Riverside Community Schools set to induct new class into Hall of Fame

Riverside Community Schools will honor four outstanding individuals and two teams during this year’s Hall of Fame induction.

The ceremony will take place at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the middle and high school gymnasium as part of Riverside Homecoming Week activities.

This year’s recipients will include former employees Kenneth Finnegan and Gary Funkhouser; distinguished graduates David Fahrenkrug and Steven Pierce; the 1992 Oakland Yellowjacket football team; and the 1986 Oakland Yellowjacket boys’ basketball team, according to school district records.

Kenneth FinneganFinnegan was Principal of Oakland Elementary School from 1974 to 1994. He was born in Ayrshire to George and Ruth (Myers) Finnegan and was the seventh of 16 children. He graduated from Ruthven High School in 1956. He received his bachelor’s degree from Buena Vista College in 1961 and a master’s degree in secondary education from Drake University in 1968. He married Nancy Edwards in 1961 and their union had nine children.

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He taught and coached at Pocahontas (1961-1965) and Havelock-Plover (1966-1974). He and his wife moved to Oakland, where he served as primary school principal for 20 years before retiring in 1994. He put everything he had into his primary duties, according to those who knew him.

According to Joan Turner, secretary of the elementary school, he was “a man who loved (school children) and cared for them from morning till night. Kenneth Finnegan was always ready to greet them with a cheerful hello as they got off the school bus…He had a genuine love and concern for every child that came through our doors.

Finnegan’s son, Pat, believes his father saw his job not so much as a job as his calling in life. He felt each child’s pain and he was proud of each child’s success. He had nine children at home, but considered every child who passed through Oakland Elementary as his own.

After his passing in 2013, an outpouring of testimonies and memoirs were received. The Finnegan Family Foundation was created from these funds and continues to benefit from an annual golf tournament and other fundraising activities. The foundation supports educational efforts and those in need in communities and schools in southwestern Iowa. To date, more than $49,000 has been donated in college scholarships for seniors and assistance to area teachers and schools.

Gary FunkhouserFunkhouser served as the Oakland band manager from 1967 to 1978, superintendent in Klemme from 1978 to 1980, and superintendent of Carson-Macedonia, Oakland and Whiting from 1980 to 1993. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Northwest Missouri State University (1958), a master’s degree in music from the University of Northern Colorado (1960), a master’s degree in educational administration from UNC (1964), and a specialist education degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha ( 1978). In 1978, in what could be seen as a foreshadowing of Riverside’s future, he and his counterpart from Carson-Macedonia held a joint music concert.

He campaigned tirelessly for the modernization of school facilities, and his groups grew to nearly 100 members and garnered numerous local, regional and national accolades. In 1980, he became superintendent and principal of Carson-Macedonia Elementary, where his three children graduated. In 1988, he served as superintendent of both districts, advocating for the districts to come together.

He has been a member of many local, state and national organizations. He had articles published by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Fahrenkrug is a Distinguished Member of the Carson-Macedonia High School Class of 1978. He grew up on a farm outside of Carson. He learned a great work ethic and self-discipline from his parents, Don and Marcella Fahrenkrug. In high school, he was active in football, basketball, track and field, band, choir, musicals, and other school bands.

After graduating, he worked for a farmer, then at the Farm Service Co-op in Oakland. Computers were just coming into use at this time and he developed a keen interest in them. He received his computer training at Iowa Western Community College by taking night classes and later earned an associate’s degree from the Institute of Computer Science in Omaha. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University in Chicago and an MBA in technical management from the University of Phoenix.

Fahrenkrug has 30 years of experience in information technology, including working with small and medium-sized businesses and Fortune 500 companies. He is the owner and partner of Focal Point Solutions Group, which is a managed services organization, cloud hosting and disaster recovery. He and his wife, Dianna, have two daughters, two sons and several grandchildren and reside in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Pierce was born in 1947 in Council Bluffs to Ralph Richard and Junellyn (Scheffler) Pierce. He grew up on the family farm in Oakland. He attended country school for several years and graduated from Oakland High School in 1965. He participated in football, wrestling, and track and field, and sang in the choir. He attended the University of South Dakota and played football there for a year. He also attended the CE School of Commerce in Omaha and met his wife, Margaret “Marge” Ekstein. They married in 1968.

He farmed with his father and then alone for over 50 years west of Oakland. He was very involved in volunteer work and in many community organizations. He has served on the Oakland School Board, including as chairman. His favorite activity was announcing high school football and basketball games. He was honored in 2016 as Oakland High School Alumnus of the Year, and in 2018 he and his wife were inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame. He died on January 27, 2022 at the age of 74.

Oakland Yellowjackets football team in 1992

The 1992 Oakland Yellowjacket football team finished the season undefeated, champions of District 15, ranked sixth in the state in Class A, and qualified for the playoffs. Over nine regular season games, they scored 306 points while the defense held all opponents to just 6 points. One of the highlighted matchups during the year was with top-rated Logan-Magnolia. The game was tied at halftime (0-0), but Logan-Magnolia scored early in the third quarter. The Yellowjackets got to work and scored three minutes later to take a 7-6 lead. They went on to prevail in the game 14-6.

The team finished the season as the number one defense in Southwest Iowa – all classes. They were the first and only Oakland football team to make the playoffs. The season ended with a playoff loss to the state’s top-rated team, Madrid, 36-22.

They were the last football team in Oakland before the district consolidated and became Riverside. They may not have been the most talented team ever, but they’ve been called the toughest.

The team, led by coach Marv Thompson and assistant coach Tom Grobe, included Daniel Klindt, Jeremy Perkins, Mark Kindred, Jacob Gardner, Jake Havick, Steve Swope, Chad Clark, Tom Schuler, Derek Pierce, Henry Chase, Shane Kinnison, Todd Bentley, Andy Matejka, John Coffelt, TJ Weisbeck, Coery Hackett, Kyle Kenkel, Jami Scofield, Troy Linnenburger, Brian Boland, Chad Weirich, Jason Carley, Clint Wall, Troy Kinnison, Chris Pendgraft, Andy Messerschmidt, Shane Konfrst , Jermie Henderson, Kenny Moore, Dana Martens, Perry Beedle, Mark Jeppesen, Jesse Housman, Justin Clark, Kenney Birdsong and Brad Demarais.

1986 Oakland Yellowjacket Boys’ Basketball Team

The 1986 Oakland Yellowjacket boys’ basketball team finished their season third as state and Western Iowa Conference champions, with a regular season record of 19-1 and an overall record of 25- 2. They opened their season with a 13-game winning streak before suffering their first loss. They fell to Tri-Center 67-66 after beating them earlier in the year, 61-60. Injuries became a problem when they entered the tournament, but the team still held on to become district champions.

They earned a berth in the state tournament for the second year in a row with a thrilling last-second game that saw them beat Sidney 43-42. At the state tournament, they beat Charter Oak 61-45 before losing to Palmer 61-72, then prevailed in the third place match, beating Lynnville-Sully 69-51. Jeff McCowen was named to the All State Tournament team and finished second in points and third in rebounds. Many other Yellowjackets have received all-conference honors and joined the 1,000-point club.

The team, led by coaches Larry Miller and Daryl Nelson, included Rusty Cooper, Craig Wall, Matt Finnegan, Bobby McJunkin, Shane Thompson, Tom Koch, John Taylor, Brad Grosvenor, Troy Rehfeldt, Jon Finnegan, Justin Busby, Craig Zimmerman , Jeff Bowes, Mike D’Angelo, Corey Bane, Robb Carley, Jeff Carley, Steve Keast, Tab Zuch, Jeff McCowen, Mickey Stogdill, Trevor Rehfeldt, Shawn Shanno, Tray Thompsen, Craig Christensen and Pat Finnegan.

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