Shepherd's Spotlight: A few fathers who've made a difference

As Father’s Day approaches, we at KC Shepherd’s Center want to recognize fathers for how they’ve impacted their families, as well as their communities. Nominating a father in your life for the 2021 70 Over 70 Awards is a fantastic way to honor the accomplishments and contributions of your loved ones. Nominees can be anyone over 70 in the greater Kansas City community that you’d like to celebrate for their contributions and achievements.

We’ve shared eight fantastic fathers below who have been named Honorees in the last few years. Read on to learn more about our inspiring Honorees. We hope it inspires you to take a moment and nominate someone who has made a difference in your life.

Greg Lear, 71, 2018 Honoree – Amazing

Greg Lear has been a volunteer for the Shepherd’s Center for many years. He’s served on the board of directors and on the community advisory council, volunteered as a CLAIM-certified Medicare counselor, and has been a driver for weekly deliveries of Meals on Wheels. He is also active in his church and in other organizations around Kansas City.

Greg is inspiring in all regards, finding time for others and his volunteer commitments while enjoying his retirement in many ways, from traveling and family involvement to connecting with those in his community. He’s a great example of purposeful living in retirement, juggling his family’s needs and desires with his community responsibility in helping make the lives of others better.

David Ross, 81, 2020 Honoree – Credibility

A lifelong Missourian, David Ross was born in the town of La Belle, Mo. He attended Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., and earned a law degree from the University of Missouri. Serving as a captain in the U.S. Army from 1964 to 1966, he returned to Kansas City and joined the First National Bank, which became Bank of America. David was with the bank for 38 years, most recently with the Trust Department and Foundation as a key community contact and funder.

He retired in 2004 when he was advised by medical experts that he didn’t have long to live. In the 17 years since, he’s been consulting in the community as an “outsourced fund development committee,” mostly because, as he jokes, “My wife makes me leave home in the morning and not come back until evening.”

Despite David’s self-deprecating sense of humor, he is widely recognized as a dean of philanthropy in Greater Kansas City. Thanks to him, millions of dollars have been directed to support health-related, religious, educational and other charitable causes in the Kansas City area. As one admirer said of him, “David absolutely changed the world of philanthropy in Kansas City. He was a champion of those he worked with and encouraged people to continually push their nonprofit thinking.” David and his wife Connie have a daughter, Maggie, who lives in the Brookside neighborhood.

Dr. Alan D. Forker, 82, 2020 Honoree – Dedicated

After a stellar 40-year career in cardiology, Dr. Alan Forker retired in 2016. At the mid-point of his career, he moved from Lincoln, Neb. to Kansas City to pursue a life-long dream of teaching medicine. Alan served as Professor of Medicine and Chief of Cardiology for the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Truman Medical Centers. His professional path led him to leadership positions with both the MO American College of Physicians (ACP) and the MO American College of Cardiology (ACC).

Retirement opened a wide door to Alan's "next chapter"—community service. He’s volunteered as a member (including past board chair) of the Retired Physician's Organization; advisory board member, KC Communities for All Ages; board member, Shepherd's Center of America and presenter extraordinaire on health issues to multiple organizations.

Alan has always been dedicated to the profession of medicine and to his family. As a caregiver for his late wife who suffered from Alzheimer's, he’s acutely aware of the challenges facing those who care for loved ones. He and his wife Anne are proud parents of four adult children, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandson.

John W. Walker, 74, 2020 Honoree – Mentor

John Walker was the executive vice president at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City for 10 years. He then founded Perfect Output, which provides state-of-the-art office imaging and document management technology. Since 1998, revenue for Perfect Output has grown from $600,000 to an estimated $43 Million.

John’s commitment to diversity and the community includes a philosophy of sharing knowledge. He makes himself available to other minority business entrepreneurs and assists with their ongoing development in terms of networking, relationship building, guidance and mentoring, and helping to grow their business.

He also gives a great deal of time, resources and effort in giving back to the community. He’s served as vice chairman of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, founder and former chairman of the Full Employment Council and chairman of the Downtown Minority Development Corporation, to name just a few.

John and his wife Helen have one daughter, Farrah, who is also an owner & CEO of Perfect Output, and one granddaughter, Taylor, who is in middle school.

W.H. Bert Bates, 94, 2020 Honoree – Passionate

W.H. Bert Bates is known for being passionate and for his sense of humor. He is always ready to lead a sing-a-long, especially on Veteran’s Day! He served overseas in the infantry division during World War II.

For over 68 years, Bates has practiced law and continues to do so at Lathrop GPM. He has mentored countless attorneys over the years, and as a top-notch outside legal counsel, has guided numerous companies that helped change and form the state of Missouri. He’s the recipient of the 2009 Outstanding Kansas Citian Award from the Rotary Club of Kansas City in recognition of his longstanding record of philanthropic and legal service, the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the KC Metro Bar Association and the inaugural 2018 ICON Award for his exemplary career and longstanding commitment to the Missouri legal community.

When he’s not busy at the office or helping others, he can often be found in the pub with friends cheering on his Kansas City Chiefs and Missouri Tigers. In addition, he’s been active in bringing civic and community speakers and events to Bishop Spencer Place.

Johnnie Lee Jr., 72, 2020 Honoree – Positive

Johnnie Lee is a ray of sunshine that lights up a room with his smile and positive attitude. He’s lived a life of service, from serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam to working 30 years at the U.S. Postal Service. Following that, he worked at The Negro League Museum for 10 years. You cannot know Johnnie without knowing his love of baseball and his support of the museum. He continues to play in a baseball league every summer.

For 10 years, Johnnie has delivered Meals on Wheels. He doesn’t just deliver a meal—he gets to know the people on his route and they look forward to seeing him every Friday. Johnnie shares his dedication to volunteering with his grandson, who sometimes joins him to deliver Meals on Wheels.

Johnnie is a mentor to all the youth in his life and to student volunteers who serve at Shepherd’s Center. He remembers each of the student’s names and interests, be it the kids he mentors through High Aspirations or as a KC Parks & Recreation ambassador. Johnnie's positive and giving spirit is an inspiration, and he is a role model to many.

Patrick “Rusty” Ryan, Pharm.D., 75, 2018 Honoree – Servant-leader

No one is more committed to advocating for older adults than Dr. Rusty Ryan. For 38 years, he’s given generously of his time, skills and finances to advance the Shepherd’s Center mission of empowering older adults nationwide.

Rusty discovered Shepherd’s Center in 1980 when, as an instructor in the UMKC School of Medicine, he brought his students to the Center’s weekly Adventures in Learning program. He wanted his students to learn that it’s important to continue learning and giving back as part of growing older. Many of his students went on to careers in the aging field.

Today, 100,000 older adults are served through Shepherd’s Center programs. Countless participants have taken Rusty’s seminar, “If Pills Could Talk,” and his health-advocacy program, “Partners in Health.” They’ve led healthier, happier lives because of Rusty.

John Sharp, 76, 2020 Honoree – Tireless

John Sharp is a longtime community leader and former City Councilmember, state representative and Hickman Mills School board member from south Kansas City.

Since leaving the City Council in 2015, John has devoted most of his time to volunteer work in the community. He currently serves as president of the South Kansas City Alliance, board president of the Community Assistance Council and as a 6th Council District representative on the city’s Public Improvements Advisory Committee. He serves on the boards of Cultivate Kansas City, the Hickman Mills Educational Foundation and Southland Progress and on the executive committee of the Kansas City, Mo., branch of the NAACP. John writes a regular column, South KC Perspective, for the Martin City & South KC Telegraph newspaper.

He’s received numerous awards for his community service, including the Evelyn Wasserstrom Award for his commitment to the causes of freedom and justice for minorities and oppressed people from the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Mickey Dean Leadership and Commitment Award from the Kansas City Human Relations Department, the Excellence in Government Award for protecting workers’ rights and preserving the middle class from Labors Educational and Political Club Independent, the Excellence in Leadership Award from the South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the Time Well Spent Award for his involvement in multi-cultural issues from the United Minority Media Association.

John regularly attends community meetings in south Kansas City and is tireless in his support of its neighborhoods and residents.

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