The University of Kansas Alumni Association and the student-led Homecoming Steering Committee have named Larry and Nancy Stoppel of Washington, Kansas, winners of this year’s Rich and Judy Billings Spirit of 1912 Award. The annual award recognizes Jayhawks who consistently display school spirit, pride and tradition.
The Stoppels will ride in the Homecoming Parade at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, on Massachusetts Street in Lawrence and receive their award at the Homecoming Reception, two hours before kickoff of the KU-Texas Tech football game Saturday, Oct. 7.
About the Stoppels
Larry earned his KU bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1973, the same year Nancy graduated with her KU bachelor’s degree in education. He is an optometrist with Drs. Stoppel & Brown, where Nancy also works full time. As Jayhawk volunteers, they served for more than a decade as Washington County coordinators of the Alumni Association’s Kansas Honors Program, which recognizes academically talented high school seniors statewide. Nancy also served on the statewide advisory board for the Lied Center of Kansas, KU’s performing arts center.
The Stoppels led the Flint Hills Network of KU alumni for many years, and they continue to advocate for KU in the Kansas Legislature as Jayhawks for Higher Education members. In 2004, they received the Mildred Clodfelter Alumni Award for their local volunteer service to KU. From 2009 to 2014, Larry served on the Alumni Association’s national board of directors. The Stoppels are Association life members and Presidents Club donors.
About the Spirit of 1912 Award
The Spirit of 1912 Award commemorates the first year of KU’s Homecoming and honors Rich and Judy Billings of Lakewood, Colorado, who in 2011 created an endowment to fund future editions of Homecoming. The Billings, both 1957 KU graduates, will attend their 58th KU Homecoming celebration this year.
The theme for KU’s 105th Homecoming is “Jayhawks of the Galaxy.” This year’s parade grand marshals are Jayhawks and former NASA astronauts Joe Engle, a 1955 KU graduate, and Steven Hawley, a 1973 graduate who is now a KU professor of physics and astronomy.
A complete schedule of Homecoming week activities can be found online. The Alumni Association and its Student Alumni Network oversee Homecoming 2017, which is sponsored by Crown Toyota Volkswagen and supported by Kansas Athletics, PepsiCo and Student Union Activities.
On August 21, Lawrence and the University of Kansas campus were in the path of a rare solar eclipse. Estimates indicated that 99.3% of the sun would be blocked by the moon; however, cloudy conditions in Lawrence obstructed the view of the eclipse for most residents. We reached out to Jayhawks around the country to see how they celebrated the eclipse. Here are a few of their stories and photos. Enjoy!
Larry Stoppel, c’73 Optometrist, Drs. Stoppel & Brown, Optometrists, and Flint Hills Network volunteer
Larry Stoppel and his wife Nancy, d’73, headed to northeastern Washington County and waited at the Evangelical Lutheran St. John’s Cemetery for the solar eclipse. The cemetery is in Lanham, a community that sits on the state line between Kansas and Nebraska.
“The temperature dropped and it was very dark,” according to Nancy. “Looking at the sun when it was in totality was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Words can not describe it.”
Larry added that “the solar eclipse was AWESOME, but hard to photograph. I like this short video time lapse that runs from 10 minutes before, during totality and 10 minutes after.”
The week before the eclipse I was swamped with work and didn’t have very much time to plan, but I hopped on Amazon to find the most inexpensive solar filter possible for my camera. I found a 4×4 solar filter sheet, cut it to the diameter of my 70-300 mm telephoto lens, and affixed a UV filter so it would stay on during shooting.
The day of the eclipse I had quite a few conference calls to run, emails to answer and work, work, work but I wasn’t going to let that prevent me from capturing the eclipse. Around 9:05 a.m. (PT) I went outside to set up my Canon 6D camera and check out where the sun was going to be.
Initially we had some cloud coverage in Costa Mesa, but it eventually cleared and I was able to focus on the sun within a matter of minutes. I have a custom firmware installed that allows me to automate shooting with the built-in intervalometer which shot a 1/100th of a second exposure every 10 seconds with an f5.6 aperture and ISO set to 100.
I left the camera shooting right outside my office window and between work emails and calls, I went outside to reposition the camera to account for the movement of the sun out of frame. Eventually, around 11:49, I had captured about 856 shots of the entire event. Every shot was pretty clear considering we had no cloud coverage in SoCal that day—shocker, I know.
During my lunch break I downloaded the shots and began to post on Facebook. Here is the beginning of eclipse:
Then I went back to work and as the day was winding down, I discovered I had enough shots to do a progression. I took shots from 10-minute intervals of the event and compiled this:
Thomas Wall, g’11
Owner/Architect, Mitchell Wall Architecture & Design
Mitchell Wall Architecture & Design in St. Louis was the location of a little-known KU alumni eclipse watch party. With over half my staff being graduates, pretty much every day is.
My wife, Megan (Lowdermilk) Wall, d’97, joined us about 11:15 a.m. and I got to work setting up my late father’s telescope. After much fiddling, focusing, adjusting, and focusing again, I managed to get the telescope focused on the sun (with a filter of course) and my camera attached to it.
By noon, everyone in the office was coming in and out in a constant parade. I don’t think any work got done for about 90 minutes.
But soon the moon started taking a sizable bite out of the sun, and we all stood together outside looking up at the sky. I haven’t seen this many Jayhawks looking at an orange ball since Mario’s Miracle. And when the sky got dark, and the birds stopped chirping and the crickets started, we all exclaimed at the same time. Seeing the green and gold and red and purple shooting from the sun as totality was reached was a site to behold. It was truly an amazing experience.
Photos shot with a Canon 6D using a Celestron C5 telescope as a lens.
The KU Alumni Association plans over 500 events every year for chapters across the country, and wine tastings are a popular event for many groups.
The Colorado Springs Chapter held their third annual wine tasting on April 20 at the Patty Jewett Clubhouse. Jayhawks who attended enjoyed wine and appetizers, along with a silent auction of KU items. Danny Lewis, director of alumni programs, attended the event to share updates from the Hill.
Chapter leader Julie Andrews, d’81, provided photos for us:
The next day, April 21, Jayhawk alumni, fans and friends in the Manhattan area took over the upstairs room at Varney’s bookstore for the Flint Hills Chapter’s wine tasting.
Chad Lohman led a tasting of Italian wines from the Piedmont area, and the event also featured a silent auction and raffle with unique KU items. Dr. Larry Stoppel, c’73, a member of the Alumni Association’s national Board of Directors and frequent event photographer, provided the photos below:
Be sure to check out our list of chapters to find one near you! We’re busy planning the third edition of ‘Hawk Days of Summer, where staff members will travel the country to host events to bring Jayhawks together. A full schedule will be available soon.