College News

Barton Foundation honors Earl and Judy Fox with Distinguished Service Award

three people posing for a photo
(from left) Barton Executive Director of Institutional Advancement Lindsey Bogner, Distinguished Service Award Recipients Judy and Earl Fox receive their award at the Barton commencement ceremony on Friday night in the Barton Gymnasium.

May 12, 2023
Story by Lindsey Bogner
Photo by Joe Vinduska

The Barton Community College Foundation honored Earl and Judy Fox as the 2023 recipients of the Distinguished Service Award (DSA) Friday at the commencement ceremony in the Barton Gymnasium. The Distinguished Service Award was created in 1981 to recognize individuals that have shown genuine regard for and performed outstanding service to Barton Community College.

Earl and Judy have been a part of the Barton family since 1969, when the college opened. They have had three seats reserved at the gym to watch games and events throughout the years, and over decades of support, they’ve been to hundreds of basketball games, theatre productions, concerts, and other events.

What started as a love of Cougar sports blossomed into a love of all things Barton, as Judy took classes and completed the elementary education program at the age of 37, saying, “It was a God thing” that she had that chance to go into a field she loved.

After her retirement as a teacher in Great Bend, Judy served with distinction on the Foundation Board of Directors for four terms over 12 years and retired from the board last year. She is most proud of the scholarships offered to students and the projects the Foundation supports that help leverage support from others and inspire generosity.

“Scholarships from the Foundation are available to everybody,” she said. “Anyone who wants to go to Barton is eligible for help. We meet students where they are interested and help them achieve their dreams. I loved all of my time on the board; the dedicated and thoughtful decisions we made truly made a difference in so many lives.”

Over the years, the Foxes have watched students come and go, and for Earl, seeing that each and every student was welcomed and cared for as family here makes all the difference. He has also been a volunteer and donor to the Foundation for many years, even though he will claim he was just supporting Judy’s efforts.

 “Students are not a number at Barton; they can’t get lost,” he said. “It’s not a giant lecture hall where the teacher doesn’t know your name.”

The Foxes have been staunch supporters of Barton and the Foundation for so long that they can’t think of a single activity or any one thing that draws them to Barton. They have a long list of favorite memories. They often share stories of these memories, attend events like the Big Benefit Auction, watch the new programs be created, and existing programs grow and love to see the unique Faculty Mini-Grant projects. Judy has a goal to start an endowment through the Foundation eventually.

“We just love Great Bend,” she said. “We love Barton. I can’t think of any place I’d rather be.”

The couple has lived in Great Bend for 61 years and has a daughter, Cindi, who lives in Pittsburg, three grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and a son, Kenny, who passed in 1991. Earl is originally from St. John, and Judy is from Casper, Wyo.

The couples’ support of Barton and the Foundation has earned them the distinct honor of receiving the Distinguished Service Award. Throughout the years, Judy and Earl’s service has made an indelible mark on programs throughout the college, across our campuses, and on the lives of thousands. The Foundation is honored to recognize them.