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Frank George Westphal

Top Student Paper Award

At its 2009 annual conference, ICA presented the first-ever Frank George Westphal Top Student Paper Award, honoring lifelong learner and Coe College graduate Frank George Westphal Sr.

Westphal was a strong proponent of an equal education for all people. Born in 1922, he was raised in a small farming community in Northern Illinois. He went on to Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he was a starter on the Coe Basketball team. However, in 1941, he became partially disabled when his right hand was amputated in an industrial accident. ¡°At the time, a disabled person was looked upon with revulsion, disgust, and even superstition,¡± Westphal recalled in a previous interview. Westphal challenged that notion head on, both in his personal and professional life. Despite the injury, he continued as a fiery point guard on the basketball team, graduated from Coe College with a BA in History, and went on to Northwestern University Law School.

In 1950, after being personally recruited by Adlai Stevenson, Frank began working for the state of Illinois in the Vocational Rehabilitation Division. He founded the Illinois Rehabilitation Association, which exists to find employment for disabled persons and to help them return to leading productive lives. His love of learning (and a photographic memory) led him to a Master¡¯s degree in Guidance and Counseling, a certified diplomat of the American Psychotherapy Association, a licensed clinical professional counselor, and a certified social worker. Throughout his career, Frank helped thousands find jobs and inspired many others to persevere despite their limitations. After 57 years of service as a Rehabilitation counselor, he finally retired at the age of 83. Frank Westphal Sr. died in March 2009, leaving behind a legacy of inspiration and achievement. His quest for education ignited a spark in his nine children who now have doctorates, masters, and bachelor degrees. He also made sure that his 47grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren have funds available for educational purposes.

Because Westphal believed that education (and knowing how to communicate) was the key to success, it is most fitting to have established a scholarship fund in his name at the Iowa Communication Association. Westphal¡¯s daughter and ICA member Yvonne Fielder will match funds donated to the ICA scholarship this year, up to $250. To make a donation, contact ICA Executive Secretary Barb Schmidt.

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Frank George Westphal Award

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