Van Horn High School is honoring its past by recognizing those who have helped shape Van Horn into what it is today.

Van Horn High School is honoring its past by recognizing those who have helped shape Van Horn into what it is today.

The inaugural class of the Van Horn Hall of Honor will be recognized during a reception at 4 p.m. Friday at the school. Induction into the Hall of Honor will be during halftime of Van Horn’s game against Renaissance Academy at 7 p.m. Friday at Truman High School.

The nine inductees were selected by the Van Horn High School Alumni Association. The association was formed only three years ago as a way to create a network of alumni, help fund scholarships and capital improvements at the school and to establish a Hall of Honor that recognizes graduates of the high school, faculty, staff and “Friends of Van Horn.”

Van Horn graduates

Barbara Atkins Case (Class of 1968). Atkins Case is the founder and President of Compassion in Action-USA, a non-profit organization based in Southern California that provides advocates for the seriously ill while also helping them become eligible for Social Security disability income and other benefits. Jeff Gall, Ph.D. (Class of 1972). Gall is a professor of history and MAE (Master of Arts in Education) Director of Social Science at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo. He has earned numerous awards at both the high school and collegiate level and has authored a social studies textbook for the fourth grade. Robert N. Healy, Ph.D. (Class of 1960). Healy is an internationally recognized chemical and petroleum engineering professional. He was formerly with Exxon Mobil and its predecessor companies and specialized in enhanced oil recovery techniques and technologies. He is a recipient of the Missouri Honor Award from the University of Missouri College of Engineering and was co-chair of the College of Engineering portion of the “For All We Call Mizzou” campaign between 2004 and 2010. Richard N. Piland (Class of 1962). Piland is a former assistant professor in speech and communication at the Miami (Ohio) University and Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. He now owns Personalized Research, a firm which creates advertising and marketing strategies for community survey and public relations research services. He also has authored or co-authored several books. Don B. Reimal (Class of 1959). Reimal is the mayor of Independence. He has presided over the city during a period of several monumental initiatives, including as one of several key civic leaders in the transfer of Van Horn and its feeder schools from the Kansas City School District to the Independence School District. Rick Sutcliffe (Class of 1974). Sutcliffe is an ESPN baseball color analyst and former Major League All-Star pitcher. He is best known for his successes while with the Chicago Cubs, including winning the 1984 National League Cy Young Award. He was also selected by the United States Jaycees as one of 1988’s Ten Outstanding Young Americans. His Sutcliffe Foundation, established in 1984, annually produces tens of thousands of dollars of cash and in-kind awards, including scholarships for deserving Van Horn students. Jerry R. Williams (Class of 1960). Williams is an artist, set designer and professor emeritus at the University of Oregon Theater Department in Eugene, Ore. Williams’ body of work includes numerous professional set design credits for theater companies throughout the United States and Asia and many awards for his work in both theater and academia.


J. Otto Kaifes (Mathematics teacher from 1960 through 1994). Kaifes taught basic mathematics through calculus at the high school. He also started Van Horn’s varsity and junior varsity baseball programs in 1971 as its unpaid coach (since its school district did not fund the sport at the time). In the team’s fourth season, it reached the Missouri Class 4A semifinals in Kansas City.

Community Members

Robert T. Van Horn. He is the namesake of Van Horn High School. He was a newspaperman, mayor of Kansas City, a U.S. Congressman and Civil War colonel in the Union Army. It can be argued that Kansas City would not have grown to become a major metropolitan area without his influence in Congress. In1897, he built Honeywood, his home on property on which Van Horn High School now stands, where he died in 1916.