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Alumni, teacher honored for impact on community, professions

March 13, 2018

Four Forest Hills graduates and a retired English teacher were recently recognized for their significant impact on their communities and professions during the Distinguished Alumni Awards luncheon. The honorees are Dennis “Wildman” Walker, Anderson High School class of 1969; Bob Dames, Turpin High School class of 1979; Gary Philbin, Anderson High School class of 1975; and Claudia Mills Anderson, Turpin High School class of 1984. Sandra Coleman, a Forest Hills retiree, was also honored with the Distinguished Staff Award for her service to students.

Dennis “Wildman” Walker began his professional career at WEBN radio and remained a part of sports radio for more than 27 years. Throughout his career, he covered Super Bowl games, NBA finals, Cincinnati Reds’ Opening Days, and Cincinnati Cyclones hockey games. Since 2013, he has hosted a sports and classic rock show on ClassX Radio.

Following his graduation from Miami University, Bob Dames began a career in sales which spanned 27 years.  In 2010, he opened the first Flipdaddy’s Burgers and Beer restaurant, followed by three additional locations in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.  He now plans to follow that success by opening Alto Pizza + Cocktail Bar in Covington. In 2012, Dames also collaborated on Chipping Away at Parkinson's, an event that raises awareness of Parkinson's disease and has raised more than $150,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation and UC’s Gardner Center.

Gary Philbin has spent most of his 30 year career in the retail food industry, starting as a bagger for Kroger in the Mt. Washington area and rising to become the CEO of Dollar Tree Stores, in Chesapeake, Va. His work as CEO includes participation with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Operation Homefront, which delivers school supplies and gifts to veterans’ families. In his free time, Philbin enjoys long-distance swim adventures which include swimming from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco and from Europe to Asia across the Hellespont in Turkey.

Claudia Mills Anderson earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Detroit Mercy.  Having held leadership roles at both Ford Motor Co. and Visteon Corporation, she is currently the vice president at TE Connectivity, a Fortune 500 Company. In her role, she leads continuous improvement, quality and customer experience efforts; and actively supports the advancement of women through her role as an executive sponsor of the Women in Network employee resource group. Outside of TE, Anderson volunteers with the FIRST Robotics organization as a member of its Board of Directors and as a judge at competitions. 

Sandra Coleman served as an Anderson High School English teacher for more than 30 years. During her time there, she was named Teacher of the Year by the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce, was recognized for Excellence in Education twice by the Forest Hills Council of PTAs and was voted Favorite Female Teacher numerous times by the AHS student body. After her teaching career, she continued working as a communication consultant, college advisor and through opening her own company, Coleman Consultants, which helps local business and industries improve the soft skills of their employees.  She is currently a member of the Anderson Township Tree Committee and the Forest Hills Foundation for Education Teacher Grant Committee.

Each honoree was recognized during a luncheon ceremony hosted by the Forest Hills Foundation for Education, the Anderson Alumni Association and the Turpin Alumni Association. A plaque with each honoree’s picture and year of recognition will also be placed at his or her alma mater. 

photo of 2018 distinguished alumni