considered the last of a breed, a TV network executive who came up through the ranks of radio. His son, Steven, a California lawyer, says, “There isn’t much that Dad hasn’t done in TV.”
He brought to television such hits as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “M*A*S*H,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “The Waltons,” “Maude” and the groundbreaking “All in the Family.” He produced shows starring Arthur Godfrey and Andy Williams, and he won an Emmy for “The Danny Kaye Show.” He said one of his proudest achievements was a made-for-TV movie, “An Early Frost.” It broke the taboo of talking about AIDS, winning Lafferty the Peabody Award. He died in 2005; his Hall of Honor award will be presented posthumously.
n Manus is a 1958 graduate who is recognized nationally for her efforts on behalf of those with developmental disabilities. She has worked nationally on legislative and fundraising efforts. After her first child, Robin, was born with cerebral palsy, mental retardation and seizure disorders, Manus found there were no educational services available, so she began a program in Hope, Ark., with six children with disabilities and two volunteers. That led, in four decades, to the School of Hope, which has a staff of trained professionals and an $8 million budget.
Nationally, she has had a major impact in the economic, political and humanitarian arenas in terms of developing programs whereby adults with disabilities can live independently with assistance from aides.
n Randy Wayne White is a 1968 graduate of Davenport Central, where he was student council president. Booklist has called the author of 25 books “one of the hottest writers in America.” White has repeatedly made the New York Times best-seller list, and the American Mystery Booksellers Association chose his novel, “Sanibel Flats,” one of the 100 favorite mysteries of the 20th century. Signed first editions of that book now sell for as much as $2,700.
He is involved in a wide variety of writing and civic affairs, and has been chairman of the Hemingway Short Story competition. A lover of baseball, his PBS documentary, “Gift of the Game,” won Best of Show at the international Woods Hole Film Festival. He played baseball in high school and caught greats such as Bob Feller in three Legends of Baseball games. He lives on Pine Island, Fla.
Hall of Honor awards scholarships
In addition to honoring Davenport Central High School alumni, the Hall of Honor has awarded nearly $90,000 in scholarships to Central graduates. To date, 62 scholarships have been given and five more — valued at $1,500 each — will be awarded this year. The program is funded through private contributions.
The 2009 Hall of Honor inductees will be honored April 24 with a school program and a dinner that night at The Outing Club in Davenport. For more information to contact Tim Wernentin, the Central principal, at (563) 323-9900.