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Like any institution of higher learning, Marshall University means a lot of things to a lot of different people.

To some, Marshall is simply a school. A place to take classes, earn a degree, and enter the workforce.

For others, Marshall represents the dream of bigger things to come. It is a place where they will learn the lessons that will help them achieve their goals and ambitions in life.

And then there are those who consider themselves a part of the university. Maybe they grew up in a household of Marshall alumni. Maybe they met friends, a spouse, and generated lifelong bonds that forever connect them to the institution. Maybe Marshall changed their lives for the better.

And then there is Lucianne Kautz-Call.

Call is a staple of the Marshall community. You can find her at Thundering Herd sporting events decked out in the latest green and white fashion or simply representing the university in her community. She is also a doer, helping organize the Fountain Ceremony each fall honoring the 75 souls who perished in the 1970 crash of Southern Airways Flight 932. She has even helped found and preside over multiple alumni chapters in the southeast.

But Call’s connection to Marshall runs much deeper than simply attending as a student and helping plan events. It runs much deeper than representing the school as a cheerleader and community leader. It even runs much deeper than meeting her husband, Rick, in the Student Union and getting married during her senior year in the spring of 1970.

In fact, Call is as much a part of the fabric of Marshall University as the leaders who guide the institution daily.

“This really is just the story of a girl who was born into a Marshall family,” Call said. “I was born in St. Mary’s Hospital, just down the street from the university, and enjoyed my childhood in Huntington, West Virginia. I am an ordinary girl, except when it comes to Marshall football.”

Indeed, Call has a special bond with Marshall thanks, in large part, to her father, Charles Kautz. Kautz was a gifted coach, educator, and athletic director at Marshall and was one of the 75 individuals who lost their life in the tragic plane crash that took the lives of many Marshall players, coaches, staff, fans and community members returning home from a football contest against East Carolina University.

Of course, Kautz was much more than just a victim in one of the worst accidents in U.S. history. And Call has dedicated her life to preserving the memory of her father and all of those lost on November 14, 1970.

“Our dad had an unmatched love for Marshall University. It was his life’s ambition to play football since starting there in the first grade at the Marshall Lab School,” Call said. “Dad was a family man, a coach, an administrator, and a person of Godly character. He never met a stranger. His passion was supporting students and athletes to strive for perfection in whatever their endeavors.”

Kautz played for the Thundering Herd under the guidance of coach Cam Henderson while earning his BA from Marshall in 1949 and his MA in 1953. He served as a marine in World War II and the Korean War before returning home and entering the world of high school and college athletics.

Kautz was a regional hero in high school football, compiling a 74-25-1 record as head football coach at Ceredo-Kenova in West Virginia and Rock Hill and Ironton high schools in Ohio, before joining the Marshall football staff in 1961. There, he recruited many great players over the years, including Larry Coyer, Mickey Jackson and Bobby Pruett.

He eventually transitioned from coaching to an administrative role as Assistant Athletic Director in 1969 before being named Athletic Director at Marshall in November of 1969. During his tenure, he guided the reconstruction of Fairfield Stadium and helped enhance the facilities in and around the various athletic programs. Kautz was posthumously inducted into the Marshall Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.

Thanks to the example set forth by her father, Call has lived a life dedicated to helping others. And also like her father, Marshall University has remained at the center of it all.

“Marshall made a difference in my life,” Call said. “So I challenge others to set on a course to become significant in the lives of everyone they meet. No matter where you roam wearing the Kelly green and white, someone will say ‘Hey, we are Marshall.’ And that means something.”

Call chose to attend Marshall in the summer of 1967 where she earned a degree in Elementary Education in 1971. During her time at the university, she spent time working in the ticket office and served alongside her sorority sisters at Sigma Sigma Sigma.

She met her husband Rick and got married in June of 1970, with her father walking her down the aisle.

After graduation, Call was hired in Cabell County as an elementary teacher and taught in several schools in the county. She also continued down the same path as her father as a coach, serving as the girls’ tennis coach at Barboursville High School and cheerleading coach at Cabell Midland High School. In the summers, she also served as a water safety and swimming instructor.

“The many teaching experiences and volunteering services prepared me with the knowledge of unleashing a student’s creativity for their journey in life,” Call said. “When I meet these students today, I so love to see their enthusiasm as they tell me about the career path they have chosen. I met one of my former students recently and he went on to explain to me that he is an Associate Professor of Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity at Marshall. That was fascinating to me because Marshall didn’t even have that curriculum to choose from in the 70s.”

In the early 2000s, Call made a shift in her life from education to travel, broadening her horizons as a flight attendant.

No matter where life took her, though, Marshall University always remained at the center of her world.

And one of the ways in which Call has remained a part of the conversation at the university is through her involvement in the Marshall Fountain Ceremony planning committee. Call, along with members of Student Government, university leaders, the Office of Alumni Relations, and many others help coordinate the ceremony each year to commemorate those lost in the plane crash.

In 2020, Call was honored by the committee as the keynote speaker for the 50th anniversary of the crash.

“I am so thankful to be able to work on this project each year. The Student Government, along with Matt James and his staff, coordinate this event every year. There are so many people responsible for this heartwarming ceremony through the years that have become close friends. We come together each year to listen to the keynote speakers’ words of how the plane crash had an enormous effect on their lives. I will always cherish these wonderful times.

“I am just so proud of the 1970 team and all of the players that have chosen Marshall through the years. All of the blood, sweat and tears that goes into this event are truly a labor of love. My speech for the 50th anniversary reflected the timespan of all the coaches, players and staff who had the courage to persevere each football season.

“No matter who the speaker is, the same theme always prevails. We came from ashes to glory, and we honor their legacy in our hearts forever.”

In addition to helping with the Fountain Ceremony each year, Call has also had an opportunity to return to campus for special events such as the premier of the Warner Brothers film, We Are Marshall in 2006.

“I worked on the committee to help bring the families together to view the production,” Call said. “Michele Prestera Craig, Kim Proctor Crabtree, Parker and Amy Ward, and Steve Chapman all helped coordinate this project. We had not seen some of these families in over 30 years. It was an amazing experience.”

Of course, with a film dedicated to the tragedy and subsequent perseverance and triumph of the football program and university as a whole, Call recalls fondly many of the scenes in the film that she personally lived through as a student and as a daughter of someone lost in the crash.

“My favorite scene in the movie is where my dad and six of the football players were laid to rest,” Call said. “You can see the university from the site. Our youngest son, Jarrod, was one of the football players in that scene. That is the motivational speech that helped start the Young Thundering Herd on its path in making Marshall become the winningest Division I college football team in the 1990s.”

Call was again honored earlier this fall as she served alongside members of the Young Thundering Herd as Grand Marshals for Marshall’s annual Homecoming parade. She shared the role alongside Allen Meadows, a team captain of the Young Thundering Herd and a four-year letterman of the program, and other members of the team.

“I was honored to share the role of Grand Marshal with Allen and other members of the team,” Call said. “Allen was the very first freshman football player recruited to play at Marshall following the crash. He, along with his 1971 teammates, were honored during the festivities and I got to hear so many great stories about their time on campus.”

Today, Call is still humbled by her role in helping bridge the gap between the tragic accident and rebirth of the program in the 1970s and the current generation of students at Marshall. And she still relishes every opportunity to tell that story and help spread the word about just what Marshall University means to her.

“I am sometimes asked, ‘How do you want to be remembered?’ Reflecting over the years of my memories on Marshall’s campus, my hope is for all students, faculty, administration and alumni to give back in some way,” Call said. “I want to see folks give their time, energy, money, and passion to instill in their hearts the real meaning of we are Marshall.”

The Marshall University Foundation has announced that John Rahal, Marshall alumnus and general partner with Edward Jones, has made a gift of $1 million to support the John F. Rahal Center for Strategic Engagement within Marshall University’s Lewis College of Business.

The John F. Rahal Center for Strategic Engagement, formerly the Center for Stakeholder Engagement, is a program designed to raise the visibility of the Lewis College of Business as well as boost student engagement and professional development.

“I believe, as alumni, we have a responsibility to each other to make sure that our business school is one of the best in the country,” Rahal said. “In the financial services industry, I have had a career for which Marshall University truly prepared me. Alongside other generous individuals, it is our goal to continue to make Marshall’s business school a national business school of prominence to prepare students for the future.”

The center aims to drive demand for undergraduate and graduate business students by connecting faculty, students, alumni and corporate partners through strategic projects. The center also strives to keep stakeholders informed of the college’s latest initiatives and developing internships that connect Marshall’s corporate partners with students and graduates.

In addition to these unique programs, students in the Brad D. Smith Schools of Business will have the opportunity to enhance their classroom experience through professional development experiences such as the Ron and Sandy Cohen Business Professionalism Speaker Series and the Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

“We are extremely grateful to John F. Rahal, not only for his generosity but also for his ongoing support of the Lewis College of Business and this investment in our future,” said Dr. Avi Mukherjee, interim provost at Marshall and former dean of the College of Business. “This is truly a transformative gift that will help raise the visibility of the college and Brad D. Smith Schools of Business as it fulfills its mission to be the major contributor to the region’s economic development.”

The center is named in honor of John F. Rahal, who is a principal with the financial-services firm Edward Jones, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. Rahal, a native of Huntington, West Virginia, is a 1991 graduate of Marshall University, earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He also holds an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Rahal joined Edward Jones as a financial advisor in 1997. In 2000 he became a limited partner with the company and was named a general principal in 2007. He served on the firm’s management committee from 2012 through 2017.

Today, Rahal is responsible for Edward Jones’ transformation. In that capacity, he is responsible for anticipating and identifying roles, capabilities, and strategies to enable the firm to transform towards its vision of improving the lives of clients, their families and their communities. Edward Jones is one of the largest financial services firms in North America with nearly 19,000 financial advisors.

“For the state of West Virginia, Marshall is critically important,” Rahal said. “I never thought that I would be on the senior management team of a Fortune 500 company, I want business school students at Marshall to recognize their potential and set their ambition high.  I attribute much of my success to the skill set and the hard work that I learned from the business school professors at Marshall.”

Rahal also remains an active member of the Marshall University community, contributing to the growth and success of the Lewis College of Business, as well as supporting  Thundering Herd athletic programs and other initiatives at the university.

He established the Rahal Family Education Fund in 2016 to support the College of Business and its most pressing needs.

“I love West Virginia and I know that there are needs in the state that can be solved through the Brad D. Smith Schools of Business and the Lewis College of Business,” Rahal said. “I want the state of West Virginia to succeed. I want the Tri-State to succeed. My contribution is part of a larger dedication of alumni, making contributions to ensure that the students in West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southeastern Ohio know what’s possible.”

It is a community unlike any other and a location that looks like something straight out of an award-winning piece of artwork.

The hills. The valleys. The ponds. The castle-like architecture. The perfectly manicured flowers and trees. The peace and tranquility. It is a place that individuals have chosen to call home for over 25 years, and it is a place near-and-dear to the hearts of many in the Marshall University family.

Of course, we are talking about Woodlands Retirement Community.

Nestled atop a picturesque hilltop, surrounded by 171 acres of beautiful, sprawling landscape in the heart of Huntington, West Virginia, Woodlands is a premier Continuing Care Retirement Community for individuals 55 and over. Woodlands has the distinction of being the region’s only LifeCare Community, and it is a community that encourages wellness through an active, independent lifestyle.

To many, however, it is simply known as home.

“Of course, we could talk about the beautiful hilltop setting and the spectacular views, but that is not what makes Woodlands truly special. What makes Woodlands special are the people, the sense of community, and the connection to Huntington and the Tri-State area,” said Juliette Buffington Tomlin, Marketing Director at Woodlands. “What makes the location so great is Huntington itself. This is truly home, and you can feel that. A lot of the residents were fortunate enough to stay close to home and close to old friends, while making new friends and providing them and their families a peace of mind.

“At Woodlands, we encourage wellness and active living. We are a 55+ community that offers something for everyone. There are many amenities and activities that are social, physical, educational, and spiritual based. That is the value that we offer, on top of having a beautiful surrounding.”

The history of Woodlands is one of both determination and compassion to create a caring and safe home for elderly residents of the Huntington area.

In 1922, Bradley W. Foster established the Foster Foundation with a generous financial gift aimed at providing a home for care of the elderly. In 1925, the mission was realized when the Foster Memorial Home opened on Madison Avenue in Huntington. “The Home” became a Huntington fixture for next 75 years.

In 1985, Rev. Gray Hampton, a member of the Foster Foundation Board, introduced board members to the continuing care retirement community (CCRC) concept. Under his leadership, the board developed a plan to broaden the scope of the aging Foster Memorial Home into a CCRC in Huntington, West Virginia. Starting in 1988 and over the course of a decade, Chairman William F. “Bill” Agee and the board turned that vision into reality.

On August 19, 1996, Woodlands opened with 111 apartments at almost 100 percent occupancy. Over the next few years, 61 additional apartments and 23 cottages were built by those who wanted to preserve their residential independence. In 2004, the Assisted Living/Health Care wing of Woodlands was expanded with the substantial involvement of Mrs. Joan C. Edwards and the West Virginia Episcopal Diocese, raising the capacity to 88 units.

“When I moved back to Huntington seven years ago and had the blessing of going to work at Woodlands, my mom and so many of her friends lived here. So it not only feels like family, for many of us, it is family,” Tomlin said. “That dedication helps us provide the highest level of residential senior services for individuals from a variety of backgrounds.

“I love what I do. Our staff, some of which have been here for all 25 years, embodies this mission through their passion and desire to serve our residents so they may enjoy life to the fullest.”

Through that unique connection to Huntington and the greater Tri-State area, Woodlands has earned the distinct reputation as a popular retirement community for alumni and former faculty and staff of Huntington’s very own Marshall University.

And because of that, many of the residents remain forever involved in the happenings of Huntington and Marshall.

“Because of that active community, our residents are able to remain supportive of our local community,” Tomlin said. “Not only through Marshall, but so many of our people are involved in the Artists Series, the symphony, the art galleries. In essence, we have been blessed that Woodlands is right here available to the residents of the area. It means that the people of this region don’t have to move away to where their children live. Because of Woodlands they can stay right here in Huntington. As I have seen, more and more former Huntingtonians are moving back to Huntington to retire.”

Of course, with any mention of Huntington comes a direct correlation to Marshall University.

And one of the key ways in which the residents of Woodlands stay connected to the local university is through Marshall Monday, a unique program presented by the Marshall University Foundation, Inc. and the Marshall University Alumni Association. Marshall Monday brings the university and its programs, faculty, and students to the residents and provides updates and opportunities for residents to remain connected to the university.

“Woodlands’ continued relationship with Marshall University includes much excitement from residents as they are provided the opportunity to participate in activities such as Marshall Monday, Marshall Music, and even a Spirit Week in honor of Marshall’s homecoming,” said Molly Watson, Director of Activities at Woodlands. “These types of activities keep residents connected and gives them a sense of being back in college while supporting their favorite university.”

Marshall Monday, in particular, has been a very popular part of the Woodlands schedule. Taking place on the first Monday of every month, the program brings different speakers to Woodlands to talk about current issues, exciting changes, and general updates from different areas of campus. The residents also have an opportunity to return to campus for special events, such as Homecoming and sporting events.

“Many Woodlands’ residents have had a direct affiliation with Marshall for many years. Many residents are alumni, parents of children or grandchildren who are Marshall graduates and even many are former employees or faculty,” said Jane Fotos, MU Professor Emeritus and Woodlands resident. “These folks look forward to hearing what is new at Marshall, what is being planned for the future, and meeting and being updated by some of the Marshall faculty and leadership who are involved in various programs.

“Of course, Marshall athletic events are always a favorite, especially ones televised on our big screen. These televised events always draw a big crowd who loudly cheer for the Herd while others climb on the Woodlands bus and head for the Marshall campus. We love Marshall and look forward to each Marshall Monday.”

Beginning in 2021, Woodlands will be expanding its partnership with Marshall University through a unique collaboration with the Marshall University Alumni Association. This partnership will see the retirement community partner on key events on the alumni calendar, including being prominently featured during Homecoming, as well as Woodlands residents being showcased in alumni publications throughout the year. It is just another way in which Woodlands and Marshall University continue to have a direct relationship in offering quality care for 55+ residents, many of whom consider themselves proud sons and daughters of Marshall.

“Retirement in a university town is attractive to so many around the country because of the rich educational, cultural and sports opportunity. It is no different for Woodlands and Marshall,” said Aubrey King, a Marshall alumnus and resident of Woodlands. “Marshall Music brings outstanding faculty and student performers each month. Marshall Monday features President (Jerry) Gilbert and other university leaders explaining new initiatives and priorities. The Marshall Emeritus Club holds its meetings at the Woodlands. The executive director of the Marshall Alumni Association is always in attendance at these events to answer questions and provide support. As for sports, Marshall has no more passionate supporters than the good folks at the Woodlands.

“With this history, Marshall and Woodlands are looking forward with great anticipation to this new partnership. We expect our connections to grow even more to the benefit of both sides.”