Recipients of the 2021-22 Pride & Purpose Day honors were recognized Saturday, Jan. 29, at Missouri Southern.
The annual awards honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions of service to Missouri Southern or their respective communities.
Established in 2000, the Lion-Hearted Award recognizes the outstanding contributions made by the university’s supporters, either through monetary or voluntary assistance. The Spirit of Service Award was established in 2017, and recognizes a graduate of MSSU who has made a significant contribution to their community through their time, actions, talent and dedication.
The 2021 awards were postponed, so two years of recipients were honored on Saturday.
Rod Anderson, ’76: 2021 Lion-Hearted Award
Anderson is a lifelong resident of Monett, Mo., who graduated from MSSU with a degree in marketing/management. He served in the Missouri Army National Guard and in 1975 joined Produce Brokers and Distributors Inc. as a produce broker and minority partner for 40 years.
He was elected to the Monett R-1 School Board in 1996 and served five terms, including several years as president, and also served on the Missouri School Board Association’s regional board. In 2003, former Missouri Gov. Bob Holden appointed Anderson to the MSSU Board of Governors, where he served for 12 years – including two years as chair.
He’s an active supporter of Southern Athletics, serving for several years on the Lionbackers board, and has established two scholarship endowments.
Diane Reid Adams, ’71: Spirit of Service Award
Diane Reid Adams’ family moved to Joplin from Springfield, Mo., in 1952. During high school and for the next 15 years, she worked in the family business – Fred Reid AMC/Jeep – and became the first female member of the Joplin New Car Dealers’ Association. She received several business management awards from the American Motors Association as well as the Outstanding Young Women of America award.
She earned her bachelor of science degree from MSSU in Spanish and social studies education, and later her master’s degree in U.S. and Latin American history. She taught in the Joplin R-8 school district and later as an adjunct professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
After retirement in 2013, she taught U.S. history part time at MSSU. She currently serves as a member of the Joplin City Council and on the Missouri Municipal League’s state committee on municipal finance and taxes.
Jerry and Linda Keifer: 2022 Lion-Hearted Award
Jerry and Linda Keifer, who have been married for 47 years, have hosted approximately 75 international students attending Missouri Southern since 2009.
The Keifers invite the students to their home for meals and also take them on frequent excursions to Springfield, Kansas City, Northwest Arkansas, and Silver Dollar City. They also go hiking with them and give them a variety of other cultural experiences. Students have come from Japan, China, Korea, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and several other countries.
Jerry and Linda often travel and reconnect with students they’ve met over their years. In 2012, they visited several former students in Japan and met with international advisors from two of the organizations that send exchange students to MSSU.
The Keifers have two adult daughters, four grandchildren, and a soon-to-be great-grandchild and have become “Dad and Mom” to students from around the world.
Debi Koelkebeck, ’81: 2022 Spirit of Service Award
Debi Koelkebeck grew up in Bolivar, Mo. She graduated magna cum laude in 1981 with a degree in accounting, and was also named Outstanding Accounting Student her senior year.
She worked as a CPA for several years before moving to Freeman Health System, where she served as the administrative officer for a number of clinical and retail departments. She helped develop the Urgent Care Clinics, served as project manager for the Women’s Center, and oversaw the development of QuickMeds and the Pink Door Boutique while managing other departments as senior vice president.
Koelkebeck has focused on community volunteer work for the last eight years, including serving as board president for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Jasper & Newton Counties, a board member for the United Way of Southwest Missouri, and a past president of the Lafayette House. In 2015 she was sworn in as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, and was founding board president of Jasper County CASA, advocating for the best interests of children in foster care due to abuse and neglect.
Kevin Greim, vice president for development at Missouri Southern, said it was gratifying to be able to honor the group of award recipients.
“These awards are designed to recognize service to community and service to Missouri Southern,” said Greim. “We are so honored to be associated with people like Diane, Rod, Debi and the Keifers.
“Their gifts of service are so appreciated and serve as examples of what can be accomplished with you have a genuine passion for the well-being of others.”