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Two men to share Hastings alumni group’s highest honor


Two men have been chosen as Hastings Alumni of the Year for 2019. After reviewing their qualifications, the alumni board could not choose one over the other, so both will be receiving the honor.

Robert G. Smith from the class of 1949 and David L. Foote from the class of 1964 are the two recipients of the award.

Smith has left a lasting impact as an educator for service to his community, the board noted, and has enriched the lives of students, teachers and individuals for more than 70 years. He initiated the Hastings Community Saturday Recreation program and later took the concept to Grandville where it continues today.

Smith was the junior high principal, holding the position for 29 years, after which he became Grandville's community education director until 2000.

He has made substantial contributions to humanitarian and educational programs as a member of Grandville's Rotary Club where he received the Paul Harris Fellow award. He managed the Santa Claus Girls through his membership of the YMCA Service Club.

He has lived his life by putting service above self, the board wrote in conferring the honor.

Foote was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, receiving a variety of medals during his service to his country. In 1976, he began a nonprofit organization, the Hastings Child Care Center Inc., providing a day care center, two Head Start classes, an adult alternative education class, a summer recreational program for children, and a before- and after-school program. He was a founding member of the first Child Abuse Prevention Council in Barry County.

In 1994, Foote served as interim project director for Rockwood Farm in Adrian where he helped to design a working farm for autistic adults. In 2002, he became the executive director of the United Way of Kitsap County, Port Orchard, Wash. In 2010, he brought together the United Way, the Kitsap County Health District, Harrison Medical Center and the Kitsap Community Foundation, creating the Kitsap Community Health Priorities. This process created the partnership of the United Way, the community foundation, the Suquamish Tribe and the Gates Foundation to develop Kitsap Strong, which is now the central force in the community that brings together nonprofits, schools, mental health and other community groups to build resiliency in the community’s youth and to help break the cycle of poverty.

These are highlights of Smith’s and Foote’s accomplishments. A complete biography will be presented at the alumni banquet Aug. 23.

All Hastings graduates are invited to attend to honor these two men and visit with classmates and alumni.

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