Three have been selected as 2017 inductees into the Van Buren High School Hall of Honor.
They are Delores “Dee” Cox, Mayor Bob Freeman and Dr. John Wikman.
The induction ceremony for the class of 2017 will be at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 12 in the Commons at Van Buren High School, 2001 Pointer Trail. There will be a reception honoring the 2017 inductees as well as the 2017 football homecoming court as part of the ceremony.
Tickets for the event are $10 and may be pre-ordered by calling (479) 471-4017, or by placing an order via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inductees also will be recognized during activities surrounding the Pointer football team’s homecoming game on Oct. 13.
Cox is a 1960 VBHS graduate and was selected for induction for her outstanding contributions as a volunteer within the Van Buren community.
Freeman is a 1973 Van Buren High School graduate and was selected for distinguished post-high school service and outstanding civic achievement.
Wikman is a 1952 Van Buren High School graduate and is being inducted for outstanding post-high school career and outstanding contributions.
Cox attended the University of Arkansas, has been an avid tennis player since the age of 4 and a large part of her adult life has been devoted to the sport. She has been a volunteer tennis coach for the Van Buren High School tennis program for 13 years and not only helped with coaching, but has contributed monetary resources to support the development of the team.
Her coaching/pro resume includes tennis pro at Ridgeway Tennis Center, tennis director and head tennis pro at Wimbeldon Sports Complex (the largest indoor sports complex in the south), USPTA, USPTR and USTA umpire, head of the USTA state junior public parks clinics, head of the USTA Southern Tennis Tournament, volunteer instructor for St. Jude and Special Olympics and USTA pro of the year in Memphis.
Cox has organized and run children’s tennis camps in Van Buren for more than a decade. She has also received the USTA Victor Sheshunoff Education Award and the Barbara Brewer Meritorious Education Award through USTA. In addition, she has assisted the annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event to raise awareness on domestic abuse and volunteered with VBHS Project Graduation, Miss VBHS Pageant and Hope Academy. She and her husband David live in Van Buren and have three children.
During high school, Freeman was president of the student council and served as student body president. Freeman attended the University of Oklahoma on an ROTC scholarship and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
After graduation, he was commissioned as an artillery lieutenant in the Army. He also holds a master’s degree from the Florida Institute of Technology and is a graduate of the U.S. Army General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth and the Defense Systems Management College at Fort Belvoir, Va.
Freeman’s military career spanned 20 years with various staff and command assignments around the globe. He retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
After retirement, Freeman returned to Van Buren and worked with Citizens Bank & Trust Co. for seven years before being elected mayor in 2006. He has served as the chair of the planning commission, member of the Municipal Auditorium Commission, member and past president of the Van Buren Rotary Club in addition to being a Paul Harris Fellow, member of the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce Board and CASA Board, United Way volunteer and Crawford County coordinator. He is also a graduate of Leadership Fort Smith.
Freeman and his wife Terry are members of Heritage United Methodist church, where he has been a lay leader. They have two children, Sarah and David.
Wikman was co-valedictorian for the class of 1952. He grew up in Van Buren after moving from Michigan. He received a bachelor’s degree from Ouachita Baptist University in 1956 and entered medical school at the University of Arkansas School of Medicine where he completed his medical doctorate in 1960. After a year of internship in Shreveport, La., he served as a general medical officer with the Army at Fort Bliss between 1961 and 1963. He completed his general surgery residency at U of A Medical school in Little Rock and also served as a surgery instructor there in 1967.
Between 1967 and 1975, Wikman served as a medical missionary in Gaza and India under appointment with the Southern Baptist Convention Foreign Mission Board. In Gaza, he was surgeon and chief of staff at the Baptist hospital, serving 400,000 Palestinian refugees. He is one of the founders of the Bangalore India Baptist Hospital, which is a 330-bed teaching hospital with a school of nursing and full specialty residency programs.
From 1976 through 1995 Dr. Wikman was associated with Holt-Krock Clinic in Fort Smith. He was chief of surgery and chairman of the credentials committee for Sparks Regional Medical Center where he was a pioneer in laparoscopic surgery techniques. He served as chief of staff for Sparks in 1993. He was 1994 president of the Sebastian County Medical Society.
Wikman is a member of the Alpha Chi College honor society and Alpha Omega Honorary Medical Society. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Surgery and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Upon retirement in 1995, Wikman worked part-time as a surgeon in Utah, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Alaska and Arkansas. He has also taken nine short-term volunteer medical mission trips to India, Ghana and Yemen.