Southeastern News

Southeastern to honor three Distinguished Alumni at Homecoming

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University will honor three Distinguished Alumni during homecoming festivities on September 22-23-24.

This year’s honorees are William Fahrendorf, Bill Groom, and Lee Lipscomb. They will be recognized at the Southeastern Alumni Association’s Distinguished Awards Banquet on Friday, September 23, at 5:30 p.m. in the Visual and Performing Arts Center.

In addition, all of the current and former Distinguished Alumni will be introduced in pre-game ceremonies on Saturday, September 24, as Southeastern takes on Southern Nazarene in a 2 p.m. kickoff at Paul Laird Field.

“This year’s group of honorees is truly exceptional,’’ said Southeastern president Sean Burrage.  “They have demonstrated a high standard of excellence in their chosen fields, while serving as great ambassadors for Southeastern for many, many years. Their success also serves as an inspiration for our current students and the dreams they have.’’

William Fahrendorf 4x6William Fahrendorf serves as Executive Vice President/Chief Administration Officer of First United Bank.  In this role, he oversees the planning and directing of the bank’s staff and service functions; develops and oversees staff and service policies, objectives and initiatives; and monitors operational performances.

Fahrendorf’s banking career began in 1971, over 45 years ago, with Durant Bank and Trust Company, a one-location operation with $23 million inassets.  First United is now a $3.2 billion financial institution serving 30-plus communities in Oklahoma and Texas.

While working at Durant Bank and Trust and carrying a full college course load, Fahrendorf also served his country as a Staff Sergeant and Drill Instructorwith the 95th Division of the United States Army Reserve.  He is a 1976 graduate of Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Known for his quiet, low-key manner, Fahrendorf is also recognized for his local and state leadership in service to the governance of the Oklahoma Public Education System.  He wasappointed to the Durant School Board to serve the remainder of a term in 1989 and remained on the board until 2000.  He was also elected to the Oklahoma State School Board Association and served from 1994 until 2000.  In 1998, he served as the association’s President.

Along with his success in business and stewardship of Oklahoma’s public schools, Fahrendorf’s contributions to Southeastern Oklahoma State University are also significant.

He served on the Southeastern Foundation’s Board of Trustees from 1989 to 2010, and as chairman from 1997 until his retirement in 2010.  During his tenure, the assets of the Foundation more than quadrupled.

Fahrendorf, and his wife Pam, a retired Chair of Computer Science at SOSU, reside in Durant and have three daughters and four grandchildren. His family has established a fully-fundedendowed scholarship.

groom[3]Bill Groom has enjoyed a long career as a successful television and film designer.

Groom graduated from Southeastern in 1972 with a double major in art and theatre. He earned a Master’s in Fine Arts degree in Theater Design from Tulane University in 1974.

He was the recipient of a record four consecutive Emmys for his work on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.’’ Other recent TV credits include HBO’s “Vinyl,’’ and “When We Rise,” an ABC TV 7-part series about the history of the LGBTQ movement that will air next year.

Among Groom’s other credits is a 7-year stint as the art director of the popular TV comedy show, “Saturday Night Live’’ on NBC.

Since leaving SNL in 1984, he has worked on hundreds of TV shows and scores of movies,  including “Milk,” “Eat, Pray, Love,” “A League Of Their Own” and “Preacher’s Wife.”

Prior to his career in television and film design, Groom taught in the Theater Department of State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Groom, originally from California, Missouri,  is married to the Rev. Dr. Jane Ann Looney Groom, also a Southeastern graduate. Their two sons both work in the entertainment industry. Brooklyn, New York, and a tiny hamlet in the Catskills are home to the Grooms.

Lipscomb-4x6Lee Lipscomb enjoyed a successful 42-year career with Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack in Los Angeles, a law firm he co-founded in 1974. He retired in 2014.

Lipscomb graduated from Durant High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Southeastern in 1961.

Four decades as a litigator in California found Lipscomb and his company in the thick of many interesting cases. In the early years, the firm primarily defended aviation insurance companies, but his ties to Lloyds of London Underwriters led to high profile cases involving entertainment law and motion picture litigation.

Lipscomb  handled the Lloyds’ claims of MGM arising from the death of actress Natalie Wood and was successful in forcing MGM to finish her last, nearly completed film, “Brainstorm.” He also worked on the case of Bette Davis, when the movie star walked off the set of her last film, “Wicked Stepmother.”

Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack is also well-known known as lead counsel in the Hinckley and Kettleman, California, water contamination cases against Pacific Gas & Electric Company.  This resulted in approximately $700 million recovered for 1,500 clients and is commonly referred to as the “Erin Brockovich” case.

During his summers in high school and college, Lipscomb  worked as a firefighter with the U.S Forest Service. This included a five-year stint as a parachute firefighter. He completed his military service with the U.S. Army Reserve in 1968.

After his firefighting career, Lipscomb obtained his Commercial, Multi-Engine instrument and instructor pilot ratings. He then started an independent aircraft insurance claims adjusting company and later incorporated Aero Loss Adjustors, Inc., which he operated for four years while attending the Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles.

Lipscomb enjoys retirement life with his family — wife Robin, two sons, a stepdaughter and two grandchildren. The Lipscombs currently reside in Jackson, Wyoming.