WSU Salutes Honors Outstanding Alumni

OGDEN, Utah – During its 44th Annual WSU Salutes program, Weber State University will honor outstanding alumni for their vast and varied contributions to campus and the community. The awards ceremony, hosted by the WSU Alumni Association, will be Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Hurst Center for Lifelong Learning Dumke Legacy Hall on the Ogden campus. The event is free and open to the public and will feature a short biographical video of each award recipient. For additional information, contact the WSU Alumni Association at 801-626-7535.

This year’s award recipients are Distinguished Alumni, Marlene Summers and Kem Gardner; Young Alumnus, Curtis Funk; Lewis W. Shurtliff Award for Contributions to Education, Utah Rep. Gage Froerer and Sen. Scott Jenkins; Emeriti Lifetime Achievement, Alvin Cobabe; Emeriti Homecoming Royalty, Craige and Deanna Hall; and WSU President’s Award, Nolan Karras and Spencer Stokes.

“The 2012-13 honorees are outstanding advocates for Weber State University,” said Nancy Collinwood, executive director of WSU Alumni Relations. “Each exemplifies the ideals of Weber State in outstanding academics, tremendous community service and deep commitment to making a university education available to all deserving students. We are proud to honor them and proud of their long-term dedication to Weber State.”

Bios of 2012 WSU Salutes Recipients:

Proof that learning is a lifelong process, Marlene Summers ’74, ’80, ’88, ’91, ’07 holds five degrees from Weber State, including a bachelor’s in police and military science and a master’s in nursing. Summers helped WSU’s chapter of Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society of Nursing gain national status. Her professional and volunteer efforts have won many accolades, including the prestigious Clara Barton Award from the American Red Cross. A self-proclaimed “Idaho farm kid,” Summers rose to the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, and at age 56, she volunteered for active duty in Kuwait. Summers is a gold medalist in track and field events at the Huntsman World Senior Games.
Kem Gardner ’61 learned the value of hard work as a youth helping run his father’s dairy farm in rural Davis County. After law school, Gardner co-founded The Boyer Company, one of the largest real estate development firms in the Western United States. Active in community service and philanthropy, Gardner led fundraising efforts for the 2002 Winter Olympics. He is past chair of the Utah State Board of Regents and serves on the National Advisory Council of Weber State University. Gardner established an undergraduate research scholarship fund at WSU and a scholarship that makes it possible for low-income students to receive a college education. He also generously supports the university’s College of Applied Science & Technology and the Parson Construction Management Technology program.

Curtis Funk ’11 started a profitable business while still a technical sales student at Weber State. helps mortuaries record and broadcast tribute videos on the Internet. The website has been featured in Utah CEO magazine. It was named’s #1 Tech Trend of 2010 and was among Inc. magazine’s Cool College Start-ups of 2010. Funk also developed Tukios, a software application specifically built for the funeral industry. In 2011, he co-founded Bragfire, a social video marketing tool that allows customers to create and share vacation videos online. Funk was one of five Junto Partners chosen in 2008. 

Utah Rep. Gage Froerer and Sen. Scott Jenkins ’75 are stalwart supporters of education and Weber State University at the Utah Legislature. Both lawmakers have backed numerous measures that have enabled WSU to meet its vital expansion needs and prepare students to compete in a global economy. Recently, Froerer and Jenkins worked with fellow legislators to approve funding for a second building at WSU Davis. They have championed other key construction projects, including Elizabeth Hall, and have supported enhancements to the university’s engineering program as well as the Utah Science, Technology and Research (USTAR) Outreach Program. Froerer co-chairs the Legislature’s Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee. He is an adjunct instructor of finance and real estate at WSU and coaches high school hockey. Jenkins is the current Senate majority leader and a Wood Badge-certified Boy Scouts leader.

A true “Renaissance man,” Alvin Cobabe ’57 began his pursuit of a medical degree by enrolling at Weber College when he was 38 years old, having already been a sheep rancher, a contractor, and a licensed radio and television engineer. He was also an airplane pilot and ski enthusiast. In the early 1960s, Cobabe installed a small rope tow on his family’s ranch at the bottom of Wolf Creek Canyon, and that was the beginning of Powder Mountain ski resort. Cobabe donated more than three acres of his mountain property to Weber State for use as an observatory site and science park. He was inducted into the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame in 2008.

Between them, Craige and Deanna Hall were members of Weber State’s professional staff for a total of 71 years, working in a variety of Administrative Services capacities. As longtime employees, the couple watched the school evolve from a small junior college into a thriving, nationally recognized university. Before retiring to St. George, Utah, the Halls regularly attended men and women’s athletic events and mentored student-athletes. They organized numerous Wildcat Club fundraisers and diligently supported the Stewart Library. Wildcat fans to the end, the Halls have three daughters who have each attended Weber State.

Having graduated cum laude with a degree in banking and finance, Nolan Karras ’70 later served five terms in the Utah House of Representatives, including two years as House speaker and two years as House majority leader. He was appointed to the Utah State Board of Regents in 2001 and elected chair the following year. Karras co-chairs the steering committee for Education First, a statewide citizens group dedicated to improved accountability, innovation and increased funding for education. Karras has also chaired the advisory board of the Richard Richards Institute for Politics, Decency & Ethical Conduct at Weber State University. He is a member of the search committee currently assisting the board of regents in selecting WSU’s new president. 

Hailed as one of the “brightest minds in Utah politics,” Spencer Stokes ’95 worked as a campaign consultant and legislative lobbyist prior to becoming U.S. Sen. Mike Lee’s chief of staff in 2011. The former executive director of the Utah Republican Party serves on Weber State University’s National Advisory Council and provides community feedback and guidance on strategic issues. Stokes is a staunch advocate of the university and has guided critical WSU projects and funding measures through the legislative process. He was a Weber County Commissioner from 1992 to 1996.
Nancy Collinwood, executive director, Alumni Relations
801-626-6885 •
Allison Barlow Hess, director, Public Relations
801-626-7948 •