March 27, 2006
Wyandotte Distinguished Graduate

Arnest, Stephen R. - 1954
Jerome, Ph.D., John A. - 1965
Owens, Roland E. - 1958
Yack, Benjamin F. - 1927


Stephen R. Arnest - Class of 1954


Steve Arnest distinguished himself as an educator and Peace Corps volunteer. Steve was a member of the January, 1954 Roosevelt High School graduation class where he served as a class officer, athlete and a member of the band. He continued his schooling at Michigan State University where he was captain of the Fencing Team; held memberships in three honorary societies; earned a BA in Social Science and an MA in American History. He was employed as a teacher in East Lansing, an Assistant Professor at the State University of New York, and taught at Henry Ford Community College. Steve also held several supervisory positions at Ford Motor Company.

His civic activities include duties as a trustee for the Southgate Board of Education, a consultant for the Grosse Ile School District, and a member of the Lions Club International. He plays clarinet in the Downriver Community Band.

After retiring from Ford Motor Company, Steve and his wife Barbara Vincenty Arnest, joined the Peace Corps and served two years in Papua New Guinea. During that time they lived and worked in an impoverished community of over 5,000 inhabitants.

With assistance from Barbara and a team of local residents, Steve taught classes and developed programs designed to increase awareness regarding HIV/AIDS. They wrote comprehensive manuals in English, and Steve coordinated the completion of these materials in Melanesian Pidgin, the universal language of Papua New Guinea. The manuals that Steve and Barbara produced with their own funds were adopted by the Salvation Army and the Save the Children organizations for use in Papua New Guinea outreach programs.

Steve's commitment continues to make a difference in the world. Although he was nearing his 70th birthday, this past October Steve rejoined the Peace Corps. He spent a month in New Orleans aiding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Red Cross, among others, with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

We are proud to acknowledge and honored to recognize Steve Arnest for his achievements.

John A. Jerome, Ph.D. - Class of 1965


John A. Jerome, Ph.D., has distinguished himself as a nationally renowned Psychologist in the fields of Forensic Medicine, Rehabilitation Counseling and Pain Management.

John Jerome attended Michigan State University for his professional training. In 1970 he earned his B.S. in Psychology. His M.S. was in Rehabilitation Counseling. In 1978, John earned his Ph.D. in Medical Psychology.

Dr. Jerome was soon recognized for his work in Pain Management. He served as Director of the Pain Clinic, East Lansing from 1974-2000. His work took him to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital as a Clinical Psychologist, and the Sparrow Regional Pain Center as Clinical Director. Dr. Jerome also served at the Ingham Regional Medical Center, the Ingham County Jail in the Drug Abuse Treatment Program, and as a psychologist for the Tri County Mental Health Board.

Since 1980, Dr. Jerome has served on the clinical faculty at Michigan State University in the colleges of Human and Osteopathic Medicine, and in the Department of Bio Mechanics.

Dr. Jerome, as a noted consultant and medical expert, was called to testify before numerous Federal and State Departments. His service and expertise were also utilized by national and international medical schools and hospitals.

Dr. Jerome is a renowned speaker and author on Pain and Stress Management. From 1971 to 2004, he participated in 123 major medical clinics, conferences, and forums. At many of those events he presented his published papers and studies. Dr. Jerome authored several chapters in the textbook The Foundations of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Jerome also authored numerous studies and treatises in medical journals and publications. He has served as a reviewer of articles, and as an editor for medical texts. Dr. Jerome was honored by the Michigan Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation with its Distinguished Service Award. He was also recognized by the MSU Libraries and the American Osteopathic Association for scholarly contributions. In 2004, the Michigan Behavioral Medicine Society presented him with a lifetime achievement award.

John Jerome was also active in community affairs in his hometown of Bath, Michigan. He has been on the Zoning Board of Appeals, a speaker at area high schools, a contributor and supporter of the Education Foundation, and an Athletic Booster Club Member. John Jerome also served as a coach in Little League Baseball and the Community Education Basketball Program.

Dr. John Jerome has devoted his entire career to serving mankind. His extensive research and study in Pain and Stress Management has been beneficial to all of us.

Roland E. Owens - Class of 1958


Roland E. Owens, Class of 1958, has distinguished himself for his community and charitable work. Since his retirement from Ford Motor Company, Mr. Owens embraced the opportunity to travel a new career path.

Mr. Owens had been a folk singer in the Detroit Metropolitan area in the 1960's. He then spent three decades with Ford and was working on his Master's Degree when an accident led to retirement. Owens went on to earn his degree with honors. He turned again to his talents as a singer and musician, partnered with his wife Carol Ann and began entertaining children and adults with music, storytelling and magic through their Dream Machine Family Concerts & School Assemblies.

As Mr. Ro, Owens and his wife Carol Ann (Carey Ann the Clown) have taken their show to many downriver communities; they have also "gone international", using part of their annual vacation to Cozumel, Mexico, to entertain children in schools and churches in impoverished areas. There, Roland's music and magic cross language and cultural barriers, creating new, unimagined experiences for the children of Cozumel.

State-wide, Roland works with the Michigan Arts and Humanities Council's Touring Artists Program. He has created Laugh and Learn Concerts which he brings to children in their schools, in libraries, and in civic venues throughout Michigan.

Locally, Roland serves on the Board of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Using the talent he developed in retirement-videography, he has created promotional videos for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and has written and recorded their local theme song.

As Mr. Ro, Roland has contributed his time and talents to various annual events such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Charity Walk, Southshore Hospital's Summer Safety Program, Trenton's Turn Off the Violence Program, and St. Elizabeth's Children of Prisoners Christmas Program, as well as numerous individual charitable fundraisers. With his wife Carol Ann, Roland founded Kids Unlimited, an organization which encourages children's awareness of and involvement in the Downriver Community.

For over 12 years, Roland has been a participant in both the 4th of July and the Christmas parades in Wyandotte. Not only does he have fun, but he also motivates participants in his unit to donate nonperishable food items for the needy through Wyandotte's Salvation Army Food Pantry.

In 2005, he organized several alumni in Wyandotte's Fourth of July Parade, celebrating the city's 150th anniversary. Their entry involved over 50 adults and children, and won second place Parade Honors.

In the past ten years, Roland has been recognized for his charitable work and community service by many organizations.

Roosevelt High School is proud of Roland and his achievements; prouder still of his giving spirit and contributions to the community. We are pleased to honor him with the Distinguished Graduate Award, 2006.

Benjamin F. Yack - Class of 1927


Although Benjamin Yack was not born in Wyandotte, he made a tremendous impact on our town. His family moved here in 1913 from Syracuse, New York. He was an outstanding high school athlete in football and basketball and he played baseball with the Michigan Alkali Team. He was a member of Roosevelt High School's graduation Class of 1927.

During the Depression, Ben attended Western Michigan University and held a variety of factory and substitute teaching jobs. He continued his interest in athletics and coached semi-pro football along with baseball and basketball.

Mr. Yack was named Wyandotte's first Recreation Director in 1936 and was instrumental in having lights installed at the baseball diamonds at Pulaski Park in 1939. After a stint in the Air Force from 1942-1945, Ben settled in Wyandotte with his wife, Gertrude, and sons Tom and Bob.

Mr. Yack is nationally recognized for developing the first version of T-ball to help younger athletes transition into baseball. He helped institute the annual Detroit Tiger Exhibition charity event that benefited area Sandlot baseball teams. he was a member and officer of many organizations including the Michigan Amateur Baseball Association, Michigan Recreation Association, and the National Recreation Association. Ben advocated good sportsmanship for athletes of all ages, including good conduct and respectful language.

Benjamin Yack's vision of a municipal athletic complex was realized with the construction of Memorial Park and Pool in 1954. Wyandotte's Yack Arena was named for him in 1969. He retired in 1973 and died in 1981, but his legacy lives on. He is a member of the Wyandotte Sports Hall of Fame and in 2005 he was named to the Michigan Recreation Hall of Fame.