Four IU South Bend Alumni Honored for Service to their Community
Four IU South Bend alumni were recognized at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Community Service Recognition Breakfast on Monday, January 20th for their outstanding commitment to the community.
The annual awards shine light on the South Bend and Mishawaka residents who are dedicated and committed to community service and show love and respect for humanity. Of the seven individuals recognized at the breakfast, four were IU South Bend graduates.
Like the IU South Bend alumni honored at the MLK breakfast, more than 70 percent of IU South Bend graduates remain in the area after graduation, making positive contributions to the community.
Two IU South Bend alumni were recognized by Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood as “Drum Majors” for their dedication and outstanding service to the community: Peter DeKever, IU Bloomington ’90 and IU South Bend ’97: and Tony Violi, IU South Bend ’87.
Mayor Wood recently named DeKever the “historian laureate” for Mishawaka. In this role, DeKever assists the city with history projects, such as creating a display window for the items found in Battell Park’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument time capsule.
He credits his parents for his love for Mishawaka and its rich history. “My parents raised me to have in interest and pride in Mishawaka’s history,” he said. For over 20 years DeKever, a lifelong resident of Mishawaka, has been researching and writing about the city’s history. He’s the author of three widely read books about his hometown’s history: With Our Past, Past to Present, Freddie Fitzsimmons: A Baseball Life, and Walking Mishawaka. He also serves on the boards of the Mishawaka Historical Museum and the Hannah Lindahl Children’s Museum.
“It was a pleasant surprise to win the ‘Drum Major’ award,” said DeKever, an English teacher and the Social Studies Team coach at Penn High School. “I really value the opportunity to help people understand Mishawaka’s history and to promote people’s appreciation of our city’s unique identity, apart from other surrounding cities.”
Another “Drum Major” honoree is also a lifelong resident of Mishawaka. Violi was honored for his commitment to the Inter-City Catholic League. He started coaching 5th and 6th grade boys’ basketball 36 years ago and moved on to serve various roles in the Inter-City Catholic League, eventually overseeing the league’s operations. He’s been president of the Inter-City Catholic League for 24 years, and currently, he also serves as athletic director at Mishawaka Catholic.
“It’s a big honor,” said Violi. “I am very humbled. It’s all for the good, and I like to think it has a positive effect on this community and our youth.” Violi also shares his talents as an accountant on the finance committee of St. Monica’s, where he’s been a lifelong parishioner. For over 30 years, Violi has worked as an accountant at Jeffrey R. Deitchley CPA firm in downtown Mishawaka.
South Bend Mayor James Mueller recognized Teresa Phillips, a South Bend Community School (SBCS) retired educator, as a “Drum Major” for her outstanding service to the school district’s children for forty plus years. Phillips began teaching at Harrison School and moved to Washington High School where she was the assistant principal. Even after she retired, Phillips joined her colleague Sharon Hunt to form a small business called Advocacy Guidance Services. They collaborate with the SBCS superintendent of schools to facilitate the Aspiring Leaders Program, bringing her yet another way to help students grow.
Beginning each day with gratitude, Phillips believes “that she was given much and much is required of her.” One of eleven children, Phillips moved to South Bend from Tennessee when she was in high school and attended LaSalle High School. She went on to graduate from IU South Bend.
Likewise, alumnus Melvin Reed, IU South Bend ’72; IU Bloomington ’75, was awarded the Roland Kelly Award for his lifelong commitment to the community. The Navy veteran of the Vietnam War served on multiple boards and organizations, including Hot-Line, NAACP, Urban League, Family and Children’s Care Center, Community-Wide Credit Union and Memorial Hospital.
He has also been a tireless volunteer and supporter of Indiana University, serving on the boards of the IUSB Advisory Board, IUSB Alumni Association, IU Bloomington Alumni Association, and IU Neal Marshal Club.
“I’m thankful that IU South Bend opened its doors and allowed me to go to school in the evening after work, so I could get my college degree,” said Reed, who went on to IU Bloomington to earn his law degree and Master’s in Public Administration.
He returned to South Bend and opened a law office as private practice attorney. He went on to serve as a staff investigator and then as a part-time staff attorney for the South Bend Human Rights Commission. He also worked as the vice president of development with Murdock and Sons.
Politically active in local politics, Reed continues to be involved with community political development through voter registration drives, candidate development and campaigns.
Reed attributes his commitment to service to his mother. “She always told us we needed to give back to our communities and those who helped us along the way,” he said. “I believe you can’t have a weak culture and a strong community,” he added. It’s our job to get out there and build strong communities.”