Lehman inducted into SA Academic Wall of Fame

Authored by Jim Langham on May 14, 2012

At the second annual South Adams Academic Breakfast, held at the school on Friday morning, former graduate Doug Lehman, son of Berdell and Gretchen Lehman of this city, was inducted into the school's Academic Wall of Fame. Lehman joins last year's inductee, Eric Steiner.
Lehman, a 1980 graduate of the local high school, graduated from Indiana University and served as a deputy sheriff for Adams County and a Fort Wayne police officer before being hired by the United States Secret Service in 1989.
During that time, he has been part of large task forces to protect four sitting presidents, including George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. In addition, he was also assigned on teams protecting former presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
In addition, the top 10 students from each of the high school classes were honored for their achievements.
Those students included freshmen Ellerie Baer, Samantha Baker, Sharon Balsiger, Aleesha Goodwin, Cady Farlow, Alaina Johnson, Derek Wanner, Matthew Nussbaum and Nicholis Myers; sophomores Erika Miller, Brandy Rogers, Samantha Sprunger, Alyssa Bluhm, Allison Sprunger, Collin Affolder, Chelsea Moore, Hannah Taing, Shelby Mellencamp and Sydney Tumbleson; juniors Andrew Litwiller, Evan Liechty, Meghan Hreha, Blake Fox, Abbie Fisher, Corey Seffernick, Faith Von Gunten, Rob Fahl, Adrienne Pursley and Landon Lehman; seniors Scott Hoeppner, Jenna Smith, Jacob Werst, Adrianna Teeter, Dustin Wanner, Kristal All, Evan Johnston and Tim Lehman.
Principal Trent Lehman credited a committee made up of Ted Schwartz, Myron Schwartz, Craig McKean and Karen Dubach for assisting with Lehman's selection.
"Excellence is something that is hard to define, but you know it when you see it," said Lehman.
Most of Doug Lehman's speech pertained to his Berne and South Adams heritage and how that foundation prepared him for the characteristics needed as a husband and in his service for the United States government.
Lehman began by explaining that being in the secret service is much more than being a bodyguard. It involves planning motorcade routes, safe houses along the way for security, examining those who prepare the president's food, knowing the best hospital for trauma treatment and making sure that the president's blood type is available at every hospital in the surrounding area where he is making an appearance.
"I have great memories of my time here," said Lehman. "It was overwhelmingly a positive experience. My first inspiration came from my parents. I wanted to go to a two-year college but my mother was dead set against that. They wanted me to have a full education. They made huge sacrifices to help me in college and keep me on focus.
"I was so inspired by my parents; my dad has been part of Rotary for 40 years and has sung in the Messiah for 50 years. My mother has been unbelievably dedicated to Swiss Heritage Village. My grandfather was completely dedicated to a jail ministry. Some people spat in his face but he kept going back to tell them about Christ," said Lehman
"I can't hold a candle to my parents and grandparents and all the work they have put into church and into this community," added Lehman.
Lehman said that he was raised in First Missionary Church but he admitted that like all young people, he didn't always want to go. But he credited serving Sunday school teachers and youth leaders for sowing seeds in his heart that are coming to fruition these days.
"They instilled a compass in me that is very much a part of my life and faith today," said Lehman. "I think of Marilyn Muselman and Leroy Sprunger who were such huge influences in my life. I've learned that one of the most important aspects of being successful is attaching yourself to good people."
Lehman also praised the teaching of Jane Minch with her advanced college literature and Sylvia Myers and her "continually pushing me" in college prep courses.
"She was not always forgiving and understanding but boy could she teach the subject," Lehman said.
"Now I am the best writer in my office," added Lehman. "They are bringing their papers to me and wanting me to proofread them. I keep thinking, 'where did you people go to high school?' Now I know how important it is to attach yourself to good people, people of faith. There are good educators all around here. I think of Trent Lehman, Scott Litwiller and Jeff Rich. They were always motivated in their classes at South Adams. It's very apparent now that they are successful.
"They were leaders in their classes and now they are leaders in their fields. They are all very professional in all that they do," added Lehman.
Lehman noted that when he was attending Indiana University, he decided one Easter that he was going to attend the city's sunrise service. He mused that not many college students got up that early to attend a religious service, but six that were there that day were from Berne.
"That shows how important it was to the Berne kids that they had been exposed to their faith roots," said Lehman. "We had been served by quality people and the voices in our heads were reminding us that we needed to go to that service to celebrate the resurrection."
Lehman encouraged students and parents present at Friday's breakfast to remember that the most important things in life include good preparation, education, faith-based roots and attaching to good sound people.
"Attach yourselves to good people, people of faith, teachers you have chemistry with," emphasized Lehman. "Listen to their voices in your head."

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