Susan Odom Midgett '86, Dr. Caryl Guth '55, Dr. John Hough '54, and Marcus Thomas '85 have been chosen as alumni of the year for Mars Hill College.
Each year Mars Hill College chooses two alumni (one male; one female) from its junior college years (prior to 1964), and two alumni (one male; one female) from its senior college years as alumni of the year. Alumni chosen for this honor have distinguished themselves in one or more of the following ways: Commitment to this alma mater, service to others, leadership in the church or performance in the professional world.
Dr. Caryl Guth followed her 1955 graduation from Mars Hill by obtaining her BS and MD degrees from Wake Forest University, then moved to the San Francisco Bay area, where she practiced anesthesiology until her retirement in 2002.
Among other positions, she served as chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at Mills-Peninsula Hospitals and held leadership positions with the San Mateo County Medical Association, the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the California Medical Association, and California Association of Anesthesiologists.
After retirement, she moved back to Wake Forest, where she has endowed the Caryl J. Guth Chair for Holistic and Integrative Medicine (which led to the founding of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center). Her list of honors and awards is too long to list here, but includes Distinguished Service Awards from the California Association of Anesthesiologists and the Wake Forest University Medical Alumni Association.
Dr. John Hough, a resident of Mars Hill, spent his career educating—much of it, educating educators. After leaving Mars Hill College in 1954, he received degrees from Wake Forest University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
His career path as a teacher and principal at schools in North Carolina and Virginia eventually led him back to Mars Hill, where he became chair of the education department in 1962. Although he left the position of chair in 1971, he continued to serve as a professor in the education department until 1984, before taking the position as dean of education services at Catawba College.
Following his service at Catawba he returned to public school administration for a few years, before returning to Mars Hill College, where he headed up the education program from 1994 until his retirement in 1998.
Hough continued his formal education throughout his career, served on numerous boards and committees, and received a long list of awards, including North Carolina Principal of the Year, Distinguished Educator Awards from MHC and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and selection to the MHC Athletics Hall of Fame. He is currently a member of the Mars Hill College Board of Advisors.
Hough’s wife, Beverly, passed away in 2010. He has two daughters: Robyn Hough Luther and Holly Hough.
When Marcus Thomas graduated from Mars Hill College in December of 1985, he believed he was headed toward a life and a career focused on his passion for active adventure. But in March 1986, only three months after graduation, everything changed. Marcus fell while skiing and slid headfirst into a tree, leaving him paralyzed from the shoulders down.
About six months after the accident he received a gift of a set of Crayola paints. Initially something just to pass the time, the simple gift opened a new world for him. Marcus found that painting the scenes of nature, and sometimes being outside during the creation of the painting, kept him engaged in the outdoors, though his physical activities were limited.
Painting has become Thomas’s his full time occupation, with sales of his paintings through calendars, art shows, and later, a website. Marcus and his wife Anne spend much of their time traveling to art shows all over western North Carolina, Virginia and, in the winter, Florida.
Last fall, Thomas’s painting, Biltmore Winter, was chosen for the label of Biltmore Winery’s 2012 Christmas Wine. Around the same time, a 25-year retrospective on Marcus’ life was published, titled: Flight of the Mind, A Painter’s Journey Through Paralysis. Marcus collaborated on the book with fellow MHC alum Leslee Johnson.
Susan Odom Midgett graduated from MHC in 1986 with a BA in Elementary Education. Over the years she has put her background in education to work in many capacities outside the traditional classroom from corporate training and project management for American Express Corporation, to the more personally fulfilling work of designing and facilitating curriculum for children’s programs at her church, as well as coaching/teaching kids to swim. She is active as a community volunteer and has served on numerous committees and held leadership positions with many organizations over the years.
Midgett’s most ambitious volunteer effort to date has been a three-year campaign she conceptualized and executed to raise funds for the construction of a new medical/dental clinic at an orphanage in Southwest Haiti. Her quest to raise the large sums needed to complete the clinic included two “Escape from Alcatraz” swims by her across the San Francisco Bay to garner support. Ultimately, Susan raised awareness and funds totaling over $240,000.
In June of this year, she traveled with her husband, Robert, and their two children to Les Cayes, Haiti for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the newly constructed Klinik Espwa (Hope Clinic), located at the Pwoje Espwa Sudorphanage.
Pictured: Dr. Dan Lunsford, president of Mars Hill College (center), poses with the 2012 Alumni of the Year: (l-r) Susan Odom Midgett '86, Dr. Caryl Guth '55, Dr. John Hough '54, and Marcus Thomas '85.